Oct 22, 2005

Return of the Proconsul

Finally I found an English translation of my favourite poem, 'Powrót Prokonsula' by Zbigniew Herbert. So, without further due, here it goes:

The Return of the Proconsul

I've decided to return to the emperor's court
once more I shall see if it's possible to live there
I could stay here in this remote province
under the full sweet leaves of the sycamore
and the gentle rule of sickly nepotists

when I return I don't intend to commend myself
I shall applaud in measured portions
smile in ounces frown discreetly
for that they will not give me a golden chain
this iron one will suffice

I've decided to return tomorrow or the day after
I cannot live among vineyards nothing here is mine
trees have no roots houses no foundations the rain is glassy flowers smell of wax
a dry cloud rattles against the empty sky
so I shall return tomorrow or the day after in any case I shall return

I must come to terms with my face again
with my lower lip so it knows how to curb scorn
with my eyes so they remain ideally empty
and with that miserable chin the hare of my face
which trembles when the chief of guards walks in

of one thing I am sure I will not drink wine with him
when he brings his goblet nearer I will lower my eyes
and pretend I'm picking bits of food from between my teeth
besides the emperor likes courage of convictions
to a certain extent to a certain reasonable extent
he is after all a man like everyone else
and already tired by all those tricks with poison
he cannot drink his fill incessant chess
this left cup is for Drusus from the right one pretend to sip
then drink only water never lose sight of Tacitus
take a walk in the garden and return when the corpse has
been removed

I've decided to return to the emperor's court yes I hope that things will work out somehow


logologist said...

The Proconsul, as a consummate strategist, must have given thought to the question: After the Emperor is gone, then what? Is the imperial throne to remain vacant? Will its next holder be better? Or will the throne be replaced by a different sort of furtniture, yet to be devised?

Piotr Konieczny said...

Or is this the only kind of life worth living for?

I don't know. But whenever I read this poem I get this feeling of profund sadness...and importance in some question I can't really form.

Poetry is strange. But this is a what a good piece should make you like, I think.

martin the great said...

The God-Emperor of Mankind will never be gone! He shall rest in the Golden Throne until the enemies of Man, both the filthy Xenos and the treacherous Heretics are slain, destroyed and annihilated, just as He did for the last ten millenia. Glory to the Emperor! All hail!

jason c said...

And on the eighth day, the mighty Lord of the Underdark looked around Him.

He saw the dark and twisted evils spreading throughout the world, and it was good.

He saw the shadows blocking out he warm sunlight, reminding that where there is good, so shall there be evil. And he found it good.

He saw his curse upon mankind, a blight, rummaging through Her potato chips and screaming. She was called Roseanne Barr, and she was evil. And the Lord found it good.

He looked left, and gave us Paris (city and person). He looked right and gave us AOL. He looked up and gave us Netflix, and looked down to give us STD's. Evil, all. And all was good.

hal9001 said...

What when the emperor is gone? Try the sketch by Salon Niezależnych: After the monarchy was gone, we started the seek'n'hide again.

Anonymous said...

change hare (rabbit) to hair

Piotr Konieczny said...

For the record, it is supposed to be hare.

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Voice of the Prokonsul by Piotr Konieczny is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.