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Adam Mickiewicz

Mickiewicz, after 1842 daguerreotype
Born Adam Bernard Mickiewicz,
December 24, 1798(1798-12-24),
Zaosie, Russian Empire
Died November 26, 1855 (aged 56),
Constantinople, Ottoman Empire.
Occupation Poet, essayist.

Adam Bernard Mickiewicz (pronounced: [mit​͡sˈkʲɛvit​͡ʂ] ( listen); in Russian Адам Мицкевич, in Belarusian, Адам Міцкевіч; in Lithuanian, Adomas Bernardas Mickevičius; December 24, 1798 – November 26, 1855) was a Polish-Lithuanian Romantic poet (see: Romanticism in Poland).[1][2] He was one of Poland's Three Bards, alongside Zygmunt Krasiński and Juliusz Słowacki.

Mickiewicz is also considered by some the greatest Slavic poet,[3] alongside Alexander Pushkin, and a leading author of the Romantic school. Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, Poland, is named after him.

Contents

Life

Sketch by Joachim Lelewel.

Adam Mickiewicz was born at his uncle's estate in Zaosie, near Navahrudak in the Russian Empire (now Belarus). His father Mikołaj Mickiewicz was a member of the nobility of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and bore the hereditary Poraj coat-of-arms.

Mickiewicz enrolled at the Imperial University of Vilna. His personality and later works were greatly influenced by his four years of living and studying in Vilnius. He took a strong interest in Polish and Lithuanian history, which later became important themes in his poetry. In 1817, together with Thom Zan (Tomasz Zan) and other friends, he created a secret organization, the Philomaths, that advocated progressive causes and independence from the Russian Empire. Following graduation, in 1819–23, under the terms of his university scholarship, he taught secondary school at Kaunas.

Catholic church of Transfiguration of Jesus in Navahrudak (Belarus) where Adam Mickiewicz was baptized

In 1823 he was arrested, investigated for his political activities (membership in the Philomaths) and in 1824 banished to central Russia. He had already published two small volumes of miscellaneous poetry at Vilnius, which had been favorably received by the Slavic public, and on his arrival at Saint Petersburg found himself welcomed into the leading literary circles, where he became a great favorite both for his agreeable manners and his extraordinary talent of improvisation. In 1825 he visited the Crimea, which inspired a collection of sonnets (Sonety Krymskie—The Crimean Sonnets) with their admirably elegant rhythm and rich Oriental coloring. The most beautiful are "The Storm," "Bakhchisaray," and "The Grave of Countess Potocka". Crimea had earlier caught the eye of another famous contemporary poet, Alexander Pushkin, who had written about it in "The Fountain of Bakhchisaray" two years before Mickiewicz.

Portrait by Walenty Wańkowicz, 1828

In 1828 appeared Mickiewicz's Konrad Wallenrod, a narrative poem describing the battles of the Teutonic Knights with the heathen Lithuanians. In it, under a thin veil, Mickiewicz represented the sanguinary passages of arms and burning hatred which had characterized the long feuds of the Russians and Poles. The objects of the poem, though obvious to many, escaped the Russian censors, and the poem was allowed to be published, complete with the telling motto, adapted from Machiavelli: "Dovete adunque sapere come sono duo generazioni da combattere — bisogna essere volpe e leone." ("Ye shall know that there are two ways of fighting — you must be a fox and a lion.") This striking long poem contains at least two revered subsections, including the Alpuhara Ballad.

In 1829, after a five-year exile in Russia, the poet obtained permission to travel abroad. He had secretly made up his mind never to return to Russia, or to his own native land so long as it remained under Russian imperial rule. Wending his way to Weimar, he there made the acquaintance of Goethe, who received him cordially, and, pursuing his journey through Germany, he entered Italy by the Splügen Pass, visited Milan, Venice and Florence, and finally established his residence in Rome.

