"Murray is the best kind of literary biographer" – The Financial Times.
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Winner of the 2015 Basil Bunting Award for poetry

Monday, 20 August 2007

The Hygiene of the Soul

Next year is the tenth anniversary of the death of the great Polish poet Zbigniew Herbert who provides today's poem in the translation by Peter Dale Scott from Al Alvarez's Penguin Modern Poets selection of 1968 when "dissident" poets were all the rage in Hampstead and beyond. A more subtle and nuanced picture of the Polish literature of today still awaits us. Publishers take note.

The Hygiene of the Soul

We live in the narrow bed of our flesh. Only the inexperienced twist in it without interruption. Rotating around one's own axis is not allowed because then sharp threads wind themselves on to the heart as on to a spool.
It is necessary to fold one's hands behind the neck, half-shut the eyes and float down that lazy river, from the Fount of the Hair as far as the first Cataract of the Great Toenail.

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