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Tadeusz Róewicz: poet of a decimated generation

The late Polish author's work bears witness to the worst of the 20th century without surrendering its human sympathy

Tadeusz Róewicz, who has died at the age of 92, was one of the great European "witness" poets whose own lives were directly affected by the seismic events of the 20th century. "My decimated generation is now departed and dying, duped and disillusioned," he said soon after the fall of the Berlin Wall. He saw the forgetting of history as a disaster, "the falling of tears on the stock exchange" as he wrote in a poem of 1994.

That generation, born just after the first world war, amid the great chaotic redrawing of maps, saw the rise of fascism, the terrors of the second world war (both Róewicz and his brother Janusz also a poet served in the Polish Underground, Janusz being killed by the Gestapo in 1944), then watched the Iron Curtain descend across Europe and survived, if they did, Stalinism without being jailed or killed to see the clock tick towards 1989 and what they sometimes considered the false reinterpretation of their own pasts.

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