Leon Stroinski- Poet of the Warsaw Uprising
Image taken from www.ravelo.pl
Leon Zdislaw Stroinski was born in Warsaw in 1921, and died fighting in the Warsaw Uprising on 16th August 1944. A collection of his prose poetry was destroyed in the fighting. In 1963 a collection titled 'Okno' ( 'Window') was published, containing 9 poems, 11 prose poems, a short story, and two polemical pieces' , and republished in 1982.
This post, more than anything, is an appeal for further information about his work. Hugh Haughton in his 'Second World War Poems', ( Faber & Faber 2004) , featured the prose poem 'Warsaw' , translated by the poet Adam Czerniawski , who was born in Poland in 1934,
" During the building of the barricades, the Vistula, brimming with reflections of forests, birds and white roads line with poplars, rose at first like a mist, then like a stiff cover of a book.
In its shade at dawn caretakers come out with huge frayed brooms to sweep up the the tears which have collected during the night and lie thickly in the streets.
Already. the market women, extended to the edge of sunlight, recommend potatoes grown on graves.
And on the horizon of the street, across the roar of grenades lying in the curves of cobblestones,the soul of the city has been moving for months.
The reflection of her face, too difficult to comprehend, has left a trace on the twisted faces of ruins as on the handkerchief of St Veronica.
Those who will cone in the far, far future wanting to decipher them, drawing their cold-blue hands across features taut like strings, and who with careless fingers will poke the moan of those dried up in crevices-
will burst in prayer or blasphemy.
Here my country has come together from decimated forests and villages turned into a dog's howl. It persists in the whisper of mechanised armour.
We had to wait through so much blood and pathos in order to build from the silence of ruined monuments such a vault over a city of jazz and death.
Now lemurs from Gothic temples are thick on roofs of trams and terrify insurance officials on their way home.
The dead wander beneath the pavements and pound on bucklers which give a hollow sound, while at evening in double rows of whispers they walk arm in arm with the living, and you can tell them part only by skilfully folded wings, which nevertheless stick out on their backs like humps.
But in daytime huge stone capstans hum, and only around noon, when folk sit down to lunch and it's a bit quieter, can you hear more distinctly the heavy rhythmical tread of God's steel-shod boots. "
Translated by Adam Czerniawski, 'The Burning Forest -Modern Polish Poetry', 1988.
I have not been able to trace the copyright holder of this poem- if anyone owns the right, please get in contact and would be delighted to give them all due credit.
Another poet who died during the 1944 Uprising was Krzystof Kamil Baczynski ( born 1921) who was killed fighting the Germans on 4th August 1944. Have not been able to find anything by him in English but Culture.Pl website has a fascinating page about his life, but no extracts from his poetry.
Anna Swir was a military nurse during the Uprising, and came within an hour of being executed but was spared, and lived until 1984. The Chicago based Poetry Foundation has a useful biographical page on her, and links to some of her poems.
A longer version of this post is now to be seen at worldwarpoetry.com