Critics frequently divide the poetry of Adam Zagajewski into two major periods: one “political,” focused on the problems of the human community, the other “philosophical,” concerned with the individual. The poet’s first three collections, published during the 1970’s, followed the poetic program of the Generation 68, with its emphasis on the social responsibilities of the artist in a totalitarian state. Beginning with the fourth collection, Oda do wielości (ode to plurality), published after his emigration to Paris, Zagajewski turned to a poetry of philosophical reflection, rich in complex metaphors and sophisticated symbolism. A number of his contemporaries had commented on the poet’s passage from one period to the other. However, it is also important to emphasize the continuity of themes and methods in Zagajewski’s work. Even in the most political poems, he deals with the oppression of the individual. Even the most private lyrical reflections are situated within the broader context of European, or world, culture.
Komunikat, Sklepy mięsne, and List
When Zagajewski and other poets of his generation, such as Stanisław Barańczak, Julian Kornhauser, Ryszard Krynicki, Ewa Lipska, and others, set out to wage poetic war on the Communist state, they focused their efforts on laying bare the “falsified language” of state propaganda and bureaucracy. The newspeak favored by the government and disseminated by the mass media...
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