Children of Our Era
by Wislawa Szymborska
translated by Joanna Trzeciak
We are children of our era;
our era is political.
All affairs, day and night,
yours, ours, theirs,
are political affairs.
Like it or not,
your genes have a political past,
your skin a political cast,
your eyes a political aspect.
What you say has a resonance;
what you are silent about is telling.
Either way, it’s political.
Even when you head for the hills
you’re taking political steps
on political ground.
Even apolitical poems are political,
and above us shines the moon,
by now no longer lunar.
To be or not to be, that is the question.
Question? What question? Dear, here’s a suggestion:
a political question.
You don’t even have to be a human being
to gain political significance.
Crude oil will do,
or concentrated feed, or any raw material.
Or even a conference table whose shape
was disputed for months:
should we negotiate life and death
at a round table or a square one?
Meanwhile people were dying,
and fields growing wild,
just as in times most remote
and less political.