I’ve made a list of questions
to which I no longer expect answers,
since it’s either too early for them,
or I won’t have time to understand.

The list of questions is long,
and takes up matters great and small,
but I don’t want to bore you,
and will just divulge a few:

What was real
and what scarcely seemed to be
in this auditorium,
stellar and substellar,
requiring tickets both to get in
and get out;

What about the whole living world,
which I won’t succeed
in comparing with a different living world;

What will the papers
write about tomorrow;

When will wars cease,
and what will take their place;

Whose third finger now wears
the ring
stolen from me — lost;

Where’s the place of free will,
which manages to be and not to be
simultaneously;

What about those dozens of people —
did we really know each other;

What was M. trying to tell me
when she could no longer speak;

Why did I take bad things
for good ones
and what would it take
to keep from doing it again?

There are certain questions
I jotted down just before sleep.

On waking
I couldn’t make them out.

Sometimes I suspect
that this is a genuine code,
but that question, too,
will abandon me one day.

 

translated from Polish by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh Wislawa Szymborska