by Fox News Radio's Alastair Wanklyn

 

"Are we too hysterical?" a Polish journalist asked.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Far from it. It is unusual to see public grief so controlled. Few people were weeping outside the palace of President Lech Kaczynski. Few were talking. The street, though crammed at times with tens of thousands of mourners, was nearly silent.

Perhaps the loudest noise was glass scraping on the ground. Mourners placing traditional Polish remembrance lamps, decorative glass jars with a cap, and a candle burning inside. Tens of thousands appeared over the first weekend.

"It is a great sorrow for all of us," one young woman told Fox News Radio. "Because even if not everyone agreed with the president as a politician, we all feel pity for him and for all the victims."

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grief takes different forms from place to place.

In the Arab world, some men wail and women practise a piercing ululation. In Britain, there was weeping aplenty at the death of Princess Diana and child-like gestures including teddy bears tied to the gates of Buckingham Palace.

In Warsaw, the Poles too filled the streets in their tens of thousands. But they promenaded calmly. Some carried red and white tulips, the colour of Poland's flag.

"We were shocked. We will never forget this," said Andrzej Malinowski, a 37-year-old lawyer from Warsaw.

A calm face must be how shock expresses itself here. Malinowski's was as tranquil as a saint.

 

 

 

 

 

 

By the third day Poland had a new acting head of state, and the government was putting number-twos in the top slots at state agencies like the central bank and national Olympic committee. An apparently smooth transition.

Malinowski acknowledged that Poland's two decades free of communism has left it a methodical and mature democracy.

"Poland will survive," he said.