Classifieds

by Wislawa Szymborska

English version by Clare Cavanagh and Stanislaw Baranczak
Original Language Polish

WHOEVER'S found out what location
compassion (heart's imagination)
can be contacted at these days,
is herewith urged to name the place;
and sing about it in full voice,
and dance like crazy and rejoice
beneath the frail birch that appears
to be upon the verge of tears.

I TEACH silence
in all languages
through intensive examination of:
the starry sky,
the Sinanthropus' jaws,
a grasshopper's hop,
an infant's fingernails,
plankton,
a snowflake.

I RESTORE lost love.
Act now! Special offer!
You lie on last year's grass
bathed in sunlight to the chin
while winds of summers past
caress your hair and seem
to lead you in a dance.
For further details, write: "Dream."

WANTED: someone to mourn
the elderly who die
alone in old folks' homes.
Applicants, don't send forms
or birth certificates.
All papers will be torn,
no receipts will be issued
at this or later dates.

FOR PROMISES made by my spouse,
who's tricked so many with his sweet
colors and fragrances and sounds --
dogs barking, guitars in the streets --
into believing that they still
might conquer loneliness and fright,
I cannot be responsible.
Mr. Day's widow, Mrs. Night.

-- from Poems New and Collected, by Wislawa Szymborska / Translated by Stanislaw Baranczak

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Classifieds