Sunday Poem

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,
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
— seventy-seven,
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
— thirty
(I wish I were wrong),
hunched in pain,
no flashlight in the dark
— eighty-three
sooner or later,
— thirty-five, which is a lot,
and understanding
— three,
worthy of compassion
— ninety-nine,
— a hundred out of a hundred.
Thus far this figure still remains unchanged.
by Wislawa Szymborska
from Poems: New and Selected,
trans. by S. Baranczak and C. Cavanagh