A Word on Statistics by Wislawa Szymborska

Out of every hundred people,
those who always know better:
fifty-two.

Wislawa Szymborska

Unsure of every step:
almost all the rest.

Ready to help,
if it doesn’t take long:
forty-nine.

Always good,
because they cannot be otherwise:
four — well, maybe five.

Able to admire without envy:
eighteen.

Led to error
by youth (which passes):
sixty, plus or minus.

Those not to be messed with:
four-and-forty.

Living in constant fear
of someone or something:
seventy-seven.

Capable of happiness:
twenty-some-odd at most.

Harmless alone,
turning savage in crowds:
more than half, for sure.

Cruel
when forced by circumstances:
it’s better not to know,
not even approximately.

Wise in hindsight:
not many more
than wise in foresight.

Getting nothing out of life except things:
thirty
(though I would like to be wrong).

Balled up in pain
and without a flashlight in the dark:
eighty-three, sooner or later.

Those who are just:
quite a few, thirty-five.

But if it takes effort to understand:
three.

Worthy of empathy:
ninety-nine.

Mortal:
one hundred out of one hundred –
a figure that has never varied yet.

(translated from the Polish by Joanna Trzeciak)

via Caterina.net.

Wislawa Symborksa is a Polish poet who won the 1996 Nobel Prize for Literature.  I greatly liked this poem of hers when I read it years ago in The Atlantic Monthly, not knowing who she was.  I was glad when I came across it again the other day on the Internet.

Click on Wislawa Szymborska wiki for her Wikipedia biography.

Click on Wislawa Szymborska Poems in English for links to translations of her poems.

Tags: ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: