A short note on a sad anniversary: Zbigniew Herbert’s death on a stormy night in Warsaw


The book that brought him to the West.

Zbigniew Herbert died on a stormy night in Warsaw, this day, in 1998. We can do no better than link to Artur Sebastian Rosman‘s post, “Zbigniew Herbert Tempers the Rational Fury” in his brand-new blog, Cosmos the in Lost. In particular, Artur explores Herbert’s interesting connection with the philosopher Baruch Spinoza.

From Herbert’s poem, “Mr. Cogito Tells of the Temptation of Spinoza”:

Baruch Spinoza of Amsterdam
was seized by a desire to reach God

in the attic
cutting lenses
he suddenly pierced a curtain
and stood face to face

he spoke for a long time
(and as he so spoke
his mind enlarged
and his soul)
he posed questions
about the nature of man …

szu-szuWell, read the rest here.

I never met Zbigniew Herbert, but I did stroke his cat.  I snapped this photo of the occasion in 2008.  Szu-szu is on the right.  On the left is Mouszka, an important acquisition by Madame Herbert sometime after the death of her husband.  I wonder if Szu-szu is still alive…

Meanwhile, among my own posts on Herbert are: “The Worst Dinner Party Ever, Czeslaw Milosz, Zbigniew Herbert, and the Lady Who Watched the Fight” here; and “When Zbyszek Met Kasia” here; and “Notting Hill Editions: Irish Saints, Dutch Executioners, and “a Crumb of Helpless Goodness”  here.

Light a candle in his memory.  And meanwhile, I must find a larger photo of these cats somewhere.  (Postscript: Found a bigger copy of the photo. The Herbert pussycats deserve no less.)

Tags: , ,

2 Responses to “A short note on a sad anniversary: Zbigniew Herbert’s death on a stormy night in Warsaw”

  1. Andre Says:

    Beautiful blog! I like your few lines about Baruch Spinoza.

  2. Bettina Says:

    How strange. I’ve just now lightened a candle on Herbert’s memory, now is the anniversary of his birthday, and I discover this by chance, reading his book “Rovigo”. Beautiful post. I love cats too. I’ve them here with me, while I’m writing my thank to you. And to Zbigniew Herbert, for his beloved poems.