An Alcoholic Enters the Gates of Heaven
What kind of man I was to be you’ve known since the beginning,
since the beginning of every creature.
It must be horrible to be aware, simultaneously,
of what is, what was,
and what will be.
I began my life confident and happy,
certain that the Sun rose every day for me
and that flowers opened for me every morning.
I ran all day in an enchanted garden.
Not suspecting that you had picked me from the Book of Genes
for another experiment altogether.
As if there were not proof enough
that free will is useless against destiny.
Under your amused glance I suffered
like a caterpillar impaled on the spike of a blackthorn.
The terror of the world opened itself to me.
Could I have avoided escape into illusion?
Into a liquor which stopped the chattering of teeth
and melted the burning ball in my breast
and made me think I could live like others?
I realized I was wandering from hope to hope
and I asked you, All Knowing, why you torture me.
Is it a trial like Job’s, so that I call faith a phantom
and say: You are not, nor do your verdicts exist,
and the earth is ruled by accident?
Who can contemplate
simultaneous, a-billion-times-multiplied pain?
It seems to me that people who cannot believe in you
deserve our praise.
But perhaps because you were overwhelmed by pity,
you descended to the earth
to experience the condition of mortal creatures.
Bore the pain of crucifixion for a sin, but committed by whom?
I pray to you, for I do not know how not to pray.
Because my heart desires you,
though I do not believe you would cure me.
And so it must be, that those who suffer will continue to suffer,
praising your name.
(Translated by Czesław Miłosz and Robert Haas)