• September 27, 2014
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Contemporary Polish poetry in Lithuania: Thematic dominants

In the first episode of our series, we presented the body of literature environment, which involves contemporary Polish-language poets of Lithuania. Today we would like to put forward a question about their inspirations, interests and themes, which dominates in their poetry?

The insight into our poets’ poems, especially those from the elder and medium generations, allows us to notice that the important issue of their poetry is concerned with Mickiewicz. This feature may be considered as its distinctive characteristic. They are usually not only invocations to Bard’s works, but also to his biography, especially from the period connected with Vilnius, or broader, the area of former Grand Dutchy of Lithuania, which has been marked by “Dziady”’s author presence at one time. The poetry which is particularly rich with Mickiewicz themes, is this of Michał Wołosowicz (1925-2004), its nestor and eulogist of the legendary love between Adam and Maryla. Sławomir Worotyński (1942-1983) approach the theme in a slightly more subtle way. Presently, they are followed by such poets as Wojciech Piotrowicz, or, to a considerable degree, Romuald Mieczkowski. Naturally, we are not evaluating poetics or artistic values now, as it is a separate issue.

Our poetry’s distinctive feature connected with Mickiewicz themes is combined with different, yet no less important one, which are often incorporated within one another. They are Vilnian themes, which are present in the works of almost every poet who comes from Vilnius or Vilnian region. The poets differentiate in the way they evoke the pictures from the town’s past. The memories are kept thanks to the presence of such places as Giedymina or Trzykska Mountains, dignified walls of the University, numerous churches, especially so called “secular temples” associated with great people’s staying in Vilnius etc. Recalling the spirits and places from the past very often leads to the similar conclusion: glory and pride of the past is confronted with gloominess and unattractiveness of “today”.

Another crucial element of poetic reflection of our authors is connected with the problem of maintaining identity, attachment to Polish language and culture, as well as being responsive to adverse condition of linguistic melting pot with all the respect for multilingualism and multiculturalism, which is certainly its treasure. (R. Mieczkowski and others).

Naturally, Polish-language poets of Lithuania are not only restricting themselves to regional themes. Existential themes are not unfamiliar to them. On the contrary, this motifs are far-reaching and make them closer to the poets of every latitude (Henryk Mażul, Alicja Rybałko, Wojciech Piotrowicz, Zbigniew Maciejewski and others, as well as the poets from younger generation).

Being a poet leads them also to muse about the conditions of poetry, poets or – broader – literature and art in general. That stream is called automatism (literature about literature, poetry about poetry etc.). And, at this field, we have a lot of interesting poetic statements (A. Rybałko, J. Szostakowski, H. Mażul and others).

In a word, Polish literature in Lithuania has its specific features, but it also fits into broader conventions. It has its paths and routes, as always and everywhere.

Translated by Aneta Gębska within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.

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