martial law in Poland

The Center for Literate Values ~ Defending the Western tradition of responsible individualism, disciplined freedom, tasteful creativity, common sense, and faith in a supreme moral being.

P R A E S I D I U M

A Common-Sense Journal of Literary and Cultural Analysis

16.4 (Fall 2016)

 

Fiction & Poetry

castle

 

Selected Verse Memorializing Thirty-Five Years Since the Declaration of Martial Law in Poland
Mark Wegierski

Author’s Foreword (2016): These were some of the verses that I had written as part of weekly exercises in the full-year, undergraduate Advanced Creative Writing course (1982-1983: part of the English Literature program, though one had to specially apply to take this course) at the University of Toronto, where I was doing a Double Major in History and English Literature (1979-1983), leading to an Honours B.A. At that time, the visceral agony of the immediate aftermath of Communist General Jaruzelski’s declaration of martial law (December 13, 1981) was keenly felt in the Polish-Canadian community. Most English-Canadians, however—such as my classmates in this course—were quite oblivious, and not very sympathetic. As far as I can recall, most University of Toronto English Literature classes at this time were mostly female, and mostly WASP. Not that I would have expected so-called “visible minorities” to be particularly supportive of the Polish cause, either.

Patrimony – Structured (Toronto, September 1982)

Across forgotten mists of time,
Forbidding forests, golden field
Beginning story – mighty form
United through the years of storm –
Enduring trials, terror, blight:
We fought – and still we bravely fight,
For Poland, freedom, truth, and Light.

 

Patrimony – Free Verse (Toronto, September 1982)

in the meandering mists of time
huge ancient forests
yellow fields hewn from the wild
Kings, Warriors, Poets, Scholars
Proud Nation’s Heritage
struggling struggling on all sides
our faith was not broken
to this day we fight!

Poland – Alcaic* (Toronto, November 1982)

I made a visit, coming to Poland sad,
The freedom was gone, leaving a wilderness,
The broken workers cried for freedom
Plaintively marching to fight the Party.
I sadly watched them, seeing a falling world;
They were a proud race – filling the world with hope,
Now, what remains there but a faint spark
Reaching the people in gloomy darkness.

Poland – Sapphic* (Toronto, November 1982)

Freedom has been crushed in the Polish nation,
Beauty, precious truth, also die and wither –
There is scant hope left for the struggling masses
Hungry for freedom.
Sadness crushes patriots, leaving little
But a proud right, power for fighting, dying
Which is helpless, facing the hosts of evil –
Singing a brave hymn.

*(The Alcaic and Sapphic are two ancient Greek poetic forms, adapted to English.)

Sestina on the Great Themes (Toronto, November 1982)

The sorrow filling solitude –
Surrender, dying, little hope –
The children are deprived of love
The people quickly losing faith
In searching, desperate, for truth
A people sadly lacking God.

To draw towards the light of God
To slowly push out solitude
Perceive the clearest, brightest truth
To fill the world with noble hope,
To have a strongly burning faith,
To have a spirit full of love –

How difficult to reach for love,
The problem, trying to find God,
Without the benefit of faith –
Alone – a world of solitude,
Not having any ray of hope,
How difficult to learn the truth.

We shall attempt a search for truth,
We can’t be left without some love,
We must be led by shining hope,
And powerful, almighty God –
Transcending slowly solitude,
We seek, against all odds, the faith.

We must be strongly filled with faith
We have to seek the purest truth
Accepting gladly solitude,
To give example good of love,
To praise and worship mighty God,
To not despair, to keep up hope.

We have the precious right to hope,
Inside us lies the germ of faith
Outside us Mercy, gentle God
In greatest books and art is truth,
Around us all is priceless love…
We need the times of solitude.

In solitude we dare to hope,
Our love is stronger joined with faith,
In seeking truth we seek our God.

A frequent contributor to these pages for years, Mark Wegierski is a freelance journalist based in Toronto, Canada.