“The Forgotten Keys: Selected Poetry of Tomasz Rozycki“, translated from the Polish by Mira Rosenthal, is an extremely intense book of poetry written by a modern Polish poet. I have read “The Forgotten Keys” many times since I purchased it.
Childhood memories are strong, and the reader sees how the DNA of familial generations of Jews runs through Tomasz Rozycki, coursing through his veins, his heart and soul, and into his brain, producing his incredible and overwhelming book of poetry. Some of the poems are mesmerizing, almost verging on fantasy, but in fact are a compilation of realities from his own life, and his ancestor’s memories.
The poems in “The Forgotten Keys” are insightful, with strong imagery, and the words hover afterwards in the air, hauntingly. Yesterdays become like lingering scents. Time’s continuum moves backwards and forwards, often pausing in one realm longer than the other. Although World War II and the Holocaust/Shoah ended decades ago, and previous wars have long since ceased, one can feel the continuing anxiety, sadness, anger and longing that Rozycki’s past has managed to blend into his present, and now resides within his poetry.
Rozycki’s sense of responsibility towards those who came before him resounds loud and clear. He is always mindful of his childhood, and his sense of time and place, in the scheme of his ancestors and the historical, every day events and geographical influences that shaped their lives, and, therefore, his own life. His poetry is a tribute to his ancestors, and by honoring them and the memory of them, he is keeping them alive, illuminated. “The Forgotten Keys” will long be be remembered, as a book of intense substance.
Where other poets, such Czeslaw Milosz, have chosen to dismiss the past in their work, or to view it as an unnecessary element, Tomasz Rozycki has chosen to remember the past and to transport it into his work. Tomasz Rozycki writes with brilliance, insight into the human condition, and he writes with determination to never forget the past, because it will always be a part of his own past, present and future.
I agree with him in that respect. We must never forget.
“The Forgotten Keys” is 128 pages long, with each poem written in both Polish and English, and each poem having a compelling impact on both mind and emotion.
“The Translator Mira Rosenthal is a poet and founding editor of Lyric Poetry Review.” She was excellent in bringing Tomasz Rozycki’s ideas, thoughts and feelings to the forefront.