by Wislawa Szymborska


The admirable number pi:

three point one four one.

All the following digits are also initial

five nine two because it never ends.

It can't be comprehended six five three five at a glance,

eight nine by calculation,

seven nine or imagination,

not even three two three eight by wit, that is, by comparison

four six to anything else

two six four three in the world.

The longest snake on earth calls it quits at about fourty



Likewise, snakes of myth and legend, though they may hold

out a bit longer.

The pageant of digits comprising the number pi

doesn't stop at the page's edge.

It goes on across the table, through the air,

over a wall, a leaf, a bird's nest, clouds, straight into

the sky,

through all the bottomless, bloated heavens.

Oh how brief--a mouse tail, a pigtail--is the tail of a



How feeble the star's ray, bent by bumping up against space!

While here we have two three fifteen three hundred nineteen

my phone number your shirt size the year

nineteen hundred and seventy-three the sixth floor

the number of inhabitants sixty-five cents

hip measurement two fingers a charade, a code,

in which we find hail to thee, blithe spirit, bird thou

never wert

alongside ladies and gentlemen, no cause for alarm,

as well as heaven and earth shall pass away,

but not the number pi, oh no, nothing doing,

it keeps right on with its rather remarkable five

its uncommonly fine eight,

its far from final seven,

nudging, always nudging a sluggish eternity

to continue.