In Praise of Self-Deprecation
by Wislawa Szymborska (born 1923)

Wislawa SzymborskaThe buzzard has nothing to fault himself with.
Scruples are alien to the black panther.
Piranhas do not doubt the rightness of their actions.
The rattlesnake approves of himself without reservations.

The self-critical jackal does not exist.
The locust, alligator, trichina, horsefly
live as they live and are glad of it.

The killer whale’s heart weighs one hundred kilos
but in other respects it is light.

There is nothing more animal-like
than a clear conscience
on the third planet of the Sun.

—translated from the Polish
by Magnus J. Krynski and Robert A. McGuire,
republished in A book of Luminous Things:
An International Anthology of Poetry
,
edited by Czeslaw Milosz


Thanks to Wendy for sharing this poem.

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