Tuesday, April 12, 2011

a contribution to statistics - wislawa szymborska

A Contribution To Statistics
by Wislawa Szymborska (tr. by Baranczak & Cavanagh)

Out of a hundred people

those who always know better

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

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

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
(I wish I were wrong),

hunched in pain,
no flashlight in the dark
sooner or later,

---thirty-five, which is a lot,

and understanding

worthy of compassion

---a hundred out of a hundred.
Thus far this figure still remains unchanged.

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