Where is a written deer running through a written forest?
Whether to drink from written water
which will reflect its mouth like a carbon?
Why is it raising its head, does it hear something?
Propped on four legs borrowed from the truth
it pricks up its ears from under my fingers.
Silence - that word, too, is rustling on paper
and parts the branches caused by the word 'forest'.
Over a white page letters are ready to jump
and they may take a bad turn.
Sentences capable of bringing to bay,
and against which there is no help.
In a drop of ink there are quite a few
hunters squinting one eye,
ready to rush down a vertical pen,
to encircle the deer, to take aim.
They forget that this is not life here.
Other laws rule here, in black and white.
An instant will last as long as I desire.
It will allow a division into small eternities
each full of buckshot stopped in its flight.
If I command, nothing here will happen ever.
Not even a leaf will fall without my accord,
or a blade of grass bend under a dot of a hoof.
And so there is such a world
on which I impose my autonomous Fate?
A time which I bind with fetters of signs?
A life that at my command is perpetual?
The joy of writing.
A chance to make things stay.
A revenge of a mortal hand.
Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1996
translated from the Polish by Czeslaw Milosz