Zbigniew Herbert

(29 October 1924 – 28 July 1998 / Lvov)

A Description of the King


The king's beard on which sauces and ovations
fell until it became heavy as an axe
appears suddenly in a dream to a man condemned to die
and on a candlestick of flesh shines alone in the dark.

One hand for tearing meat is huge as a whole province
through which a ploughman inches forward a corvette lingers
The hand wielding the sceptre has withered from distinction
has grown grey from old age like an ancient coin

In the hour-glass of the heart sand trickles lazily
Feet taken off with boots stand in a corner
on guard when at night stiiffening on the throne
the king heirlessly forfeits his third dimension

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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