Eastern European Poets (Critical Survey of Poetry)

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Eastern European Poets (Critical Survey of Poetry)

Critical Survey of Poetry Eastern European Poets Editor Rosemary M. Canfield Reisman Charleston Southern University Sa

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Critical Survey of Poetry

Eastern European Poets Editor Rosemary M. Canfield Reisman Charleston Southern University

Salem Press A Division of EBSCO Publishing, Ipswich, Massachusetts

Cover photo: Sándor Pet¹fi (© Alfredo Dagli Orti/The Art Archive/Corbis)

Copyright © 2012, by Salem Press, A Division of EBSCO Publishing, Inc. All rights in this book are reserved. No part of this work may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the copyright owner except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews or in the copying of images deemed to be freely licensed or in the public domain. For information address the publisher, Salem Press, at [email protected]

ISBN: 978-1-58765-919-5 ISBN: 978-1-42983-668-5

CONTENTS Contributors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . iv Hungarian Poetry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Polish Poetry. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 Romanian Poetry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35 Endre Ady . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 János Arany . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48 Mihály Babits . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59 Stanisuaw Bara½czak. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66 Paul Celan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72 Andrei Codrescu. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81 Zbigniew Herbert . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 86 Gyula Illyés . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 97 Irving Layton. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 105 Osip Mandelstam. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 112 Itzik Manger . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 124 Adam Mickiewicz . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 134 Czesuaw Miuosz . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 145 Dan Pagis. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 164 Sándor Pet¹fi . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 170 Miklós Radnóti . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 189 Carl Rakosi . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 197 Tadeusz Ró/ewicz . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 206 Antoni Suonimski. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 218 Juliusz Suowacki . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 225 Lucien Stryk . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 238 Anna Swir . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 244 Wisuawa Szymborska . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 249 Tristan Tzara . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 259 Mihály Vörösmarty . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 269 Adam Wa/yk. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 278 Adam Zagajewski . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 284 Checklist for Explicating a Poem . Bibliography . . . . . . . . . . . Guide to Online Resources . . . . Geographical Index . . . . . . . Category Index . . . . . . . . . . Subject Index . . . . . . . . . . .

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291 294 297 300 301 303

CONTRIBUTORS Stanisuaw Bara½czak Harvard University

Steven E. Colburn Largo, Florida

Rebecca Kuzins Pasadena, California

Enik¹ Molnár Basa Library of Congress

Victor Contoski University of Kansas

Magdalena Máczy½ska The Catholic University of America

M. D. Birnbaum University of California, Los Angeles

Todd F. Davis Goshen College

Franz G. Blaha University of NebraskaLincoln András Boros-Kazai Beloit College David Bromige Sonoma State University Alvin G. Burstein University of Tennessee, Knoxville John Carpenter University of Michigan Diana Arlene Chlebek The University of Akron Libraries

Desiree Dreeuws Sunland, California

David Maisel Wellesley, Massachusetts Christina J. Moose Pasadena, California

Robert Faggen Claremont McKenna College

Károly Nagy Middlesex County College

Thomas R. Feller Nashville, Tennessee

John P. Pauls Cincinnati, Ohio

Tasha Haas University of Kansas

La Verne Pauls Cincinnati, Ohio

Sarah Hilbert Pasadena, California

Victor Anthony Rudowski Clemson University

Jeffry Jensen Pasadena, California

Todd Samuelson Cushing Memorial Library & Archives

Sheila Golburgh Johnson Santa Barbara, California

iv

Stephanie Sandler Amherst College

HUNGARIAN POETRY Along the well-worn path the Hungarians (Magyars) took westward during the centuries preceding their entry into the Carpathian Basin in 896 c.e., they shaped a peculiar folk culture and folk poetry. Ethnographers, linguists, and researchers of comparative literature have arrived at this conclusion, even though no written trace of ancient Hungarian literature has survived. The runic alphabet of the seminomadic Hungarians was not used for recording literary texts, but the wealth of ancient poetry is attested by later allusions, although after Christianization in about 1000, both the state and the Church made every effort to eradicate even the memory of the pagan period. The chant of the shaman, an improvised incantation for the purposes of sorcery, prophecy, necromancy, or healing, often combined with music, dance, and a primitive form of drama, thus survived primarily in children’s rhymes and other simple ritualistic expressions. The secular counterparts of the shamans, the minstrels (regosok), provided the first examples of epic poetry, recounting the origin of the Hungarians. Two of these epics are known (in their later reconstructed forms) as the Legend of the Miraculous Stag and the Lay of the White Steed. The versification is believed to have been similar to that of other ancient European poetry; it is thought, for example, that the Hungarian minstrels did not use rhyme, relying instead on alliteration. The culture of medieval Hungary was influenced by both Roman and Byzantine Christianity, but it was most effectively shaped by the various monastic orders (Benedictines, Cistercians, Dominicans, and Franciscans, among others) who settled in the land from the tenth to the thirteenth centuries. Learning remained almost entirely theological until the middle of the fourteenth century, and writing continued even longer in Latin, the language of the Church. The Latin hymns and laments of Hungarian monk-writers were mostly dedicated to the praise of Hungarian saints, and their subject matter generally derived from the legends associated with these saints. Because only later copies of these creations survived, little is known of their origins or of their authors. The earliest known poetic text in Hungarian originates from about 1300: The “Ómagyar Mária-siralom” (“Ancient Hungarian Lament of Mary”) is an adaptation from the “Planctus Sanctae Mariae” of Geoffroi de Breteuil (died 1196). The original liturgical hymn was transformed into a pious lay song with strong mystical undercurrents. Written in the ancient Hungarian line, consisting of eight syllables, with stress on the first and the fifth, the poetic technique of the “Ancient Hungarian Lament of Mary” is so accomplished that centuries of literary practice must be assumed to have preceded it. While epic romances and troubadour songs began to flourish in the fourteenth century, the poetry of chivalry left relatively scarce evidence of its existence in Hungary. Its best-known example is the chanson de geste woven around the figure of Miklós Toldi, a 1

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popular strongman-soldier. Elements of this epic passed into folklore and formed the basis of works several centuries later, including a masterful epic trilogy by János Arany. By the fifteenth century, secular poetry in the vernacular had made its presence strongly felt in Hungary. The untutored minstrels and rhymesters were joined by clerks and scribes (the deák), who supplemented the works of the bards with their own compositions, including “historical” songs as well as love poems and satirical lays. One good example of their work is the narrative song titled Szabács viadala (1476; the siege of the Szabács), which recounts an episode of warfare against the invading Ottoman army. Its contradictions continue to intrigue scholars; while its language is bleak and it reads like a school exercise, it exhibits a strikingly modern vocabulary and flawless technique in its use of decasyllabic rhymed couplets. The Renaissance and the Reformation While indifference toward literacy and the written word continued to be the rule of the period, there arose in Hungary important centers of Renaissance culture during the reign of the Anjou kings (1308-1382) and especially during that of Mátyás (14581490). His efforts to establish a strong central authority were well served by the professional men in his employ, recruited from a variety of countries. Besides these learned foreigners, a new crop of Hungarian intellectuals appeared as a result of schooling in the universities of Western Europe. Outstanding among these was Janus Pannonius (1434-1472), a Ferrara-educated bishop of Pécs, the creator of finely chiseled epigrams, elegies, and panegyrics and the first Hungarian man of letters whose fame transcended the borders of his homeland. His topics included affairs of state, the growing Ottoman peril, the love he felt for his homeland (while missing the culture of Italy), and his disenchantment with the policies of his sovereign. Renaissance luxury and the contemplative atmosphere of court literature were shattered during the stormy period following Mátyás’s death, but the tradition of Humanist poetry domesticated by Pannonius and his circle of followers has remained alive in Hungarian literature to this day. The large number of Hungarian poems surviving from the sixteenth century indicates that a considerable body of verse already existed in the Middle Ages, even if most of it is unknown today. The major impulse for this cultural growth was the Protestant Reformation. The literature of Hungary became a battleground for the various new tenets. Hymns, didactic verses, and rhymed paraphrases of biblical episodes, written in Hungarian, became weapons that assured the rapid acceptance of Protestantism among the people. Of the secular minstrels of the century, the best known and most prolific was Sebestyén Tinódi (died 1556), who was more a storyteller than a poet. His accounts of battles and sieges were accurate, but his verse was monotonous and repetitive, made enjoyable only by musical accompaniment. Free adaptations of Western European poetry abounded during the century, the principal genre being the széphistória (named after the Italian bella 2

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istoria) interwoven with elements of Hungarian folklore, thus reflecting a strong native character. Bálint Balassi Representing the finest achievements of Hungarian Renaissance is the poetry of Bálint Balassi (1554-1594), a nobleman whose turbulent life was spent in constant pursuit of love, wealth, and adventure, often under the shadow of political suspicion. His works have something of the flavor of the English Cavalier poets, something of François Villon, with the additional feature of an intimate knowledge of nature. Proficient in eight languages and familiar with the works of the great Humanists, Balassi wrote poetry with great dexterity. His cycles of love poems remained unsurpassed for centuries, and the intensity of his Christian verse, in which he disputed with God while seeking solace in him, foreshadowed the thoroughly personal religious works of later Hungarian poets. The intensity of a soldier’s life made itself felt through the discipline of his lines. His most perfectly composed and most frequently quoted poem is a cantio militaris, “A végek dicsérete” (1589; “In Praise of the Marches”), an eloquent hymn to life on the marches and to the beauty of nature, ending with a moving grace and farewell. Balassi developed a verse form for himself, a nine-line stanza consisting of six-, six-, and seven-syllable cycles, with an aab-ccb-ddb rhyme scheme; named after him, this pattern became a favorite of Hungarian poets. The Counter-Reformation and Baroque Much of the seventeenth century was characterized by the militant spirit of the Counter-Reformation, resulting in an enormous output of religious poetry, mostly by Roman Catholic writers. The outstanding Hungarian poet of the century, Miklós Zrínyi (1620-1664), a thoroughly Baroque man of letters, bore one significant resemblance to Balassi: He also had a firsthand knowledge of combat, and his descriptions of battle scenes, especially in his epic carrying the Latin title Obsidio Szigetiana (wr. 1645-1646; The Peril of Sziget, 1955), are particularly graphic and authentic. In his narrative, as well as in his prose writings, Zrínyi displayed the explicit and fervent political commitment which was to become an integral part of much Hungarian poetry. Although the influence of Vergil, Ludovico Ariosto, and Torquato Tasso is discernible in The Peril of Sziget, the presentation of details and the use of atmosphere make it a profoundly original Hungarian creation. The cultivation of sentimental rococo poetry became a fashionable pastime during the seventeenth century. Even highborn ladies tried their skill at it, most of them producing religious or domestic verse. The epic tradition of Zrínyi was carried forward by an inventive, widely read courtier who stayed away from actual battles. The heroes of István Gyöngyösi (1629-1704) were genuine nobles and ladies; in his numerous epithalamia he revealed their love secrets to his\ readers in great detail and with obvious relish. 3

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He was the typical poet-follower of lords, adjusting his politics and principles to those of the “great family” he served. His works are nothing more than family or society stories, but their accomplishment is undeniable. Gyöngyösi’s honest craftsmanship, especially in his descriptions of the countryside, presages the works of the great Romantic and realist poets of the nineteenth century. With the growth of readership, an eager public appeared for secular as well as religious poetry. For some time, these writings circulated in handwritten copies, but by the 1680’s a number of printed songbooks were in popular demand. The vulgarized versions of Renaissance poems in the form of verse-chronicles constituted the bulk of the poetry of the age, with a number of rhymed greetings, soldiers’ songs, laments, and dirges also in evidence. The proliferation of love poetry was striking; entire songbooks appeared filled with these often ribald verses, attempting to follow the high standards set by Balassi and Gyöngyösi. Among students, the traditions of goliardic poetry were revived, with sharp expressions of social discontent. Political and religious intolerance resulted in the outbreak of the kuruc wars during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Reflecting the makeup of the rebelling armies, many popular songs of this period voiced the complaints of fugitives, outlaws, and impoverished, vagrant students. A large body of (mostly anonymous) poetry was produced during the successive rebellions and campaigns. Written in the simplest folk idiom, suitable for musical adaptation, such songs and laments provide gripping descriptions of the miseries and joys of kuruc life. The most famous among them (such as “The Rákóczi Song”) later inspired Franz Liszt and Hector Berlioz to compose stirring Romantic music. Eighteenth century From 1711, when the kuruc armies of Prince Ferenc Rákóczi II were defeated, to the 1770’s, Hungarian literature experienced a period of relative decline. Only the continuing flood of imitative, mannerist rococo verse indicated the survival of poetry. The poets of this period showed a remarkable command of form and diction, and some of them were important in the development of modern poetic techniques. Baron László Amade (17041764), a sophisticated cultivator of poésie galante, produced poems worthy of mention. Ferenc Faludi (1704-1779), a Jesuit abbot, also became interested in secular poetry. In spite of its rococo affectations and style, his verse was firmly grounded in reality and took much from Hungarian folk literature. With his earthy realism and his prosodic experimentation, Faludi became one of the early exponents of truly modern poetry. The Enlightenment reached Eastern Europe by the 1770’s and—even though the absolutist Habsburg authorities thwarted any political organization—its effect on the cultural life of Hungary was profound. Intellectual renewal was rapid and irresistible. One of its centers was Vienna, where Hungarian noblemen were educating their sons. French, German, and English-language treatises and literature filtered into Hungary, re4

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sulting in the founding of great private collections of books and art, the formation of literary societies, and the publication of periodicals. French (later German) Neoclassicism became the dominant trend in poetry. The earliest prominent figure of Hungarian Enlightenment, György Bessenyei (1747-1811), while known mostly for his essays and his plays, also wrote a number of philosophical poems. Had they appeared in print during his lifetime, they would have been pioneering works. Ferenc Kazinczy Much more influential was Ferenc Kazinczy (1759-1831). Although writing relatively few poems, of modest merit, he was for nearly forty years the central figure of Hungarian literary life; he organized, criticized, encouraged, and educated the writers and poets scattered throughout Hungary by maintaining an extensive correspondence from his rural manor. All the good, and many of the bad, poets of the period were indebted to him. While they considered style, presentation, and construction to be of supreme value, attaching secondary importance to the thoughts conveyed, Kazinczy and his circle soon came to the conclusion that, in its uncultivated state, the Hungarian language was inadequate to communicate the timely ideas of literature and the arts. They made reform, refinement, and development of the language a question of primary importance. Proclaiming these aims in their sharply worded epigrams, epistles, and critical essays, they initiated the struggle between “neologists” and “orthologists” which persisted through much of the nineteenth century. Mihály Csokonai Vitéz While the early reform generation produced few outstanding poets, one of their contemporaries, Mihály Csokonai Vitéz (1773-1805), exhibited the fruits of his search for new forms of expression. He made use of everything he learned from European literature, transmitting it into his own sphere of experience and producing from the synthesis something original and integrally his own. He was the first Hungarian who attempted (unsuccessfully) to make a living from his literary efforts. Despite the fact that he lived in a state of squalor and acutely felt rejection, many of his poems are marked by a subtle grace and cheerfulness. They range from Rousseauesque philosophical ponderings to drinking songs and village genre pieces. His love cycles written during his many periods of courtship happily blend light passages of rococo fancy with more sober thoughts. Csokonai Vitéz could be compared to the Scottish poet Robert Burns (1759-1796), except that this would overemphasize the populist element of his poetry. Romanticism While the Enlightenment gave rise to philosophical and didactic verse, disposed to abstraction and aridity, lyric poetry found another impetus. The reformers and experimenters encouraged originality and aesthetic individuality, in sharp contrast to both 5

