A History of the Polish Intelligentsia – Part 3, Edited by Jerzy Jedlicki
During the entire Partition period, the word ‘homeland’ or ‘home country’ [Polish, ojczyzna] remained on the lips of the most nimble and most expressive Polish wieszczs (‘prophet-bards’), penetrating historians and authors of politi- cal treatises which were meant to set new horizons for Poles� The word/notion was inflected in all the ways possible by an army of second-rank rhymesters, third-rate annalists and zealous scribblers who would have been willing to say of themselves what Zygmunt Krasiński wrote in his poem Tęsknota: “Wherev’r I go, there’s things that hurt and bore me, // My lost homeland chases me with her phantom�” The regaining of the country did not inspire as many, and so eminent, authors – at least in the beginning� The most popular and most willingly pub- lished coryphaei of patriotic elations of the earliest years of the 20th century de- voted a tribute of doleful and solemn poems to the rebuilding of independence� Patriotic, and even jingoistic, topics reappeared in a triumphant parade in short stores or novellas published by the press in episodes, moral tales in calendars, and instructive pieces for Polish brood� Publicists and journalists under various flags wrote of a regained and successfully defended independence, using ornate metaphors which soon became overused� And yet, the reconstruction of a state that had ceased to exist 123 years before was certainly a wonder worthy of no less marvellous eulogists� Polish culture, in contact with the three dominant cultures of the partitioning powers, superior to it civilisation-wise in...
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