Zbigniew Herbert was 15 when Germany invaded Poland. It’s hard to imagine what it was like to grow up in the resistance. He became one of the most respected poets of Poland, and had a tremendous influence on younger writers. He advised them to detach themselves from “this truly horrible everyday reality.” In the poem “A Life” he wrote “I know it’s hard to be reconciled / not everything is exactly / the way it ought to be / but please turn around / and step into the future / leave memories behind / enter the land of hope.” (111)
Zbigniew Herbert, The Collected Poems 1956-1998 (New York: Ecco, 2007), 471.