Poetry Wednesday: “Never of You” by Zbigniew Herbert (1924-1998)

I never have the courage to speak of you

vast sky of my neighborhood

nor you roofs

holding off cascades of air

lovely downy roofs the hair of our homes

Nor you chimneys laboratories of sorrow

spurned by the moon stretching out necks

Nor of you windows opened and closed

which burst when we are dying overseas

I cannot even describe the house

which knows all my escapes and my returns

though so small it stays under my shut eyelid

nothing can render the smell the green curtain

the creak of stairs I ascend carrying a lit lamp

nor the greenery over the gate

In fact I want to write of the house’s gate latch

of its rough handshake and its friendly creaks

but although I know so much about it

I use only a cruelly common litany of words

So many feelings fit between two heartbeats

so many objects can be held in our tow hands

Don’t be surprised we can’t describe the world

and just address things tenderly by name.

(Herbert, Zbigniew. The Collected Poems 1956-1998. Trans. Alissa Valles. New York: Harpercollins. 2007. 82.)


One thought on “Poetry Wednesday: “Never of You” by Zbigniew Herbert (1924-1998)

  1. […] everything further away (we would be familiar with this argument, for instance, from Auden). In Never of You, Herbert expresses a similar sentiment, when he […]


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