A Word on Statistics

-Crowd-People

 

 

by Wislawa Szymborska

 

Out of every hundred people

 

those who always know better:

fifty-two.

 

Unsure of every step:

nearly all the rest.

 

Ready to help,

as long as it doesn’t take long:

forty-nine.

 

Always good,

because they cannot be otherwise:

four–well, maybe five.

 

Able to admire without envy:

eighteen.

 

Led to error

by youth (which passes):

sixty, plus or minus.

 

Those not to be messed with:

forty and four.

 

Living in constant fear

of someone or something:

seventy-seven.

 

Capable of happiness:

twenty-some-odd at most.

 

Harmless alone,

turning savage in crowds:

more than half, for sure.

 

Cruel

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 but things:

thirty

(although I would like to be wrong).

 

Doubled over in pain,

without a flashlight in the dark:

eighty-three,

sooner or later.

 

Those who are just:

quite a few at thirty-five.

 

But if it takes effort to understand:

three.

 

Worthy of empathy:

ninety-nine.

 

Mortal:

one hundred out of one hundred–

a figure that has never varied yet.

 

trans. from the Polish by Joanna Trzeciak

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