Wislawa Szymborska, 1923 – 2012
The great Polish poet Wislawa Szymborska died yesterday in Krakow. Here’s a poem from her 1976 collection, A Large Number:
IN PRAISE OF FEELING BAD ABOUT YOURSELF
The buzzard never says it is to blame.
The panther wouldn’t know what scruples mean.
When the piranha strikes, it feels no shame.
If snakes had hands, they’d claim their hands were clean.
A jackal doesn’t understand remorse.
Lions and lice don’t waver in their course.
Why should they, when they know they’re right?
Though hearts of killer whales may weigh a ton,
in every other way they’re light.
On this third planet of the sun
among the signs of bestiality
a clear conscience is Number One.