Wislawa Szymborska – A Hundred Comforts (Sto Pociech)

Let me dust off my rusty Polish skills and translate one of the poems of my favorite poet, Wislawa Szymborska, who won the Nobel Prize in 1996. (Sorry, had to convert all the Polish letters to their closest English equivalents, since WordPress fucks them all up…)

Sto pociech

Zachcialo mu sie szczescia,
zachcialo mu sie prawdy,
zachcialo mu sie wiecznosci,
patrzcie go!

He wanted some happiness
He wanted some truth
He wanted some eternity
Just look at him!

ledwie rozróznil sen od jawy,
ledwie domyslil sie, ze on to on,
ledwie wystrugal reke z pletwy rodem krzesiwo i rakiete,
latwy do utopienia w lyzce oceanu,
za malo nawet smieszny, zeby pustke smieszyc,
oczami tylko widzi,
uszami tylko slyszy,
rekordem jego mowy jest tryb warunkowy,
rozumem gani rozum,
slowem: prawie nikt,
ale wolnosc mu w glowie,
wszechwiedza i byt poza niemadrym miesem,
patrzcie go!

He could barely distinguish dream from consciousness
He could barely guess that he was himself
He could barely carve a hand straight out of a fin, a flint and a rocket
Easy to drown in a teaspoon of the ocean
Not funny enough to laugh at the emptiness
He only sees with his eyes
He only hears with his ears
His speech personal record is the use of the conditional
He criticizes reason with reason
In a word: almost nobody
But in his head, freedom, knowing it all, and existence beyond just unintelligent meat
Just look at him!

Bo przeciez chyba jest,
naprawde sie wydarzyl
pod jedna z gwiazd prowincjonalnych.
Na swój sposób zywotny i wcale ruchliwy.
Jak na marnego wyrodka krysztalu
-dosc powaznie zdziwiony.
Jak na trudne dziecinstwo w koniecznosciach stada
niezle juz poszczególny.
Patrzcie go!

Because he probably does exist, doesn’t he?
He really did come into being
Under one of the less sophisticated stars.
In his own special way quite full of life and jumpy
Like the poor outcast of a crystal, quite seriously curious.
Like in a difficult childhood in the needs of the flock
He stands out in not a bad way
Just look at him!

Tylko tak dalej,
dalej choc przez chwile,
bodaj przez mgnienie galaktyki malej!

Keep on going on, but only for a moment
Just a blink of our small galaxy!

Niechby sie wreszcie z grubsza okazalo,
czym bedzie, skoro jest.
A jest – zawziety.
Zawziety, trzeba przyznac, bardzo.
Z tym kólkiem w nosie,w tej todze,w tym swetrze.
Sto pociech, badz co badz.
Nieboze. Istny czlowiek.

You have to wonder how it will eventually turn out,
Who he’ll become, what he already is.
And he is – stubborn.
Stubborn, you have to admit, very.
With this ring in his nose, in this toga, in this sweater.
A hundred comforts, if nothing else.
The poor guy. A real man.

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  1. Not bad…but there were some mistakes in translation

    Comment by Alesya — July 8, 2011 @ 3:40 am

  2. i mean mistakes in phraseological unit, but i like it..very good..(=

    Comment by Alesya — July 8, 2011 @ 3:43 am

  3. Would love to hear your corrections. Even more, I would love to hear what “phraseological unit” means.

    Comment by JM — July 8, 2011 @ 9:46 am

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