There he wrote the third part of his poem Dziady (Forefathers' Eve; in Lithuanian, Vėlinės), which adverts to the ancestor commemoration that had been practiced by Slavic and Baltic peoples; and Pan Tadeusz, his longest poem, which is considered his masterpiece. The latter epos draws a picture of Lithuania on the eve of Napoleon's 1812 expedition to Russia. In this "village idyll," as Aleksander Brückner calls it, Mickiewicz gives a picture of the country seats of the Polish magnates, with their somewhat boisterous but very genuine hospitality. They are seen just as the knell of their nationalism, as Brückner says, seems to be sounding, and therefore there is something melancholy and dirge-like in the poem, in spite of the pretty love story that forms the main incident.

Mickiewicz turned to Lithuania, firmly stating it as his "Fatherland"—in so doing, he was actually referring to his native former Grand Duchy of Lithuania—with the loving eyes of an exile, and gives some of the most delightful descriptions of "Lithuanian" skies and "Lithuanian" forests. He describes the weird sounds to be heard in the primeval woods in a country where the trees were sacred. The cloud-pictures are equally striking.

In 1832 Mickiewicz left Rome for Paris, where his life was for some time marked by poverty and unhappiness. On July 22, 1834, he married Celina Szymanowska (daughter of composer and concert pianist Maria Agata Szymanowska), who became mentally ill. Marital discord and Celina's mental illness would drive Mickiewicz to attempt suicide on December 17 or 18, 1838, by jumping out a window.

In 1840 Mickiewicz was appointed to the newly-founded chair of Slavic languages and literatures at the Collège de France. He was, however, destined to hold it for little more than three years, his last lecture being given on May 28, 1844. His mind had become increasingly possessed by religious mysticism.

He had fallen under the influence of the Polish Messianist philosopher Andrzej Towiański. His lectures became a medley of religion and politics, and thus brought him under censure by the French government. A selection of his lectures has been published in four volumes. They contain some sound criticism, but the philological part is defective — Mickiewicz was no scholar, and it is clear that he was well acquainted with only two of the Slavic literatures, Polish and Russian, and the latter only to 1830.

A sad picture of his declining years is given in the memoirs of the Russian writer Alexander Herzen. Comparatively early, the poet exhibited signs of premature old age; poverty, despair and domestic affliction had taken their toll. In the winter of 1848–49, the Polish composer Fryderyk Chopin, in the final months of his own life, visited his ailing compatriot and soothed the poet's nerves with his piano music.[4] Over a dozen years earlier, Chopin had set some of Mickiewicz's poems to music.[5]

In 1849 Mickiewicz founded a French newspaper, La Tribune des Peuples (The Peoples' Tribune), but survived for only a year. The restoration of the French Empire seemed to kindle his hopes afresh; his last composition is said to have been a Latin ode in honour of Napoleon III.

Temporary grave of Adam Mickiewicz in a crypt under his apartment, now Adam Mickiewicz Museum, Istanbul.

In 1855 Mickiewicz's wife Celina died. On the outbreak of the Crimean War, he left his under-age children in Paris and went to Istanbul, Turkey, where he arrived 22 September 1855, to organize Polish forces to be used in the war against Russia. With his friend Armand Levy, a Romanian Jew [1], he set about organizing a Jewish legion, the Hussars of Israel, comprising Russian and Palestinian Jews. He returned ill to his apartment from a trip to a military camp and died on 26 November in his apartment on the Yenişehir street in Istanbul.[6] The house where he lived in is now a museum.

After being temporarily buried in a crypt under his apartment in Istanbul, his remains were transported to France and buried at Montmorency. In 1900 they were disinterred, moved to a politically still-unreborn Poland, and entombed in the crypts of Kraków's Wawel Cathedral, which is shared with many of those who are considered important to Poland's political and/or cultural history.

Works

Dziady część II, illustration by Czesław Jankowski

The political situation in Poland in the 19th century was often reflected in Polish literature which, since the days of Poland's partitions took a powerful upward swing and reached its zenith during the period between 1830 and 1850 in the unsurpassed patriotic writings of Mickiewicz, among others. The writings of Mickiewicz have had such a tremendous influence upon the Polish mind that they can not be underestimated.

