Hatred by Wislawa Szymborska
In the poem “Hatred,” Wislawa Szymborska gives a very raw and realist perspective on one of the most powerful emotions in the human psyche. She describes how of all of the different emotions perceivable by humans in the emotion spectrum, hatred is the most powerful and the most capable of impacting our lives. This poem is full of ironies that can be very surprisingly powerful and true and real at the same time.
Perhaps the most obvious irony in the poem is simply the way hatred is described as being beautiful and almost skillful in what it does. One line describes hatred as “Gifted, diligent, hard working.” The irony in this is very clear- hatred is obviously a very negative emotion, and it is described with positive adjectives, ones that you generally would not associate with hatred. Normally, you would see hatred portrayed as a terrible, destructive emotion that brings death and misery everywhere it goes. While Szymborska does not deny that hatred can be described in this way, she brings another perspective to hatred, which is that the power of hatred is unavoidably impressive and ultimately trumps that of other emotions such as peace and happiness. This creates a strange situation with the reader, as we are put in the position of admiring something that destroys the lives of millions every single day and yet we are unable to deny its beauty. Irony is something that has the potential of making people incredibly uncomfortable when it is presented in certain contexts. This poem is no different- the reader is forced to praise an idea that they have come to recognize as a negative poisonous connotation, almost as if we were convinced to admire a fearsome dictator who was responsible for the death of many, such as Hitler or Mussolini, for their incredibly effective leadership skills. We know it’s wrong, but it’s impossible to deny.
Certain lines in the poems are ironic by themselves for this very purpose. For example, the first two...
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