Throughout the 20th Century, Poland had produced some of the most remarkable poets of recent contemporary memory, such as the late: Zbigniew Herbert, Czesław Miłosz, and Wisława Szymborska. Each of these poets were different in form, theme, preoccupation, and delivery. Wisława Szymborska for example, charmed and enchanted the literary world with her graceful, penetrating and ceaselessly curious poems. With a touch of the light and heartfelt the poems are delivered in the simplest form, which betrayed the subverse manner in which they commented on the extraordinary wonders of the world. Who knew a poem about an onion, could betray such existential ponderings? In contrast the quiet graceful power exhibited by Szymborska, Czesław Miłosz maintained the reputation as one of the most intellectually and political potent poets of his generation. Miłosz eschewed accessibility in favour of esotericism; a reported point of pride that only the astute, scholarly, and initiated would be able to ponder his poetry, which comes into explicit contrast to Wisława Szymborska, whose deceptive simplicity pondered greater depths. Despite the esoteric nature of his poetry, Czesław Miłosz was a poet of grand greatness. A crown that decorated his mantel with ease. It comes as no surprise that both, Czesław Miłosz and Wisława Szymborska won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Despite the eclipsing shadows that would certainly engulf his literary career, Adam Zagajewski wrote and published, and in his right rivaled the eclipsing celestial literary figures of Czesław Miłosz and Wisława Szymborska; not by taking and smearing their iconic status, but by writing, publishing and being read, until he to was considered a poet in his own right, on his own merit, in his own vein.
If Adam Zagajewski were to be compared to either of the previously mentioned, he would fall closer to poetic kinship with Czesław Miłosz. Zagajewski was a voyager poet, who took peculiar interest towards the poetry of historic and cosmic, continually changing, adapting, evolving in fluidity, neglecting in turn any notion of static sediment. While being an associate of Poland’s ‘New Wave,’ of poetry during the 60’s and 70’s, Adam Zagajewski’s poetry refuted, resented and eschewed the notion that poetic language needs to be grand, pompous, and praising in ceremonious conceit the great work of communism. Rather the New Wave Poetry movement sought to describe with accurate, plain, and simple language the reflections of reality as it was. A poetic record and testament of the times; it should come as no surprise that the censors and communist official stance was not approving. By the mid 70’s Adam Zagajewski’s poetry was banned from publication and censored when approved. He signed a declaration opposing the communist falsities, which would amend Poland’s constitution, forcing him into exile in Paris until the 21st Century.
Even in exile, however, Adam Zagajewski continued to publish his poetry, remaining a staunch advocate for the poetic literary realism of the collective emotions of his homeland, who once again was burned with he yoke of ideological fanaticism, bolstered by the subjugation of language to both serve political purposes, and subvert true communication and freedom of thought. The later years of his career remained true to his form, one founded on staunch collective pondering, with an acute eye and scrutiny to provided towards history, which cannot be seen as pastoral paradise lost, but waking memory and reminder of what was, in comparison to the uncertain possibilities and consequences that the future holds. Either way the world erodes, bit by bit, changing or mutilated beyond conceivable repair.
As a poet, Adam Zagajewski was often rumored to being the final member of the Polish Poets to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature, where he would join Czesław Miłosz, and Wisława Szymborska. He appeared to have the credentials, in the forms of literary merit, and poetry as political opposition and dissidence. Zagajewski was a repeat frontrunner for international poetry awards and was the winner of the 2004 Neustadt International Prize for Literature. Yet, sadly Adam Grajewski died March 21st of 2021, at the age of 75, without the Nobel Prize for Literature. Regardless, he stands in the Pantheon of Polish Poetry alongside his predecessors, as well as all the up and commers who are bound to grace the international literary stage in years to come.
Rest in Peace, Adam Zagajewski
Thank-you For Reading Gentle Reader
And As Always
Stay Well Read