Because of the greater simplicity of his style and the directness of presentation, Mickiewicz reached more Polish hearts than either Krasiński or Słowacki and came to be regarded as the greatest interpreter of the people's hopes and ideals. He wrote at a time when Romanticism prevailed in European literature. His works bear the impress of that literary epoch, but they deal with intense and palpable realities. His two monumental works, marking the zenith of his power, are Dziady (Forefathers' Eve) and Pan Tadeusz. The latter is universally recognized as "the only successful epic which the 19th century produced." George Brandes says:

"Mickiewicz alone approached those great names in poetry which stand in history as above all healthy, far healthier than Byron, healthier, even than Shakespeare, Homer and Goethe."

Adam Mickiewicz museum in Vilnius, Lithuania.

The poetic serenity of the description of Lithuanian life at the opening of the 19th century is the more remarkable when considered in the light of the poet's volcanic nature and his intense suffering over the tragic fate of his native land to which he could never return. His passionate nature finds its truest expression in Dziady, which undoubtedly constitutes the acme of poetic inspiration. It deals with the transformation of the soul from individual to a higher national conception. The hero, Gustavus, who has suffered great misfortune, wakes up one morning in his prison cell and finds himself an entirely changed man. His heart, given over to individual pain and individual love, dies. Gustavus, bewailing his lost personal happiness, lives no more, and Konrad, his divine ego, takes his place. All the creative powers of his nation are concentrated in him. Here Mickiewicz bares his own soul. He is filled with enough moral strength to challenge even God. He feels for millions and is pleading before God for their happiness and spiritual perfection. It is the Promethean idea, no doubt, but greatly deepened in conception and execution and applied to but one part of humanity, the Polish nation whose intensity of suffering was the greatest in all mankind.

Lithuanian folk song written down by Mickiewicz

As a young man, Mickiewicz took a leading part in the literary life of the university circles at Vilnius. When the societies were closed in 1823 by order of the Russian government he was arrested and exiled to Russia. While in the Crimea he wrote his sonnets. In France in 1835 Mickiewicz came under the influence of Towianski, a mystic, and ceased to write. Toward the end of his days he freed himself again of this peculiar thrall which Towiański was able to exert over him.

It was while in Istanbul he wrote the Books of the Pilgrims, which have been called "Mickiewicz's Homilies".

Statue of Mickiewicz in Minsk

Beside Konrad Wallenrod and Pan Tadeusz, noteworthy is the long poem Grażyna, describing the exploits of a Lithuanian chieftainess against the Teutonic Knights. It was said by Christien Ostrowski to have inspired Emilia Plater, a military heroine of the November 1830 Uprising who found her grave in the forests of Lithuania. A fine vigorous Oriental piece is Farys. Notable too are the odes to Youth and to the historian Joachim Lelewel; the former did much to stimulate the efforts of the Poles to shake off their Russian conquerors.

His son Władysław Mickiewicz wrote a Vie d'Adam Mickiewicz (Life of Adam Mickiewicz, 4 volumes, Poznań, 1890-95) and Adam Mickiewicz, sa vie et son œuvre (Adam Mickiewicz: His Life and Works, Paris, 1888). Translations into English (1881-85) of Konrad Wallenrod and Pan Tadeusz were made by a Miss Biggs. Christien Ostrowski rendered into French Œuvres poétiques de Michiewicz (Poetic Works of Mickiewicz, Paris, 1845).

The most recent translation of Pan Tadeusz into English, in the rhyme and rhythm of the original, is by Marcel Weyland of Sydney, Australia (ISBN 1567002196 in the US, and ISBN 1873106777 in the UK).

Nationality

Godebski's statue of Mickiewicz in Warsaw

Adam Mickiewicz is generally known as a Polish poet; but though all his major works are written in Polish, his nationality has been an object of controversy.

