Tuesday, July 21, 2015
983. A Tale Begins - Wislawa Szymborska
Translated from the Polish by Clare Cavanagh and Stanislaw Baranczak
Our ships are not yet back from Winnland.
We still have to get over the S. Gothard pass.
We’ve got to outwit the watchmen on the desert of Thor,
fight our way through the sewers to Warsaw’s center,
gain access to King Harald the Butterpat,
and wait until the downfall of Minister Fouche.
Only in Acapulco
can we begin anew.
We’ve run out of bandages,
matches, hydraulic presses, arguments, and water.
We haven’t got the trucks, we haven’t got the Minghs’ support.
This skinny horse won’t be enough to bribe the sheriff.
No news so far about the Tartars’ captives.
We’ll need a warmer cave for winter
and someone who can speak Harari.
We don’t know whom to trust in Nineveh,
what conditions the Prince-Cardinal will decree,
which names Beria has still got inside his files.
They say Karol the Hammer strikes tomorrow at dawn.
In this situation, let’s appease Cheops,
report ourselves of our own free will,
pretend to be friends with the Doge,
and say that we’ve got nothing to do the the Kwabe tribe.
Time to light the fires.
Let’s send a cable to grandma in Zabierzow.
Let’s untie the knot in the yurt’s leather straps.
May delivery be easy,
may our child grow and be well.
Let him be happy from time to time
and leap over abysses
Let his heart have strength to endure
and his mind be awake and reach far.
But not so far
that it sees into the future.
that one gift,
O heavenly powers.