Small Heart

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

–for Jan Jozef Szczepanski

 

 

 

The bullet that I shot

at the time of the great war

made a circle around the globe

and struck me in the back

 

at the least suitable moment

when I was already sure

I had forgotten everything

his-my faults

 

after all just like others

I wanted to erase from memory

the faces of hatred

 

history consoled me

that I had fought with naked force

and the Book said

–it is he who is Cain

 

 

so many years patiently

so many years in vain

with water of compassion I washed away

soot blood insults

so nobility

the beauty of existence

and perhaps even goodness

could have a home in me

 

after all just like everyone

I longed to return

to the bay of childhood

to the land of innocence

 

the bullet I shot

from a small calibre weapon

circled the globe

against the laws of gravitation

and struck me in the back

as if it wanted to say

—that nothing will be forgiven

to anyone

 

so now I sit alone

on the cut stump of a tree

exactly in the centre

of the forgotten battle

 

and I

gray spider

weave bitter meditations

 

about too great a memory

about too small a heart

 

 

—Zbigniew Herbert

(Translated from the Polish by John and Bogdana Carpenter)

About Celia Farber

Celia Farber is a journalist, author, and editor based in New York City, who grew up in Sweden and New York City. Farber has written on a variety of subjects for SPIN, Rolling Stone, Esquire, Harper’s, Salon, New York Press, and many more. In 2008, Celia Farber won the Semmelweis International Society’s Clean Hands Award For Investigative Journalism.

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