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Juliusz Słowacki

Słowacki, after 1831, by Tytus Byczkowski
Born Juliusz Słowacki,
September 4, 1809(1809-09-04),
Died April 3, 1849 (aged 39),
Occupation Poet, essayist.
Juliusz Słowacki by James Hopwood
Salomea Słowacka, the poet's mother

Juliusz Słowacki (Polish pronunciation: [ˈjuljuʂ swɔˈvatski]; 4 September 1809 – 3 April 1849) was a Polish Romantic poet, considered to be one of the "Three Bards" of Polish literature. His works often feature elements of Slavic pagan traditions, mysticism and Orientalism.



Słowacki was born at Kremenets (Krzemieniec), Volhynia, Russian Empire, now in Ukraine.

Influenced largely by Byron and Shakespeare, Słowacki's early work was often historical in nature, combining exotic locales (as in Arab) and tragedy (as in Maria Stuart). His work took on a more patriotic tone following the failed November Insurrection of 1830 - 1831. Like many of his countrymen, he decided to emigrate to France as a political refugee. Ironically, the first collections of poems he produced in France were unpopular in his native Poland, as they failed to capture the sentiment of the people living under Russian occupation. It was the French authorities which deemed them too nationalist; following a trip to Geneva in 1832, he was denied the right to return to France as part of a larger program to rid the country of the potentially subversive Polish exiles who had settled there. A third volume of his works, produced in Geneva, was far more nationalist in tone, and he began to win recognition in his homeland.

In 1836, Słowacki embarked on a journey throughout Italy, Greece, Egypt and Palestine, which he described in his epic poem "Podróż do Ziemi Świętej z Neapolu" (Travel from Holy Land to Naples). In 1844, he wrote Genezis z Ducha (Genesis from the Spirit), an exposition of his philosophical ideas (genesic idea) according to which the material world is an expression of an ever-improving spirit capable of progression into constantly newer forms.

It was at this time that he attached himself to a group of likeminded young exiles, determined to return to Poland and win its independence. One of his friends was the pianist and composer Frédéric Chopin.[1] The group travelled to Poznań, then under Prussian control. He participated in the Wielkopolska Uprising of 1848, addressing the National Committee (Komitet Narodowy) in Poznań on 27 April. "I tell you," he declared as the rebels faced military confrontation with the Prussian Army, "that the new age has dawned, the age of holy anarchy." But by 9 May, the revolt was crushed.

Arrested by the Prussian police, Słowacki was sent back to Paris. On his way there, he passed through Wrocław, where he was reunited with his mother, whom he had not seen for almost twenty years. He died in Paris the following year from tuberculosis, and was buried in the Montmartre. In 1927, some eight years after Poland regained her independence, the Polish government requested that Słowacki's remains be moved to St. Leonard's Crypt in Wawel cathedral in Krakow.


Long after his death, Słowacki acquired the reputation of a national prophet. He is now considered to be one of the "Three Bards" of Polish literature. His works often feature elements of Slavic pagan traditions, mysticism, and Orientalism.

His poem "Papież Słowiański" (The Slavic Pope), published in 1848, was believed to foretell the 1978 ascent of Karol Wojtyła to the throne of St. Peter as Pope John Paul II.

In 2009 Faye Dunaway starred in film The Bait by Polish film director and producer Dariusz Zawislak. The Bait is a contemporary version of Słowacki's drama, Balladyna.


Słowacki's family coat-of-arms, Leliwa
  • Maria Stuart
  • Kordian (1834, performed 1899)
  • Balladyna (1835, published 1839, performed 1862
  • Horsztyński (1835, published 1866)
  • Mazepa (1840, performed in Hungarian 1847, performed in Polish 1851)
  • Lilla Weneda (1840, performed 1863)
  • Fantazy (1841, published 1866, performed 1867)
  • Sen srebny Salomei ("The Silver Dream of Salomea", 1844, performed 1900)
  • Książę Niezłomny (1844, performed 1874)
  • Samuel Zborowski (1845, published 1903, performed 1911)


  • W Szwajcarii ("In Switzerland", 1839)
  • Król-Duch ("The Spirit King", published partially in 1847 & in full in 1925)
  • Podróż do ziemi świętej ("Voyage to the Holy Land", 1866)



See also

External links


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