Thursday, June 16, 2016

Tuesday Poem: "A Contribution to Statistics" by Wisława Szymborska

Out of a hundred people

those who always know better

— fifty-two

doubting every step

— nearly all the rest,

glad to lend a hand

if it doesn’t take too long

— as high as forty-nine,

always good

because they can’t be otherwise

— four, well maybe five,

able to admire without envy

— eighteen,

suffering illusions

induced by fleeting youth

— sixty, give or take a few,

not to be taken lightly

— forty and four,

living in constant fear

of someone or something

— seventy-seven,

capable of happiness

— twenty-something tops,

harmless singly, savage in crowds

— half at least,


when forced by circumstances

— better not to know

even ballpark figures,

wise after the fact

— just a couple more

than wise before it,

taking only things from life

— thirty

(I wish I were wrong),

hunched in pain,

no flashlight in the dark

— eighty-three

sooner or later,


— thirty-five, which is a lot,


and understanding

— three,

worthy of compassion

— ninety-nine,


— a hundred out of a hundred.

Thus far this figure still remains unchanged.

by Wisława Szymborska
(translated from the Polish by Clare Cavanagh and Stanislaw Baranczak)

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