Lithuanian commemorative coin

He is regarded by some Lithuanians to have been of Lithuanian origin, his name being rendered into Lithuanian as Adomas Mickevičius. Similarly, many Belarusians claim his descent from a Polonized Belarusian family and call him Ада́м Міцке́віч. According to Belarusian historian Rybczonek, Mickiewicz's mother had Tatar roots.[7] Some sources claim that Mickiewicz's mother was descended from a converted Frankist Jewish family.[8][9][10][11] Other sources view the latter claim as "improbable."[12][13] The poet's mother Barbara z Majewskich Mickiewiczowa was a devout Catholic of ethnically Polish background, as explained by Tomasz Łubieński in his 1998 biography M jak Mickiewicz. It was another Majewski family in Lithuania of the Commonwealth who were descendants of Frankists.[14][15]

The controversy over Mickiewicz's ethnic background largely stems from the fact that in the 19th century the modern concept of nationality based on ethnicity had not yet been fully developed and the term "Lithuania," as used by Mickiewicz himself, had a much broader geographic meaning than it does now. Mickiewicz had been brought up in the culture of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, a multicultural state that had encompassed most of what today are the separate countries of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Belarus and Ukraine. His most famous poem, Pan Tadeusz, begins with the invocation: "Oh Lithuania, my fatherland, thou art like good health." It is generally accepted that in Mickiewicz's time the term "Lithuania" still carried a strong association with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, a part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and that Mickiewicz used it in a political rather than an ethnic sense.[16] However, he clearly distinguished the ethnic Lithuanian nation[17] and understood and wrote some Lithuanian.[18] Simonas Daukantas' translation of his poem "Žywila" into Lithuanian was the first translation of a poem by Mickiewicz.[19] His works are regarded as having had a major influence on the Lithuanian national renaissance.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ William Richard Morfill, Poland, 1893, p. 300.
  2. ^ Karin Ikas, Gerhard Wagner, Communicating in the Third Space, 2008, p. 182.
  3. ^ "Centennial essays for Pushkin‎" Page 77, Samuel Hazzard Cross - Literary Criticism - 1937 - 226 pages... "there came together in Moscow two of the most illustrious of all Slavic poets — the Pole, Adam Mickiewicz, and the Russian, Alexander Pushkin."
  4. ^ Jachimecki, p. 424.
  5. ^ Jachimecki, p. 423.
  6. ^ Muzeum Adama Mickiewicza w Stambule (przewodnik). Ministerstwo Kultury i Turystyki Republiki Turcji - Ministerstwo Kultury i Dziedzictwa Narodowego Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej, 26 November 2005.
  7. ^ Rybczonek, S., "Przodkowie Adama Mickiewicza po kądzieli" ("Adam Mickiewicz's Ancestors on the Distaff Side"), Blok-Notes Muzeum Literatury im. Adama Mickiewicza, 1999, no. 12/13.
  8. ^ Balaban, Meir, The History of the Frank Movement, 2 vols., 1934-35, pp. 254-259.
  9. ^ "Mickiewicz's mother, descended from a converted Frankist family": "Mickiewicz, Adam," Encyclopaedia Judaica. "Mickiewicz's Frankist origins were well-known to the Warsaw Jewish community as early as 1838 (according to evidence in the AZDJ of that year, p. 362). "The parents of the poet's wife also came from Frankist families": "Frank, Jacob, and the Frankists," Encyclopaedia Judaica.
  10. ^ M.Mieses, Polacy-Chrześciane pochodzenia żydowskiego (Christian Poles of Jewish Descent), vols. I–IV, Warsaw, 1938.
  11. ^ Magdalena Opalski and Israel Bartal, Poles and Jews: a Failed Brotherhood, pp. 119-21.
  12. ^ "Her (Barbara Mickiewicz) maiden name was Majewska. In old Lithuania, every baptised Jew became ennobled, and there were Majewskis of Jewish origin. That must have been the reason for the rumours, repeated by some of the poet's contemporaries, that Mickiewicz's mother was a Jewess by origin. However, genealogical research makes such an assumption rather improbable." (Wiktor Weintraub, The Poetry of Adam Mickiewicz, p. 11.)
  13. ^ "The mother’s low social status—her father was a land steward— argues against a Frankist origin. The Frankists were usually of the nobility and therefore socially superior to the common gentry." (Czesław Miłosz, The Land of Ulro, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000 ed., p. 116.)
  14. ^ (Polish) Paweł Goźliński, "Rzym koło Nowogródka", interview with historian Tomasz Łubieński, editor-in-chief of Nowe Ksiąźki, Gazeta Wyborcza, 16 October, 1998.
  15. ^ (Polish) "Muzeum Historii Polski" by Fortepresse Mickiewicz past, an unproven theory (last paragraph on the page).
  16. ^ Venclova, Tomas. "Native Realm Revisited: Mickiewicz's Lithuania and Mickiewicz in Lithuania". http://www.pogranicze.sejny.pl/archiwum/krasnogruda/pismo/8/forum/vencl.htm. Retrieved 2007-04-24. "This semantic confusion was amplified by the fact that the Nowogródek region, although inhabited mainly by Belarusian speakers, was for several centuries considered part and parcel of Lithuania Propria—Lithuania in the narrow sense; as different from the 'Ruthenian' regions of the Grand Duchy." 
  17. ^ "Preface to Conrad Wallenrod, translated into Lithuanian.". http://anthology.lms.lt/texts/9a/tekstas/1.html,. 
  18. ^ "An original handwritten note by Mickiewicz, containing the lyrics of a Lithuanian folk song". http://anthology.lms.lt/texts/11/main.html. 
  19. ^ Venclova, Tomas. "Native Realm Revisited: Mickiewicz's Lithuania and Mickiewicz in Lithuania". http://www.pogranicze.sejny.pl/archiwum/krasnogruda/pismo/8/forum/vencl.htm. Retrieved 2007-04-24. 

