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