Friday, June 09, 2017

History and metaphysics …

… Double Focus | Commonweal Magazine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
Few recent poets have more perfectly fulfilled these twin demands than the Polish poet Adam Zagajewski. On September 24, 2001, mere weeks after 9/11, he published a poem in the New Yorker titled “Try to Praise the Mutilated World.” In it, he acknowledges the pain and violence of the moment (“You’ve seen the refugees heading nowhere, / you’ve heard the executioners sing joyfully”) while also exhorting the reader to “[r]emember June’s long days, / and wild strawberries, drops of wine, the dew.” Indeed, in his four-decade-long career, Zagajewski’s poems have regularly addressed history. “Referendum,” for instance, takes as its starting point Ukraine’s 1991 vote on independence, while “To Go to Lvov” concerns the loss experienced by the Zagajewski family—and an entire generation—after the Soviets forcibly relocated them to central Poland in 1946. (Zagajewski was born in 1945 and so has no memory of the move from Lvov, though it has shaped much of his life.)

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