Zbigniew Herbert
(trans. by Marek Lugowski)


Most beautiful is Nike at the instant
when she hesitates
the right hand beautiful like a command
leans against the air
but her wings are aquiver

because she sees
a lone youth
he is walking a long rut
of a war wagon
along a gray road in a gray landscape
of rocks and an occasional juniper bush

this youth will soon die
just now the scale with his fate
falls suddenly
to the ground

Nike has a tremendous desire
to walk up
and kiss him in the forehead
but she is afraid
that he who has not known yet
the sweetness of fondling
upon knowing it
might run away like the others
at the time of battle
and so Nike hesitates
and finally resolves to
remain in a position
which she was taught by the sculptors
very much ashamed of this moment of feeling moved

she understands well
that tomorrow at dawn
they must find the boy
with his chest open
eyes closed
and a tart obol of fatherland
under the stiff tongue

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