Zbigniew Herbert Essay - Critical Essays


Zbigniew Herbert was a member of the generation of poets who came to maturity during World War II. They are known as the War Generation, but they are also referred to in Polish literary criticism as Kolumbowie (Columbuses), because it was they who first “explored” the new postwar reality. This generation proved to be one of the most talented in twentieth century Polish literature, including, in addition to Herbert, such varied figures as Tadeusz Różewicz, Miron Bialoszewski, Tymoteusz Karpowicz, Wislawa Szymborska, and Anna Świrszcyzyńska. The war left an indelible imprint on all of them; as late as 1969, in the poem “Prologue,” which introduced Herbert’s fourth collection of poems, he wrote about those who took part in the war: “I must carry them to a dry place/ and make a large mound of sand/ before spring strews flowers for them/ and a great green dream stupefies them.”