Thursday Short Poem: Szymborska’s “Contribution” (again)

I posted this Wislawa Szymborska poem once before, exactly five years ago. It is as timely in my life as ever.

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 to 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
    – fourty 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,

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
    – thirty
(I wish I were wrong),

hunched in pain
no flashlight in the dark
    – eighty-three
sooner or later,

righteous
    – thirty-five, which is a lot,

righteous
and understanding
    -three,

worthy of compassion
    – ninety-nine,

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

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