Wednesday 2 October 2013

A Pebble from the Holstorm

Well, apart from that peaceful weekend in Derbyshire, my life seems to have segued from workstorm into homestorm - or holstorm? Anyway much kerfuffle and little chance to get to the keyboard and blog - and tomorrow the Normandy ferry. So let's have another poem...
  Here, in a still, small poem that is itself 'a perfect creature equal to itself', the Polish poet Zbigniew Herbert contemplates a pebble. Herbert was fascinated by the reality of concrete things and by the presence of the past. He shunned abstract notions (he'd seen enough in his lifetime of the human damage ideologies could do). Writing, he declared, 'must teach men soberness... to be awake'. As the poet is awake to the pebble.


The pebble
is a perfect creature

equal to itself
mindful of its limits

filled exactly
with a pebbly meaning

with a scent that does not remind one of anything
does not frighten anything away does not arouse desire

its ardour and coldness
are just and full of dignity

I feel a heavy remorse
when I hold it in my hand
and its noble body
is permeated by false warmth

--Pebbles cannot be tamed
to the end they will look at us
with a calm and very clear eye.

(Herbert is a poet who seems to translate into English exceptionally well. This translation is by another great Polish poet, Czeslaw Milosz. More Herbert poems here...)

1 comment:

  1. PS Those are Dieppe pebbles by the way.
    (Encore le dernier reflux,
    le galet mort...)