Grzegorz Robak is an unabashed romantic. What is striking about Robak’s poetry is its lightness – the delicacy of its music and its evident sincerity. His work follows in the tradition of early English Romanticism and responds to such contemporary voices as John Ashbery and Czeslaw Milosz.
For Robak, sensation and perception are “waves” to be transcribed, not intellectual concepts to be muddled or deflected. In “Dark Eyes” he writes:
If I had you night and day to emulate...
To make a rhythm,
Akin to summer waves.
While in “Essence” we read:
As you lie next to me, you are a joyous wave
Which finally arrives to shore.
Robak’s “waves” remind one of Wordsworth’s “spontaneous overflow of emotion,” of Whitman's sea-elegies, and even of Ashbery’s seminal long poem, “A Wave.” Through these waves, Robak attempts to exalt his imagination over the universe of death. His work is thus very much akin to the Romanticism of Shelley.
As the reader will discover, Robak’s poetry diverges significantly from that of his Romantic predecessors in both its style and its voice. Nonetheless, Robak’s work reveals that the waters of tradition remain a viable source of sustenance for the contemporary poetic voice. After all, what is tradition but an inspired state of perception?