Zbigniew Herbert was writing this book during the last twenty years of his life and never managed to finish it. Ryszard Krynicki has edited it on the basis of the poet's notes and typescripts, some of which have appeared in the American edition (The Ecco Press, 1999).
The works in this book, based on motifs drawn from Greek (and sometimes Roman) mythology, grew out of Herbert's lifelong fascination for the civilisation and culture of Antiquity. The poems built up on the ancient myths refer to the experiences of 20th-century man, which makes this book absolutely topical. As Aleksander Kaczanowski wrote about the work:
The stories of the gods which Herbert tells in this book could happen to ordinary people. And they do.
Zbigniew Herbert (1924-1998), one of the giants of world poetry, a legend of Polish literature, for many years a candidate for the Nobel Prize in Literature.
- Zbigniew Herbert
Krol mrowek / King of the Ants
Wydawnictwo a5, Krakow 2001
translation rights: Katarzyna Herbertowa and Halina Herbert-Zebrowska
150 x 210, 152 pages, hardcover