A WORD ON STATISTICS by Wislawa Szymborska


Out of every hundred people,

those who always know better:

Unsure of every step:
almost all the rest.

Ready to help,
if it doesn’t take long:

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

Able to admire without envy:

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

Those not to be messed with:

Living in constant fear
of someone or something:

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

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

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:
(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:

Worthy of empathy:

one hundred out of one hundred —
a figure that has never varied yet.

(translated from the Polish by Joanna Trzeciak)

6 thoughts on “A WORD ON STATISTICS by Wislawa Szymborska

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Caterina.net» Blog Archive » A WORD ON STATISTICS by Wislawa Szymborska -- Topsy.com

  2. And my second favorite poem of hers:

    By Wislawa Szymborska

    I’ll never find out now
    What A. thought of me.
    If B. ever forgave me in the end.
    Why C. pretended everything was fine.
    What part D. played in E.’s silence.
    What F. had been expecting, if anything.
    Why G. forgot when she knew perfectly well.
    What H. had to hide.
    What I. wanted to add.
    If my being around
    meant anything
    to J. and K. and the rest of the alphabet.

    (Translated, from the Polish, by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh.)

  3. Pingback: A Word on Statistics | Little Pebble

  4. Beautiful & Deep

    In the words of the Poet Edward Hirsch –

    ” She teaches us how the World defies and evades the names we give it “

  5. Pingback: A Word on Statistics by Wislawa Szymborska « Phil Ebersole's Blog

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