Wisława Szymborska: “Brueghel’s Two Monkeys”


This is what I see in my dreams about final exams:
two monkeys, chained to the floor, sit on the windowsill,
the sky behind them flutters,
the sea is taking its bath.

The exam is History of Mankind.
I stammer and hedge.

One monkey stares and listens with mocking disdain,
the other seems to be dreaming away–
but when it’s clear I don’t know what to say
he prompts me with a gentle
clinking of his chain.

Wisława Szymborska

Translation by Stanisław Barańczak & Clare Cavanagh

7 thoughts on “Wisława Szymborska: “Brueghel’s Two Monkeys”

  1. I would disagree, although of course poems always lose something in translation, this one seems pretty good to me. It gives the same vibe as the original.

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