Zbigniew Herbert, Mr. Cogito

While I was looking up the poem about Mr Cogito reading the newspaper, I came across this poem of Zbigniew’s, which says a lot about disability and suffering in general:

Mr. Cogito Meditates on Suffering

All attempts to remove
the so-called cup of bitterness–
by reflection
frenzied actions on behalf of homeless cats
deep breathing
religion–
failed

one must consent
gently bend the head
not wring the hands
make use of the suffering gently moderately
like an artificial limb
without false shame
but also without unnecessary pride

do not brandish the stump
over the heads of others
don’t knock with the white cane
against the windows of the well-fed

drink the essence of bitter herbs
but not to the dregs
leave carefully
a few sips for the future

His metaphoric imagery about the stump and the white cane are spot on, and I love the part that says to carefully leave a few sips of bitterness to drink from the cup in the future!

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