References

Related reading

  • Adam Mickiewicz, Konrad Wallenrod and Grażyna, translated by Irene Suboczewski, Rowman & Littlefield, 1989, ISBN 0-8191-7556-0.
  • Adam Mickiewicz, Pan Tadeusz, New York, Hippocrene Books, 1992, ISBN 0-7818-0033-1.
  • Treasury of Love Poems by Adam Mickiewicz, bilingual edition, translated by Kenneth R. MacKenzie, New York, Hippocrene Books, 1998, ISBN 0-7818-0652-6.
  • Adam Mickiewicz, The Sun of Liberty: Bicentenary Anthology, 1798-1998, bilingual edition, Warsaw, Energeia, 1998, ISBN 83-85118-74-8.
  • Roman Koropeckyj, Adam Mickiewicz: The Life of a Romantic, Ithaca, Cornell University Press, 2008, ISBN 978-0-8014-4471-5.
  • Jadwiga Maurer, Z matki obcej... Szkice o powiązaniach Adama Mickiewicza ze światem Żydow (Of a Foreign Mother... Sketches about Adam Mickiewicz's Ties to the Jewish World), London, Polska Fundacja Kulturalna, 1990, ISBN 0-8506-5217-0.

External links

This article incorporates text from the public-domain Catholic Encyclopedia of 1913.


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Adam Mickiewicz

Adam Mickiewicz (24 December 179826 November 1855) was a Polish writer and poet, considered by many to be the greatest Polish Romantic poet of the 19th century.

