West Randolph Si.,
GENIUS OF POLISH HISTORY.
Wygnancy, co tak dlugo bladzicie po wiecie,
Kiedyz znuzonym stopom spoczynek znajdziecie?
Dziki golab ma gniazdo, robak ziemi brylg,
Kazdy cztowiek ojczyzng, a Polak mogilg
Translation on NIEMCEWICZ'B page. (*)
A COLLECTION OF POLISH VERSE,
INCLUDING A SHORT ACCOUNT OF THE HISTORY OF POLISH
POETRY, WITH SIXTY BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES OF
POLAND'S POETS AND SPECIMENS OF THEIR
COMPOSITION, TRANSLATED INTO
THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE.
KNIGHT & LEONARD, PRINTERS.
BY PAUL SOBOLESKI.
1. GENIUS OF POLISH HISTORY.
2. POLISH AND AMERICAN COAT-OF- ARMS.
3. THREE GREATEST POLISH POETS.
6. KARPINSKI'S MONUMENT.
10. SlowACKi's MONUMENT.
Besides the common alphabet, the Poles have the
following accented letters and as they may occa-
sionally occur in this work, it is deemed proper to
explain their sounds and pronunciation as far as it was
possible so .to do.
<| (nasal), has the sound of the French on as in son,
(3, is pronounced tsie.
Q (nasal), has the sound like the French un, as in
chacun, or like in as in main.
j i, very nearly as the English I, as in log, long, etc.
BL, is pronounced like the English n in need, or in
0, is pronounced like the English oo.
S, like the English s, followed by c, as in sea, seize.
fa, like the English z, in Zealand.
J2, is pronounced like French g or j, as in genou,
jambe, jar din.
j, is always pronounced like y.
1, like ee.
w, like English v.
\\, like oo
cz, like the English ch, as in child, chip, etc.
sz, like sh, as in shall, shield, etc.
rz, very like the French j, as \i\jardin.
szcz, like stch.
ch, very nearly like h, or like the German ch, as in
machen. brechen, etc.
PRONUNCIATION OF POETS' NAMES,
PRONUNCIATION OF POETS NAMES.
KON-DRAH -TO- VITCH.
PRONUNCIATION OF POETS NAMES. 9
SLOW AC KI, SLO-VATZ-KEE.
UJEJSKI, - OOY-EY-SKEE.
ZAN, - ZAHN.
ZMORSKI, .... ZMOR-SKEE.
IT has been said that the most interesting phenome-
non in the history of a people is the rise and progress
of its literature. As in an individual man, so it is
likewise in a nation, life manifests itself in a twofold
mariner: in action and in word. A wise man of an-
tiquity once said to an individual unknown to him:
"Speak, that I may know you." Thus we can address
ourselves to every civilized people "show us your
literature, that we may judge of the actual state of your
civilization, your character and your general qualifi-
12 POETS AND POETRY OF POLAND.
It is not enough that a nation has a literature of
its own, and that she sets it in sight of the progression
of humanity. It is not enough that she has actors
appearing on the scene of learning and knowledge;
a nation which has a desire to live and to advance with
proper dignity to her destiny must also have specta-
tors, hearers and learners in the grand school of social
vitality. In these lies her hope that she will not fall,
and that she will develop.
People are but collective units arising from individ-
ual or single beings united by force of nationality,
laws, inherent powers and actions. They grow and
flourish in accordance with their natural elements and
its development and this development is the flower
and the most beautiful crown of its existence.
As every nation is but a part of the grand division
of the human society which it influences by its own
characteristics, so is the literature of each nationality
a part of the general enlightenment which, circulating
around according to its strength and spirit, tends in
the same direction, and contributes toward making the
whole human kind more enlightened and more happy.
The literature of such people is a record of their
spiritual existence, and hence it becomes their duty
a duty which they owe to themselves and the country
of their birth to disseminate it, though it be in an
humble way, among the nations of the earth. Placed
in an apotheotic light on the heights of time, encom-
passing the past and the future, it points out the
direction, the mind and the feelings of the people from
whose hearts it sprung at the same time erecting im-
perishable monuments for them which neither passing
misfortunes nor the relentless hand of time can ever
Years ago there existed a great nation great in
achievements noble in her bearing, toward her neigh-
bors a warlike and chivalrous people, who once
commanded the respect and admiration of the world.
