Allegro ma non troppo
Life, you're beautiful (I say)
you just couldn't get more fecund,
more befrogged or nightingaily,
more anthillful or sproutspouting.
I'm trying to court life's favor,
to get into its good graces,
to anticipate its whims.
I'm always the first to bow,
always there where it can see me
with my humble, reverent face,
soaring on the wings of rapture,
falling under waves of wonder.
Oh how grassy is this hopper,
how this berry ripely rasps.
I would never have conceived it
if I weren't conceived myself!
Life (I say) I've no idea
what I could compare you to.
No one else can make a pine cone
and then make the pine cone's clone.
I praise your inventiveness,
bounty, sweep, exactitude,
sense of order – gifts that border
on witchcraft and wizardry.
I just don't want to upset you,
tease or anger, vex or rile.
For millennia, I've been trying
to appease you with my smile.
I tug at life by its leaf hem:
will it stop for me, just once,
to what end it runs and runs?
Wisława Szymborska (1972),
trans. Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh