Poem: “In Praise of Feeling Bad About Yourself”

In Praise of Feeling Bad About Yourself

The buzzard never says it is to blame.
The panther wouldn’t know what scruples mean.
When the piranha strikes, it feels no shame.
If snakes had hands, they’d claim their hands were clean.

A jackal doesn’t understand remorse.
Lions and lice don’t waver in their course.
Why should they, when they know they’re right?

Though hearts of killer whales may weigh a ton,
in every other way they’re light.

On this third planet of the sun
among the signs of bestiality
a clear conscience is Number One.

Wislawa Szymborska

The famous poet Wislawa Szymborska was born in Western Poland on July 2, 1923. When World War II broke out in 1939, she took underground classes and later worked as a railroad employee to avoid being deported for forced labor in Germany. Though Wislawa began her studies in Literature, she had to quit due to a lack of funds. Many of her poems feature war and terrorism and she often wrote from unusual points of view, including the point of view of a cat in the newly empty apartment of its dead owner. Her first book was to be published in 1949, but did not pass censorship as it "did not meet socialist requirements". Working as poetry editor and columnist in Poland, she was described as the "Mozart of Poetry". Wislawa Szymborska died February 1, 2012 in Krakow.