The Silent Movies
Wislawa Szymborska
If there are angels
they probably don't read
our novels
about disappointed hopes.

I'm afraid -- unfortunately --
that they don't read our poems, either,
which are full of grudges toward the world.
The shrieks and twitches
of our plays
must -- I suspect --
bore them.

In their breaks from angel-work,
or rather non-human work
they prefer to watch
our comedians
from the age of the silent movies.

More than the lamenters
who tear their clothes
and gnash their teeth
they appreciate, I think,
the poor wretch
who grabs the drowning man by his toupé
or who eats his own shoelace out of starvation.

From the waist up: breasts and aspirations
and below a frightened mouse
in his pant leg.
Oh, yes
this must heartily amuse them.

transforms into running from the pursued.
The light in the tunnel
turns out to be the eye of a tiger.
A hundred catastrophies
are a hundred amusing sommersaults
above a hundred abysses.
If there are angels,
they should be convinced, I hope,
by merriment
swinging above terror,
not even calling "help, help"
because all this happens in silence.

I dare suppose
that they are clapping their wings
and that tears are flooding their eyes,
especially tears of laughter.

-translated by Walter Whipple