Ryszard Krynicki


Not much will remain Ryszard in truth not much of the poetry of our mad century Rilke Eliot sure a few other worthy shamans who knew the secret of word spells time-resistant forms without which no phrase deserves memory and speech is like sand 

our school notebooks subjected to earnest torture with their traces of sweat tears and blood will be to the eternal proofreader a song without a score nobly righteous and all too self-evident 

we came too easily to believe beauty does not save that it leads wantons from dream to dream to death none of us was able to wake the dryad of a poplar or to decipher the handwriting of the clouds that is why no unicorn will stray across our tracks we'll raise up no ship in the bay no peacock no rose nakedness was left to us and we stand here naked on the right the better side of the triptych The Last Judgment 

we took public affairs onto our lanky shoulders the battle with tyranny lies the recording of pain but our foes-you admit-were despicably small and so was it worth it to bring down holy speech to rostrum gibberish to a newpaper's black foam 

so little joy-sister of the gods-in our poems Ryszard too few glimmering twilights mirrors wreaths ecstasies nothing just obscure psalmodies the whine of animulae urns of ash in a burned-out garden 

what forces do we need-in spite of destiny the decrees of history and human iniquity-to whisper a good night in treason's garden what forces of the spirit do we need blindly beating despair against despair to ignite a spark a word of atonement that the dancing circle might last on the soft grass that a child's birth and every beginning be blessed the gifts of the air of the earth of fire and of water 

I don't know-my friend-and that's why
I send you these owl's riddles in the night
a warm embrace
a bow from my shadow

Zbigniew Herbert: The Collected Poems 1956-1998

Our Life Grows 

For Krystynka and Natalia
An unknown spy will send him a challenge
A perjured court will do battle with him
"Do Matki Polki" (To a Polish Mother) 

I rebelled
but I think this bloody knot
should be the very last one
a man freeing himself
should tear loose
"Reflections on the Problem of the Nation"

You survived not so that you might live
you have little time you must give testimony
"The Envoy of Mr. Cogito"

and in that weeping
(here is always
so much life
"The Day After Tomorrow"

This, Nothing
Or, Other Poems jar Internal Use 

If it is true that the same suffering is harder to endure for noble
reasons than for base ones (people who have stood motionless
in a queue from one o'clock at night to eight in the morning to
obtain an egg would have had great difficulty doing the same to
save a human life), it may be that virtue of a base kind is more
resistant to adversity, temptation and misfortune than virtue
of a noble kind.
• • •
We know from experience that the truth is always universal
and reality is always particular, and yet they are inseparable
and even form a whole. We can find no way out of this problem.



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