To the Shade of Zbigniew Herbert

Heaney addresses the memory of a Polish poet he respected greatly for his ‘exemplary ethical and artistic integrity, his noble profile, solidarity with the victims of history and poetic and thereby political strength’; he became a bastion of resistance during turbulent periods of Polish occupation by the Russians. Active within the Polish Solidarity movement (one of those), of hyperborean giant status caught in the Polish ‘cold’ (from the back of the north wind), touched by creative talent (Apollo favoured), a poetic mouthpiece and spiritual strength when times were dark (the winter season), a popular (among your people) voice-in-waiting when his poetry was forbidden by the authorities (herald whenever he’d departed), when freedom of speech was repressed (the land was silent) […]