Friday, April 11, 2014

Priest by Zbigniew Herbert


PRIEST

                        to the worshippers of deceased religions

A priest whose deity
descended to earth

In a half-ruined temple
revealed its human face

I impotent priest
who lifting up my hands
know that from this neither rain nor locust
neither harvest nor thunderstorm

—I am repeating a dried-out verse
with the same incantation
of rapture

A neck growing to martyrdom
is struck by the flat of a jeering hand

My holy dance before the altar
is seen only by a shadow
with the gestures of a street-urchin

—And nonetheless
I raise up eyes and hands
I raise up song

And I know that the sacrificial smoke
drifting into a cold sky
braids a pigtail for a deity
without a head


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