„A ballad about the Discoverer”

To memory of Strzelecki

First his own body it was exactly
like the other bodies bent in half
over the corn-fields

Further the female bodies young and already somebody else’s
the one who knew all the other who knew nothing
And she wanted to escape with him

What a shame for the family

Further still
complexities of Honour and Motherland
considered at the card-table
between wars on the officers’ lodgings

He tasted, and rejected

Further the witchcraft of science alchemy for mortals
And around the world grew smaller
In the chug of steam boilers
In the rattle of train rails hammered into shape

Further yet sailing-ships songs of the ocean
lands still not open people not portrayed
tongues to be learned

over the corn-fields
Read on - below

still to the limits

And yet further still to the limits
of body endurance driven with iron-will
to finish what's begun to describe
to name to deliver

Then he discovered fame
the weight of medals
the bombast of speeches in honour the scrambling for contributions

for prizes
for places on plinths

And he discovered the loss of a friend
who went alone into the unknown
in quest for a dream.

And he realised how delusive is memory of love
efflorescent after years like the old letters

He died bitter

And some hundred years later
We are
Discovering again
That the earth everywhere produces If wisely
Given what it needs
That people everywhere are alike
They do not wish to listen.


© Anna Habryn 4. 10. 2008