That nation was POLAND. Since she began to play an
important role in the history of nations she could
count over 1,500 literary names, many of which were
at the time , and are now, illustrious in the annals not
only of Poland, but of the world. Prostrate, parti-
tioned, suffering, and blotted out as it were from
existence, she awaits the fulfillment of her destiny.
Fate sometimes strikes nations as it does individuals,
but hope in her case, though it may seem futile to
other nationalities, never forsakes the sorrowing hearts
of her children. Scattered though they are through-
out the confines of the habitable globe, they have
never ceased to wait, to hope, and to trust, that she
will once more be resuscitated, resurrected, regen-
erated, and once more counted among the nations of
the earth! And we think that we are not mistaken
when we say that there are many noble hearts in all
nationalities who would respond to this heartfelt long-
ing with an AMEN!
It is not the intent of the compiler and editor of
this work to go into a diffuse history of Polish litera-
ture; his resources being rather limited, he must do
-as best he can. The purpose of this volume is only to
take a cursory glance, and to present to the American
public the names of some of the most distinguished
Polish poets, with short biographical sketches and
some specimens of their productions translated into the
English language some of which may not be equal to
the originals in the easy flow of language and the
beauty of expression. The Polish tongue may seem to
14 POETS AND POETRY OF POLAND.
other nationalities as somewhat harsh and discordant,
but in reality it is one of the most flowery, expressive, .
and harmonious languages extant. No language can
excel it in heroic verse, nor claim preeminence over it
in the expression of sentiment.
Although the editor has written and translated a
goodly part of THE POETS AND POETRY OF POLAND, he
availed himself of some translations of Dr. John
Bowring, a distinguished English litterateur, and of
Dr. Thomas D. English, an American gentleman of
eminent poetical talent. He also cheerfully acknowl-
edges assistance and advice of friends well experienced
in literary matters.
In presenting this work to the public the editor
can truthfully state that he has been patiently waiting
for thirty years for some of his learned and able coun-
trymen to come to the front with a work on "the
Poets and Poetry of Poland," but up to this period no
one has yet appeared, so this important task has fallen
to his lot. He cheerfully accepts the situation, and
in offering this to the AMERICAN PEOPLE and to his
countrymen, he regrets that the collection is not more
complete and not more satisfactory to himself for he
can proclaim to the world, without any egotistical feel-
ing of nationality, but in all the sincerity of his heart,
that Polish literature is a deep mine of precious treas-
ure, although outside of its own people it has been
known but little heretofore. There may have been
impediments to cause this delay, but as the world
advances in knowledge and general enlightenment these
hidden treasures will be unearthed and brought to
This volume only points out the place where it
lies inert, and fortunate will be the hand that will in
the future unearth these untold poetical treasures that
have for so many years lain hidden from the sight of
one of most enlightened people, the Anglo-Americans;
but the way having once been opened, there will be
found in the future stronger and abler hands, who can
add to this work a great deal of valuable matter which
would be interesting, not only to the American people
and the Poles, but to the world.
THREE GREATEST POLISH POETS.
POETRY OF POLAND.
The rise and progress of Polish Poetry and general liter-
ature may be divided in five distinct epochs, to-wit :
First Epoch Called Piast- Jagellon Epoch, from the year
1000 to 1500.
Second Epoch That of King Sigismund, and extending
from 1500 to 1620.
Third Epoch The Jesuit Epoch, from 1620 to 1750.
Fourth Epoch Known as the Classic Epoch (or Kon-
arski's Epoch), from 1750 to 1822.
Fifth Epoch The Romantic Epoch, commencing with
the appearance of Adam Mickiewicz and extending up to the
PIAST-JAGELLON. WHICH MAY BE CONSIDERED AS THE MORNING
STAR OF POLISH LITERATURE. IT DATES FROM THE INTRO-
DUCTION OF CHRISTIANITY TO THE TIME WHEN PRINTING CAME
INTO GENERAL USE 1000-1500.
