The messenger

The messenger awaited a despairingly long time
the longed-for harbinger of victory or annihilation
was late turning up - the tragedy was bottomless

Inside a chorus chanted dark prophesies and oaths
the king - dynastic fish - thrashed in an obscure net
the other necessary character - fate - was lacking

eagle oak wind sea wave must have known the epilogue
spectators on the heels of death breathed lightly as stones
The gods were sleeping A calm night without lightning

At last the runner came with a mask of blood mud laments
he let out incomprehensible screams gestured to the east
it was worse than death for there was neither pity nor fear
and in the final moment everybody longs for a catharsis

Zbigniew Herbert
The Collected Poems 1956 - 1998
Ecco, 2007
Tradução inglesa de Alissa Valles

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