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.
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.
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.
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
State without stakes
Przeciw szlachcie ani duchowieństwo, ani sam król nie był w stanie nic postanowić.
Against Polish gentry, no one - nor the priesthood, nor king - could stand on their way.
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.
And said Poland: "Whoever comes to me, will be free and equal, because I am freedom."
Adam Mickiewicz, The Books of the Polish Nation
I am thankful to heavens that in all my instincts I stood Polish.
Quant à l'action qui va commencer, elle se passe en Pologne, c’est-à-dire nulle part.
As to the action which is about to begin, it takes place in Poland – that is to say, nowhere.
Introduction to the premier of Ubu Roi in Paris in 1896. Quoted in Jarry, Alfred; transl. Beverly Keith and Gershon Legman (2003). Ubu Roi. Dover Publications.
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.
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.
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.
Żeby Polska była Polską.
Let Poland be Poland.
Jan Pietrzak, Polish comedian. Title of a patriotic song written in 1976 which became an informal anthem of the Solidarity movement in the 1980s.
Через труп белой Польши лежит путь к мировому пожару.
(Cherez trup beloy Pol'shi lezhit put' k mirovomu pozharu.)
Over the corpse of White Poland lies the road to world-wide conflagration.
Mikhail Tukhachevsky, order of Russian invasion of Poland in 1920. Quoted in Davies, Norman (1996). Europe: A History. Oxford University Press.
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.