Adam Zagajewski, poet and essayist, one of the leaders of the ’68 generation, rested on Sunday afternoon in the National Pantheon, in the Church of Saints Peter and Paul in Krakow. The artist said goodbye to his relatives, friends, residents and representatives of the authorities.
In the afternoon the urn with the ashes Adam Zagajewski, who died on March 21 was moved from Saint Florian’s Basilica to the Church of Saints Peter and Paul. Holy Mass the funeral was presided over by Father Professor Alfred Wierzbicki.
In his homily, he pointed out that Zagajewski “had the courage to oppose aestheticism, in which beauty loses its existential content.” – He was a poet who took art’s religious message seriously. He did not dress in them as in his robes and did not speak with the voice of a preacher, but allowed the possibility of turning a tourist into a pilgrim – pointed out the priest.
“Poets are there to celebrate a world that is crippled”
He emphasized that Zagajewski “deserved such a dignified burial place” and that his memory would become a national memory. – The poet himself would probably have smiled, and maybe even worried about the intention to posthumously put him in the service of the nation – assessed Fr. Wierzbicki.
In his opinion, the poet himself – like many others like him – is not used to “following orders”. Although he had a sense of self-worth, “modesty and a sense of measure saved him from megalomania and ridiculous, pathetic gestures.”
The clergyman called for the poet’s voice to accompany us today. – With trepidation we ask: where are the children from Michałów? Why are people dying on the Polish-Belarusian border? And we ask ourselves so many other dramatic questions. You have to remember that poets are here to praise a world that is crippled – emphasized Fr. Wierzbicki.
He also emphasized that in times of “confusion, contempt, xenophobia and the conquest of the national drum, we need a place where we can drink from a pure source”, and for this we need a human word that “will be alive and effective in the image of God’s word”.
In the homily, the priest pointed out that we live in a time when many have lost faith in the words of the rulers, opportunistic journalists or even clergy, including bishops. He pointed to the crisis of the word. – Let’s not forget Zagajewski, let’s reread his poems. Poetry does not save, but allows us to go further – concluded Fr. Wierzbicki, and his homily was awarded with applause.
“Europe has lost one of its best writers”
One of the leaders of the ’68 literary generation was also recalled by the rector of the Jagiellonian University, professor Jacek Popiel, who drew attention to the theme of the journey in the artist’s life. It began when Zagajewski came to Krakow in the early 1960s, convinced that it would be a new beginning. The Rector emphasized that it also happened despite the fact that the poet had to live in the reality of the People’s Republic of Poland.
The Rector emphasized that although the artist’s life journey has ended, lovers of his poetry are convinced that the place where he will rest “opens the journey into a timeless presence in the minds of those who will undertake philological interpretations of Zagajewski’s works and, above all, enjoy reading his poems “. On behalf of the writers, the poet said goodbye to the Nobel laureate Olga Tokarczuk in a letter read out by the rector of the Academy of Theater Arts in Krakow, Dorota Segda
“You said that poetry is the art of emigrants. (…) I guess you emigrated again. This time without luggage, notes and unfinished poems, which we now have to take care of” – wrote the Nobel Prize winner. “Our helplessness in the face of the violence of death is something most human, which destroys all boundaries between us – the individual. This helplessness and this unity is best expressed by poetry. So when a poet dies, we are losing ourselves” – she pointed out.
The Mayor of Krakow, Jacek Majchrowski, emphasized that the poet, being bid farewell by the inhabitants, had features that made him one of the most unique among them. – Adam Zagajewski was not only an outstanding person, but also a living legend of Krakow. It is true that he was also a citizen of the world, but in fact he was always associated with Krakow – assessed the president.
He pointed out that here the poet also returned to make his last journey. – Here he will rest in the Polish pantheon in order to go down in history for the next generations, to become, one could say, immortal – said Majchrowski. – But Krakow is different without it – he added.
Edward Hirsch, the president of the Guggenheim Foundation, also said goodbye to the artist, who admitted that he had lost his closest friend with the poet’s departure. “Europe has lost one of its best writers, and the world – one of the noblest voices,” he said.
Residents could follow the funeral on a large screen placed in front of the temple. The musical setting for the ceremony was provided by the Capella Cracoviensis choir.
Adam Zagajewski – silhouette
Adam Zagajewski was born in Lviv on June 21, 1945. He died on March 21, 2021 in Krakow. He made his debut in 1967 in “Życie Literackie”. He also published in “Odra” and “Twórczości”. In 1968, he co-founded the Krakow poetry group “Teraz”, which called for a return to the clarity of the poetic language. Young poets demanded that language be rooted in everyday life and that its influence on reality be strengthened. Zagajewski, together with Julian Kornhauser, created an ideological and artistic program of the Nowa Fala poetry formation, the authors of which appealed to show “the unpresented world” in art. Zagajewski’s first poetry books – “Komunikat” (1972) and “Meat Shops” (1975) – were precisely the implementation of the new wave postulate of telling the truth about reality and exposing the falsehood of the official language. In 1975, Zagajewski, associated with the democratic opposition, was banned from publishing in 1975 after protesting against the proposed changes to the constitution of the People’s Republic of Poland. In 1976, he co-founded and edited the independent periodical “Record”. In 1982 he left for Paris, where he collaborated with the monthly “Kultura” and “Zeszyty Literackie”. He returned to Poland in 2002 and settled in Krakow. He is the author of such collections of poems as “Letter. Ode to Wielości” (1983), “Jechać do Lwowa” (1985) and “Canvas. Paris” (1990) “Earth of Fire” (1994), “Three Angels” (1997), “Desire” (1999) , “Asymetria” (2014), “Amsterdam Airport” (2016), “Real Life” (2019). His essay volumes were also appreciated, such as: “Two Cities” (1991), “In someone’s beauty” (1998), “Defense of zeal” (2002), “Poeta talks to a philosopher” (2007) and “Substance disorder” (2019) .
Main photo source: TVN24