Before the tenth century the history of Polish Poetry
is rather dim and uncertain. It is only since the intro-
duction of Christianity into Poland, during the reign of
Mieczyslas I, that the Polish literature assumed a per-
ceptible shape. With the advance of civilization the
idols created in bygone days, before which the people
bowed, were one by one demolished, and the prejudices
18 POETS AND POETRY OF POLAND.
of the past so thoroughly subverted that in a short
time scarcely a vestige of them was left. We have,
indeed, old reminiscences of songs, fables, and tradi-
tions, but we lind them all pervaded in exaggeration
In this interesting period we had poems, secular
songs, and other kinds of rhythmical compositions, be-
cause circumstances surrounding our people such as
wars, victories, and defeats ; weddings, funerals, and
national ceremonies naturally called into existence the
feeling of poetical inspiration ; hence bards appeared
who were the creators of these compositions. We had
also religious poetry, because from time immemorial
our people sung in churches in the Polish language;
but the relics of the original sacred poetry are very
scarce, since in the progression and refinement of the
Polish language these compositions were, so to speak,
made over, and hence many of them lost the stamp of
In the fifteenth century Polish Poetry made but little
progress ; indeed, we may say it stood as it was in the
age of Piast in its infancy. Scholastic philosophy and
the Latin tongue stifled, as it were, the native vein pf
the Polish songs, scarcely the traces of a few were pre-
served. Toward the end of the fifteenth century, when
our people became more numerous and stronger, our
poets also began to assume more distinct and promi-
nent places. We no longer rest on conjectures and in-
ferences, but upon monumental evidences. Sacred
poetry was founded upon several renditions of the
Psalms, as also upon sacred songs translated from the
Bohemian, and the secular rested upon a wider range
and continual improvement on the Piast period. Hence
the rhythmical compositions of that period not being
POETRY OF POLAND. 19
characterized by any especial shading of poetry, we will
only classify the remaining traces and monuments.
1. Relics of sacred poetry. 2. Of secular rhyth-
mical creations. In fact we could mention some dra-
matic souvenirs of those ages, but as they are of no
great significance, we leave that part to the pen of a
RELICS OF SACRED POETRY.
After the introduction of Christianity, the Polish
Poetry, being under the influence of the civilization of
Western Europe, began to flourish very early in sacred
or church songs ; although these songs were chiefly
translations from the Bohemian tongue, or, we should
rather remark, they were sort of made over.
Of the earliest poetic compositions nothing has yet
been found. Whether they had been wholly lost, or
were defaced by continual use in handling and tran-
scribing, is uncertain ; but as no religion has ever done
without songs and chants, we may naturally presume
that such had existed. Songs and chants of that kind
form the nucleus of every nation's poetry and music, and
it was in such rhythmical composition that the Polish
language began to put forth its shoots, to refine and
improve. Pious simplicity especially characterizes these
compositions; intrinsically they have no poetical worth,
being as it were only prose un skillfully versified.
From the most important of these compositions
which came down to our times, and which deserve
notice, is :
1. " Boga Eodzica" (the Mother of God), origi-
nally composed by St. Adelbert. This celebrated chant
was composed in the Bohemian language, and was sung
by the Poles before the commencement of every battle,
20 POETS AND POETRY OB' POLAND.
and is to this day sung during the divine services in the
Cathedral of Gniezno. The author of this celebrated
chant was born in 950 in Bohemia, and was the Bishop
of Prague. Being persecuted by the Bohemians, he
removed at first .to Hungary, and then to Poland.
That was during the reign of Mieczyslas I, where he
was instrumental in spreading the newly introduced
doctrines of Christianity. In the year 995, with the
advice of Boleslas the Great, King of Poland, he went
to Prussia to instruct the pagans of that country in
Christianity, and suffered the death of a martyr at
Fishhausen. Bole.-las the Great bought his body from
the Prussians and had it burietl with great ceremony at
Gniezno. Otto III, the Emperor of Germany, visited
2. Fiftieth Psalm from thirteenth century.
3. Sorrows of the Mother of God under the Cross
of the Redeemer.
