A Polish contribution to statistics

UK-EU-Vote-52-48Almost 52 per cent of voters in a small group of islands off the west coast of Europe have decided to leave. The immediate result has been panic, fear – and a racist backlash, hitting the biggest minority of non-UK citizens, the Poles, hard. So let a Polish woman speak on the matter. She has a way with words.

A contribution to statistics:

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,

living in constant fear
of someone or something
– seventy-seven,

capable of happiness
– twenty-something tops,

harmless singly,
savage in crowds
– half at least,

cruel
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
– forty
(I wish I were wrong),

hunched in pain,
no flashlight in the dark

– eighty-three
sooner or later,

worthy of compassion
– ninety-nine,

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

Wisława Szymborska, translated by Stanisław Barańczak & Clare Cavanagh. Original Polish “przyczynek do statystyki” below. It was published in 2003, the year before Poland joined the EU, in her bilingual volume, Chwila/Moment.

Na stu ludzi

wiedzących wszystko lepiej
– pięćdziesięciu dwóch,

niepewnych każdego kroku
– prawie cała reszta;

gotowych pomóc,
o ile nie potrwa to długo
– aż czterdziestu dziewięciu;

dobrych zawsze,
bo nie potrafią inaczej
– czterech, no może pięciu;

skłonnych do podziwu bez zawiści
– osiemnastu;

żyjących w stałej trwodze
przed kimś albo czymś
– siedemdziesięciu siedmiu;

uzdolnionych do szczęścia
– dwudziestu kilku najwyżej;

niegroźnych pojedynczo,
dziczejących w tłumie
– ponad połowa na pewno;

okrutnych,
kiedy zmuszą ich okoliczności

– tego lepiej nie wiedzieć
nawet w przybliżeniu;
mądrych po szkodzie

– nie wielu więcej
niż mądrych przed szkodą;

niczego nie biorących z życia oprócz rzeczy

–  czterdziestu,
chociaż chciałabym się mylić;

skulonych, obolałych

i bez latarki w ciemności
– osiemdziesięciu trzech

prędzej czy później;

godnych współczucia
– dziewięćdziesięciu dziewięciu;

śmiertelnych
– stu na stu.
Liczba, która jak dotąd nie ulega zmianie.

Tagged with: , , , , ,
Posted in international, poetry, translation

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 )

Google+ photo

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

Connecting to %s

advent Alice in Wonderland American And Other Stories Antonia Lloyd-Jones Arabic Barańczak Beowulf Bible books Brazil Brazilian Portuguese British British Library Buddhism Central Europe Children's Books Children's literature Chinese Christmas Christmas Carols Clare Cavanagh Contemporary Czesław Miłosz Dari Edinburgh Festival English Estonian Eugene Ostashevsky Europe European Literature Night Facebook Fantasy Farsi Fiction Finland Finland 100 Finlandia Prize Finnish Flemish Free Word Centre French friends George Szirtes German Greek Hebrew Herbert Lomas Herta Müller history Hobbit Hungarian Idioms Illustration international International Translation Day Italian J. R. R. Tolkien Japanese Jenny Erpenbeck Jewish Johanna Sinisalo Korean Language language learning Languages Latin left-handed Literature Lola Rogers Lord of the Rings Mabinogion Man Booker International Prize Maori Maria Turtschaninoff Mirkka Rekola Moomins New Year Nobel Prize Old English Oxford English Dictionary PEN Translation Prize Persian Philip Boehm Pippi Longstocking Poetry Poetry Translation Centre Polish Portuguese pubilc libraries Roald Dahl Romanian Rosa Liksom Russian Ryszard Kapuściński Salla Simukka Seamus Heaney Shakespeare Short Stories Slovene Sofi Oksanen Spanish Stanisław Barańczak Susan Bernofsky Svetlana Alexievich Swedish Switzerland Tadeusz Różewicz Terhi Ekebom Thomas Teal Tibetan Tove Jansson Translation translator Translators Without Borders Valentine's Day Wales Warsaw Welsh Wisława Szymborska Witold Szabłowski Women in Translation Month words Words without Borders writing

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Follow found in translation on WordPress.com
%d bloggers like this: