Notes from Warsaw – 5

Tadeusz Gajcy was 22 years old when he secretly published a second volume of poetry.
Tadeusz Gajcy was 22 years old when he was editor of an underground Polish resistance journal – during the Second World War.
Tadeusz Gajcy was 22 years old when he was defending his city with his pen and his weapon.

Walking towards the big B-24 Liberator on display at the Warsaw Rising Museum, I stopped to read his poems. Not that I knew who he was. Not that I had ever heard his name. But I knew I would go back and find out. I knew I had to.

I scoured the net for translations. They are hard to come by. What I did find was fragment after fragment of searing verse.

He wrote of war and country:

Do you know that land beneath the icicles of blackened
flaming candlemas candles
which formerly creaked with resin but creaks today with
membranes
of huge bats’ wings?
Do you know that land
where along paths of sighs
float dead
charred flowers and the bones of meadow and forest beasts?
(from The Polish Review )

He wrote of grief:

It is too stifling for the words on one’s lips
hewn from the glow of fires and from grief as heavy as
stone…
You thought: it will be simpler.
But one must change words, musical words
to make them as hitting as a spear
(from The Polish Review)

He wrote of love:

Though I might say: I will love you, I will stay,
though I might nail together words as I would a coffin,
don’t trust me and wrest memory away from me.
(from The Sarmation Review)

Tadeusz Gajcy was 22 years old when he was killed in the Warsaw Uprising of 1944.

Crack open your soul, dig out the words,
as if this is your first poem
as if this is your last poem

 

Also in this series:
Notes from Warsaw – 4
Notes from Warsaw – 3
Notes from Warsaw – 2
Notes from Warsaw –

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