The Equalist’s Lament

The experience of ordinary citizens as well as dissident intellectuals and artists behind the Iron Curtain is relevant to the contemporary Western people’s subjection to a suite of anti-White, anti-man, anti-reality politics known as Equalism. That is a Heartiste-coined term for the ideology based on the belief that human beings and their distinct groups are fungible.

A discussion of the legacy of Communism and its effect, good and ill, on Eastern European nations is a subject for another post. Meanwhile, here is my amateur translation of Communist-era Polish poet Zbigniew Herbert’s 1983 poem “Damastes z przydomkiem Prokrustes mówi” (tr. Damastes Surnamed Procrustes Speaks), which uses the Greek myth of the procrustean bed as metaphor for Equalism.

My mobile empire between Athens and Megara
I ruled, over wilderness, canyon, abyss — alone —
Without advice from stupid elders, with an insignia of a simple club,
Clad only in the shadow of the wolf and the horrific sound of the word Damastes.

I lacked subjects; that is to say, I had each one for a short time
They did not live to dawn — however, it’s slander to call me a murderer
As falsifiers of history are wont.

In essence, I was learned social reformer.
My true passion was anthropometry.

I devised the crucible for the perfect man.
I fit the captured travelers to that bed.
It was difficult to avoid — I admit — stretching the members and cutting the limbs.

The patients kept dying but the more perished
The more I was sure that my studies are justified.
The goal was sublime. Progress requires sacrifices.

I longed to abolish the difference between what is high and what is low.
To humanity, disgustingly diverse, I wanted to give one shape.
I ceased not in my efforts to level mankind.

Theseus took my life, that slayer of the innocent Minotaur,
He who explored the labyrinth with a girl’s bundle of yarn,
So full of trickery and without principles and vision of the future.

I have an inextinguishable hope that others will take up my toil
and the work I began so boldly, they’ll lead to its end.

The original Polish-language poem is HERE. For those who understand the language, Przemyslaw Gintrowski had set the verse to music and performs it below. Herbert lived from 1924 to 1998.

7 thoughts on “The Equalist’s Lament

  1. Najbardziej interesuje mnie w jaki sposób doszedł Pan do takiej perfekcji w posługiwaniu się językiem angielskim.

  2. Very interesting poem. Although I am familiar with the myth, I had never heard of the poem. I recently taught the myth to my students. Then when I saw a play version of it in a tween literary magazine, I copied it for them to read. Lo and behold, they had enhanced Ariadne’s role so that she was actually *inside* the labyrinth with Theseus when he killed the Minotaur. The follow up questions asked about how Theseus was a hero. The final question, however, asked whether or not anyone else should be considered a hero. I almost laughed. I made sure to point out the inaccuracy to my students. Yes, Ariadne can be considered a heroine for her supporting role, BUT she was never in the labyrinth. She waited outside with the string. The Minotaur may be dead, but feminism sure isn’t 🙂

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