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neoclassicism and the earlier Baroque orientation. The campaign for national independence revealed a set of common feelings shared by all Hungarians and resulted in anxious efforts to preserve the native tongue and indigenous customs. The intensive exploration of traditional literature, the growing awareness of literary history, and the Romantic influence of Ossianic poetry combined to open the way for unrestrained experimentation. In the area of versification, for example, Western European patterns were adopted by Hungarian poets as if based on stress alone. Consequently, the French Alexandrine was assimilated as a twelve-syllable accented line of two beats, each having six syllables. Four of these lines were arranged into a stanza, at first all lines rhyming, later following the Western example of rhyming couplets. Even more significant was the introduction of a metrical principle that could be based on the length of syllables. Since the Hungarian language makes a clear distinction between long and short syllables, this practice is perfectly suited to it. Some of the poets introduced the purely metrical, nonrhyming forms of Greek and Roman poetry, while others adapted rhyming verse forms from the West. The flexibility and smoothness resulting from these experiments was unprecedented in Hungarian poetry. The typical attitudes of Romantic literature—the glorification of history, the preference for a noble and often affected “sublimity,” which went hand in hand with a healthy respect for reason—were made more complex in Hungary by an exaggerated emphasis on folk poetry and a contradictory predilection for new techniques of versification. The resulting torrent of poetry during the early decades of the nineteenth century presented a sharp contrast to that of the previous epoch. Lyric ballads, elegies, and epic romances prevailed, in accordance with the requisite extremes of desolation and melancholy on one hand and exhortation and pride on the other. As elsewhere in Eastern Europe, Romantic literature in Hungary contributed to the birth or revival of national consciousness and to the forging of a national identity. With its maturation and with the strengthening of political processes, this literature assisted in democratizing the atmosphere for a national culture. The patriarchal-feudal mode gave way to a semibourgeois one: Writers and poets were able to earn a living from their writings, making noble patronage unnecessary. Publishing became a profitable business; men of letters combined their work with editing and journalism, and they began to be recognized and respected on their own. One of the architects of the transition to Romanticism was Sándor Kisfaludy (17721844), a scion of wealthy landholders, whose two-hundred-verse cycle A keserg¹ szerelem (1801; sorrowful love) combined strong traditional elements with Renaissance, Baroque, and rococo influences. The form he created to harmonize with his message, the “Himfy-stanza,” composed of eight- and seven-syllable accented lines, came to be one of the favorites of Hungarian poets. Dániel Berzsenyi (1776-1836) did not bring innovations in style or in form, but the emotional intensity with which he proclaimed enduring virtues—moral integrity, courage, love of freedom and justice—accounted for his great popularity during the reform period, when politics and ethics were 6

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considered intertwined. His terse and vigorous images and phrases are charged with classical allusions, but his elevated style and antique pose conceal the wounded soul of a modern person. His disillusionment with his morally deficient contemporaries was great; while his intensely disciplined art continued to reflect a remarkable self-control, behind the wisdom of antiquity lay the resignation of a Christian longing for contentment. Although Berzsenyi was disappointed because Hungarian poetry did not develop along his guidelines, his influence on future poets was strong and lasting. Ferenc Kölcsey Ferenc Kölcsey (1790-1838) was the most profound thinker among the Hungarian Romantics. A saintly man of uncompromising standards, he embodied the national aspirations of the age. The earlier examples of his relatively small poetic output were clearly influenced by the notion of a Weltliteratur, but later he showed a predilection toward a vigorous, striking, though often grave and pessimistic, nationalistic poetry. His best-known poem is “Himnusz” (1823; “Hymn”), a somber invocation to God on behalf of the Hungarian nation, which was put to music and is now the national anthem of Hungary. Mihály Vörösmarty Mihály Vörösmarty (1800-1855), the greatest Romantic poet of Hungary, introduced a new element into the literary life of the nation. His works were much more than reflections on the events around him; they expressed well-considered and inspired judgments on the vital questions of the age as dictated by the poet’s genius. In “Szózat” (1836; “The Summons”), he addressed the world on behalf of his nation: “The sufferings of a thousand years call for life or death.” This appeal remains unmatched in its confidence and its effect on the reader’s conscience. Familiar with the inherent contradictions in the societies and cultures of his age, Vörösmarty also inquired whether humankind “ever advanced through the medium of books” in his “Gondolatok a könyvtárban” (“Thoughts in the Library”). The ensuing images suggest a pessimistic answer, but the poet appears unable to accept such a dark conclusion: “A new spirit finds its way ahead,” he insists in this and in other poems, which shows him to be a true poet of humankind. There is a nagging doubt and a touch of despair in his mature poems, and the defeat of the nationalist revolt by combined Russian-Austrian forces in the Hungarian War of Independence (1848-1849) released the floodgates of his bitter, almost demoniac imagery. Populism In Hungarian literary history, the decade preceding the 1848 Revolution is referred to as the “era of the people and of the nation.” Romanticism was very much alive, but by this time some of the best poets found even Romanticism too narrow and infused it with plebe7

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ian-democratic ideals expressed in an increasingly realistic manner. The stylistic trend best suited for the purposes of this period was the populist (népies) approach. It fused Romantic and realistic elements, steadily (although cautiously) increasing stress on the latter. During the 1840’s, a courageous, involved commitment to critical realism became dominant, especially among members of the younger generation. The immediate aims of literature were to rediscover folk poetry, to depict the life of the common people, and to give voice to their aspirations. In a domestication of the universal Romantic philosophy, the concept of the “true man” was adapted to that of the “true Hungarian.” The indirect aim of the young writers and poets was the modern expression and interpretation of national character. What they could not foresee was that this national character was to undergo radical transformation during the second half of the nineteenth century. Sándor Pet¹fi In the person of Sándor Pet¹fi (1823-1849), many of these ideals found their consummation. Pet¹fi was endowed with everything a national poet must have: innate talent, a fiery commitment, the right historical situation, and a sense of manifest destiny. After a brief life (he died in his mid-twenties), he left behind a body of works that, both in quality and in volume, cannot be ignored in any assessment of world literature. (He also shared Lord Byron’s fate in that he died a tragic death which made him both a symbol and a myth.) After imitating the folk style so successfully that many of his verses are popularly known as folk songs, he signaled his break with the strict Romantic approach in a spirited parody of the heroic epic, A helység-kalapácsa (1844; The Hammer of the Village, 1873). His most popular epic, János Vitéz (1845; Janos the Hero, 1920; revised as John the Hero, 2004), also indicated this transition. The tale and its trappings are stock Romanticism, while the treatment and the picture projected are closer to realism. Political themes became increasingly interwoven with his poetry during the 1840’s. Even in his genre-pieces, the setting sun was compared to a bloody ruler, and the clink of wineglasses to the clanging of chains enslaving men. In a letter, he proclaimed his guiding principle: “When the people rule in poetry, they will be close to ruling in politics as well, and this is the task of our century.” Not surprisingly, this kind of thinking led him away from a Romantic admiration for the past. Pet¹fi produced some of the most powerful love poetry of the century, and his descriptive poems (mostly about the plains region between the Danube and Tisza rivers) are imbued with folksy, evocative humor, particularly when presenting the life-style of the Hungarian nobility. He developed a style and a language quite clearly his own, which grew to accommodate the whole spectrum of Hungarian life. As a result of his “democratic style,” his readers understood him immediately. While moving away from strict Romanticism, Pet¹fi found the direct and natural approach his predecessors sought. He moved effortlessly from one type of poetry to another, adopting new techniques at will and solving the most difficult problems of versification with ease and grace. 8

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János Arany János Arany (1817-1882) was a friend of Pet¹fi. They agreed on a number of issues and were both committed to making the life of the people the central theme of literature. While Pet¹fi was a fiery radical, quite conscious of his genius, Arany was an exemplary office-worker who wanted to be “just like everyone else.” He first attracted attention by writing the epic poem Toldi (1847; English translation, 1914), a thoroughly Romantic historical story with a hero of folk imagination who avenges the outraged feelings of the common people—a natural, simple, untainted soul, unselfish but self-respecting and conscious of his own worth. In Arany’s epic, the Hungarian nation is presented as it once was (according to the Romantics): a family community, governed by the rules of justice and nature. The defeat of the Hungarian Revolution and the death of his friend Pet¹fi injured Arany deeply. In poems that were highly subjective, empirically analytical, and soberly reflective, he tried to bridge the conflict between his ideals and the realities of life in subjugated Hungary. The language of his poetry was something he deliberately created. It was not the straightforward, unambiguous voice of folk poetry, but rather a precise literary speech of carefully chosen words and expressions, bearing the widest variety of meanings and associations. Arany’s poems may be immediately comprehensible to the reader, but they are, at the same time, among the most difficult in Hungarian literature to render in a foreign language. In spite of his considerable lyric output, in which a wide variety of subjective topics were treated, Arany saw himself primarily as an epic poet, and as such, he considered it his task to revive in a contemporary context the common and single-minded national consciousness. This vision explains his predilection to treat a variety of historical subjects in his epics. He avoided the pseudohistorical idealization of the peasant by incorporating into his writings a distinctly un-Romantic view, according to which, even though national character is best preserved by the common people, it may also become primitive because of its isolation, and it should be enriched with values originating in other cultures. Apart from Toldi, Arany is best remembered for his ballads, the themes of which were taken from the sad and trying periods of Hungarian history. This outmoded genre, extant only in the villages and marketplaces, was salvaged through Arany’s masterful handling of the Hungarian sentence and especially through his use of numerous psychological associations. Legacy and change The success of Pet¹fi and Arany resulted in a veritable cult of populist poetry. Pet¹fi’s numerous imitators, not all of them without talent, copied his style and themes with genuine fervor but seldom achieved his level of consistency and brilliance. Thus, the Pet¹fi cult soon degenerated into absurd virtuosity and buffoonery. Arany’s followers were somewhat more successful. Their writings are characterized by literary skill, an effective use of common speech, and a scrupulous concern for details of versifica9

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tion. These poets led long and blameless lives and filled many of the leading positions in the nation’s cultural affairs during the late nineteenth century. It was largely as a result of their efforts that the poetic guidelines of Pet¹fi and Arany, imbued with excessive nationalistic and isolationist tendencies and referred to as populist-nationalism, became the official dogma of Hungarian cultural life. Lyric poetry, its position already weakened by the appearance of new, more subjective prose genres, became even more monotonous and irrelevant to the growing urban and semiurban readership. The 1880’s brought about a flurry of revival in Hungarian poetry, when a few solitary writers, almost completely ignored by the academic establishment, attempted to infuse new vigor into the literary life of Hungary. The name of János Vajda (1827-1897) became synonymous with opposition and stubborn refusal to conform to artificial standards. Largely because of his aggressiveness and lack of objectivity, his antitraditional, pantheistic, and symbol-studded poetry was never even acknowledged, let alone respected by the critics. Seeking visions of glory and greatness in an age when such were outmoded, he spent his declining years in angry meditation, writing more good lines than good poems. Among the younger outcasts, Gyula Reviczky (1855-1889) merits mention for his melancholy, reflective poetry, in which impressionistic and Symbolist elements were first expressed in Hungary. József Kiss (1843-1921) was not an outcast; indeed, for a time he was among the most popular poets of Hungary. As the successful editor of the country’s first bourgeois literary weekly, A hét, he strongly influenced contemporary taste, and his lyric poems and ballads introduced the life of Hungary’s Jews into the mainstream of Hungarian literature. Modern poetry The turn of the century witnessed the rise of a wealthy liberal middle class in the cities of Hungary. Their desire to gain recognition for their tastes and values alongside traditional Christian-national ones contributed to a spirit of literary secession. Passive and late-blooming as this “secession” was, it achieved a grudging acceptance of relative (as opposed to absolute) values, and by introducing free association into the practice of poetry, it loosened the structure of Hungarian verse. At the same time, a “great generation” of writers and poets appeared on the scene. Their artistic power was too elemental and their appeal too overwhelming to be stopped. Not all of them wanted to change Hungarian society, but most of them agreed in wanting to open all avenues for describing the realities of Hungary as “a country of contradictions.” Endre Ady Among those contributing to the periodical Nyugat, one may find some of the brightest names in twentieth century Hungarian poetry. In influence, quality, and complexity, none of them approached Endre Ady (1877-1919). When he published his first important volume, Új versek (1906; New Verses, 1969), he embodied the shocking newness of 10

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modern European literature, and critics promptly declared him incomprehensible, immoral, unpatriotic, and pathological. Unrelenting, Ady poured forth (besides his numerous newspaper articles) a series of poetry volumes, the titles of which reflect the break he made with traditional poetry: Vér és arany (1908; Blood and Gold, 1969), Az Illés szekerén (1909; On Elijah’s Chariot, 1969), Szeretném, ha szeretnének (1910; Longing for Love, 1969), A minden titkok verseib¹l (1910; Of All Mysteries, 1969), Ki látott engem? (1914; Who Sees Me?, 1969), and A halottak élén (1918; Leading the Dead, 1969). Everything about which he wrote was universal yet at the same time very Hungarian: his enthusiasm to struggle against existing wrongs, his desire for an explainable, “whole” world, his ambivalent attitude toward revolutionary change, and his view of the modern man-woman relationship as a ruthless struggle. He was deeply concerned about the loneliness of his nation in the dangerous modern world and the tragedy this position portends. He was never able to break the bonds of Calvinist determinism, but in his religious poems he presented the most tormented disputes with God and the most complete submission to his will ever witnessed in Hungarian poetry. His technique for creating a strange and mysterious world using the simplest language was supreme. Fusing iambic meter with the stressed rhythm of Hungarian poetry, his uncomplicated sentences evoke a variety of colors and shifting hues. Mihály Babits The most intellectual poet of the first Nyugat generation was Mihály Babits (18831941), who was willing to experiment with every form, style, and technique. Disdaining the emotional, enthusiastic approach to literature, he emphasized craftsmanship. In the face of significant social issues, however, he revealed that behind the mask of the aesthete, there was a noble, caring soul, devoted to human dignity. Dezs¹ Kosztolányi Like Babits, Dezs¹ Kosztolányi (1885-1936) is most often referred to as a “bourgeois humanist.” Overcoming the strong Decadent influence of his youth, he continued to display occasional moments of theatricality. The child who lived in him juggled rhyme and rhythm with great dexterity, sometimes in sheer delight, sometimes ironically. The wonder of all things, the desire to discover every secret, compelled him to blend Impressionism and Symbolism almost spontaneously, in a variety of poetic forms. Later, no longer limited to recording the events of everyday life, he wrote poems concerning the eternal image of human action. His titles became unadorned, his structure well ordered, the stanzas often ending with vigorous Sapphic lines. Thus, he moved away from the bourgeois decadence of the fin de siècle and fused the modern immediacy of his poems with traditionally conceived forms.

