Wisława Szymborska was born in Bnin (now Kórnik), a small town situated near Poznań in the western part of Poland. When she was eight years old, her family moved to Cracow, the city that the poet made her home for life. There, Szymborska went to a prestigious school for girls, run by nuns of the St. Ursula order. Her education was interrupted by the outbreak of World War II; she had to continue her schooling at clandestine classes, whereby she received her high school diploma. After the war, Szymborska studied sociology and Polish philology at the Jagiellonian University, but neither of those fields held enough interest for the young poet. She left the university in 1948 and embarked on a number of proofreading and editorial jobs.
In the years 1953-1981 Szymborska worked for the weekly Życie Literackie, where she was responsible for two extremely popular columns: Poczta literacka, featuring responses to aspiring writers and Lektury nadobowiązkowe, a series of playful commentaries on all sorts of reading matter.
In the early 1950’s Szymborska became a member of Polska Zjednoczona Partia Robotnicza (PZPR), the official party of the Communist regime. She gave up her membership in 1966, disillusioned by the party’s policies—a decision requiring considerable courage in the political climate of the time. Szymborska became part of the Cracow underground literary movement and cooperated with the monthly...
(The entire section is 407 words.)