Everyday, we take many norms for granted. We take certain things in life as standards and often encounter them without giving so much as a second thought. One of these things is the belief that the value of life of a human vastly outweighs that of an animal – or in the case of this poem, an insect. In ‘Seen from Above’, Szymborska underscores the ingrained interpretation of the pecking order of life, which we take for granted.
What does this mean? We as humans do not stop and ruminate the tragedy of the death of a bird, or mourn the passing of an ant. We see the life of a human as higher up on the pecking order than that of animals, and while we may not consciously register this belief everyday, it does exist, and we do …show more content…
In so doing, the poet typifies the utter irrelevance and unimportance of the death of the beetle, a passing which warrants no attention and no emotion at all.
The use of structure persists. At the final stanza, the first verse reads the same as the first verse of the first stanza. After all the consideration and rumination done in between, the fact of the death of the beetle has not changed. It offers a sense of immutability, an air of stoicism and an apathetic attitude towards the beetle, a sense that its death is nothing of worthy significance.
She describes the narrator as offering only one glance at the beetle as a slight, perfunctory recognition of its passing. Again, she reminds us of the utter irrelevance and insignificance of the life and death of the insect when it is compared to that of a human, and tacitly accepts the notion that such animals are of lesser value and lower standing in the hierarchy of life.
This too is consistent with the underlying message in her other poems. In, for instance, “Lot’s Wife” and “View with a Grain of Sand”, Szymborksa notices, observes acutely, the small details which we often overlook, take beliefs which we assume as granted, and forces us to reconsider ingrained beliefs, gives us a list of counter-options for interpretation, and questions the prescribed order of things.
Her style is best captured by Edward Hirsch, who in 1996 in his book “Subversive Activities” said that “[She] has mounted in her work