Contents

Sourced

Dziady (Forefathers' Eve) [1]

  • Bo słuchajcie i zważcie na siebie: Kto nie dotknął ziemi ni razu, ten nigdy nie może być w niebie.
    • Translation: So listen to them, heed them: Who never touch the earth, can never be in heaven.
    • Part two
  • Serce ustało pierś już lodowata, ścięły się usta i oczy zawarły; Na świecie jeszcze, lecz już nie dla świata. Cóż to za człowiek - Umarły
    • Translation: My heart stopped, my breast frozen, my lips and eyes barred. Still in the world, but not of the world. Here, yet already departed.
    • Part one
  • Patrz duch nadzieji życie mu nadaje, gwiazda promyków użycza, umarły wraca na młodości kraje. Szukać lubego oblicza
    • Translation: The spirit of hope gives him life
      As a star offers its rays.
      Dead, he returns to the country of his youth
      searching for his love's face.
    • Part one
  • Do mamy lecim do mamy! Cóż to, mamo nie znasz Józia? Ja to Józio ja ten samy. A to moja siostra Rózia. My teraz w raju latamy, Tam nam lepiej niż u mamy. Patrz jakie główki w promieniu, Ubiór z jutrzenki światełka, A na oboim ramieniu Jak u motylków skrzydełka, w raju wszystkiego dostatek, Co dzień to inna zabawka, gdzie stąpim wypływa trawka, gdzie dotkniem rozkwita kwiatek. Lecz choć wszystkiego dostatek dręczy nad nuda i trwoga. Ach mamo dla twoich dziatek zamknięta do nieba droga!
    • Translation: For mum we're fly. What mum you don't know who am I? I am Józio. And this is my sister Rózia. Now we're fly in sky! There is better than mum. See how heads in ray. Clothes with lucifer light. And on my hand as butterfly airfoil in sky we have all what we want, every day other toy, where we go here is grass, where we touch here is a flower. But we have what we want, torture us boring and trepidation. Oh mum for Your children road to heaven has been closed! On Always!
    • Part two
  • Ja i ojczyzna to jedno. Nazywam sie Milion, bo za miliony kocham i cierpię katuszę.
    • Translation: I and motherland are one. My name is Million, because for millions do I love and suffer agonies.
      • Part three, scene one
  • Ty Boże, ty naturo! dajcie posłuchanie.
    Godna to was muzyka i godne śpiewanie.
    Ja mistrz!
    Ja mistrz wyciągam dłonie!
    Wyciągam aż w niebiosa i kładę me dłonie
    Na gwiazdach jak na szklannych harmoniki kręgach.
    • Translation: Listen to me, God, and you, Nature!
      Here is music that is worthy of you, songs that are worthy of you.
      I am master!
      Master, I stretch out my hands!
      I stretch them to the sky, I place my fingers on the stars.
      They are my musical glasses, my armonica.
      • Part three, scene two ("The Great Improvisation"). Translated by Louise Varese.
  • Kiedy spójrzę w kometę z całą mocą duszy,
    Dopóki na nią patrzę, z miejsca się nie ruszy.
    • Translation: If I gaze at a comet with all the strength of my soul,
      It cannot stir from the spot while my eyes are upon it.
      • Part three, scene two ("The Great Improvisation"). Translated by Louise Varese.
  • Herod - Panie cała Polska młoda wydana w ręce Heroda. Co widzę? Długie białe dróg krzyżowych biegi, Drogi długie - nie dojrzeć - przez puszcze - przez śniegi, Wszystkie na północ! Tam, tam, w kraj daleki, płyną jak rzeki
    • Translation: Herod, God! - all young Poland 's given into Herod's hands. What do I see? Long white roads like stations of the cross, long roads unseen through ancient forests, through the snow, all roads leading North. There, there, to the far country, they float like rivers.
    • Part three, scene 5
  • Będę o to Pana Boga pytać,
    On to wszystko zapisał, wszystko mnie opowie.
    • Translation: We'd better send
      For God. He will remember and tell us all.
      • Part three, scene seven ("The Prisoner's Return"). Translated by Jerzy Peterkiewicz and Burns Singer.

