“you were saved not in order to live/ you have little time you must give testimony”


(poetry diary 161) at home sneezing like crazy today from an office cold. thinking of retreating from Facebook and the national news for the day, though am also thinking that today will be a good day for me to figure out my own long-term resistance plan against the goals and potential results of the current administration re: the environment, health issues, the arts, etc. (My Facebook feed is full of friends urging others to call their representatives, sharing news articles, trying not to panic, etc.) I’m starting to comb through articles and lists that I previously posted in which writers give suggestions for good poems to read right now as we all try to figure out how to feel and what to do.

Here’s one by Zbigniew Herbert. I’ve been trying to read it from my own Liberal viewpoint and then re-read it from the viewpoint of one of my Trump-supporter friends who is feeling equally p.o.’d about the country about different albeit related matters and then re-read it from the viewpoint of my journalist friends, who perhaps need it most right now. Perhaps many who are troubled by current events can find something of use in it….

“Few writers speak from a position of resistance better than the Polish poet Herbert. For him, as for so many poets…poetry was a tool for survival. (Many, such as Wat and Mandelstam, didn’t survive.) Herbert was only 14 when Poland was invaded, first in September 1939 by the Nazis and then, just weeks later, by the Soviet Union. His poems, ‘Envoy’ in particular, bear witness to a broken world in which speaking truth—giving testimony, as he puts it—is a necessary part of its repair.” – Geoffrey Hilsabeck, “Resistance,” Poetry 

The Envoy of Mr. Cogito
Zbigniew Herbert, translated by Bogdana Carpenter 
Go where those others went to the dark boundary
for the golden fleece of nothingness your last prize
go upright among those who are on their knees
among those with their backs turned and those toppled in the dust
you were saved not in order to live
you have little time you must give testimony
be courageous when the mind deceives you be courageous
in the final account only this is important

Read rest of poem 

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