What email address or phone number would you like to use to sign in to Docs.com?
If you already have an account that you use with Office or other Microsoft services, enter it here.
Or sign in with:
Signing in allows you to download and like content, and it provides the authors analytical data about your interactions with their content.
Embed code for: "Contribution to Statistics"
Select a size
“A Contribution to Statistics” by Wislawa Szymborska
English version by Clare Cavanagh and Stanislaw Baranczak
Original Language Polish
Out of a hundred people
those who always know better
doubting every step
-- nearly all the rest,
glad to lend a hand
if it doesn't take too long
-- as high as forty-nine,
because they can't be otherwise
-- four, well maybe five,
able to admire without envy
induced by fleeting youth
-- sixty, give or take a few,
not to be taken lightly
-- forty and four,
living in constant fear
of someone or something
capable of happiness
-- twenty-something tops,
harmless singly, savage in crowds
-- half at least,
when forced by circumstances
-- better not to know
even ballpark figures,
wise after the fact
-- just a couple more
than wise before it,
taking only things from life
(I wish I were wrong),
hunched in pain,
no flashlight in the dark
sooner or later,
-- thirty-five, which is a lot,
worthy of compassion
-- a hundred out of a hundred.
Thus far this figure still remains unchanged.
Murphy Name: _______________________________________
“A Contribution to Statistics”
by Wislawa Szymborska
After reading, respond to each of the following questions in complete sentences.
Which human behaviors receive the highest percentages in the poem? Which ones receive the lowest? Overall, what does the speaker wish to communicate about how people behave from these percentages?
What are the aspects of humanity that the speaker chooses to focus on? How do these choices support the theme about people’s behavior to one another?
Notice how often Szymborska uses modifiers or qualifiers with the numbers. For instance, she writes “twenty-something tops” instead of just “twenty.” What is the effect of these modifiers?
Overall, is the tone of this poem pessimistic or optimistic? What language choices create this tone?
What can this poem teach the reader about humanity? If asked, what would Wislawa Szymborska say it means to be human? What evidence do you have to support this claim?
Write two stanzas to add to this poem. When writing, try to mimic the same style as Szymbroska. To select the topics of these stanzas, consider what it means to be human. What generalizations can you make about humanity?