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Other Nyugat poets If Ady represents an energetic and open commitment to social action and Babits represents a bourgeois humanism, passive until forced by desperation into action, then the other Nyugat poets may be described as taking positions between these two extremes. Early twentieth century Hungarian poetry was divided between an emphasis on self-expression and a subservience to the eternal demands of art, between the desire to change and the recognition of supreme permanence. The ambience of Nyugat, however, was such that the writers of its circle never became sharply polarized. Gyula Juhász (1883-1937), probably the most “autobiographical” Hungarian poet of the twentieth century, voiced powerfully the distress of the solitary and oppressed individual. His poems, whether evoking images of the physical world or depicting the misery of the peasants, blend the delicate colors of Impressionism, the lethargy of fin de siècle, and the most realistic, even radical, tendencies with ease. Frequently recalling the past (especially in his love poems), he used a rich variety of adjectives, thus inducing a mood of melodious sweetness. The poetry of Árpád Tóth (1886-1928) was tired, fragmented, melancholy, expressing a vague desire to break out of the drabness of his world. In a number of other ways, too, he showed an affinity with poets of the West such as Paul Verlaine and Oscar Wilde. Rarely using any Symbolist devices, Tóth’s poems were exceptionally rich in word pictures, similies, and metaphors. Lacking in his verse was any sympathy for the masses, as he believed it was in vain to hope to reach other souls in one’s isolation. Milán Füst (1888-1967) used the brightest of colors in his relatively few poems, which evoked figures and images from the past. This was no mere return to Romanticism: Füst spent months polishing a single poem, merging the restlessness of Art Nouveau with classical monumentalism and a desire to achieve tranquillity. Füst’s poems reveal a shrewdly designed private world in which the struggles with everyday problems of life and artistic destiny can be resolved. During the politically and materially ruinous period between the two world wars, Hungary experienced a flowering of literary life. Nyugat continued to be the most resilient and effective forum for the modern poets of Hungary, in spite of repeated attacks from the Right and the Left alike. The growth of authoritarian nationalism evoked a corresponding wave of humanist opposition, although the latter was often tinged with a sense of hopelessness. The interwar poets broke with the idyllic worldview of the prewar decades, and many of them began seriously to doubt the viability of an “inner man.” In order to escape the mannerism of the fin de siècle, they reached back to older forms, trying thereby to create order out of chaos. Few poets adhered to avant-garde principles, but their influence was significant. Lajos Kassák (1887-1967) was the first genuine worker who achieved a name for himself in Hungarian literature, largely through his poems exhibiting a bewildering array of expressionist, Futurist, and Decadent influences. His extravagant hopes for hu12

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mankind were balanced by the firm structure of his verse, which was achieved without relying on rhyme, stress, or regular rhythm. In spite of the personal voice he employed, he did not speak for himself, instead expressing humankind’s vehement response to the phenomena of modern technology. If Ady’s task was to initiate a literary revolution, that of Attila József (1905-1937) was to carry on and fulfill its promises. During his tragically short life, marred by poverty and neurosis, this gifted poet absorbed a great variety of influences. From Kosztolányi, he learned to respond to the immediacy of the moment; from Juhász, he gained an intimacy with his country and his fellow men; from Babits, the pursuit of classical values. József’s daring use of and dexterity with construction reveal the influence of Kassák, while his interest in the simple forms and rhythm of Hungarian folk songs shows that he was not immune to the sway of modern populism. His poetry, nevertheless, shows a striking originality and uniqueness. True to his time and its influences, József intermingled material phenomena with the subjective stream of his moods, thus presenting an artistic experience which varied and dissolved according to the state of his mind. He demonstrated great facility in his use of traditional forms, achieving particularly striking effects with the sonnet. He may have solved the paramount artistic dilemma of his time, fully experiencing and giving poetic expression to the shattered and shattering twentieth century. He paid a price, however, for this achievement: “My heart is perched on nothing’s branch,” he wrote during the last year of his life, before he killed himself. One of József’s most original contemporaries was L¹rinc Szabó (1900-1957), who, exhibiting many traits of the bourgeois avant-garde, cannot be placed in any single category. He forged his individualistic style from a blend of strident expressionism and the influence of the Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity), tolerating no affectation. Szabó’s poems always have a direct message without recourse to suggestion, invocation, or magic. An early theme of his poetry is the loss of illusions, which he later combined with the ruthlessness of nature and the futility of human struggle. It was only a short step from this to a solipsistic position and a fascination with Eastern philosophy, which may have served the poet well during the years of silence enforced upon him by the cultural policy of post-World War II Hungary. While the claim is frequently made that the “official” literature of interwar Hungary was conservative and nationalistic, the artists of dissenting views, including those of the noncommunist Left, had considerable access to literary forums such as the periodicals or newspapers. Many of the middle-class poets, from socialist idealists to adherents of Catholicism, were characterized by an intellectual hunger, strong humanist convictions, and an “urbanist” attitude, the latter becoming the collective name under which they were known. Their best-known representatives were Zoltán Jékely (1913-1982), a poet of wry, melancholy erudition, and György Rónay (1913-1978), whose modern verse was based on Christian humanism and rational sobriety. 13

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The poetry of Miklós Radnóti (1909-1944) was characterized by the affirmation of order and harmony, respect for reason, and a strong interest in the classics. His early attraction to pastoral themes, emphasizing the joys of life and containing a wholesome eroticism, soon gave way to the realization that fateful social forces were at work in his Hungary. Aware of the terrible inhumanity looming over the horizon, he broke the superficial calm with powerful volumes, such as Járkálj csak, halálraítélt! (1936; Walk On, Condemned!, 1980). His poetry blossomed on the verge of his violent death, when, as a prisoner of the Nazis, he penned some of his best lines during his final days. Sándor Weöres (1913-1989) turned away from the objective reality of his surroundings and used his instinctive skill to produce an unbelievably varied poetic output, which emphasized his interest in the sound of words and in the myths and rites of the eternal human condition. New populists Quite distinct from this group, a large heterogeneous body of writers and poets began to appear during the 1930’s, whose special emphasis on rural themes marked them as the new populists. They believed that it was the peasantry who, after a meaningful land reform, would provide the ideology and the energy for a national revival, and that they would also produce a new, dedicated intellectual leadership. They visualized Hungary as forming a bridge between East and West, although most of them had no sympathy for the Soviet system. The rift developing between the new populists and the urbanists proved to be one of the great misfortunes of modern Hungary. Neither group was able to prepare the nation for the changes that were obviously coming after the end of World War II, and neither group was powerful enough to bring about a thorough “moral revolution” which would implement much-needed social reforms. The outstanding figure of the populists, Gyula Illyés (1902-1983) is generally regarded as one of the foremost Hungarian poets of the twentieth century, as well as a versatile prose writer and playwright. Early in his career, he was strong enough to ignore traditional rules and seemed to delight in a stylized, disciplined “primitiveness.” Persuasiveness and originality characterize his best poems, which are heroic in mood and subject, with a touch of melancholy discernible throughout. During the late 1930’s, he was the spokesperson of the populists, and his radical leftist past made him acceptable to every political group after the end of World War II. His enthusiasm for Soviet-imposed change soon cooled, and in 1956, he wrote Egy mondat a zsarnokságról (1956; One Sentence on Tyranny, 1957), which may be called the Hungarian poem of the twentieth century. He wrote some of his finest poems in his old age, in verse characterized by musicality, gentle resignation, and introspection. The end of World War II hardly signifies a milestone in the history of Hungarian literature, although thorough changes were implemented in the makeup of the country’s intelligentsia. Hundreds of promising talents were destroyed by the war and its sordid 14

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aftermath, and as many or more were silenced later under various pretexts. After a few years of tenuous coalition, which offered genuine opportunities for free cultural development, the message was brought home that in the same manner that “there is no separate solution to Hungary’s political problems,” there would be no independent Hungarian cultural life, either. The pseudoprinciples of Socialist Realism were enforced in Hungary for only a few years, but their effects proved to be long lasting. Literature was placed completely in the service of daily politics, with bewildering and (in retrospect) amusing results. Few dramatic changes resulted from the aftermath of the 1956 Revolution. After a handful of writers and poets were imprisoned, and a much greater number thoroughly intimidated, the “new” government declared that it was permissible for an artist to ignore politics. The Writers’ Association was disbanded in order to create a “sounder” atmosphere, and the nation’s best writers and poets quietly ceased publishing their creations. An eager coterie of political adherents tried to fill the gap, and authorities permitted many blameless and harmless apolitical poets to have their works printed, after years of muzzling them. The 1960’s brought amnesties, the renewal of cautious debates, and the admission that there may be more than one kind of Socialist Realism. During the 1970’s, with most of the real dissidents safely dead or out of the way, the authorities saw fit to open many avenues for literary experimentation and aesthetic debate, and exceptions to the Marxist hold on the country could be seen to demonstrate the resilience of the people’s creative spirit. Post-Cold War poetry In post-Cold War Hungary, in which literature and poetry of the prior several decades had functioned as a moral opposition to the Communist government, there was great expectation of a flowering of literature once the political obstacles were removed and the writer finally could freely explore his or her imagination. However, critics have found this has not happened, for several reasons. After the fall of the previous system, the dissident writer lost the poetic mission, a point of reference. Many writers also became politicians and had no time to write. Economics played a large role as well, with the cessation of government subsidies, the disintegration of state book-distributing giants, and steep increases in prices of new books. Living under high inflation and suffering from rising unemployment, the public was unable to afford as many books as it once purchased. Also, writers complained that, in the new commercial markets, unless a book promised profit, it would not be published regardless of its merit. The publishers that managed to stay in business tended to be those that published lurid potboilers, criminal and adventure stories, and soft-core pornography. As a reaction to the prohibition of erotic images and thrillers during the Communist rule, the Hungarian public often favored such publications over more serious literature. The literary landscape of the “new” Hungary also found increasing tension between 15

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traditional nationalist and religious ideas and those of the modern era. The populists— those who claimed themselves as the cultural arms bearers of nationalism—started an offensive against cosmopolitan writers, known collectively as “urbanites,” for the control of ideology and cultural lifestyle in Hungary. While the roots of this conflict stemmed from a decades-old rivalry between the city and the countryside, the more recent rise of multiparty politics has encouraged rivalry and resentment to increase. Populist authors regard the urbanites as arrogant because of their advantages in education, travel, and knowledge of languages—a gap that will take a generation or more to close. Urban liberals assume that the rural group is burdened by ideology. A glimpse into the populist mentality can be found in contemporary Hungarian poet Ferenc Juhasz’s long poem “A szarvassá változott fiú kiáltozása a titkok kapujából” (“The Boy Changed to a Stag Cries Out at the Gate of Secrets”), based on a Transylvanian folktale. The theme “you can’t go home again” is evident here, in that the provincial cannot return to the old way of life but also does not fit in with the liberal intellectual world of Budapest. Despite the factionalism and political and cultural hurdles facing modern Hungary, it remains a country with an active literary culture. Fortunately, in the 1990’s and at the beginning of the twenty-first century, the works of several major contemporary Hungarian poets—Csoori, Illyés, Ágnes Nemes Nagy, Radnóti, Gyozo Ferencz, György Petri—have become readily available in translation, widening the narrow conduit between Hungarian and world literatures. Sandor Csoori Sandor Csoori (born 1930), a leading contemporary Hungarian poet, essayist, and scriptwriter, has been called “the genius of discontent” and is considered to be one of the most prominent artistic spokespersons for the Hungarian people in the last decades of the twentieth century. A recipient of the Attila József Prize in Poetry, he also won the prestigious Kossuth Award, Hungary’s greatest honor for achievement in artistic and scientific work. He serves as a modern voice for the populist movement, albeit a moderate one, and his poems and other literary works exhibit a never-ending concern over a threatened culture and national identity. For Csoori, the village represents a simpler society, the rudiments of a human community, a rough-hewn harmony beyond the experience of a more complex city. His cynicism is evident in “My Mother, a Black Rose,” a tender and sensitive evocation of his mother’s daily struggle for existence. Although not well, she still milks the cow, sweeps, and launders. “Unwelcome strangers,” a code name for communist functionaries, talk to her “rudely” and, fearful, she tightens “her black shawl as if it were her loneliness.” There are “wonderful new machines” around but no one comes to help her. “One night she falls to the ground/ Small, broken, shattered/ A bird will come/ And carry her away in his beak.”

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György Petri One particular poet who received both critical and public acclaim was György Petri, who died of cancer at the age of fifty-six in 2000. Readers appreciated Petri’s combination of ideas and the language used to express these ideas. When it was still dangerous, he berated the “socialist regime” and kept the torch of the 1956 revolution burning. With the fall of communism in 1989, he then turned on himself, opposing the fragments of a society that seemed indestructible in its evilness, and he revoked memories, half heroic, half satiric, and issued statements on death. His poetic stance was rejection; he used the most ingenious devices to free himself of bile, but it seemed the more he got rid of, the more there was. His poem “Electra” displays his bitterness and is powerful not only because it serves as a powerful allegory of vengefulness in the wake of the abusive communist regime but also because it in part turns the myth around, to highlight universal guilt: Take my little sister, cute sensitive Chrysothemis to me the poor thing attributes a surfeit of moral passion, believing I’m unable to get over the issue of our father’s twisted death. What do I care for that gross geyser of spunk who murdered his own daughter!

Reality as equated with sorrowful-history-turning-into-detestable-sociology is not a matter to laugh about or something to play with. However, the poet would have liked to have played, if only his fearful honesty and his temperament had let him. Although well known as a love poet, Petri sullied what might be tender verses with obscenity and fierce irony to reflect how living under Hungary’s dishonest, brutal communist regime cheapened even the finest feelings. He did not see an easy way to assuage the psychological damage inflicted by the Communists, even in the wake of communism’s fall in 1989: “The epoch expired like a monstrous predator./ My favorite toy’s been snatched.” Bibliography Gömöri, George. A History of Hungarian Poetry, 1945 to 1956. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press, 1966. Provides a thorough history. Bibliographical footnotes. Gömöri, George, and George Szirtes, eds. The Colonnade of Teeth: Modern Hungarian Poetry. Chester Springs, Pa.: Dufour Editions, 1996. A collection of the works of thirty-five major Hungarian poets, all born between 1900 and 1954. Members of Hungarian minorities living in other countries are included. Useful notes on the poems and biographical notes. Hawkesworth, Celia, ed. A History of Central European Women’s Writing. New York: Palgrave, 2001. Contains four essays on Hungarian women writers, along with others dealing with topics such as women’s self-adjustment and feminist self-awareness. Map, bibliography, and index. 17

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Kolumban, Nicholas, ed. and trans. Turmoil in Hungary: An Anthology of Twentieth Century Hungarian Poetry. St. Paul, Minn.: New Rivers Press, 1996. Generous selections from the works of nineteen poets. Illustrated. Makkai, Adam, ed. In Quest of the “Miracle Stag”: The Poetry of Hungary, an Anthology of Hungarian Poetry in English Translation from the Thirteenth Century to the Present. Foreword by Árpád Göncz. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1996. Provides a wide selection of Hungarian poetry. Includes biographies. Pilinszky, János. Metropolitan Icons: Selected Poems of János Pilinszky in Hungarian and English. Studies in Slavic Language and Literature 8. Edited and translated by Emery Edward George. Lewiston, N.Y.: E. Mellen Press, 1995. Contains about a third of the poet’s verse, including selections from all of his major collections. Introduction, notes on the poems, and bibliography. Schwartz, Agatha. Shifting Voices: Feminist Thought and Women’s Writing in Fin-deSiècle Austria and Hungary. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2008. Subjects include the fight for suffrage and independence, the dangers of a return to tradition, and the effects of urbanization. One appendix contains authors’ biographies; the other is a bibliography of Hungarian women writers of the period. Suleiman, Susan Rubin, and Éva Forgács, eds. Contemporary Jewish Writing in Hungary: An Anthology. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2003. A volume in the Jewish Writing in the Contemporary World Series. Introduction by the editors. Features a broad selection of writings by Jewish authors in Hungary. Bibliographical references. Szirtes, George, ed. Leopard V: An Island of Sound: Hungarian Poetry and Fiction Before and Beyond the Iron Curtain. New York: Random House, 2004. The editor of this important anthology, himself an award-winning poet, has arranged literary works so as to trace the history of change in Hungary from wartime into the Stalinist period and eventually to postmodernism and to anxiety or despair. Published to coincide with the Hungarian Year of Culture (2003-2004). Tezla, Albert, ed. Ocean at the Window: Hungarian Prose and Poetry Since 1945. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1980. Contains a substantial introduction by the editor, followed by selections from the works of twenty-four writers and biographical-critical essays. Also has a guide to Hungarian pronunciation and a bibliography of literature in translation. András Boros-Kazai Updated by Sarah Hilbert

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POLISH POETRY Poland’s acceptance of Christianity in its Western form in 966 resulted in the longlasting domination of Latin as the language of written communication. It was three centuries later that Polish emerged as the language of literature. Paradoxically, the first known poem in Polish is, at the same time, the most accomplished literary product of the whole medieval period. “Bogurodzica” (Mother of God), an anonymous religious hymn from the thirteenth century preserved in a fifteenth century manuscript, consists of two stanzas with a highly complex parallel construction and sophisticated verse structure. Such a masterly piece could not have been created in a cultural vacuum; some tradition of oral poetry in Polish must have existed around that time, although nothing except “Bogurodzica” has been preserved in a written form. Throughout the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, Polish literature was characterized by the prevalence of religious poetry. The increasing participation of laypeople in religious life brought about the growth of popular devotional literature in the vernacular. Its lyric genre breaks down thematically into Lenten and Easter songs, Christmas carols, hymns to the Virgin Mary, and so on. While being, for the most part, adaptations from Latin, some of these poems manage to strike an original note. “?ale Matki Boskiej pod Krzy/em” (the lament of the Mother of God at the foot of the Cross), a first-person monologue, is distinguished by its individualized point of view and emotional intensity. The epic genre was poorly represented in Polish literature of this period. “Legenda o kw. Aleksym” (legend of Saint Alexis), for example, is a typical verse hagiography, drawing on foreign sources and rather primitive in its form. Polish secular poetry of the Middle Ages is less homogeneous. What has been preserved is a mosaic of poems written for various purposes and with various results. Some of them are merely mnemonic devices, while others are didactic or satiric; there are some shy attempts at erotic poetry as well. Perhaps the most interesting secular poem of the period is the fifteenth century “Rozmowa mistrza ze kmiercia” (conversation of a master with death); one of numerous variations on the medieval theme of memento mori, it stands out by virtue of its vivid imagery and macabre humor. In its versification, Polish medieval poetry was apparently based on a system of relative syllabism, with lines equal to clauses and approximative rhymes. Judgments concerning the verse forms of this period, however, remain highly conjectural. The Renaissance Western European Humanism made its way into Poland as early as the second half of the fifteenth century, but it was only a hundred years later that the golden age of the Polish Renaissance came into full swing. Meanwhile, a few poets emerged who represent the period of transition. 19

