Zbigniew Herbert

(29 October 1924 – 28 July 1998 / Lvov)

Prayer Of Pan Cogito – Traveller - Poem by Zbigniew Herbert

Lord
Thank you for creating the world beautiful and of such variety
And also for allowing me in your inexhaustible goodness
To visit places which were not the scene of my daily torments

- for lying at night near a well in a square in Tarquinia while the swaying
bronze declared from the tower your wrath and forgiveness

and a little donkey on the island of Corcyra sang to mi from
its incredible bellowing lungs the landscape’s melancholy

and in the very ugly city of Manchester I came across
very good and sensible people

nature reiterated her wise tautologies the forest was
forest the sea was sea and rock was rock

stars orbited and things were as they should be – Jovis omnia plena

- forgive me thinking only of myself when the life of
others cruel and irreversible turned round me like the huge
astrological clock in the church at Beauvais

for being too cowardly and stupid because I did not understand
so many things

and also forgive me for not fighting for the happiness of
poor and vanquished nations and for seeing only moonrise and museums
- thank you for the works created to glorify you which
have shared with me part of there mystery so that in gross conceit

I concluded that Duccio Van Eyck Bellini painted for me too

and likewise the Acropolis which I had never fully understood
patiently revealed to me its mutilated flesh

- I pray that you do not forget to reward the white-haired old
man who brought me fruit from his garden in the bay of the island of Ithaca

and also the teacher Miss Hellen on the isle of Mull whose
hospitality was Greek or Christian and who ordered light
to be placed in the window facing Holy Iona so that human
lights might greet one another

and furthermore all those who had shown me the way and said
kato kyrie kato

and that you should have in your care the Mother from Spoleto
Spiridion from Paxos and the good student from Berlin who
got me out of a tight spot and later, when I unexpectedly
ran into him in Arizona, drove me to Grand Canyon which
is like a hundred thousand cathedrals standing on their heads

- grant O Lord that I may forget my foolish and very weary
persecutors when the sun sets into the vast uncharted
Ionian sea

that I may comprehend other men other tongues other suffering
and that I be not stubborn because my limitations are
without limits

and above all that I be humble, that is, one who sees
one who drinks at the spring

thank you O Lord for creating a world very beautiful and varied

and if this is Your temptation I am tempted for ever
and without forgiveness


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Poem Submitted: Thursday, December 29, 2011



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