Wisława Szymborska
Wystraczy, 2012


Dwadzieścia siedem kości,
trzydzieści pięć mięśni,
około dwóch tysięcy komórek nerwowych
w każdej opuszce naszych pięciu palców.
To zupełnie wystarczy,
żeby napisać „Mein Kampf”
albo „Chatkę Puchatka”.

Wystarczy – Wydawnictwo a5, 2012, p. 15

Palm of the Hand

Twenty seven bones,
Thirty five muscles,
about two thousand nerve cells
in each fingertip of our five fingers.
That’s enough
to write Mein Kampf
or the House at Pooh Corner.

Wisława Szymborska (1923-2012) was a Polish poet, essayist, literary critic, and translator. This prolific poet and recipient of many prestigious awards and honors received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1996.

Szymborska is considered of Poland’s most prominent poets. Simple in style, her poems are deeply intellectual, addressing important life matters. Szymborska’s poetry is injected with philosophical reflections on human existence, frequently depicted through the prism of biological, historical, or political perspectives. She never aimed for unnecessary grandiloquence, yet posed serious questions about seemingly mundane aspects of daily life.

The above poem was written sometime in the Spring of 2011 and was included into Szymborska’s last volume of poetry, published in April 2012, two months after the poet’s death. This very succinct reflection on the anatomy of a human hand is also a juxtaposition of human deeds. The contrast of two books in the last two lines offers a tacit, yet profound commentary on one’s life choices and their lasting effects on mankind.

Translation and comment prepared by Maggie Harrison

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henery Larsson

You’re so cool! I don’t suppose I’ve read anything like this before. So nice to find somebody with some original thoughts on this subject. I really thank you for starting this up.