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“Try to Praise the Mutilated World” is a poem which not only tells a story but has fantastic rhythm. Zagajewski is free in his prose, which is a characteristic of the poem allowing for its success.

“You watched the stylish yachts and ships;

one of them had a long trip ahead of it,

while salty oblivion awaited others.”

This line, in particular, struck me as one which is constructed in a way which has the ability to transport the reader to the specific imagery the author creates, a talent that Zagajewski clearly has and demonstrates throughout this poem. While not extraordinarily detailed, it is the word choice (specifically, “salty oblivion”) which leaves the reader with a specific memory, scent, or idea of their own, aiding the mental images which come with “Try to Praise the Mutilated World.”

“Remember the moments when we were together
in a white room and the curtain fluttered.
Return in thought to the concert where music flared.”

While there is no specific rhyme scheme, I feel that the meter presented within this poem is a factor contributing to its success. As shown here, the poem is written in a style which allows for the words to flow together beautifully, a key component to lucrative poetry. When reading out loud, (to my ear), the words “together” and “fluttered” mesh together quite well. Poetry which is read out loud leaves a different impression than when reading to one’s self, and I feel that in order to appreciate “Try to Praise the Mutilated World” to the fullest extent, it must be read aloud.

The tone used is also one which further allows “Try to Praise the Mutilated World” to be as well written as it is. The title itself leaves an emphasis of hope in a systematically dark community, evoking sadness from audience members.

“The nettles that methodically overgorw

the abandoned homesteads of exiles.

You must praise the mutilated world.”

It is easy to imagine somewhat of a post-apocalyptic world after reading this section of the poem. Zagajewski is not subtle when reaching for melancholy emotions, something which is clearly presented in his tone and choice of language. Obviously, the context of this poem changed greatly when the attack on the WTC happened, but even before this national tragedy, this poem successfully attempted explaining mournful emotions. This is also something that Szymborska demonstrates in her written works.

Comparing Zagajewski and Szymborska, it is important to note that they are both Polish authors. Either’s work surrounds depressing topics, playing on negative human emotion (of course, depending on the work). Within Szymborska’s work, we see references to wars and the repetition of a negative history (“The End and the Beginning”), negative emotion regularly found in humans relating to tragedies (“Theater Impressions”), and harsh truths in “Reality Demands.” Warfare present in “Reality Demands” begs the question of how humans can continue to live knowing the great damage they have done, not only to one another but to the Earth as well.

Both of these poems, while not blatantly saying this, are about emotions and human components. Of course, the written subjects differ to a great degree, but they attempt to evoke the same response of being emotionally impacted by the way we treat our planet and different cultures.


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