A Word on Statistics

A Word on Statistics

by Wislawa Szymborska

Out of every hundred people,

those who always know better:


Unsure of every step:

nearly all the rest.

Ready to help,

if it doesn’t take long:


Always good,

because they cannot be otherwise:

four – well, maybe five.

Able to admire without envy:


Led to error

by youth (which passes):

sixty, plus or minus.

Those not to be messed with:


Living in constant fear

of someone or something:


Capable of happiness:

twenty-some-odd at most.

Harmless alone,

turning savage in crowds:

more than half, for sure.


when forced by circumstances:

it’s better not to know,

not even approximately.

Wise in hindsight:

not many more

than wise in foresight.

Getting nothing out of life except things:


(though I would like to be wrong).

Balled up in pain

and without a flashlight in the dark:

eighty-three, sooner or later.

Those who are just:

quite a few, thirty-five.

But if it takes effort to understand:


Worthy of empathy:



one hundred out of one hundred –

a figure that has never varied yet.

*Translated from the Polish by Joanna Trzeciak.

Wislawa Szymborska won the 1996 Nobel Prize for literature. Her most recent book in English is View With a Grain of Sand (1995). She lives in Krakow, Poland.

About Rossana Martinez 222 Articles
I am an artist, a runner, a yogi and a glowing new mom of an endearing baby boy living in New York City attempting to balance it all. My goal is to keep it simple and enjoy the process. art & life is where I share my experiences and hope to connect with people interested in art and the simple things in life.

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