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Biernat of Lublin The first Polish poet whose biography is at least partly known is Biernat of Lublin (c. 1465-after 1529). Raj duszny (1513; paradise of the soul), his translation of a Latin prayer book, was thought until quite recently to be the first Polish book ever printed. His major poetic work, however, was Zywot Ezopa Fryga (c. 1522; the life of Aesop the Frygian). The first part of this work is a rhymed biography of the legendary Aesop; the second part presents a collection of fables supposedly told by him. The work expresses the philosophy of plebeian Humanism, but its style, versification, and humor are still of a distinctly medieval kind. Mikolaj Rej Another transitional figure, although much closer to the Renaissance mentality, was Mikolaj Rej (1505-1569), called, perhaps with some exaggeration, the father of Polish literature. A country squire with almost no formal education, he wrote prolifically all of his life and wrote exclusively in Polish. He therefore was not typical of the Renaissance epoch, which demanded from a writer equal fluency in Polish and Latin. Rej’s stubborn defense of the vernacular was, however, also a result of the more general phenomenon of the awakening of national consciousness in the beginnings of the Renaissance. He was quite original in his appreciation of specifically Polish traits and ways of life. His poetry is mostly didactic, descriptive, or satiric, and it ranges from enormous versified treatises or dialogues to brief epigrams. As a poet, Rej undeniably lacks subtlety and artistic balance; his strengths are his passion for the particulars of life and his straightforward stylistic manner. Jan Kochanowski After all the shortcomings of his predecessors, the work of Jan Kochanowski (15301584) appears as a shining example of artistic perfection. He was a rare genius, not to be matched by any other poet of the Slavic world for the next two centuries. Kochanowski’s work represents the Polish Renaissance in its most mature and refined form. A thoroughly educated Humanist, he was indebted to the classical heritage as well as to contemporary poetry of Italy and France, but he was able to give his writing a national specificity and personal tone. The bulk of his work is written in Polish, which he himself raised to the rank of a proficient literary language. His Polish output includes the collections Fraszki (1584; trifles), Piekni (1586; songs), and Treny (1580; Laments, 1928); a masterly poetic adaptation of the Psalms, Psalterz Dawidów (1578); several epic poems; and a classical tragedy in verse, Odprawa poslów greckich (1578; The Dismissal of the Grecian Envoys, 1928). If the Anacreontic Fraszki and Horatian Piekni present Kochanowski as a classical, well-balanced mind that enjoys the aurea mediocritas of everyday life, his Laments has a radically different tone. Written after the death of his young daughter, this sequence of funeral elegies presents a wide range of changing feel20

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ings, from utter despair and doubt to reconciliation with God. The poet’s usually lucid and sedate style acquires an almost baroque complexity and tension. Kochanowski’s general influence on the subsequent phases of Polish poetry was enormous. Perhaps his most durable legacy was his contribution to the development of Polish versification. The radical change he carried out consisted of replacing the remnants of relative syllabism with a strictly syllabic system, with exact rhyme, stabilized caesura, and paroxytonic cadence. This rigor allowed him freedom to employ enjambments and thus make intonation and syntax independent of the verse structure. He was also able to introduce a bewildering variety of verse formats and stanza patterns. Despite the nineteenth century success of the more melodious syllabotonism, Kochanowski’s syllabism remains one of the active verse systems of Polish poetry, and only since the beginnings of the twentieth century has it been rivaled seriously by tonism and free-verse systems. Mikolaj Sep Szarzy«ski A peculiar feature of Polish literary history is that its classical periods never last long. As early as the second half of the sixteenth century—that is, at the zenith of the Renaissance—new literary phenomena were foreshadowing the arrival of the Baroque. Oddly enough, Mikolaj Sep Szarzy½ski (1550-1581) was a full-fledged Baroque poet. His only collection, Rytmy abo wiersze polskie (published posthumously in 1601; Polish rhythms or verses), has been rediscovered and appreciated in recent decades, after centuries of oblivion. Szarzy½ski was a poet with a small output but endowed with extraordinary creative force. In particular, a handful of his metaphysical sonnets, which reveal his spiritual torment and religious crisis by means of tortuous syntax, violent enjambments, and oxymoronic imagery, bear comparison with the best of John Donne and George Herbert. Other Renaissance poets Compared with Kochanowski’s perfection and Szarzy½ski’s intensity, other poets of the Polish Renaissance seem definitely minor figures; however, some of them are not without significance. Sebastian Grabowiecki (1540-1607) was an author of quite refined devotional lyricism. Sebastian Fabian Klonowicz (1545-1602) wrote lengthy descriptive poems that abound with picturesque details. Szymon Szymonowicz (15581629) is best remembered as the author of the half-bucolic, half-realistic Sielanki (1614; idylls), a highly valuable contribution to the pastoral genre. The Baroque After a brief, though brilliant, golden age in the Renaissance, Polish culture, prompted by the rapid progress of the Counter-Reformation, entered the prolonged era of the Baroque. In poetry, the new Baroque style soon evolved into two different man21

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ners, sociologically distinguished by the cultural horizons of royal or aristocratic court life, on one hand, and those of the petty gentry’s manor life, on the other. While the former, more cosmopolitan, manner strongly resembled the Western European Baroque of Giambattista Marino and Luis de Góngora y Argote, the latter style, often called the Sarmatian Baroque, was much more local and conservative. Apart from these two trends within the vernacular, the tradition of classical poetry written in Latin was still cultivated. Maciej Kazimierz Sarbiewski (Mathias Casimirus Sarbievius; 1595-1640), who has been dubbed the “Polish Horace,” achieved pan-European fame under the name of Casimire as an author of Latin odes as well as of the influential treatise De perfecta poesi (early seventeenth century). Polish Marinism had its most illustrious representative in Jan Andrzej Morsztyn (1613-1693), who could also be compared with the English Cavalier poets. A courtier and statesman, in his opinions he was close to French libertinism, and his poetry shunned any didactic purpose. While considering writing a kind of entertainment, he nevertheless focused on the poetic analysis of the paradoxes of worldly happiness. The paradoxes of love are illustrated in Morsztyn’s poetry by a wide variety of striking conceits, in which there is as much frivolity as metaphysical fear. The complex interplay of symmetries, oppositions, and contrasts makes many of his brief poems masterpieces of construction. Besides Morsztyn, the Polish line of wit was represented by, among others, his relative Zbigniew Morsztyn (1624-1698), author of erotic poetry as well as devotional “emblems,” and Daniel Naborowski (1573-1640), author of dazzling poems close in style to Italian concettismo. While the court poets excelled in brief lyric or epigrammatic forms, the powerful current of the Sarmatian Baroque was more diversified in this respect. Its choice of genres and styles ranged from pure, songlike lyrics to enormous epic poems. The lyric branch is best represented by Szymon Zimorowic (1608-1629), whose only book, Roksolanki (1654; Ruthenian girls), was published posthumously by his brother, Józef Bartlomiej Zimorowic (1597-1673), himself an interesting poet in the same vein. Roksolanki is an ingeniously composed sequence of songs or lyric monologues of country girls and boys, stylistically alluding to folk poetry and sounding the psychological mysteries of love with subtle simplicity. Kasper Miaskowski (1550-1622), on the other hand, was perhaps the most gifted representative of early Baroque poetry of nature; his Zbiór rytmów (1612; collected rhythms) added metaphysical depth to the traditional style of pastoral poetry. What dominated, however, in the middle and late phases of Polish Baroque poetry were moralism, didacticism, satire, and a taste for historical epic. The historical epic was introduced in 1618 with a splendid adaptation of Torquato Tasso’s Gerusalemme liberata (1581; Jerusalem Delivered, 1600) by Jan Kochanowski’s nephew, Piotr Kochanowski. The poet who supremely exemplified all of these trends was Waclaw Potocki (1621-1696), a petty nobleman who, in the seclusion of his country manor, 22

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wrote an immense amount of verse, including the epic Wojna chocimska (1670, 1850; the war of Khotim) and the collections Moralia (1688) and Ogród fraszek (1907; a garden of trifles). Samuel Twardowski (1600-1661) was another poet of this type. In addition to writing yet another historical epic, the posthumously published Wojna domowa (1681; a civil war), he achieved some originality in his mythological tale in verse, Dafnis drzewem bobkowym (1638; Daphne transformed into a laurel tree), and in the poetic romance Nadobna Paskwalina (1655; the lovely Pasqualina). Krzysztof Opali½ski (1609-1655), a magnate and statesman, was the most prominent representative of the satiric bent in Baroque poetry. Finally, Wespazjan Kochowski (1633-1700) was the central figure of the late Baroque; his collection of lyric poems and epigrams Niepró/ nujace pró/nowanie (1674; unleisurely leisure) surpasses the average production of those years in its technical finesse, and his long poem in biblical prose Psalmodia polska (1695; a Polish psalmody) is an early expression of messianic Polish historiosophy, full of powerful images and striking metaphors. The so-called Saxonian Night, covering the first sixty years of the eighteenth century, marked a general decline in Polish culture. Polish poetry of this period, still dominated by the Sarmatian Baroque, was becoming monotonous in its shallow bigotry and its reliance on worn-out conceits. The last great triumph of Baroque imagery and style—although a much belated one—occurred around 1768, when the gentry uprising called the Confederacy of Bar triggered an outburst of anonymous poetic creativity. Some of the songs written at that time are gems of religious and patriotic lyricism. The Enlightenment In the mid-1760’s, new tendencies began to dominate the Polish cultural scene. Under the reign of the last Polish king, Stanisuaw August Poniatowski (1732-1798), the ideology of the Enlightenment rapidly gained ground, coinciding with a renewed interest in Western (especially French) cultural novelties. In poetry, the last decades of the eighteenth century were marked by another brief resurgence of neoclassicism. The purification of language (after the damage done by Baroque writers with their habit of interpolating Latinisms into their already ornate style) went hand in hand with a return to discipline and clarity in writing. Classical genres, including descriptive poems, mock epics, odes, epistles, satires, fables, and epigrams, were revived during this period. Bishop Ignacy Krasicki Among the circle of poets close to the royal court and supporting the king’s reformist policies, the most outstanding was undoubtedly Bishop Ignacy Krasicki (1735-1801). An extraordinarily gifted satirist, he made a stir in 1778 by publishing anonymously his Monachomachia albo wojna mnichów (monomachia, or the war of the monks), a mock epic in ottava rima ridiculing the obscurantism and indulgence of monks. As a satiric poet, he reached his climax in Satyry (satires published between 1779 and 1784), a se23

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ries of penetrating ironic observations of contemporary morals that succeeded in being didactic without an intrusive rhetoric. Another of his masterpieces is the collection Bajki i przypowiekci (1779; fables and parables), later complemented by Bajki nowe (1802; new fables). Under Krasicki’s pen, the old genre of the animal fable acquired a new form, close to epigram and characterized by conciseness. Krasicki’s great virtues as a poet are his ironic wit and stylistic precision. Despite his apparently optimistic didacticism, his humor is often bitter and disillusioned: He understood humanity too well to be fooled by wishful thinking. StanisUaw Trembecki A poet of almost equal stature was Stanisuaw Trembecki (1735-1812), another favorite of the enlightened monarch. A libertine and courtier, he wrote with equal ease political odes to the king and obscene, erotic poems. Trembecki’s highest achievements, however, are his Rococo Anacreontics and his descriptive poem Sofjówka (Sophie’s garden), which first appeared in a periodical in 1806 and was published in book form in 1822. Trembecki also excelled in poetic fables, as a rule more extensive and elaborate than the epigrammatic fables of Krasicki. In contrast to the latter’s clarity and moderation, Trembecki’s style is expressive and colorful, always striving for emotional extremes; he remained as close to the Baroque as a poet of the Enlightenment could afford to be. Other Enlightenment poets Generally, though, the stylistic options of the Polish Enlightenment were contained between a strict classicism and a pre-Romantic sentimentalism. The former is exemplified by the work of Bishop Adam Stanisuaw Naruszewicz (1733-1796); its belated extension can be seen in the conservative and rigid stance of the so-called Pseudoclassicists, including Kajetan Ko.mian (1771-1856) and Ludwik Osi½ski (1775-1838), during the first decades of the nineteenth century. The trend of sentimentalism, on the other hand, surfaced in lyric songs and eclogues by Dionizy Knia.nin (1750-1807) and Franciszek Karpi½ski (1741-1825), who at their best were able to produce fine examples of simplicity and emotional directness. Another link between the Enlightenment and Romanticism can be discerned in the poetic work of the versatile writer Julian Ursyn Niemcewicz (1757-1841): He was the first to popularize the genre of the ballad through both his translations and his original poetry. Romanticism In Polish literary history, Romanticism is not simply another period. Its growth coincided with political events that made literature, and particularly Romantic poetry, the most powerful means of shaping the national mentality. One of the most conspicuous features of Polish Romanticism, however, is the enormous disparity between a few liter24

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ary giants and all other poets of the period, as regards both their artistic innovation and their spiritual leadership. It is significant that the specifically Polish notion of the wieszcz (a “bard,” but also a prophet) has been applied only to Adam Mickiewicz, Juliusz Suowacki, and Zygmunt Krasi½ski; twentieth century opinion has added Cyprian Kamil Norwid as the last of the great four. It is also significant that all four poets achieved their prominence in exile; their works, of unprecedented value to the spiritual life of the oppressed Polish nation, were written mostly in Paris. Since 1795, the date of the final partition of Poland—when the Polish nation ceased to exist as an even nominally sovereign state and was divided among Russia, Prussia, and Austro-Hungary—the rhythm of Polish literary life has been defined, first and foremost, by the chronology of political events. Thus, the period of domination of great Romantic poetry is framed by the dates of two abortive insurrections against czarist Russia, in 1831 and 1863. The starting point of Polish Romanticism in a broader sense, however, is 1822, the year that saw publication of the first collection of poems by Mickiewicz. Adam Mickiewicz Adam Mickiewicz (1798-1855) entered Polish literature as a young student at the University of Wilno and soon became the central figure within the rapidly emerging Romantic movement. His early work was still strongly influenced by the heritage of the Enlightenment; “Oda do mlodokci” (“Ode to Youth”), for example, is a peculiar combination of classical rhetoric and the new Storm and Stress ideology. Well read in Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Friedrich Schiller, and Lord Byron, Mickiewicz developed his own Romantic style. His first volume, Ballady i romanse (1822; ballads and romances), was an audacious manifesto of a specifically Polish version of early Romanticism, in which references to native folklore provide ample means to introduce elements of fantasy and the supernatural and to express the “living truths” of emotions and sentiments. Mickiewicz’s debut was hailed as a literary revolution by his own generation but was despised by the “old ones,” the rationalistic classicists. The ensuing strife between the Romantics and the classicists was fueled by Mickiewicz’s subsequent publications during the 1820’s. Two tales in verse, Gra/yna (1823; English translation, 1940) and Konrad Wallenrod (1828; English translation, 1883), parts 2 and 4 of the poetic drama Dziady (1823; Forefathers’ Eve, 1925), and the brilliant sequence of Sonety krymskie (1826; Sonnets from the Crimea, 1917) all offer an entirely new set of stylistic devices and ideological proposals. The stress falls on the Romantic notions of frenetic love, the tragic loneliness of the hero, and the value of individual sacrifice. While the diction of these works admits anticlassical regionalisms, colloquialisms, and exoticisms, the poet retains what he achieved in his classical training: conciseness, precision, and an infallible exactness in his choice of words and construction of metaphors. Mickiewicz’s leading role becomes apparent when contrasted with the emergence of 25

