And said Poland: "Whoever comes to me, will be free and equal, because I am freedom." ~ Adam Mickiewicz
After two years of traveling almost exclusively to Western Europe and the Middle East, Poland feels like a geopolitical spa. I visited here for just three days and got two years of anti-American bruises massaged out of me. Get this: people here actually tell you they like America -- without whispering. What has gotten into these people? Have all their subscriptions to Le Monde Diplomatique expired? Haven't they gotten the word from Berlin and Paris? No, they haven't. In fact, Poland is the antidote to European anti-Americanism. Poland is to France what Advil is to a pain in the neck. Or as Michael Mandelbaum, the Johns Hopkins foreign affairs specialist, remarked after visiting Poland: "Poland is the most pro-American country in the world -- including the United States."
And said Poland: "Whoever comes to me, will be free and equal, because I am freedom."
Adam Mickiewicz, The Books of the Polish Nation
But we cannot be blamed for not taking seriously people who, unable though they are to remember correctly any single fact from our history or to say which barbaric dialect we speak, are perfectly able instead to teach us how liberated we are in the East.
Cultivation, old civilization, beauty, history! Surprising turnings of streets, shapes of venerable cottages, lovely aged eaves, unexpected and gossamer turrets, steeples, the gloss, the antiquity! Gardens. Whoever speaks of Paris has never seen Warsaw. [...] Whoever yearns for an aristocratic sensibility, let him switch on the great light of Warsaw.
Cynthia Ozick, Jewish novelist and short story writer. Her character, Rosa Lublin, from Rosa (p. 21), Ozick, Cynthia (1989). The Shawl (A Novel and Novella). Alfred A. Knopf.
Forbid it, England—by thine own great self,
By thine own yet unviolated hearths,
. . . .
Let not thy minister go forth in vain :
The fate of Poland now is at thy will;
The Autocrat will hear and heed thy voice ;
England, my glorious country, speak, and save!
Letitia Elizabeth Landon, Fisher's Drawing Room Scrap Book, 1833 (1832) 'The Right Honourable Lord Durham - Now on an Embassy at the Court of Russia'
I am thankful to heavens that in all my instincts I stood Polish.
I have placed my death's-head formation in readiness, for the present only in the East, with orders to them to send to death mercilessly and without compassion, men, women, and children of Polish derivation and language.
Nobody who comes to Poland will be in any danger because of his race. This is not our custom, as is not pointing out similar incidents in other countries, although we know they take place. In Poland, they're a rarity.
Poland is like an island on the north European plain. At times the island has been swamped by a tide of iron or steel helmets converging from Germany and Russia. At times it has drifted suddenly with the current; if the continent of Africa had drifted relatively as much as the boundaries of Poland have drifted in the last two hundred years, then Africa would at one time have touched the north pole and at another the south pole.
Un polonais – c'est un charmeur; deux polonais – une bagarre; trois polonais, eh bien, c'est la question polonaise.
One Pole is a charmer; two Poles – a brawl; three Poles – well, this is the Polish Question.
Voltaire, quoted in Davies, Norman (1996). Europe: A History. Oxford University Press.
We shall soon have the scenes of the Polish Diets and elections re-acted here, and in not many years the fate of Poland may be that of United America.
Charles Pinckney, speech to the U.S. Congress in 1800 about presidential elections. Quoted in Vile, John R. (2005). The Constitutional Convention of 1787: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of America's Founding. ABC-CLIO.
Who only knows Latin can go across the whole Poland from one side to the other one just like he was at his own home, just like he was born there. So great happiness! I wish a traveler in England could travel without knowing any other language than Latin!
Daniel Defoe, 1728
Norman Davies, 'God's Playground', 2000.
Wielka mnogość religii, które się w nich roją, zwłaszcza w Polsce, o której mówią przysłowiowo, że jeżeli ktoś utracił swoją religię, to niechaj jej poszukuje w Polsce, a znajdzie ją z pewnością. Jeśli nie, to będzie mógł uznać, że zniknęła ze świata.
Great wealth of religions existing, especially in Poland, about which they say that if someone has lost religion, let them search it in Poland and they will find it there, surely. If not, they are to think that the religion disappeared from the face of the Earth.
Sir Edward Sandys
With respect to us, Poland might be, in fact, considered as a country in the moon.
Edmund Burke, in a parliamentary debate about Britain's war against France. Quoted in Cobbett, William; John Wright, Thomas Curson Hansard (1817). The parliamentary history of England, from the earliest period to the year 1803. T.C. Hansard for Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme & Brown.
You can conquer the Poles not by a threat but by heart