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
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 …
Well, 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.)