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other early Romantics. Antoni Malczewski (1793-1826) left behind only one work, though a highly valuable one: the Byronic tale in verse Maria (1826). Józef Bogdan Zaleski (1802-1866) was an author of serene, songlike lyrics alluding to the forms of folk poetry. Seweryn Goszczynski (1801-1876) appeared as an extreme example of political radicalism, which he professed particularly in the tale in verse Zamek kaniowski (1828; Kaniów Castle). None of these poets achieved a position comparable to that of Mickiewicz. After the 1831 defeat of the November Insurrection, Mickiewicz became the uncrowned prince of Polish poets, many of whom settled in Paris as political refugees. He had already initiated, in Konrad Wallenrod and in some of the lyric poems of the late 1820’s, a new thematic current in Romantic poetry: the theme of patriotic struggle and heroic sacrifice. After the shattering of the nation’s hopes in 1831, Mickiewicz’s patriotism acquired new, historiosophical and metaphysical dimensions, while in his poetic art he constantly sought new forms of expression. Part 3 of Dziady (1832; Forefathers’ Eve, 1944-1946) offered a new vision of Poland’s national destiny as well as a new step in the development of Romantic drama; the work is a masterpiece of innovative construction, style, and verse. Only two years later, Mickiewicz published a completely different book, yet another masterpiece, his greatest: Pan Tadeusz: Czyli, Ostatni Zajazd na litwie historia Szlachecka zr. 1811 i 1812 we dwunastu ksiegach wierszem (1834; Pan Tadeusz: Or, The Last Foray in Lithuania, a Tale of Gentlefolk in 1811 and 1812, in Twelve Books in Verse, 1917), a Homeric epic on the poet’s homeland, the PolishLithuanian province at the time of Napoleonic wars, in which nostalgia and sorrow mix with warm humor and discreet irony. Thanks to both the subtlety of its narration (the interplay of the narrator’s identification with and distance from the reality presented) and its stylistic richness, Pan Tadeusz remains to this day the crowning achievement of Polish epic poetry. After its publication, Mickiewicz, more and more absorbed in mystical soul-searching and political activity, lapsed into silence as a poet, interrupted only by a brief sequence of the so-called Lausanne poems (written in 1839), purely lyric in character and strikingly innovative in their use of indirect symbolic language. Juliusz SUowacki Mickiewicz’s authority as the primary poet of the Polish nation was never seriously challenged in his lifetime; his main rival, another exile, Juliusz Suowacki (1809-1849), was not appreciated by his contemporaries as he deserved to be, though his fame eclipsed Mickiewicz’s for a time only a half century after the death of both men. Suowacki’s voluminous output includes various genres, from lyric poems through poetic dramas to tales in verse and visionary epics. His plays are an extremely important contribution to Polish Romantic poetry as well as to the theater. Written mostly in verse, they experiment with both versification and dramatic construction; their settings are variously realistic, historical, fairy-tale-like or legendary, dreamlike or symbolic. In his 26

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poems, Suowacki was able to move freely from epic description to lyric digression and from complex stanza patterns to biblical prose. His long poem in ottava rima Beniowski (1841) is a magnificent example of the genre of “poem of digressions” and of Romantic irony, close in its style to Byron’s Don Juan (1819-1824) and Alexander Pushkin’s Evgeny Onegin (1825-1832, 1833; Eugene Onegin, 1881). The most impressive product of the last, “mystical” period in Suowacki’s short life was an immense (even though unfinished) poem, also in ottava rima, titled Król-Duch (1847; king-spirit), a mythological vision of Polish destiny shown through consecutive reincarnations of the nation’s spirit. Suowacki’s significance lies not only in his matchless technical virtuosity but also—and more important—in the fact that in his last phase, he was an early forerunner of Symbolism. Significantly, his fame grew rapidly in the 1890’s and 1900’s. His dazzling imagery and stylistic fireworks are in exact opposition to Mickiewicz’s sparing and concrete manner; in fact, with all of his uniqueness taken into account, Suowacki can be considered the most typically Romantic of all Polish Romantic poets. Zygmunt Krasi«ski General critical opinion concerning the other two poets of the nineteenth century “great four” has dramatically changed in the twentieth century. Zygmunt Krasi½ski (1812-1859), for some time praised for his poetic genius, today is appreciated mostly as an author of fascinating letters and two political plays, the first of which, Nie-boska komedia (pr. 1835; The Undivine Comedy, 1924), written in 1833, is a prophetic analysis of revolution. With a perspicacious and sophisticated mind, Krasi½ski nevertheless lacked both Mickiewicz’s poetic force and Suowacki’s craftsmanship. His long poems Przedkwit (1843; dawning) and Psalmy przyszlokci (1845; psalms of the future), though interesting as expressions of his conservative historiosophy, have dated badly. Kamil Norwid The posthumous career of the work of Cyprian Kamil Norwid (1821-1883) presents a stark contrast with Krasi½ski’s diminishing popularity. Forgotten and isolated in his lifetime and discovered only several decades after his death, today he is considered the spiritual and artistic harbinger of modern Polish poetry. One generation younger than Mickiewicz, Norwid developed his art both under the influence of and as a polemic against Polish Romanticism. He replaced the prevalent Romantic attitude of nationalistic messianism with his original version of humanistic universalism: a concept of modern humanity as the heir to the great civilizations of the past. From this point of view, Norwid tried to analyze the most essential problems of history, politics, and culture. Although he employed a wide variety of genres and forms, he was certainly most successful in his brief lyric poems, distinguished by their highly intellectual content. In particular, his collection of one hundred such poems, Vade-mecum (written before 1866), offers an astonishingly modern model of poetry. The poems included are semantically 27

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dense, ambiguous, and often obscure; they replace an easy melodiousness with irregular verse in which rhythm and intonation adjust to the flow of thoughts. Norwid’s poems can be analyzed as a constant dialogue with an implied reader who is forced to assume a much more active part in deciphering the poem’s meanings than is usually required in Romantic poetry. Other Romantic poets In contrast to the achievement of the four great émigrés, the so-called “domestic” offshoot of Polish Romantic poetry was of rather inferior quality. Among the multitude of poets who wrote at that time, only a few names rise above the average. Kornel Ujejski (1823-1897) reached a large readership with his poems of patriotic lamentation. Ryszard Berwi½ski (1819-1879) was a bard of social revolution and an ironic observer of contemporary society. The strongest suit of Teofil Lenartowicz (1822-1893) was a lyric poetry imbued with stylistic references to folklore. The post-Romantic and neo-Romantic periods The 1863 defeat of the January Uprising, another insurrection against the czarist oppressors, generated a distrust in Romantic ideology and particularly in Romantic poetry: The ensuing epoch of Positivism was definitely an antipoetic age. In literature, there was a general shift toward realistic and naturalistic fiction and drama. Only a few names of relative significance emerged in the field of poetry during this period. Adam Asnyk (1838-1897) owed his popularity to the post-Romantic conventions through which he expressed his anti-Romantic convictions. Maria Konopnicka (1842-1910) wrote in accordance with Positivism as far as its reformist tendency was concerned; her poetry of social criticism and defense of the oppressed is characterized by its skillful use of elements of folklore and its introduction of a speaker from the lower classes. In the last decade of the nineteenth century, the “prosaic” epoch of Positivism gave way to another era of poetry. This new trend, variously called Young Poland, modernism, or neo-Romanticism, was strongly influenced by Western European Symbolism and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche and Arthur Schopenhauer, but it also gave vent to specifically Polish doubts and perplexities. The Positivist program of social reform had evidently failed; it had been unable to find any cure for Poland’s political enslavement. Thus, the end of the century marked the apogee of an ideological crisis: Literature was polarized between naturalistic objectivism in fiction and prosaic drama, and Symbolist or expressionist subjectivism in poetic drama and lyricism. Perhaps the most typical representative of the decadent mood of the end of the century was Kazimierz Przerwa Tetmajer (1865-1940), who in his lyric poems published in the 1890’s set up an emotional pattern for the whole generation of Young Poland—a norm of sensitivity consisting of pessimism, individualism, distrust of any dogma, and a despondency that easily turned into a cult of sensual pleasure. Other poets of this period 28

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underwent a more complicated development. Jan Kasprowicz (1860-1926), for example, started with naturalistic depictions of peasants’ poverty and after intermediary stages of Symbolism and expressionism ended as a serene poet of reconciliation with God and with the world. What is most interesting in his work is his progress from a Promethean rebellion to a final Franciscan acceptance of Being; from the technical point of view, his late poems are an important contribution to tonism, a system of verse based on an equal number of stresses rather than syllables. Stanisuaw Wyspia½ski (1869-1907), best known as a dramatist, was perhaps the most Romantic of all poets of Young Poland: He revived the genre of poetic drama and enriched it with Symbolist imagery. His visionary plays refer to both Polish history and contemporary events, mingling mythological or legendary figures with historical or present-day characters. Tadeusz Mici½ski (1873-1918), also an innovative (though less popular) playwright, wrote lyric poetry that anticipated expressionism; his only collection, W mroku gwiazd (in the darkness of stars), was published in 1902. Leopold Staff (1878-1957) lived long enough to participate in three consecutive literary epochs; within Young Poland, he represented the trend of Nietzscheanism, a trend opposing Decadence and favoring classical lucidity. In contrast to the majority of his poetic generation, he was aware of changing attitudes, and his model of poetry appealed to the tastes of the next generations. Indeed, his popularity has never diminished, and the last volume that he published, Wiklina (1954; osiers), amazingly modern in its style and versification, is undoubtedly his highest achievement. The epoch of Young Poland abounded with poets, and its lyric style soon degenerated into worn-out conventions. Some of the second-rate poets, however, are a cut above the average. Antoni Lange (1861-1929) stands out as a Parnassian with exceptional technical abilities. Maria Komornicka (1876-1948) was also able to free herself from the prevailing stereotypes to create her individual, intensely Nietzschean verse; mental illness ended her writing career in 1907, although she lived for many years after that date. BoUeslaw Lekmian The greatest poet of Young Poland, however, emerged—quite paradoxically— when the epoch was already in decline. Boueslaw Lekmian (1878-1937) published his first book in 1912, and his next two books appeared in 1920 and 1936. In other words, chronologically he belongs to the literary epoch that succeeded Young Poland. Nevertheless, he must be considered a belated Symbolist, and only the striking originality of his language obscures this genetic link. Lekmian’s poetic style is utterly consistent with his philosophy. An enthusiast of Henri Bergson, he saw the world as a field of incessant conflict between inert matter and the creative force of spirit; the conflict cannot be resolved, and thus the world is always in the course of becoming. The task of poetry is to express this instability: Its rhythm should become the equivalent of the world’s élan vi29

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tal, and its imagery should fix the reflection of reality’s metamorphoses. The poet should assume the cognitive stance of the primeval human, whose act of perception creates, as it were, the world perceived. Accordingly, Lekmian’s poetry is distinguished by his astonishing variety of complex rhythms, his figures of speech that emphasize the mutual transformations of elements of reality, his frequent use of myth and folklore, and his invention of new words (forming nouns out of verbs and verbs out of nouns, for example) in order to capture the flux of experience. Independent Poland and the war years The twenty years of independent Poland (1918-1939) can be visualized as a gradual turn from light to darkness, from initial optimism and hope to final catastrophe. This change found its reflection in the evolution of poetry. The first decade of the interwar period was characterized by an explosion of new, mostly avant-garde programs and a multitude of poetic groups, periodicals, and even cabarets. Many of these initiatives were ephemeral, but some of them developed into influential schools and trends. As far as popularity was concerned, there was only one poetic school that managed to hold sway over public opinion for two decades, if not longer. Five poets who emerged as a group called Skamander—Julian Tuwim (1894-1953), Antoni Suonimski (1895-1976), Jan Lecho½ (1899-1956), Jarosuaw Iwaszkiewicz (1894-1980), and Kazimierz Wierzy½ski (1894-1969)—owed their popularity to the fact that their poetry was original and innovative while also comprehensible. Skamander’s only program consisted of rejecting traditional concepts of poetry’s “duties” and enjoying artistic freedom; accordingly, the group abandoned all neo-Romantic conventions and turned to contemporary reality and a refreshingly direct style. In fact, each of the five poets possessed a different personality, and the differences among them were to increase as their works progressed. Tuwim, perhaps the most talented of them all, was a master of verbal magic with an explosive lyric force. Suonimski’s poetry was rationalistic, discursive, and rhetorical. Lecho½, obsessed with Polish history, made an interesting use of the Romantic tradition. Iwaszkiewicz, after his brief fascination with expressionism, chose aestheticism as his principal attitude. As for Wierzy½ski, his most impressive achievement is his postwar poetry written in exile and much modernized in form. Within the circle of Skamander’s influence, some other poets followed their individual paths. Wuadysuaw Broniewski (1897-1962), a pro-Communist poet, managed to combine his radical ideology with close ties to the Polish Romantic tradition. In her metaphorically concise poems, Maria Pawlikowska-Jarnorzewska (1894-1945) achieved a modern formulation of and a feminine perspective on the theme of love. Jerzy Liebert (1904-1931) was an original poet of religious experience. While Skamander was dominating the poetic scene, more radical programs of new poetry were propounded by numerous avant-garde groups. The Polish Futurists, including Bruno Jasie½ski (1901-1939) and Aleksandr Wat (1900-1967), did not win a great 30

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following, but they prepared the ground for the program of the so-called Kraków Vanguard, the most outstanding representatives of which were Tadeusz Peiper (1891-1969) and Julian Przybok (1901-1970). In contrast to the Futurists’ anarchism, the Kraków Vanguard advocated constructivism and rigor based on metaphor and syntax. Their precise and consistent program had a great impact on the evolution of Polish poetry in the next decades, although as early as the 1930’s it was quite clear that their poetry was unable to cope with the problems of twentieth century history. Among other avant-garde poets, Adam Wa/yk (1905-1982) is worth mentioning as a representative of Surrealism, although his style changed radically in subsequent decades. The 1930’s, marked by intense economic, political, and ideological crisis, brought about the so-called Second Vanguard—a new generation of poets who prophesied the approaching global catastrophe. Konstanty Ildefons Galczy½ski (1905-1953), who later was to become one of the most popular Polish poets, did it by use of the grotesque and mockery. Józef Czechowicz (1903-1939), initially a highly accomplished poet of idyllic provincial landscapes, in his later poems expressed his fears using his own avantgarde technique of metaphorical condensation. Czesuaw Miuosz (1911-2004), one of the greatest Polish poets and the winner of the 1980 Nobel Prize in Literature, underwent a complicated evolution, from his prewar catastrophism to metaphysical lyricism. The atrocities of World War II (1939-1945) confirmed the predictions and premonitions of catastrophist poetry, and the theme of “apocalypse come true” was central in the work of a new generation of poets, most of whom died young during the Nazi Occupation as underground fighters or soldiers in the Warsaw Uprising. Such was the fate of Krzysztof Kamil Baczy½ski (1921-1944), who left behind a brilliant collection of lyric poems, visionary and Symbolist in style. Postwar Poland After World War II and the imposition of Communist rule on Poland, many poets worked in exile. Despite censorship, a great deal of émigré literature found its way into the country, and its popularity was remarkable, to mention only the examples of Miuosz, Wierzy½ski, and Wat. Those poets who remained in Poland or were repatriated faced a situation of more or less limited freedom of speech. In spite of that, postwar Polish poetry scored many artistic successes. The immediate postwar years brought about the debut of Tadeusz Ró/ewicz (born 1921), who propounded a new, ascetic style devoid of metaphors and sparing in imagery. After a general decline of literature during the years of Stalinism, one of the first harbingers of the approaching “thaw” in cultural policy was the publication in 1955 of Adam Wa/yk’s “Poemat dla doroslych” (“Poem for Adults”). The year 1956 marked the beginning of a genuine eruption of new names, trends, and poetic programs. The poetry of the late 1950’s and 1960’s was characterized by the coexistence of a strong current of ironic moral reflection, as found in the works of Zbigniew Herbert (1924-1998), Wisuawa Szymborska (born 1923), and Wiktor Woros31

