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This set of poems contains three poems by major Polish poets – ‘Blacksmith Shop’ by Czeslaw Milosz, ‘Nothing Special’ by Zbigniew Herbert and ‘Star’ by Adam Zagajewski.
The poets were close friends and associates, writing in the dark shadow of Polish suffering during and after the Second World War. Czesław Miłosz – a Nobel Laureate (1990) - translated the poems of Herbert and introduced Adam Zagajewski to English-speaking readers; Zagajewski wrote the Introduction to Herbert’s Collected Poems. All three poets were ‘makers’ in the oldest sense, artists building a world ‘from remnants’, celebrating the joys of ordinary life despite the ravages of history.
Three poems by British poets continue a theme of the power of poetry to record the world, to ‘tease out the melody’ and to give weight to memory and hope:
• ‘The Windhover’ by Gerard Manley Hopkins, written in Hopkins’ personal language of religious ecstasy.
• ‘At Sixty’ by the Shetlandic poet Christine de Luca, about reaching the age of sixty in the far north. The poem is written in Shetlandic, a Scots dialect still spoken in the Shetland Islands—which just happen to lie on the 60th parallel.
• ‘Ourstory’ by Carole Satyamurti, a tribute to the unsung ‘awkward women’ whose tenacity helped to liberate the lives of women today.