Mr. Cogito, by Zbigniew Herbert

Mr Cogito - Zbigniew Herbert, John Carpenter, Bogdana Carpenter

I believe I read some poems from this collection when I was an undergrad (and perhaps again in my MFA program) and loved them. I've always liked persona poems and like writing them myself. It gives poetry an element of fiction and gets readers away a bit from the poet-speaker connection.

 

I'd compare Mr. Cogito to Henry from John Berryman's Dream Songs, except without the madness and with the context of a collective tragedy (the Holocaust). He's quite sane but lonely, searching, bemusing, and melancholy.

 

The poems are constructed in the same fashion in terms of craft: enjambed lines that fragment in your mind or the opposite, really: phrases run into each other in a single line. Killer endings that can punch you in the gut (like "Mr. Cogito Seeks Advice").

 

How are Polish poets so awesome? I've never read one I didn't like.