Episode

By Zbigniew Herbert 1924–1998 Zbigniew Herbert

Translated By Czeslaw Milosz and Peter Dale Scott

We walk by the sea-shore
holding firmly in our hands
the two ends of an antique dialogue
—do you love me?
—I love you

with furrowed eyebrows
I summarize all wisdom
of the two testaments
astrologers prophets
philosophers of the gardens
and cloistered philosophers

and it sounds about like this:
—don’t cry
—be brave
—look how everybody

you pout your lips and say
—you should be a clergyman
and fed up you walk off
nobody loves moralists

    what should I say on the shore of
    a small dead sea

    slowly the water fills
    the shapes of feet which have vanished

"Episode" by Zbigniew Herbert from Selected Poems of Zbigniew Herbert, Edited and Translated by Czeslaw Milosz and Peter Dale Scott. English translation copyright © 1968 by Czeslaw Milosz and Peter Scott. Used by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, www.harpercollins.com

Source: Selected Poems of Zbigniew Herbert (The Ecco Press, 1985)

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Poet Zbigniew Herbert 1924–1998

POET’S REGION Poland

Subjects Love, Humor & Satire, Relationships, Arts & Sciences, Philosophy, Break-ups & Vexed Love, Realistic & Complicated

Poetic Terms Imagery, Free Verse

 Zbigniew  Herbert

Biography

"One of Poland's most honored and influential poets," as Robert Hudzik describes him in Library Journal, Zbigniew Herbert enjoys an international reputation. His poetry, marked by a direct language and a strong moral concern, is shaped by his experiences under both the Nazi and Soviet dictatorships. As Bogdana Carpenter writes in World Literature Today, "from his extremely destructive experiences Herbert manages to draw . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Love, Humor & Satire, Relationships, Arts & Sciences, Philosophy, Break-ups & Vexed Love, Realistic & Complicated

POET’S REGION Poland

Poetic Terms Imagery, Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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