Notes from Warsaw – 2

Walking down the Royal Route from Warsaw’s Old Town, I came upon the statue of Adam Mickiewicz (1798-1855 C.E.), set behind a little garden of sweet smelling roses. I learnt he was Poland’s national poet whose epic ‘Pan Tadeusz’ is considered a Polish classic. I, of course, had never heard of either the poet or his work. Ignorance seems particularly challenged by continental (perhaps, town) boundaries! But this was the poetic ever-after. The glory of one who took up the pen against his world and thus lives on forever.

Alone, My Polish Rose, I die, like you.
⁠Beside your grave a while pray let me rest
With other wanderers at some grief’s behest.
⁠The tongue of Poland by your grave rings true.
High-hearted, now a young boy past it goes,
⁠Of you it is he sings, My Polish Rose.

–  The Grave of Countess Potocka by Adam Mickiewicz

What makes a poet great? Is it just his poetry or the times he lives in? Is it the collective attention of his readers or their aggregate angst? Is this an age when poetry is dying or has it been revived to fight the general disaffection? What is poetic greatness in this digital age – let’s ask: when a poem is posted online and no one reads it, has it been written at all? Or maybe: when a poem is posted online and read a million times, has it been read at all?

to what end
this unfinished soliloquy
unfinished, in the end

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Also in this series:
Notes from Warsaw –

7 thoughts on “Notes from Warsaw – 2

  1. There’s a school of thought that an artwork (poem, novel, visual art, music, etc) doesn’t exist if it hasn’t been seen in an art gallery or been read by other informed readers (your mom doesn’t count), or performed on a stage and so on. An idea I heartily disagree with. Having taken part in online prompts, through good manners reading others’ work who also took part, sometimes reading up to 40 poems a night/day, how much can one actually take in or understand of what one has read?

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    1. I am all for the “art for art’s sake” ideal. But once you willingly bring your work into the public domain – the dynamics are different, I suppose. Though I’m not sure I understand fully how it works!

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        1. It’s an interesting question – what changes when you make the move from writing in your notebook for yourself and posting online on a public blog- is it different for each poet or are there some typical transformations – in both experience and expectation? I’d love to hear people’s thoughts.

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