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    9 years ago, Tadeusz Różewicz, one of the greatest Polish poets passed away

    Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

    Tadeusz Różewicz, one of the most outstanding contemporary Polish poets, prose writers, dramatists, and essayists, passed away on April 24, 2014.


    He was the author of poetry collections such as “Anxiety,” “Five Poems,” “Time That Goes By,” “Poems and Pictures,” “Plain,” “Mother Is Leaving” and dramas such as “The Card Index,” “Witnesses or Our Little Stabilization,” “White Marriage,” “An Old Woman Broods,” “Departure of the Hunger Artist,” “The Trap,” and “To the Sand.”

    Różewicz was born on October 9, 1921, in Radomsko. When World War II broke out, he joined the Home Army as an 18-year-old and fought under the pseudonym “Satyr.” After the war, he passed his final high school exams and began studying at the Faculty of Art History at the Jagiellonian University. In 1947, his collection “Anxiety” was published, considered to be Różewicz’s poetic debut.

    He was one of the first poets who reacted to the atrocities of the war not only with the content of his poetry but also with a change in its form, rejecting the romantic baggage, and adopting raw imagery. According to Różewicz, after experiencing war, writing poetry in the same way as before became impossible. His poetry became factual and concrete, without any pathos, and was called “poetry of a tight throat.”

    In December 1990, during a lecture at the University of Warwick, the poet said, “The generation of soldiers and partisans of World War II is dying off, cheated and disappointed. I am a poet – that’s how people talk and write about me. But I am primarily a poet of my generation. A generation cheated by governments, ideologies, faith, and even by itself.”

    His debut collection “Anxiety” was already enthusiastically received by readers and critics alike. The volume reconciled conflicting orientations and authorities – Julian Przyboś and Czesław Miłosz, who defended polarized concepts of poetry, expressed equal admiration for his work. Czesław Miłosz wrote in “An Ode to Tadeusz Różewicz, Poet,” “A fortunate nation that has a poet / And does not tread in silence through its labors.”

    In 1949, a meeting of writers was held in Szczecin, during which the Stalinization of literature was announced. Różewicz did not attend it and withdrew from public life in response to the official introduction of socialist realism. He moved to Gliwice in the summer of 1949 and published further volumes of poetry: “Five Poems” (1950), “Time That Goes By” (1951), “Poems and Pictures” (1952), and “Plain” (1954).

    The poet also made great formal contributions in the area of the versification system. Maria Dłuska writes about this in “An Attempt at a Theory of Polish Verse”: “The emotional, immeasurable system related to tonic verse is represented not only by Różewicz. (…) It is simply called Różewicz’s verse. (Różewicz) Possessed his own, independently formed and invented prose, dramatic, and poetic technique that was recognizable and distinctive. Some of his works, if not for the characteristic notation, would resemble fragments of prose.”

    For Różewicz, literature was not a game or a pastime but one of the most important, deadly serious matters in life. He did not trust closed, perfect poems.

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