Friday, August 1, 2014

The Nepenthes Family by Zbigniew Herbert

The Nepenthes Family

Was Jean-Jacques the Tender aware of the pitcher plant
—he must have been the plant was described by Linnaeus—
then why did he pass over in silence this scandal of Nature

one of many scandals and it may well have been
beyond the capacity of his heart and tear glands—
he who sought consolation in the natural world

in dark jungles of Borneo the recreant grows
and lures with a flower which is not a flower
but a leaf’s central vein dilated like a pitcher

with its lid on a hinge and a very sweet lip
drawing insects into a treacherous banquet
like the secret police of a certain superpower

for who can withstand—whether fly or man—
sticky nectars and an orgy of colors lighting up
white violet meat like windows of a whores’ inn

whose innkeeper with a lovely daughter and wife
send the company of guests drained bled to death
to heaven or hell according to services performed

the darling of the decadents in Victorian times
marrying licentious salon with torture chamber
you name it—rope nails poison sex knout coffin

and we live in peace and harmony with the pitcher plant
among gulags and concentration camps we do not care
to know that in the world of plants there is no innocence

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