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zylski (1927-1996), and an equally powerful trend of linguistic experimentation, as exemplified by Miron Biauoszewski (1922-1983), Tymoteusz Karpowicz (1921-2005), and Witold Wirpsza (1918-1985). At the same time, poets such as Stanisuaw Grochowiak (1934-1976), Jerzy Harasymowicz (1933-1999), and Tadeusz Nowak (19301991) built their private worlds of imagination and fantasy. The school of neoclassicism and the “poetry of culture” is represented by, among others, Jarosuaw Marek Rymkiewicz (born 1935). In the early 1970’s, another generation of Polish poets came to the fore, combining the “moralistic” and “linguistic” tendencies in order to find a new language for antitotalitarian protest. Ryszard Krynicki (born 1943), Ewa Lipska (born 1945), Adam Zagajewski (born 1945), Julian Kornhauser (born 1946), and Stanisuaw Bara½czak (born 1946) are strong representatives of this trend, called the Generation of ‘68 or the New Wave. All trends in Polish poetry since World War II followed the vicissitudes of the socialist governments and looming presence of neighboring Soviet Union. Writers recognized by the state were guaranteed publication and a comfortable lifestyle. They also, however, agreed to write only what was acceptable to government censors. The underground writers were heard only as loudly as any current leadership allowed. Whether the objects of aggressive government crackdown or the minor concern of a government generally ignoring them, these writers were still reacting to government. They were not perceived as leaders in reform. Most of the poetry created during these years was not considered truly Polish in character. It was all a reaction to an imposed and generally unpopular political structure. This structure fell apart in the 1980’s. The decade began with the strong suppression of intellectual and artistic works. Thousands of journalists were suspended or forced to resign, publishers and writers’ organizations were closed and disbanded, and authors and other intellectuals were arrested. The government relaxed its censorship by the mid1980’s, and underground publishing started to flourish. In 1988, Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev declared that the Soviet Union would no long directly influence Polish politics. This statement effectively removed the yoke of censorship in Poland and the target or theme of writers for the past forty-five years. End of the twentieth century onward There seems little cohesion or uniformity in approach of the poets born after 1950. If there is a common thread, it seems to be a focus in the individual, the inner world, the self. This is in direct opposition to the committed poetry of the previous decades that spoke to and for the people. These newer voices include Marcin Baran (born 1963), Krzysztof Koehler (born 1963), Zbigniew Machej (born 1958), Jacek Podsiadlo (born 1964), Marcin Sendecki (born 1967), Jerzy Sosnowski (born 1962), Marcin Kwietlicki (born 1961), and Robert Tekiel (born 1961). The whole world then focused its attention on Polish poetry in 1996 when Szym32

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borska was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. The choice seemed surprising at first; then more people read her poetry and discovered her wit, wisdom, irony, commitment to human issues, and complete mastery of the Polish poetic language. She well represented to the world a rich, deep, and still very dynamic poetic tradition. Bibliography Bara½czak, Stanisuaw, and Clare Cavanagh, eds. and trans. Polish Poetry of the Last Two Decades of Communist Rule: Spoiling Cannibals’ Fun. Foreword by Helen Vendler. Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 1991. Despite an oppressive government and a society permeated by despair, the twenty-nine poets represented in this collection created a poetic renaissance, especially in the lyric genre. An important anthology. Carpenter, Bogdana, ed. Monumenta Polonica: The First Four Centuries of Polish Poetry, a Bilingual Anthology. Ann Arbor: Michigan Slavic Publications, 1989. Parallel English and Polish texts. Covers an extensive period of poetry. Bibliographical references. Czerniawski, Adam, ed. The Mature Laurel: Essays on Modern Polish Poetry. Chester Springs, Pa.: Dufour Editions, 1991. Contains essays on poets, analyses of individual poems, and overview articles on history and theory. Appropriate for introductory readers of Polish poetry and scholars alike. Eile, Stanisuaw. Literature and Nationalism in Partitioned Poland, 1795-1918. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000. Published in association with the School of Slavonic and East European Studies at the University of London. Demonstrates how Romantic poetry contributed to the growth of nationalism in Poland and to the determination of the Poles to resist foreign rule. Eile, Stanisuaw, and Ursula Phillips, eds. New Perspectives in Twentieth-Century Polish Literature: Flight from Martyrology. New York: Macmillan, 1992. The essays in this collection deal with fiction and drama as well as poetry. However, some of them discuss individual poets, while others consider more general topics, such as poets and politics or the new poetry emerging in the final decades of the twentieth century. Bibliography and index. Grol, Regina, ed. Ambers Aglow: An Anthology of Contemporary Polish Women’s Poetry. Austin, Tex.: Host, 1996. This important collection features the works of thirty women poets, presented in parallel English and Polish texts. Hawkesworth, Celia, ed. A History of Central European Women’s Writing. New York: Palgrave, 2001. Contains four essays on Polish women writers. Others deal with more general topics. Map, bibliography, and index. Levine, Madeline G. Contemporary Polish Poetry, 1925-1975. Boston: Twayne, 1981. Part of Twayne’s World Authors series. Examines fifty years of Polish poetry. Bibliography and index. 33

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Mengham, Rod, et al., trans. Altered State: The New Polish Poetry. Ottawa, Ont.: Arc, 2003. Dual text translations of works by twenty-five Polish poets. Consists almost entirely of poems written after the end of communist rule. Miuosz, Czesuaw. The History of Polish Literature. 2d ed. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983. An updated version of the 1969 work, with an epilogue added by the author. _______, ed. Postwar Polish Poetry: An Anthology. 3d ed. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983. A collection of Polish poems, selected and edited by the 1980 Nobel laureate. Tighe, Carl. The Politics of Literature: Poland, 1945-1989. Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1999. With references to some two hundred writers, this volume demonstrates how postwar Polish literature was dominated by opposition to communism. Useful both as a political history and as a reference work. Zagajewski, Adam, ed. Polish Writers on Writing. San Antonio, Tex.: Trinity University Press, 2007. A volume in the Writer’s World series. Twenty-five prominent writers, including Nobel Prize winners Czesuaw Miuosz and Wisuawa Szymborska, comment on their art. Diary entries, letters, essays, and interviews are included. Stanisuaw Bara½czak

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ROMANIAN POETRY Romanian literature has had a long and difficult history. Romania itself has been under the control of various empires over the centuries, and therefore exposed to various literary traditions. One of its earliest states was established by tribes from ancient Greece. Romanian culture can also trace its beginnings back to the Roman Empire; with the introduction of the Latin language to the people of the region, a new cultural evolution was set in motion. By the mid-sixteenth century, the province of Transylvania had been conquered by the Ottoman Empire. In 1600, the principalities of Transylvania, Moldavia, and Wallachia were unified for the first time, but this did not last for long. Both Russia and the Austro-Hungarian Empire controlled chunks of Romania during part of the nineteenth century. It was not until the late nineteenth century that Romania was recognized as a country. There have been vital periods in Romanian history when several literary genres have flourished, and periods in which there was merely stagnation. Before the nineteenth century, political turmoil had an adverse effect on the ability of a Romanian literary tradition to flourish. Expressing an Identity During the eighteenth century, the poet Alecu Vacarescu wrote passionate lyric poetry inspired by the ancient Greek poet Anacreon. His son, Iancu Vacarescu, became the most highly regarded poet of his time and is considered to be the father of Romanian poetry. He lived well into the nineteenth century, during which time the Classical Age of poetry flourished in Romania. Vasile Alecsandri is remembered for influencing the development of the dramatic poem, which ultimately had a significant effect on the rise of drama in Romania. It was Mihai Eminescu, however, who had the greatest impact on Romanian poetry during the nineteenth century, influencing both poetic form and language. Whether he wrote about nature, love, or spirituality, he was able to elevate each with his particular form of expression. The poet Alexandru Macedonski first experimented with poetic forms in the late nineteenth century. His bold approach went against the already-established Junimea society, founded by Titu Maiorescu and others during the 1860’s, which put forth a coherent philosophical theory that incorporated the whole of Romanian culture. This conservative society hoped to standardize the Romanian language and diminish Western influence on Romanian culture, especially any French influence. By the end of the nineteenth century, other trends were rejecting both the Junimea approach, which had focused less on the peasants and more on city life, and the Symbolists, who were looked upon as being too strongly influenced by decadent foreigners. Political changes made new literary trends possible. Romanian critics and theorists wrestled with how to shape their growing culture. The influence of other literatures 35

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ebbed and flowed depending on conflicting social and political factors. After World War II, several Romanian poets attempted to breathe life into contemporary Romanian poetry, but with the repressive political government, it took courage for the younger poets to speak their minds. Endre Ady was born in a remote village that at the time was located within the borders of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. His village was later named in honor of him and is now part of the modern country of Romania. He published his first volume of poetry in 1899. Over the years, he wrote about spiritual and political matters, but he is probably best remembered for his poems that championed the passions of love. He died in Budapest in 1919 and is considered a truly legendary figure in Hungarian literature. The Long Torturous Road Through the Twentieth Century Tristan Tzara, born in Romania as Samuel Rosenstock, moved to Zurich, Switzerland, in 1915, and then to Paris in 1920. Together with Hugo Ball, he helped to found Dadaism, a radical literary and artistic movement that had no respect for traditional literature or society. Another bold and forthright poet was Irving Layton, born Israel Pincu Lazarovitch in a small Romanian village in 1912; his Jewish parents moved the family to Canada in 1913 in order to escape anti-Semitism. By the 1940’s, Layton was determined to establish himself as a true poet. He also received an M.A. from McGill University in political science and economics, and became outspoken on issues relating to both poetry and politics. His first collection, Here and Now, was published in 1945. Layton earned a reputation as a feisty rebel who was willing to fight conservatism in all its guises. He died in 2006 at the age of ninety-three. The poet Itzik Manger also was forced to find a new home away from his native Romania. He was born in 1901 in Czernowitz, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The town would later become part of Romania before eventually being turned over to the Ukraine. Manger was an important Yiddish poet, dramatist, and visionary. He is remembered for his talent for updating biblical stories with a more modern perspective. He lived in Poland for a time, but left for London due to the terrible anti-Semitism that was then prevalent. In 1958, Manger moved to Israel, where he lived for the remaining years of his life. At the time of his death in 1969, he had earned the deep love of his adopted country and was thought of as Israel’s national poet. Some of the Romanian poets who flourished during the years between World War I and World War II are Tudor Arghezi, Ion Barbu, Max Blecher, and Ion Pillat. Another is Paul Celan, born Paul Antschel in 1920 to a family of German Jewish extraction. It was difficult for him to be a Jew in Romania, and anti-Semitism was prevalent in the state school that he attended. The situation became even worse after the Nazis occupied Romania during World War II; Celan’s parents were sent to concentration camps, where they later died. Following these terrible experiences, Celan was riddled with guilt. It was hard for him to justify his survival when so many had died. 36

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Although born in Romania, Celan wrote his poetry in German. Inspired by the French Symbolists and the German expressionists, he developed a very insular poetry that is difficult to understand. As he grew older, his poems became more and more theoretical exercises, concerned primarily with language for its own sake. It takes an attentive reader to parse the vague personal and religious references. After the war, he spent most of his time living in Paris. Sadly, he drowned in the Seine River in 1970, in what was most likely a suicide. Because of Romania’s tumultuous history, many of its most important poets have been forced to live elsewhere. Dan Pagis was born in Romania in 1930 and spent some of his childhood years in a Ukrainian concentration camp during World War II. Miraculously, he escaped, and eventually he ended up in Israel. As a Holocaust survivor, Pagis wrote mesmerizing poetry about his experiences and also about the larger issue of being a Jew, publishing several volumes in Hebrew. He died in 1986 after losing his battle with cancer. Andrei Codrescu left Romania in the 1960’s in order to escape the tyranny of the Communist government. While his first poems were composed in Romanian, he began to write in English after settling in the United States. During the Romanian Revolution of 1989, Codrescu was excited by the thought that the regime was crumbling, and this excitement rekindled his interest in his native language and literature. Many contemporary Romanian poets grew up during the repressive Communist regime. As mature adults, such poets as Daniel Banulescu, Ruxandra Cesereanu, Simona Popescu, Ioana Nicolaie, and Dan Sociu have thrived in a new, democratic Romania. Jeffry Jensen Bibliography Beissinger, Margaret H. The Art of the Lautar: The Epic Tradition of Romania. New York: Garland, 1991. A critical look at the epic, folk, and oral traditions of Romania. Codrescu, Andrei. Introduction to Born in Utopia: An Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Romanian Poetry, edited by Carmen Firan, Paul Doru Mugur, and Edward Foster. Jersey City, N.J.: Talisman House, 2006. An introduction by a major Romanian American poet and critic. Georgescu, Vlad. The Romanians: A History. Edited by Matei Calinescu. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1990. Includes an overview of the literary trends found throughout Romanian history. Olson, Kirby. Andrei Codrescu and the Myth of America. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 2005. Contains discussion of Codrescu’s early years living in Communist Romania and how his poetry was influenced by the experience. Segel, Harold B. The Columbia Literary History of Eastern Europe Since 1945. New York: Columbia University Press, 2008. Examines how Romania fits into the Eastern European milieu. 37

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Sorkin, Adam J. “Hard Lines: Romanian Poetry, Truth, and Heroic Irony Under the Ceaulescu Dictatorship.” Literary Review 35, no. 1 (Fall, 1991): 26-33. Discusses the bravery of Romanian poets under the Communist dictatorship. Tappe, E. D. Rumanian Prose and Verse: A Selection with an Introductory Essay. London: University of London, 1956. Provides a solid overview of Romanian literature.

