Wislawa Szymborska

(2 July 1923 – 1 February 2012 / Prowent)

Birthday


Birthday

So much world all at once – how it rustles and bustles!
Moraines and morays and morasses and mussels,
The flame, the flamingo, the flounder, the feather –
How to line them all up, how to put them together?
All the tickets and crickets and creepers and creeks!
The beeches and leeches alone could take weeks.
Chinchillas, gorillas, and sarsaparillas –
Thanks do much, but all this excess of kindness could kill us.
Where’s the jar for this burgeoning burdock, brooks’ babble,
Rooks’ squabble, snakes’ quiggle, abundance, and trouble?
How to plug up the gold mines and pin down the fox,
How to cope with the linx, bobolinks, strptococs!
Tale dioxide: a lightweight, but mighty in deeds:
What about octopodes, what about centipedes?
I could look into prices, but don’t have the nerve:
These are products I just can’t afford, don’t deserve.
Isn’t sunset a little too much for two eyes
That, who knows, may not open to see the sun rise?
I am just passing through, it’s a five-minute stop.
I won’t catch what is distant: what’s too close, I’ll mix up.
While trying to plumb what the void's inner sense is,
I'm bound to pass by all these poppies and pansies.
What a loss when you think how much effort was spent
perfecting this petal, this pistil, this scent
for the one-time appearance, which is all they're allowed,
so aloofly precise and so fragilely proud.

translated from Polish by Stanislaw Baranczak
and Clare Cavanagh

Urodziny

Tyle naraz świata ze wszystkich stron swiata:
moreny, mureny i morza, i zorze,
i ogień, i ogon, i orzeł, i orzech -
jak ja to ustawię, gdzie ja to położę?
Te chaszcze i paszcze, i leszcze, i deszcze,
bodziszki, modliszki - gdzie ja to pomieszczę?
Motyle, goryle, beryle i trele -
dziękuję, to chyba o wiele za wiele,
Do dzbanka jakiego tam łopian i łopot,
i łubin, i popłoch, i przepych, i kłopot?
Gdzie zabrać kolibra, gdzie ukryć to srebro,
co zrobić na serio z tym żubrem i zebrą?
Już taki dwutlenek rzecz ważna i droga,
a tu ośmiornica i jeszcze stonoga!
Domyślam się ceny, choć cena z gwiazd zdarta -
dziekuję, doprawdy nie czuję się warta.
Nie szkoda to dla mnie zachodu i słońca?
Jak ma się w to bawić osoba żyjąca?
Na chwilę tu jestem i tylko na chwilę:
co dalsze, przeoczę, a resztę pomylę.
Nie zdążę wszystkiego odróżnić od próżni.
Pogubię te bratki w pośpiechu podróżnym.
Jużc hoćby najmniejszy - szalony wydatek:
fatyga łodygi i listek, i płatek
raz jeden w przestrzeni, od nigdy, na oślep,
wzgardliwie dokładny i kruchy wyniośle.

Submitted: Friday, February 03, 2012

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