4. Psalter of Margaret, the Princess of the Mora-
vians, from fourteenth century ; but it is not certain
whether the production belongs to Margaret, the wife
of Louis, King of Hungary, or to Maria, the King's
eldest daughter. From certain passages there are
traces giving us to understand that it was the first trial
the first translation of the psalter.
5. The Psalter of Queen Hedwige, from fifteenth
century the two first psalms.
6. Be Praised the Queen (Salve Regina), from the
Of the names of the authors of religious songs of
those days the following are known to us :
JOHN WITOWSKI, the companion of Ladislaus Lokietek,
who composed a song on the sufferings of our Lord,
which was sung in Poland during Lent.
POETRY OF POLAND. 21
JOHN OPALINSKI, the bishop of Posen, a great lover
of music and good cheer. He wrote" a song about the
Ascension ; the Immaculate Virgin Mary ; a song
about St. Adelbert ; five songs about St. Peter, and
six about St. Paul. These songs were sung by the
religious brotherhood of Posen.
JOHN PREWORSZCZYK, from fifteenth century, who
collected a small volume of " Anthems " (1435). This
collection contains originals and translations from the
Latin, and the title is also. Latin.
ANDREW FROM ShrpiA, a Benedictine monk, wrote
songs of the Queen of Heaven ; also hymns to Jesus
Christ and others. Thes'e compositions are superior to
any previously written.
At that period the Poles had not come to full civili-
zation, and yielded to the influences of Western
Europe. Their poetry began at once to assume a
higher grade, and became more assimilated with music,
full of sweet harmony. Between 965-1040, however,
they still sang the old songs. The boors guarding the
bordering Castles during the reign of Boleslas the
Romantic, about King Popiel, were commonly sung by
young girls, and were not given up until the death of
Boleslas the Great. There were also many dumas
about the Tartars, who, in the thirteenth century, about
every twenty years made incursions into Poland ; but
after a while these songs fell into disuse.
There were also many ritual songs. The fragments
of these compositions attest their antiquity. Many of
these were made over into Christian songs, leaving,
however, the traces of some primitive words originally
used, which plainly identify them as the relics of old
The wedding songs were preserved the best of any
22 POETS AND POETRY OF POLAND.
during almost eight centuries. These songs seem to
possess an idyllic tendency, and have come down even
to the present time in their primitiveness. From these
remnants the following deserve mention :
1. Congratulatory song to King Casimir I, begin-
ning with the words " Welcome, welcome, our dear
2. Plaintive songs of Boleslas the Great, which
Martin Gallus translated into Latin.
3. Song in honor of Boleslas, surnamed "The
4. Song describing the assassination of Ludgarda
by her husband Przemyslas.
5. Song about Albert, the Justice of the City of
6. Song about Vitold.
7. Song concerning the calamity of Bukowina.
The most distinguished authors of those times are :
ANDREW GA}KA, the Professor in the Academy of
Cracow, and Canon of St. Thomas' Church, lived in
fifteenth century. He composed a song about Wick-
liffe, who encouraged Huss's religious views among the
ADAM SWINKA, the Cathedral Canon of Cracow, and
Secretary of Jagello, lived in fifteenth century. He
wrote beautiful elegiac verses in the Latin tongue ;
epitaph on the death of Queen Hedwige ; composition
on the death of Zawisza*, surnamed "The Black."
Besides these he wrote a heroic poem "De rebus
gestis ac dictus memorabilibus Casimiri Secundi Polo-
niae Regis inclitissimi." These songs were translated
into Polish by Louis Kondratowicz.
CONRAD CELTES wrote "Carmen ad Vistulam," de-
* A celebrated Polish hero.
POETRY OF POLAND. 23
scribing the channel of the river Vistula ; "Salinaria
ad Janum Terinum," describing the salt mines of
Wieliczka. His influence fired the Polish youth to the
Roman Classic literature.