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ENDRE ADY Born: Érdmindszent, Austro-Hungarian Empire (now Ady Endre, Romania); November 22, 1877 Died: Budapest, Hungary; January 27, 1919 Principal poetry Versek, 1899 Még egyszer, 1903 Új versek, 1906 (New Verses, 1969) Vér és arany, 1908 (Blood and Gold, 1969) Az Illés szekerén, 1909 (On Elijah’s Chariot, 1969) A minden titkok verseib¹l, 1910 (Of All Mysteries, 1969) Szeretném, ha szeretnének, 1910 (Longing for Love, 1969) A menekül¹ élet, 1912 (This Fugitive Life, 1969) A magunk szerelme, 1913 (Love of Ourselves, 1969) Ki látott engem?, 1914 (Who Sees Me?, 1969) A halottak élén, 1918 (Leading the Dead, 1969) Margita élni akar, 1921 Az utolsó hajók, 1923 (The Last Ships, 1969) Rövid dalok egyr¹l és másról, 1923 Poems of Endre Ady, 1969 (includes New Verses, Blood and Gold, On Elijah’s Chariot, Longing for Love, Of All Mysteries, This Fugitive Life, Love of Ourselves, Who Sees Me?, Leading the Dead, and The Last Ships) Other literary forms Endre Ady (O-dee) was a journalist who wrote numerous articles, reports, reviews, criticisms, essays, and short stories for the press. These were collected after his death under the titles Az új Hellász (1920; new Hellas), Levelek Párizsból (1924; letters from Paris), Párizsi noteszkönyve (1924; Paris notebook), and Ha hív az aczélhegy± ördög (1927; if the steel-tipped devil calls). In his lifetime, Ady published Vallomások és tanúlmányok (1911; confessions and studies), containing his important prose writings, both political and literary. Some of these writings are available in English translation in The Explosive Country: A Selection of Articles and Studies, 1898-1916 (1977). His collections of short stories combine subjective, personal confession with a depiction of early twentieth century Hungary. They are Sápadt emberek és történetek (1907; pale men and stories), Így is történhetik (1910; it can happen thus also), A tízmilliós Kleopátra és egyébb történetek (1910; Cleopatra of the ten millions and other stories), Új csapáson (1913; on a new track), and Muskétás tanár úr (1913; Professor Muskétás). 39

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His letters have been published in Ady Endre válogatott levelei (1956; selected letters of Endre Ady), with an introduction by Béla György. Achievements Endre Ady is one of Hungary’s greatest lyric poets. Inspired by Western European models, primarily French , he created a new lyrical style that both shocked and inspired his contemporaries. At the same time, he revitalized indigenous Hungarian literary traditions, looking back to the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries rather than to the example of his immediate predecessors. His topics, too, were considered revolutionary: physical passion and erotic love, political and social reform. He remained, however, within the tradition of the great nineteenth century Hungarian poets who expressed the spirit of the nation in their works. Biography Endre Ady’s heritage and birthplace had a profound influence on his poetry. His ancestry was the relatively poor nobility, or gentry, which on his mother’s side also boasted a tradition of Calvinist ministers. In the small village of Érdmindszent, he came to know the peasantry intimately, for his own family’s life differed little from theirs. His father wished him to enter the civil service, so he was educated with a view to obtaining a legal degree. The area in which Ady grew up (today Salaj, Romania) is situated in the Partium, a region of eastern Hungary that had stormy ties to Transylvania during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, when that principality had been a bulwark of Hungarian autonomy and traditions while the rest of the country was under Turkish or Habsburg rule. The Partium was thus doubly a frontier area in whose Calvinist and kuruc (anti-Habsburg) traditions Ady saw justification for his own rebellious, individualistic nature. He was always proud of his ancestry and considered himself much more Magyar than many of his contemporaries with more mixed ethnic backgrounds. After completing five elementary grades in his village, Ady was sent first to the Piarist school in Nagykároly, then to the Calvinist gymnasium at Zilah, which he regarded as his alma mater; he always fondly remembered his teachers there. Several of his classmates were later to become prominent among the more radical thinkers and politicians of the early years of the twentieth century. He also read voraciously, both earlier Hungarian literature and European naturalistic writers, and became acquainted with the works of Arthur Schopenhauer. After a brief period in law school in Debrecen and time spent as a legal clerk in Temesvár (Timisoara, Romania) and Zilah (Zalau), he realized that his true vocation was in journalism. He followed this career until his death. Ady first worked in Debrecen, and in this period not only did his horizons widen, but his critical theses began to crystallize as well. “Life” and “truth” became important bywords for him, and he continued his readings: Auguste Comte, Herbert Spencer, Friedrich Nietzsche, Henrik Ibsen, Fyodor Dostoevski, and especially the late eigh40

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teenth century poet Mihály Csokonai Vitéz, a native of Debrecen. It was in Nagyvárad (today Oradea, Romania) that Ady became familiar with the life of a large city and the more cosmopolitan society it represented. He wrote for liberal papers, and for a while his political views agreed with the pro-government stance of such journals. In time, however, he became disillusioned with their reluctance to press for universal suffrage and other reforms affecting the poor and the national minorities. It was at this time that he became acquainted with Huszadik század, a progressive journal begun in 1900. The years in Nagyvárad were also important in Ady’s personal life and poetic development, for it was during this period that he met Adél Brüll, whom he was to immortalize as the Leda of his poems. This older, married woman (her married name was Diósi)—more experienced, more worldly, more cultured than he—was an important influence on his life. Their passionate and at times tempestuous love affair, which finally ended in 1912, is recorded in poems that were to revolutionize Hungarian love poetry. When Ady went to Paris as the foreign correspondent of his paper, Brüll was there, and his impressions of the French city were acquired under her tutelage. When he returned from the 1904 trip, he burst on the world with a new poetic style. By 1905, Ady was working in Budapest for the liberal Budapesti napló. In numerous articles, he wrote of the need for radical reforms; independence from Austria was also debated. At this time, Ady turned his attention to the social problems that were destroying the country; in both his poetry and his prose writings, he championed the disenfranchised. The important journal Nyugat was started in 1908, and Ady soon became associated with it—all the more so as his increasingly radical views did not agree with the middle-of-the-road liberalism of the Budapesti napló. When war broke out in 1914, Ady opposed Hungarian participation in the conflict, increasing his isolation from official political life. His antiwar poems were inspired by humanism and patriotism. The poor and the politically powerless suffered most heavily, Ady argued, and he believed that the war was being fought against Hungarian interests, purely for Austrian goals. During this time, Ady lived mostly in Érdmindszent and at Csucsa, the estate of Berta Boncza, whom he had met in 1914 and married the following year. Berta, the daughter of a well-to-do nobleman and prominent politician, was considerably younger than Ady; she had been attracted to him some time earlier, when she read his Blood and Gold while still in school in Switzerland. The poems written to her reflect a different mood from that of the Leda poems: The love is deeper and less intensely erotic. They project the hope that Csinszka (as Berta is called in the poems addressed to her) will preserve the thoughts and ideals of the poet. By this time, Ady was gravely ill with the syphilis that had been progressively destroying him since his Nagyvárad days. The revolution that Ady had awaited came to Hungary in October of 1918. Ady went to Budapest, where the revolutionary government celebrated him, even though he had reservations about the Socialist system. He also doubted whether the Karolyi govern41

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ment’s courting of the Entente powers would bring any positive results. As it turned out, his instincts were right, and the Entente did little for Hungary. Ady died in January of 1919, spared the knowledge that Hungary’s territory would be drastically reduced and that his own birthplace and home region would be awarded to Romania. Analysis Endre Ady came from the deep center of the nation, and he sought to raise the nation to a new consciousness, just as János Arany and others had done before him. Ady was an innovator because the literary and political establishment had failed to grasp the need for change. Ady’s “Hungarianness” is a central part of his work; he was intensely aware of his struggle “with Europe for Europe.” Ady never abandoned his native traditions. He built instead on folklore, the kuruc poetry of the eighteenthcentury , the folk-song-inspired lyrics of Mihály Csokonai Vitéz, and the revolutionary verse of the great national poet of nineteenth century Hungary, Sándor Pet¹fi. Ady also drew heavily on Hungarian Calvinism and the rich vernacular tradition of Protestant writings to create a highly personal modern style, animated by the tension between Hungarian and Western European influences. His great love poems to Leda and Csinszka, his poems on materialism and on national traditions—all incorporated European philosophies, preoccupations, and styles, reflecting the influence of Friedrich Nietzsche and Henri Bergson as well as of Charles Baudelaire and Paul Verlaine. Today, Ady is recognized as one of the most important of the generation of writers and thinkers who transformed the intellectual life of Hungary in the first decades of the twentieth century. New Verses Ady’s first two volumes of verse, Versek (poems) and Még egyszer (once more), did not attract great interest; they were relatively insignificant collections in the traditional vein. In 1906, however, Ady’s own style emerged in New Verses. Here, he presented new subjects and new themes, new images and a fresh, new style. The emphasis in New Verses—an emphasis continued in Ady’s next three collections—was on brevity and impact: short, concise lines; short poems packed with meaning; condensed language with multiple levels of reference. Many of the early poems develop a single metaphor. A very conscious innovator, Ady prefaced New Verses with a manifesto that identifies the tension that persists throughout his oeuvre: Hungary is a nation caught at the crossroads between East and West. While proudly claiming his descent from the conquering Hungarians of the ninth century, who came through the Eastern gate, he asks if he can break in from the West with “new songs of new times.” Answering in a defiant affirmative, he states that, in spite of opposition by conservatives, these poems are “still victorious, still new and Hungarian.”

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Transformations After the burst of energy that characterized his style in the period from 1906 to 1909, Ady paused in mid-career to adopt a quieter style and grayer moods. His themes and concerns remained much the same, but there was a deepening of thought, and a more pessimistic note entered his poems. His concern for the fate of the country, particularly its ordinary citizens, grew as he saw policies that could only bring ruin being blindly followed by the political elite. His relationship with Brüll also cooled. After 1914, during the war years, Ady’s style underwent another transformation. His sentences became more complex as his verse became increasingly reflective, and he turned from softer, French-inspired tones to the somber and sublime style of the Bible and of sixteenth century Calvinist poetry. In this late poetry, Ady retained two themes from his earlier collection: patriotism, which broadened into humanitarianism, and love—no longer the unfulfilled and unsatisfying erotic encounters of earlier years but the deeper, more fulfilling passion of the Csinszka poems. Leda poems Ady’s poems can be organized thematically into four large groups (love, death, religion, patriotism), though there is considerable overlapping; also, some important minor themes are eventually subsumed into one or another of the major ones reflecting Ady’s intellectual development. One of Ady’s most enduring themes was romantic love. The Leda cycles, with their portrayal of destructive yet irresistible passion, reveal the influence of Baudelaire. These poems represented a break with Hungarian tradition in their emphasis on the physical aspects of love. Ady’s poems to his wife, on the other hand, are more in the tradition of Pet¹fi, in which the emotional-spiritual content is on a par with the physical. It would be misleading, however, to dismiss the Leda poems as purely physical: Brüll offered Ady much more than physical excitement, and these poems reflect a world of shared ideas. They are more significant and generally more successful than the poems on fleeting alliances with insignificant partners. “Félig csókolt csók” (“Half-Kissed Kiss”), from New Verses, and “Léda a kertben” (“Leda in the Garden”), from Blood and Gold, emphasize the intense desire that cannot be satisfied even in physical union. The “half-kissed kiss” is a metaphor for an erotic relationship that leaves the lovers still restless for fulfillment: “tomorrow, then perhaps tomorrow.” Nature sympathizes with them in their eternal hunger, as an image from “Leda in the Garden” suggests: “even the poppy/ pities us, [itself] satisfied.” Consummation, Ady suggests in “Héja nász az avaron” (“Kite-Wedding on the Loamy Earth”), can come only in death. In “A mi násznagyunk” (“Our Best Man”), Ady returns to this theme. There are also love poems of great tenderness in the Leda cycles, as “Add nekem a szemeidet” (“Give Me Your Eyes”) illustrates. The beloved’s eyes “always see him grand . . . always build, have mercy . . . see him in a better light,” yet “they kill, burn, and desire.” The poem, comprising four stanzas of three lines each, repeats the title line as the first line of each 43

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stanza and follows it with two rhymed lines. This abb tercet in anapestic meter echoes the lyrical mood and the melody of the words as well as the expansive ideas. Of All Mysteries The 1910 volume Of All Mysteries chronicles the waning of Ady’s love for Brüll. This collection offers a virtual outline of Ady’s characteristic themes, as is indeed suggested in the poem’s motto: “youthful All vanquished, with the spear of Secrecy, Death in my heart: but my heart lives, and God lives.” Here, Ady seems determined to hope in spite of disappointments. The Decadent pose of earlier poems is shed as the poet develops a real faith in humankind that culminates in the humanism of the war poems. Each of the six cycles in Of All Mysteries is devoted to a “secret”: of God, of love, of sorrow, of glory, of life, and of death. In the “Love” cycle, dedicated to Leda, the poem “A türelem bilincse” (“The Fetters of Patience”) significantly refers to the “fetters” of their love in the past tense. Their whole life was fetters, yet the “kisses, exhaustions, flames, oaths” were all good fetters. The farewell becomes explicit in “Elbocsátó, szép üzenet” (“Dismissing, Beautiful Message”), where pity wins over the regretful remembrance of love. Love poems The poems of 1912 to 1914 show a man in search of love. In the final volumes, this love is found. “A Kalota partján” (“On the Banks of the Kalota”) records the “security, summer, beauty and peace” brought to his life by Berta Boncza. The poem’s two long free-verse stanzas depict a summer Sunday in which the peace and joy of the service and of the feast (Pentecost) mingle to overwhelm the poet, and the eyes of his beloved draw him into a magic circle. Death Ady saw life and death not as opposing forces but as two components of the same force. “Párizsban járt az ¹sz” (“Autumn Passed Through Paris”) is a beautiful evocation, through the breath of autumn on a summer day, of the presence of death. Although death comes for all people, it need not be accepted passively, as Ady suggests in the melodic “A halál lovai” (“Death’s Horsemen”). The riderless horse with the unclaimed saddle is always in the troop of death’s horses, but “He before whom they stop/ Turns pale and sits into the saddle.” The act is presented as voluntary. In “Hulla a búza-földön” (“Corpse on the Wheat-Field”), a corpse, forgotten on the snowy plain, will not have carnations, artemisia, and basil blooming on its grave, but “the victorious wheat-kernel” will win through; life will triumph. Religious poems To some extent, Ady’s God-fearing poems continue the life-death theme. They chronicle the same doubts and seek answers to the same questions. In time, Ady found 44

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the answers and the refuge, but as with John Donne, the struggle was a fierce one; indeed, Ady’s love poems, much as in Donne’s case, have a close and direct relationship to his religious verse. Although many of Ady’s religious poems describe his struggle to achieve union with God, others reflect the peace of childlike faith. Ady seeks rest and forgiveness and creates powerful symbols to concretize these feelings. In “A Sion-hegy alatt” (“Under Mount Sion”), he creates an image of God as a man in a huge bell coat inscribed with red letters, ringing for the dawn Mass. The figure is kindly yet sad; he cannot answer the poet’s plea for simple, unquestioning faith. The poem is a poignant expression of the dilemma of modern humankind. In “Hiszek hitetlenül Istenben” (“I Believe, Unbelieving, in God”), Ady longs for belief in the great mystery of God, convinced that such faith will bring peace to his tormented soul. The poems from the cycle “Esaias könyvének margójára” (“To the Margins of the Book of Isaiah”), often prefaced by biblical quotations that emphasize their prophetic intentions, transcend the personal religious quest and become pleas for the nation and for humanity. “Volt egy Jézus” (“There Was a Jesus”) not only testifies to a personal acceptance of Jesus Christ but also proclaims the need for all humankind to heed his teachings on peace and brotherhood. “A szétszóródás elött” (“Before the Diaspora”), another poem with a biblical inspiration, scourges the nation for its sins, concluding with the powerful line: “And we were lost, for we lost ourselves.” Patriotic poems Many of Ady’s poems can be classified as patriotic. This group, however, unites several different themes that were significant at different points in his career. Two important early threads are the “I” poems and the “money” poems. The I poems are more than personal lyrics; they present the speaker (the poet) as a representative of the nation. As such, they evolve into the patriotic poems in a fairly direct line. The money poems startled readers with their “nonpoetic” theme: Ady went beyond complaints against poverty to question the role of money in society at large. The kuruc theme An important thread in Ady’s patriotic-revolutionary poetry is the use of the kuruc theme. Kuruc was the name applied to the supporters of Ferenc Rákóczi II, who had led a popular uprising against the Habsburgs in the eighteenth century. In Ady’s vocabulary, the kuruc is the true but disenfranchised Hungarian, a fighter for national goals betrayed by his self-serving masters to Austrian interests. In the war years, Ady identified the kuruc with the common person everywhere, oppressed by political power plays. “Man in Inhumanity” Ady’s last poem, “Ember az embertelenségben” (“Man in Inhumanity”), was an appeal to humanity addressed to the victors of the war. He appealed, fruitlessly, to the Al45