Crimean Sonnets

  • Monsters merge and welter through the water's mounting
    Din. All hands, stand fast! A sailor sprints aloft,
    Hangs, swelling spider-like, among invisible nets,
    Surveys his slowly undulating snares, and waits.
    • "The Crossing" [2]
  • In spring's own country, where the gardens blow,
    You faded, tender rose! For hours now past,
    Like butterflies departing, on you're cast
    The worms of memories to work you woe.
    • "The Grave of the Countess Potocki" [3]

Pan Tadeusz (Sir Thaddeus) [4]

Main article: Pan Tadeusz
  • Litwo! Ojczyzno moja! ty jesteś jak zdrowie;
    Ile cię trzeba cenić, ten tylko się dowie, Kto cię stracił...
    • Translation: Lithuania, my country! You are as good health;
      How much one should prize you, he only can tell, Who has lost you...
  • Sound as a burrow'd marmot he slept
    On the straw where he'd tumbled fully-dressed that night.
    • Book Four: Tadeusz' Awakening (trans. Christopher Adam Zakrzewski)

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

ADAM MICKIEWICZ (1798-1855), Polish poet, was born in 1798, near Nowogrodek, in the present Russian government of Minsk, where his father, who belonged to the schlachta or lesser nobility, had a small property. The poet was educated at the university of Vilna; but, becoming involved in some political troubles there, he was forced to terminate his studies abruptly, and was ordered to live for a time in Russia. He had already published two small volumes of miscellaneous poetry at Vilna, which had been favourably received by the Slavonic public, and on his arrival at St Petersburg he found himself admitted to the leading literary circles, where he was a great favourite both from his agreeable manners and his extraordinary talent of improvisation. In 1825 he visited the Crimea, which inspired a collection of sonnets in which we may admire both the elegance of the rhythm and the rich Oriental colouring. The most beautiful are The Storm, Bakchiserai, and Grave of the Countess Potocka. In 1828 appeared his Konrad Wallenrod, a narrative poem describing the battles of knights of the Teutonic order with the heathen Lithuanians. Here, under a thin veil, Mickiewicz represented the sanguinary passages of arms and burning hatred which had characterized the long feuds of the Russians and Poles. The objects of the poem, although evident to many, escaped the Russian censors, and it was suffered to appear, although the very motto, taken from Machiavelli, was significant: "Dovete adunque sapere come sono duo generazioni da combattere. .. bisogna essere volpe e leone." This is a striking poem and contains two beautiful lyrics. After a five years' exile in Russia the poet obtained leave to travel; he had secretly made up his mind never to return to that country or Poland so long as it remained under the government of the Muscovites. Wending his way to Weimar, he there made the acquaintance of Goethe, who received him cordially, and, pursuing his journey through Germany, he entered Italy by the Spliigen, visited Milan, Venice, and Florence, and finally took up his abode at Rome. There he wrote the third part of his poem Dziady, the subject of which is the religious commemoration of their ancestors practised among Slavonic nations, and Pan Tadeusz, his longest poem, by many considered his masterpiece. A graphic picture is drawn of Lithuania on the eve of Napoleon's expedition to Russia in 1812. In this village idyll, as Bruckner calls it, Mickiewicz gives us a picture of the homes of the Polish magnates, with their somewhat boisterous but very genuine hospitality. We see them before us, just as the knell of their nationalism, as Bruckner says, seemed to be sounding, and therefore there is something melancholy and dirgelike in the poem in spite of the pretty love story which forms the main incident. Mickiewicz turned to Lithuania with the loving eyes of an exile, and gives us some of the most delightful descriptions of Lithuanian skies and Lithuanian forests. He describes the weird sc finds to be heard in the primeval woods in a country where the trees were sacred. The cloud-pictures are equally striking. There is nothing finer in Shelley or Wordsworth.

