Sunday, October 5, 2008

Reading after the vice-presidential debate: "Pit bull" Sarah Palin's clear conscience

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.

(from A Large Number, Wislawa Szymborska, 1976, and reprinted in her collection View With a Grain of Sand, 1996, which won her the Nobel Prize for Literature. Translated from the Polish by Claire Cavenaugh.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this poem. I looked on my slim bookshelf and, gosh darn, her book was there.