18 May 2013

happy love

I have recently discovered the poetry of Wislawa Szymborska, through this blog.

On first reading the following poem, it seemed to me that the author was feeling bitter ... but then I wondered - perhaps she had instead come to an understanding of why one should keep one's happiness under one's hat.  Nothing is as simple as it appears.

Happy Love

Happy love.  Is that normal,
is that serious, is that useful -
what does the world get out of two people
who don't see the world?

Lifted towards each other for no valid reason,
no different from a million others, but convinced
that it had to be thus - as reward for what?  Nothing;
light falling from nowhere -
why on them and not on others?
Does this offend justice?  Yes.
Does it upset solicitously piled principles,
does it upset morals?  It does upset and topple them.

Look at these happy ones;
would they at least put on some disguise,
pretend a despondency to sustain their friends!
Hear how they laugh - offensively.
The language they use - seemingly intelligible.
As for those ceremonies, the fuss,
their fancy reciprocal duties -
they look like a conspiracy behind humanity's back!

It's hard to predict the outcome
if their example could be followed.
What would sustain religions and poets,
what would be remembered, what abandoned,
who would wish to stay within its bounds.
Happy love.  Is it necessary?
It's tactful and sensible to ignore this scandal in Life's higher spheres.

Fine babies are born without its assistance.
Never, never could it populate the earth,
given its rare occurrence.

Let people who haven't known happy love
insist it's nowhere to be found.

With such faith it'll be easier for them to live and die.

from "People on a Bridge" by Wislawa Szymborska
translation Adam Czernaiwski

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