Tag Archives: Zbigniew Herbert

Zbigniew Herbert: Awakening

Awakening (Inscription, 1969)

When the horror subsided the floodlights went out
we discovered that we were on a rubbish-heap in very strange poses
some with outstretched necks
others with open mouths from which still trickled my native land
and others with fists pressed to eyes
cramped emphatically pathetically taut
in our hands we held pieces of sheet iron and bones
(the floodlights had transformed them into symbols)
but now they were no more than sheet iron and bones

We had nowhere to go we stayed on the rubbish-heap
we tidied things up
the bones and sheet iron we deposited in an archive

we listened to the chirping of streetcars to a swallow-like voice of factories
and a new life was unrolling at our feet


Zbigniew Herbert: Architecture


Over a light arch–
a brow of stone

on a wall’s
untroubled forehead

in the windows joyous and open
with faces instead of geraniums

where there are perfect squares
next to a dreaming perspective

where an ornament wakes a stream
in a tranquil field of level surfaces

motion with stillness a line with a cry
resembling uncertainty simply clarity

there you are
art of fancy and stone

there you dwell beauty
over an arch light
as a sigh

on a wall
pale with its height

in a window
with tears of glass

I the exile of self-evident forms
proclaim your motionless dance