By Wislawa Szymborska
I can’t speak for elsewhere,
but here on Earth we’ve got a fair supply of everything.
Here we manufacture chairs and sorrows,
scissors, tenderness, transistors, violins,
teacups, dams and quips.
There may be more of everything elsewhere,
but for reasons left unspecified they lack paintings,
picture tubes, pierogies, handkerchiefs for tears.
Here we have countless places with vicinities.
You may take a liking to some,
give them pet names,
protect them from harm.
They may be comparable places elsewhere,
but no one thinks they’re beautiful.
Like nowhere else, or almost nowhere,
you are given your own torso here,
equipped with the accessories required
for adding your own children to the rest.
Not to mention arms, legs, and astounded head.
Ignorance works overtime here,
something is always being counted, compared, measured,
from which roots and conclusions are then drawn.
I know, I know what you’re thinking.
Nothing here can last,
since from and to time immemorial the elements hold sway.
But see even the elements grow weary
and sometimes take extended breaks
before starting up again.
And I know what you’re thinking next.
Wars, wars, wars.
But there are pauses in between them too.
Attention! – people are evil.
At ease! – people are good.
At attention wastelands are created.
At ease houses are constructed in the sweat of brows,
and quickly inhabited.
Life on Earth is quite a bargain.
Dreams, for one, don’t charge admission.
Illusions are costly only when lost.
The body has its own instalment plan.
And as an extra, added feature,
you spin on the planet’s carousel for free,
and with it you hitch a ride on the intergalactic blizzard,
with times so dizzying
that nothing here on Earth can even tremble.
Just take a closer look:
the table stands exactly where it stood,
the piece of paper still lies where it was spread,
through the open window comes a breath of air,
the walls reveal no terrifying cracks
through which nowhere might extinguish you.