by Wisława Szymborska
The world would rather see hope than just hear
its song. And that’s why statesmen have to smile.
Their pearly whites mean they’re still full of cheer.
The game’s complex, the goal’s far out of reach,
the outcome’s still unclear – once in a while,
we need a friendly, gleaming set of teeth.
Heads of state must display unfurrowed brows
on airport runways, in the conference room.
They must embody one big, toothy “Wow!”
while pressing flesh or pressing urgent issues.
Their faces’ self-regenerating tissues
make our hearts hum and our lenses zoom.
Dentistry turned to diplomatic skill
promises us a Golden Age tomorrow.
The going’s rough, and so we need the laugh
of bright incisors, molars of good will.
Our times are still not safe and sane enough
for faces to show ordinary sorrow.
Dreamers keep saying, “Human brotherhood
will make this place a smiling paradise.”
I’m not convinced. The statesman, in that case,
would not require facial exercise,
except from time to time: he’s feeling good,
he’s glad it’s spring, and so he moves his face.
But human beings are, by nature, sad.
So be it, then. It isn’t all that bad