By Zbigniew Herbert
At the table you should sit calmly and not daydream. Let us recall what an effort it took for the stormy ocean tides to arrange themselves in quiet rings. A moment of inattention and everything might wash away. It is also forbidden to rub the table legs, as they are very sensitive. Everything at the table must be done coolly and matter-of-factly. You can't sit down here with things not completely thought through. For daydreaming we have been given other objects made of wood: the forest, the bed.
Translated and edited by Alissa Valles, with additional translations by Czeslaw Milosz and Peter Dale Scott
From 'The Collected Poems: 1956-1998'