Celtes was born in Germany in 1459, and was
crowned with a wreath by the Emperor of Germany
for his Latin poetry. While visiting for scientific pur-
poses Rome, Venice, lllyria, and Panonia, he came to
Cracow to hear Albert, from Brudziewa, lecture on
Astronomy. He remained in Cracow two years, divid-
ing his time in the study of astronomy, reading the
classics, and writing poetry in Latin, breathing his
love to Hasilina, a Cracovian maiden, as also enjoy-
ing the literary society of the young academicians. He
died in 1508.
CALLED " THE SIGISMUND EPOCH." GOLDEN ADVENT OF POLISH
In the Second Epoch we see another, a wider, and
a more beautiful field opening before us. What was
only in the bud is in this epoch in full bloom. For-
merly it was only the light of the moon struggling to
penetrate through the darkness of ages. Now the
golden rays of the sun throw a new halo and form
enchantingly mingled colors of the rainbow. In those
days the historian was anxiously looking for the small-
est possible traces, but now in the abundance of pro-
ductions his task is only to select what is the best.
Weary of traveling amidst the woodless and track-
less prairies, we begin with pleasure, and hope to see
the accounts of true literature springing up from the
24 POETS AND POETRY OF POLAND.
inner life of a developing people and multiplying in
the production of poets, orators, and historians. It
was still more singular that the advance was made in
two different languages the Polish and the Latin
equally well cultivated. It seemed as if two litera-
tures began to bloom all at once in one and the same
people. Thus we begin the sixteenth century.
The characteristic signs of this age were great dis-
coveries and inventions. At no previous time was
there so much anxiety and lively desire to study and
ascertain the inherent qualities of Nature ; never be-
fore the spirit of inquiry and searching after was wider
than in this epoch of Columbus, Gama, Raphael,
Copernicus, Galileo, and Guttenberg ; the world be-
came 'broader and more expansive by bold conception
of one man ; received a new world from the hands of
another, and if in accordance with the system of the
Creator himself, it was built over anew as if by the en-
chanter's hand ; the times of chivalry disappeared ;
Art thrusts the barbaric weapon out of the hands of
the stronger ; knowledge subverts the idols of scholas-
tics ; and, finally, that the ideal should not be lost,
Ariosto, Camoens, Cervantes, and their compeers, ap-
pear upon the stage. Perhaps at no period so many
eminent men made their appearance at the helm:
Leo X, Charles V, Francis I, Sigismund the Old,
Henry VIII, Soliman, Shah Ismael, and Shah Akbar.
Amidst the turbulence of those days, there was one
country beyond the confines of Western Europe occu-
pying the common sphere of knowledge shed by the
light of Christianity, which quietly progressed in the
general improvement, in the science of government,
literature, and general enlightenment.
In their active life the Poles nursed their own ideas,
POETKY OF POLAND. 25
in shaping and by degrees unfolding their natural char-
acter, and thus the Polish Nation, by uninterrupted pro-
gression, was nearing to her maturity.
At this epoch Polish Poetry and Polish Music kept
even pace with other branches of natural advancement.
Poets of great distinction appeared, their compositions
shedding a great luster over the national literature-
Nicholas Rey, JohnKochanowski,Klonowicz, Miaskow-
ski, and others. Besides these there were Polish poets
who wrote in the Latin tongue, as for instance :
DANTYSZEK, who is the author of " De yirtutis et
honore differentia Somnium "; "Carmen Extempora-
rum de victoria insigni Sigismundi Regis"; " De nos-
trorum temporum Calamitatib us ";" Jonas propheta
de interitu civitatis Gedanensis "; " Epigramata varia,"
PAUL KROSNIANIN also sung for posterity many
memorable things: "Jureditum Sigismundi I, Regis
Poloniae"; "De nuptiis Sigismundi Regis Poloniae et
Bonae Ducis Mediolani iiliae," etc. etc.
CLEMENS JANICKI. All of his poetry belongs to
lyric compositions. Their smoothness reminds the
scholar of .Ovid, and on account of the outpouring of a
great feeling he can be justly compared to Catullus and
Tibullus. This epoch comes down to the year 1620.
CALLED THE JESUIT PERIOD 1620-1750.
A distracted state of the country in consequence of
internal quarrels and wars caused also the decadence in
Polish literature. It is with much regret and reluctance
that this fact is stated. The deviation from the right