Zbigniew Herbert

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Zbigniew Herbert

Zbigniew Herbert (born October 29, 1924 in Lemberg ; † July 28, 1998 in Warsaw ) was a Polish poet , playwright and essayist .


Herbert was the son of a banker. During the Second World War he began studying Polish studies underground . After graduating from the Commercial Academy in Cracow , he studied law in Thorn and philosophy in Warsaw. In a phase of cultural liberalization in Poland, Herbert made his debut in 1956 with the volume of poetry Struna światła ( Lichtstrahl , also Lichtsaite or The String of Light ). The following year his second volume of poetry, Hermes, pies i gwiazda ( Hermes, dog and star ) was published. In these and other volumes of poetry, Herbert processed the experiences of the war on the basis of ethical values, combining his ironic language with novel metaphors. With all content and linguistic innovations, his poems were based on traditional works of Polish and European poetry in form and melody.

The most important work of Herbert is considered to be the volume of poetry Pan Cogito ( Mr. Cogito ), published in 1974. Mr. Cogito “embodies the conflict between the feeling of reality and the longing for fame”.

His work, including the essay volume Barbarzyńca w ogrodzie ( A barbarian in a garden , 1962) and the poetry volume Raport z oblężonego miasta ( Report from a besieged city , 1983), which was first published in Paris , has won a number of international literary prizes, including the Kościelski Prize (1963), the Petrarca Prize (1979), the Samuel Bogumil Linde Prize (1997), the Jerusalem Prize (1991) and the City of Münster Prize for European Poetry (1997). Since 1974 he has been a member of the Akademie der Künste (West Berlin), since 1986 a member of the German Academy for Language and Poetry , since 1990 a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and since 1993 a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences .


  • A barbarian in a garden. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1965
  • Inscription. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main, 1973
  • Still life with curb. Sketches and Apocrypha. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1996
  • Thunderstorm epilogue. Poems. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 2000
  • Mr. Cogito's legacy. 89 poems. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 2000
  • The Gordian knot. Three apocrypha. Friedenauer Presse, Berlin 2001
  • The tulips have a bitter scent. Insel-Bücherei 1215, Insel Verlag, Frankfurt am Main and Leipzig 2001
  • In the Fatherland of Myths: Greek Diary. Insel Taschenbuch, Frankfurt am Main and Leipzig 2001

Secondary literature

  • Walter Kroll in Harenberg Lexicon of World Literature . Volume 3. Dortmund 1995, ISBN 3-611-00338-7 , p. 1314
  • David Foster Wallace : Mr. Cogito, in: ders .: The fun of it. All essays. Cologne 2018. p. 301.


  • Zbigniew Herbert: Conversation about writing poetry . In: Sense and Form. Issue 4/2005 , pp. 535-542.
  • Zbigniew Herbert: The Art of Empathy. Conversation with Renata Gorczynska . In: Sense and Form. Issue 5/2004, pp. 595-605.

Web links

Commons : Zbigniew Herbert  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Harenberg Lexicon
  2. Zbigniew Herbert  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. at culture.pl (English)@1@ 2Template: Dead Link / www.culture.pl