Zbigniew Herbert

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Period

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Translated by Czesław Miłosz
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In appearance a drop of rain on a beloved face, a beetle immobilised on a leaf when a storm approaches. Something which can be enlivened, erased, reversed. Rather a stop with a green shadow than the end.

In fact the period which we attempt to tame at any price is a bone protruding from the sand, a snapping shut, a sign of a catastrophe. It is a punctuation mark of the elements. People should employ it modestly and with a proper consideration as when they act instead of fate.

Reproduced by permission of the Herbert Foundation and the Wylie Agency.