The World is never ready for the birth of a child...

The world is never ready

for the birth of a child.

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,

change faiths,

pretend to be friends with the Doge

and say that we've got nothing to do with the Kwabe tribe.

Time to light the fires.

Let's send a cable to grandma in Zabierzow.

Let's untie the knots 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.

Spare him

that one gift,

0 heavenly powers.

Excerpt from View with a Grain of Sand, copyright © 1993 by Wislawa Szymborska, English translation by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh copyright © 1995 by Harcourt, Inc.

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