In 1832 Mickiewicz left Rome for Paris, where his life was for some time spent in poverty and unhappiness. He had married a Polish lady, Selina Szymanowska, who became insane. In 1840 he was appointed to the newly founded chair of Slavonic languages and literature in the College de France, a post which he was especially qualified to fill, as he was now the chief representative of Slavonic literature, Pushkin having died in 1837. He was, however, only destined to hold it for a little more than three years, his last lecture having been given on the 28th of May 1844. His mind had become more and more disordered under the influence of religious mysticism. He had fallen under the influence of a strange fanatic named Towianski. His lectures became a medley of religion and politics, and thus brought him under the censure of the Government. A selection of them has been published in four volumes. They contain some good sound criticism, but the philological part is very defective, for Mickiewicz was no scholar, and he is obviously only well acquainted with two of the literatures, viz. Polish and Russian, the latter only till the year 1830. A very sad picture of his declining days is given in the memoirs of Herzen. At a comparatively early period the unfortunate poet exhibited all the signs of premature old age; poverty, despair and domestic affliction had wrought their work upon him. In 1849 he founded a French newspaper, La Tribune des peuples, but it only existed a year. The restoration of the French Empire seemed to kindle his hopes afresh; his last composition is said to have been a Latin ode in honour of Napoleon III. On the outbreak of the Crimean War he was sent to Constantinople to assist in raising a regiment of Poles to take service against the Russians. He died suddenly there in 1855, and his body was removed to France and buried at Montmorency. In 1900 his remains were disinterred and buried in the cathedral of Cracow, the Santa Croce of Poland, where rest, besides many of the kings, the greatest of her worthies.

Mickiewicz is held to have been the greatest Slavonic poet, with the exception of Pushkin. Unfortunately in other parts of Europe he is but little known; he writes in a very difficult language, and one which it is not the fashion to learn. There were both pathos and irony in the expression used by a Polish lady to a foreigner, "Nous avons notre Mickiewicz nous." He is one of the best products of the so-called romantic school. The Poles had long groaned under the yoke of the classicists, and the country was full of legends and picturesque stories which only awaited the coming poet to put them into shape. Hence the great popularity among his countrymen of his ballads, each of them being connected with some national tradition. Besides Konrad Wallenrod and Pan Tadeusz, attention may be called to the poem Grazyna, which describes the adventures of a Lithuanian chieftainess against the Teutonic knights. It is said by Ostrowski to have inspired the brave Emilia Plater, who was the heroine of the rebellion of 1830, and after having fought in the ranks of the insurgents, found a grave in the forests of Lithuania. A fine vigorous Oriental piece is Farys. Very good too are the odes to Youth and to the historian Lelewel; the former did much to stimulate the efforts of the Poles to shake off their Russian conquerors. It is enough to say of Mickiewicz that he has obtained the proud position of the representative poet of his country; her customs, her superstitions, her history, her struggles are reflected in his works. It is the great voice of Poland appealing to the nations in her agony.

His son, Ladislas Mickiewicz, wrote Vie d'Adam Mickiewicz (Posen, 1890-1895, 4 vols.), also Adam Mickiewicz, sa vie et son oeuvre (Paris, 1888) Translations into English (1881-1885) of Konrad Wallenrod and Pan Tadeusz were made by Miss Biggs. See also Ouvres poetiques de Mickiewicz, trans. by Christien Ostrowski (Paris, 1845). (W. R. M.)


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Simple English

Adam Mickiewicz
Occupation Poet
Nationality Polish
Writing period 19th

Adam Bernard Mickiewicz (December 24, 1798November 26, 1855) was a heavily influential national Polish Romantic poet, generally regarded as the greatest figure in Polish literature[1], especially known for his epic poem Pan Tadeusz. At the later phase of his life he was also a political activist, an ideologue and a messianist philosopher who lectured at Collège de France.

In many literary critics' opinion, Mickiewicz is among the most important writers such as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, George Byron and Homer[1][2].

::::Lithuania, my country! You are as good health:

How much one should prize you, he only can tell
Who has lost you.

Notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 http://info-poland.buffalo.edu/classroom/mickiewicz/grol.html
  2. George Sand, Goethe - Byron - Mickiewicz, "Revue des Deux Mondes"; December 1, 1838

mrj:Мицкевич, Адам Бернард








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