Oh, Poland

(From a 1980 Tate Modern exhibition: Gilbert & George. Black Cross.)

There are no words for what happened just now. No good ones, anyway. This is a tragedy overlapping another tragedy (Katyn, that is, in case you don’t realize). I don’t even understand how something like this can be possible. This sort of thing belongs in screenplays. It shouldn’t happen to people. Nor should it happen to countries.

Like I said, I haven’t got the words.

…I stand in stillness, hear the migratory cranes,
Their necks and wings beyond the reach of preying hawks;
Hear where the glow-worms glide across the plains,

Where on its slippy underside a viper writhes through stalks.
Amid the hush I lean my ears down grassy lanes
And listen for a voice from home. Nobody talks.

– Adam Mickiewicz. Translated by Leo Yankevich.

7 thoughts on “Oh, Poland

  1. I know, and that’s a step forward too, but it’s still all cold and official like. And I’ve seen far too many Russians online get into slanging matches with Poles over who was responsible for Katyń.

    Your reaction on the other hand…
    I’m not a Pole or of Polish descent, just someone who admires the Poles immensely, and to me it’s part of the silver lining that you as a Russian should be so devastated. This tragedy just might bring two great nations closer. I hope so.

  2. Well, I’ve never lived in Russia – until recently, that is, though I am ethnically over half Russian, and Russian is my first language.

    I should also point out that officials gestures are not meant to be emotional in general, though based on reactions in Moscow, I think most people are shocked and stunned by this event on a personal level. I think any decent person would be saddened by such a tragedy.

    I don’t give a crap about politics right now, I give a crap about the fact that a bunch of people have died, a country lost its leaders, families lost the people they loved, and this is just too much.

    When you sit down and think about it, it’s hard to not be close to tears, even if you yourself are not Polish.

  3. Sorry, I guess I am sounding rather cold. I’m South African, and we’re too used to death…
    It’s not as if Russians don’t have their own deaths to mourn, either. The subway bombings are just as much of a tragedy for all those who have lost loved ones.

  4. My passport says I am Polish, never been to Russia, been to Kiev – a wonderful place where some of my warmest childhood memories were born. Trying to counterbalance “slanging matches” David mentions, I want to say huge thank you’s to Natalia here, and to Russia, Ukraine, Belarus anywhere.

    (I think Mickiewicz translated into Russian would be more befitting though 🙂

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