Zbigniew Herbert

Here you will find the Poem The Trial of poet Zbigniew Herbert

The Trial

During his great speech the prosecutor 
kept piercing me with his yellow index finger 
I'm afraid I didn't appear self-assured 
unintentionally I put on a mask of fear and depravity 
like a rat caught in a trap an informer a fratricide 
the reporters were dancing a war dance 
slowly I burned at a stake of magnesia 

all of this took place in a small stifling room 
the floor creaked plaster fell from the ceiling 
I counted knots in the boards holes in the wall faces 
the faces were alike almost identical 
policemen the tribunal witnesses the audience 
they belonged to the party of those without any pity 
and even my defender smiling pleasantly 
was an honorary member of the firing squad 

in the first row sat an old fat woman 
dressed up as my mother with a theatrical gesture she raised 
a handkerchief to her dirty eyes but didn't cry 
it must have lasted a long time I don't know even how long 
the red blood of the sunset was rising in the gowns of the judges 

the real trial went on in my cells 
they certainly knew the verdict earlier 
after a short rebellion they capitulated and started to die one after the other 
I looked in amazement at my wax fingers 

I didn't speak the last word and yet 
for so many years I was composing the final speech 
to God to the court of the world to the conscience 
to the dead rather than the living 
roused to my feet by the guards 
I managed only to blink and then 
the room burst out in healthy laughter 
my atoptive mother laughed also 
the gavel banged and this really was the end 

but what happened after that ? death by a noose 
or perhaps a punishment generously chained to a dungeon 
I?m afraid there is a third dark solution 
beyond the limits of time the senses and reason 

therefore when I wake I don't open my eyes 
I clench my fingers don't lift my head 
breathe lightly because truly I don't know 
how many minutes of air I still have left