Sunday Science Poem: The Two Apes of Brueghel

pieter-bruegel-the-elder-two-chained-monkeys-1I’ve discussed this poem before, but you may have missed it, in which case it will be, as NBC says, new to you. The Sunday Poem will be back next week with completely new material.

This is one of my favorite poems by the Polish Nobel laureate Wisława Szymborska (1923-2011). All I have to say about this poem is that a monkey rattling a chain is never a good thing, especially at a thesis committee update.

The Two Apes of Brueghel (1957), 

So appears my big graduation exam dream:
In a window sit two monkeys fixed by chains,
Beyond the window the sky flies
And the sea splashes.

The subject is the history of mankind.
I stammer and flail.

One monkey, gazing at me, ironically listens,
The second seems to doze -
But when after a question comes silence,
It prompts me
By softly clinking the chain.

Translation from the Polish by yours truly.
Image: Pieter Bruegel’s “Two Chained Monkeys” (1525)

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One response to “Sunday Science Poem: The Two Apes of Brueghel

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