Friday, June 27, 2008

684. The Great Number - Wislawa Szymborska

Translated from the Polish by ?

Four billion people on this earth,
but my imagination is as it was.
It copes badly with great numbers,
moved only by the singular.
Flying through the dark like a beam of light,
it reveals the faces that are closest,
while the rest sink among the unnoticed,
the unthought, the regretted.
Dante himself couldn't have managed any better.
And I am no Dante,
even if all the muses were to help me.

Non omnis moriar,––a premature worry.
But do I live fully, and is it enough?
It never was, even less so now.
I choose by rejecting, for there is no other way,
but what I reject is more numerous,
more insistent than ever before.
At the price of indescribable loss––a short poem, a sigh.
To the sonorous calling I respond in whispers.
So much I have to leave unsaid.
A mouse at the foot of its mother mountain.
Life persists in a few scratches on the sand.

Even my dreams are not so peopled.
They are full of loneliness, not of noise and crowds.
Someone long dead stops in for a moment.
A single hand turns a doorknob.
Lean–to's of echo overgrow an empty house.
I run down from the threshold towards a valley
that is calm as if it were no one's already anachronistic.

Where does it come from, this space still in me––
I do not know.