Monday, 12 March 2012

zbigniew herbert

Achilles. Penthesilea

When Achilles with his short sword pierced the breast of
and as usual twisted the blade thrice in the wound, he
that the queen of the Amazons was lovely.
He laid her carefully on the sand, took off her heavy helmet,
unclasped her hair,
and gently arranged her hands on her bosom. He lacked,
however, the courage
to shut her eyes.
He gave her one more, last, farewell look, and, as though
suddenly overpowered
by an outer force, cried—the way neither he nor other
heroes of that great war ever cried—in a quiet, mesmeric,
aimless voice, ebbing with grief and with
rue, whose cadence was new to the offspring of Thetis. The
cry’s lengthy vowels, like
leaves, were falling upon the neck, breasts, knees of
wrapping the length of her grown-cold body.
She herself was preparing for Eternal Hunts in the
fathomless forests.
Her still open eyes stared from afar at the victor
with azure, steady hatred.

trans by joseph brodsky

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