The Onion by Wisława Szymborska

The onion, now that’s something else.
Its innards don’t exist.
Nothing but pure onionhood
fills this devout onionist.
Oniony on the inside,
onionesque it appears.
It follows its own daimonion
without our human tears.

Our skin is just a coverup
for the land where none dare go,
an internal inferno,
the anathema of anatomy.
In an onion there’s only onion
from its top to its toe,
onionymous monomania,
unanimous omninudity.

At peace, of a peace,
internally at rest.
Inside it, there’s a smaller one
of undiminished worth.
The second holds a third one
the third contains a fourth.
A centripetal fugue.
Polyphony compressed.

Nature’s rotundest tummy
its greatest success story,
the onion drapes itself in its
own aureoles of glory.
We hold veins, nerves, and fat,
secretions’ secret sections.
Not for us such idiotic
onionoid perfections.


Wisława Szymborska’s The Onion invites contemplation in a humorous but far from frivolous way. How would an oniony “unanimous omniinundity” world look like?

Intrigued yet? Wisława Szymborska won the Nobel Prize in Literature and is famous for delivering profound ideas using a simple language. In her own words:

“I borrow weighty words / then labor heavily so that they may seem light.”


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