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Thursday, June 17, 2010


(Monsieur Barré’s Ride by Robert Doisneau,
1912-1994, French photographer)

To survive and flourish, love needs special care. “Love is like quicksilver in the hand,” said the writer Dorothy Parker. “Leave the fingers open and it stays. Clutch it and it darts away.”


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

~ Zbigniew Herbert (1924-1998), Polish poet, essayist and playwright; translation by Czeslaw Milosz and Peter Dale Scott

1 comment:

Barbara Sullivan Mangogna said...

Wonderful. Those of us who do love them have a job keeping these philosophers' feet on the ground!