Inanimate objects are always correct and cannot, unfortunately, be reproached with anything […] Zbigniew Herbert (1924-1998) , Polish Poet.
Joseph Brodsky, famous Russian poet (the Nobel Prize in Literature 1987) about Zbigniew Herbert:
[…] What kind of poet is Zbigniew Herbert? Is he difficult? Is he hard to follow, hard to scan, impossible to remember? Look at „Pebble,” the first poem of this selection, and decide for yourself.
What kind of poem is this, and what is it all about? About nature, perhaps? Perhaps. I, for one, though, think that if it is about nature, then it is about human nature. About its autonomy, about its resistance, about, if you will, its survival. In this sense it is a very Polish poem, considering that nation’s recent, more exactly, modem, history. And it is a very modern poem, because Polish history, one may say, is modern history in miniature—well, more exactly, in a pebble. Because whether you are a Pole or not, what history wants is to destroy you. The only way to survive, to endure its almost geological pressure, is to acquire the features of a pebble, including the false warmth once you find yourself in somebody’s hands. […]
is a perfect creature
equal to itself
mindful of its limits
with a pebbly meaning
with a scent which does not remind one of anything
does not frighten anything away does not arouse desire
its ardour and coldness
are just and full of dignity
I feel a heavy remorse
when I hold it in my hand
and its noble body
is permeated by false warmth
—Pebbles cannot be tamed
to the end they will look at us
with a calm and very clear eye.
From: The Wilson Quarterly