So. I don’t know what to say about this one, and as a consequence, will not be rating it. This is an epic narrative poem written in the 1820s, discussing and commemoraing Polish independence and apparently also functions as an allegory. So not only am I ill-equipped to say much about it, I don’t “get it” outside of the story itself.
So here’s what I will say. I read this because one of my students this year is a gung-ho second generation Polish immigrant. He lives and breathes his Polish heritage, talks about it a lot, and is going to Poland this summer to trace roots etc etc. So he asked me to read so many different things this year and I tried to get him to read some things. His favorite topic is French military history, but he also loves this epic poem.
Anyway, what is interesting about it is that it reads and feels like epic poetry in terms of like The Iliad or Beowulf and shares similarities in scope and structure. But because it’s modern and because it’s presented as a kind of “National Poem” it’s a much clearer example of National Identity/propaganda than something like The Odyssey and The Iliad. And because I am not Polish and don’t feel any particular pride about it.
It makes me think about how a) most countries were not countries per se in the 19th century and b) what US poems would work the same way and what would I think about them in terms of artistic quality. And well, I am coming up empty.