Zbigniew Herbert

(29 October 1924 – 28 July 1998 / Lvov)

Rovigo


ROVIGO STATION. Unclear associations. A drama of Goethe
or something from Byron. I traveled through Rovigo
n times and exactly at the nth time I understood
that in my inner geography it is a special
place although it certainly yields
to Florence. I never touched it with my living foot
and Rovigo was always approaching or fleeing behind
At the time I was filled with love for the Altichiera
at the Oratory of San Giorgio in Padua and for Ferrara
which I loved because it reminded me
of the pillaged city of my fathers. I lived stretched
between the past and the present moment
many times crucified by a place and a time
And yet happy firmly trusting
the sacrifice will not be wasted
Rovigo wasn’t distinguished by anything particular it was
a masterpiece of mediocrity straight streets plain houses
only before or after the city (depending on the train’s direction)
a mountain suddenly rose from the plain -sliced open by a red quarry
like an Easter Ham surrounded by kale
besides that nothing to amuse sadden dazzle the eye
And yet it was a city of blood and stone – just like the others
a city in which yesterday somebody died someone went mad
someone coughed hopelessly throughout the night
ACCOMPANIED BY WHICH BELLS DO YOU APPEAR ROVIGO
Reduced to a station to a comma a crossed letter
nothing but a station – arrivi – partenze
and why do I think about you Rovigo Rovigo

Submitted: Thursday, December 29, 2011
Edited: Thursday, December 29, 2011

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