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lies “not to tread too harshly” on Hungarian hearts. The nation sought reform, but suffered instead “War, the Horror.” Defeated in a war fought against Hungarian sentiments and interests, Hungary paid for its all-too-recent union with Austria with the loss of much of its territory and millions of its citizens. Foreseeing this tragedy even before the war, Ady offered a poignant comment on its aftermath. Although Ady was a very subjective poet, one of the first purely personal lyric voices in Hungarian poetry, he did not break with the national tradition of committed literature. Deeply influenced by Western European models, he transformed what he took by the force of his genius, exploiting the rich resources of the Hungarian tradition in the service of a powerfully modern vision. Thus, it is not surprising that Ady continues to inspire poets in Hungary today. Other major works short fiction: Sápadt emberek és történetek, 1907; Így is történhetik, 1910; A tízmilliós Kleopátra és egyébb történetek, 1910; Muskétás tanár úr, 1913; Új csapáson, 1913. nonfiction: Vallomások és tanúlmányok, 1911; Az új Hellász, 1920; Levelek Párizsból, 1924; Párizsi noteszkönyve, 1924; Ha hív az aczélhegy± ördög, 1927; Ady Endre válogatott levelei, 1956; The Explosive Country: A Selection of Articles and Studies, 1898-1916, 1977. Bibliography Bóka, Lazlo. “Endre Ady the Poet.” New Hungarian Quarterly 3, no. 5 (JanuaryMarch, 1962): 83-108. A biographical and critical study of Ady’s life and work. Cushing, G. F. Introduction to The Explosive Country: A Selection of Articles and Studies, 1898-1916, by Endre Ady. Budapest: Corvina Press, 1977. Cushing offers some biographical insight into Ady’s life. Frigyesi, Judit. Béla Bartók and Turn-of-the-Century Budapest. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998. A broad perspective on Bartók’s art grounded in the social and cultural life of turn-of-the-century Hungary. Includes a discussion of Ady and his influence on Bartók. Hanák, Péter. The Garden and the Workshop: Essays on the Cultural History of Vienna and Budapest. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1998. Ady is one of the central figures in his collection of essays. Deals with Ady’s transition from journalism to poetry. _______. The Start of Endre Ady’s Literary Career (1903-1905). Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 1980. A brief study of Ady’s early work, with bibliography. Land, Thomas. “Endre Ady: Six Poems.” Contemporary Review 279, no. 1627 (August, 2001): 100-105. Land briefly describes Ady’s life, particularly his political activism, and translates six personal poems. 46

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Nyerges, Anton N. Introduction to Poems of Endre Ady. Buffalo, N.Y.: Hungarian Cultural Foundation, 1969. Nyerges gives some biographic details of Ady’s life. Reményi, Joseph. Hungarian Writers and Literature. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1964. A history and critical analysis of Hungarian literature including the works of Ady. Enik¹ Molnár Basa

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JÁNOS ARANY Born: Nagyszalonta, Hungary (now Salonta, Romania); March 2, 1817 Died: Budapest, Hungary; October 22, 1882 Principal poetry Toldi, 1847 (English translation, 1914) Murány ostroma, 1848 Katalin, 1850 Összes muvei, 1851-1868 Nagyidai cigányok, 1852 Toldi estéje, 1854 (Toldi’s Eve, 1914) Kisebb költeményei, 1856 Buda halála, 1864 (The Death of King Buda, 1936) Arany János összes költeményei, 1867 Toldi szerelme, 1879 (Toldi’s Love, 1976) Arany János összes munkái, 1884-1885 Epics of the Hungarian Plain, 1976 Other literary forms The criticism and studies in Hungarian literature of János Arany (OR-on-ee) are in the best tradition of scholarship and remain useful. His translations of several of William Shakespeare’s plays and of Aristophanes’ comedies are outstanding in the history of Hungarian translations. Achievements János Arany contributed to Hungarian literature a poetic style and language—in fact, a poetic tradition—that united the best elements of native Hungarian verse, based to a large degree on folk song and folk poetry, with the learned traditions of Western Europe, particularly the traditions of the Enlightenment and of Romanticism. The result was a poetry that, while retaining its distinctively Hungarian character, joined the larger conversation of European literature. Biography János Arany was born the last child of György Arany and Sára Megyeri in Nagyszalonta, Hungary (now Salonta, Romania). Taught to read by his father, Arany began his studies in 1828 at Nagyszalonta. In 1831, he became a tutor at the school there, and in 1833, he transferred to the gymnasium (high school) at Debrecen on a scholarship. He took a leave of absence to serve as tutor in Kisujszállas for about a year, 48

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and in 1836, he left Debrecen without earning a degree. He settled in Nagyszalonta and became a teacher, later taking a post as notary. In 1840, he married Julianna Ercsey, the orphaned child of a lawyer. Their daughter, Juliska, was born in 1841, and their son, László, was born in 1844. Although originally Arany had intended to give up his literary aspirations and devote his energies to building a secure future for his family, the friendship of István Szilágyi, who became rector at Nagyszalonta in 1842, drew him into the literary world. Arany had read widely in popular Hungarian literature since his childhood and had been introduced to earlier as well as contemporary Hungarian literature at Debrecen, but Szilágyi encouraged him to continue his studies of English and other foreign authors. Arany learned English to be able to read literary works in the original, and he later translated from this language as well as from German, Greek, Italian, and other languages. In 1845, Arany’s poem “Az elveszett alkótmany” (the lost constitution) won a literary prize. In 1847, his Toldi won even greater acclaim, and he became increasingly involved in the literary life of the country, as well as in the events leading up to the Revolution of 1848. He ran for a seat in parliament but was defeated; he also served as a soldier during the siege of Arad. After the defeat of the Hungarians by the combined forces of the Austrian and Russian empires, Arany, like most of his contemporaries, spent several months in hiding and lost his teaching position. For a while, Count Lajos Tisza employed him as a tutor, and in 1851, he accepted a position as teacher in the gymnasium at Nagykörös. Arany never felt comfortable as a teacher, and in time the routine and the atmosphere of the small town depressed him. At first, however, there were brilliant colleagues who were similarly in hiding or exile during the years of terror, and he wrote a series of ballads, completed Toldi’s Eve as well as several other narrative poems, and began the third poem of the Toldi trilogy, Toldi’s Love. The notes for his lectures on Hungarian literature prepared at this time (never collected by him and published only after his death) show his sensitivity and the thorough critical and historical grasp he had of his subject. In spite of his distance from the center of activity, Arany remained in close contact with literary developments. Recognition also came his way. On December 15, 1858, the Hungarian Academy of Sciences was allowed to resume its activity after a ten-year suspension, and Arany was elected a member. In his acceptance speech, he compared the epics of Miklós Zrinyi, a poet of the seventeenth century, with the work of Torquato Tasso. After repeated invitations by his friends to move to Budapest, Arany finally accepted the position of director of the Kisfaludy Társaság. In addition to administrative duties, he was active as an adviser and critic. He wrote a study on the Hungarian drama by József Katona, Bánk bán (pb. 1821), and helped prepare Imre Madách’s Az ember tragédiája (pb. 1862; The Tragedy of Man, 1933) for publication. Increasingly accepted as the unofficial laureate of Hungarian literature, he became secretary of the Academy of Sciences in 1865. He continued writing, although he was unable to complete many 49

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projects. The major poem he worked on in this period was what he hoped would be a national epic, The Death of King Buda. It was, moreover, a period during which Arany was active as a translator, rendering Shakespeare, Aristophanes, and selections from many writers in other languages into Hungarian. He had the obligation to oversee the translation and publication of the complete works of Shakespeare and of Molière, as well as a comprehensive edition of Hungarian folk literature. In 1879, Arany’s third request for retirement was finally accepted by the academy. In his last years, he enjoyed a resurgence of lyric power and, despite his ill health, was able to finish some earlier projects, notably Toldi’s Love. He published his Prózai dolgozatai (1879; prose essays) and was increasingly involved in linguistic studies. Arany died on October 22, 1882, several days before the unveiling of the statue of his friend, the poet Sándor Pet¹fi, that still stands by the Danube in one of the city’s old squares. Arany was laid out in state in the main chamber of the academy and was eulogized by the important critics and poets of his day. His role as one of the major figures in Hungarian poetry and literary criticism, as well as a sensitive and learned molder of the language, continues to be recognized to this day. Analysis János Arany was not the only writer engaged in the literary development of Hungary, nor was he the first. He built on medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque traditions, and his goals were shared by many of his contemporaries. His individual contribution rests above all on his knowledgeable and sensitive use of folk elements, his ability to recognize and reject undue foreign influence while using foreign models to enrich his own work, and his unerring sense of the forms and rhythms best suited to the Hungarian language. His affinity with the folkloric tradition, as well as his recognition of its role in preserving Hungarian cultural traditions, enabled him to put into practice the theories and plans of the reform movement. As a teacher and critic, he was further able to explain and elucidate reformist goals. He not only used native words but also explained their appropriateness and traced their history. He used meters based on folk song and wrote a thesis on Hungarian versification. Arguing that native themes and forms could equal the best in classical literature, he demonstrated this in his critical essays. Ever sensitive to literary developments abroad, he emphasized the need for literature to be realistic yet to avoid the excesses of naturalism; in his view, the poet should show not so much what is but rather its “heavenly counterpart.” “Az elveszett alkótmany” In 1845, János Arany won the prize of the Kisfaludy Társaság with his mock-heroic epic, “Az elveszett alkótmany.” He had begun writing it spontaneously and with no thought of publication, learning of the competition only when the poem was well under way. Although he was later to regret the unevenness and coarseness of the work, it de50

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serves attention, for it shows Arany’s use of supernatural machinery, which is rooted in Hungarian folklore and popular mythology—a device he borrowed from Mihály Vörösmarty and others but which Arany was to use effectively in later poems. His portrayal of the petty bickering between progressive and liberal political parties, no less than the high-handed and illegal actions of the party in power, indicates his political concerns. He suggests in the conclusion that only with a widening of the franchise, with the inclusion of all segments of the population in the political process can Hungarian institutions fulfill their proper role. Toldi It was Toldi, however, that established Arany’s literary reputation. As the enthusiastic Pet¹fi wrote, “Others receive the laurel leaf by leaf,/ For you an entire wreath must be given immediately.” What Arany did was to create a folk-epic style that conveyed the life of the Hungarian Plain and the sense of history shared by the nation. Arany, who felt strongly that folk poetry should be the basis of the new national literary style, ennobled the genre by blending with it the qualities of the epic. Indebted to Pet¹fi’s János Vitéz (1845; János the Hero, 1920), also a folk epic, which had appeared a year earlier, Arany nevertheless was responsible for innovations of his own. Toldi was written in the old narrative meter, the Hungarian Alexandrine or twelve-syllable hexameter line rather than in the simpler quatrain of the folk song. Arany’s hero was an actual historical personage, while the poem’s setting was based on the realistic verse chronicle by Péter Selymes Ilosvay; in contrast, Pet¹fi’s János the Hero had a fairy-tale setting. In the handling of his sources and the characterization of his hero, Arany established the method he was to use in later poems. Arany turns Ilosvay’s sketchy tale about Miklós Toldi, a man of prodigious strength who won fame at the court of Lajos the Great (1342-1382), into a tightly organized poem in twelve cantos. Arany is careful to motivate each action and to fit each episode into his framework. Arany also concentrates on the hero’s emergence as the king’s champion rather than attempting to cover all his life. He deliberately refrains from beginning his poem in medias res and filling in background through digressions and backtracking, a method he believed would have been incompatible with the spirit of folk poetry. The action of the poem covers nine days and falls into two sections: Cantos 1 through 6 relate the crime of Toldi and give the reason for his leaving home to seek the favor of the king, while cantos 7 through 12 show how this is accomplished. Several episodes are intertwined, but all serve to illustrate the development of the hero’s character. In the course of a few days, Toldi emerges as a loyal, brave, generous, faithful, and compassionate man who uses his great strength for good—whether working in the fields or fighting in the lists. Arany, through an examination of Toldi’s actions as well as of his underlying motivations, makes his hero representative of that which is best in the Hungarian character. Arany also makes him a representative of the entire nation, not re51

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stricting his ties to any one class; noble by birth, yet close to the peasants and servants on the farm, he embodies Arany’s political views as well. In contrast to the affected, treacherous György, who seems to be both a parasite and a tyrant on his own land, Toldi is equally at home with the servants and at the court of the king. Idealized and simplified in some respects, the hero retains many very human qualities. He is despondent and brooding when disappointed, gives way to anger quickly, and almost gives up while hiding in the swamp. On the other hand, he can rejoice with abandon as he celebrates the arrival of a gift from his mother and the opportunity to earn respect and recognition. Arany’s portrayal of Hungarian qualities, of the soul of the nation, as it were, is not, however, restricted to Toldi. Arany captures the essence of Hungarian life in his description of the activities of the people, whether in the fields or in the city, working or enjoying a festival. By projecting familiar details of the nineteenth century onto his fourteenth century setting, Arany was able, moreover, to give the epic a realism and intimacy it would otherwise have lacked. Far from being false to the medieval setting or an oversimplification of life in Buda and the court, this projection carries Arany’s message that in the past, Hungarian society was more unified: Distinctions of rank were not chasms. Like the overall concept and style of the poem, its language and form are based on folk literature. Arany, well aware of the power of native words, used these deliberately. He wished to make his poetry easily understood and enjoyed by all, but he also sought to introduce the language of the people, no less than their poetry and song, into Hungarian literature. An active language reformer, he felt that the written Hungarian language could be revitalized only by absorbing the pure speech of the common person, still rich in archaic words, local dialect, and variety. The form of Toldi is also rooted in folk poetry, for the Hungarian Alexandrine was the traditional verse of earlier narrative poems. It echoes the patterns of Hungarian speech and, as Arany showed, is capable of a wide range. In this first epic, Arany used the traditional accented line, divided by a caesura. Later, he was to use both accented and quantitative feet to fit the form to the theme. Poetry of the 1850’s Arany was deeply affected by the failure of the War of Independence, yet the early 1850’s was one of his richer periods, even though many of the poems of this time are expressions of despair and disappointment. He not only criticized the newly evolving political and social life but also questioned his own poetic style and creativity. In the two “Voitina levelei öccséhez” (“Voitina’s Letters to His Brother”), he condemned the distortion of the folk style as well as the mere aping of foreign fashions, even as he himself sought the true possibilities of a popular national style. “Leteszem a lantot” (“I Lay Down the Lute”), an elegy for Pet¹fi, also expresses Arany’s feeling that “he is no longer what he was,/ The better part has left him.” No longer can he sing the hope of the fu52

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ture, nor can he even hope for the reward of immortality. The specter of the nation’s death also haunted him in “Rachel” and “Rachel siralma” (“Rachael’s Lament”). In “A nagyidai cigányok” (“The Gypsies of Nagyida”), he sought release from the disappointment and bitterness he felt at the failure of the revolution. “Family Circle” In his ballads and narrative poems, Arany continued to develop the folk style and to set his stories in a real time and place. He excelled in capturing the many moods of the life of the people, in painting intimate village scenes and establishing characterizations with a deft touch. A relatively short descriptive poem, “Családi kör” (“Family Circle”), illustrates this method in the compass of thirteen stanzas, but it was used no less effectively in the epics and the ballads. Arany describes a village evening, giving each element its due place while creating a domestic scene. As the village retires for the evening, the trees “nod,” the bugs make a final sortie before becoming still, the frogs move “as if clods of earth had grown legs,” and the bat and the owl take over their domain. He then moves closer to the farm to describe participants in the evening’s activities: the cow, just milked, now feeding its calf; the playful cat; the inviting hearth guarded by the faithful dog; as well as the human inhabitants. A young girl is ironing her Sunday clothes; children listen to tales as they play or do their chores. A father returns from work and, putting his tools away, prepares for supper. Arany’s attention to detail adds movement and drama to this still life; the father brings home from the fields a rabbit that the children immediately make their pet. As they sit down to the evening meal, a disabled veteran comes by, is welcomed as a member of the family, and yet is made to feel like an honored guest. After supper, he tells them stories of the war, and again it is through a comment here and there that the scenes are given dramatic tension. The father gently chides the young boy: The stranger’s story is not fiction. The marriageable daughter asks about “her brother,” yet the comment that she will wait another year before marrying gives a clue that her relationship to the lost youth is something different: It would be unseemly to question a stranger about a lover. The final lines return the scene to the calm mood of the opening ones. Night has now completely fallen; the frame is complete. The family drama portrayed here is universal, while rooted nevertheless in the Hungarian village. Within this seemingly simple poem, one that rivals Pet¹fi’s “Szeptember végén” (“At the End of September”) as a literary masterpiece, Arany creates a little gem of realistic description in which each detail has its place and in which each seems uncontrived and follows from the preceding one as if without artifice. Arany also comments obliquely on Hungarian life in the 1850’s: The veteran tells tales of the War of Independence, and the daughter’s lost “brother” is a casualty of the war, dead or in hiding from the Austrians. It is interesting that this quintessentially Hungarian poem was inspired by Robert Burns’s “The Cotter’s Saturday Night.” Thus, it provides a good example of Arany’s successful assimilation of Western European influences. 53

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Ballads The ballad, a form that in Arany’s hands was to reach a height unsurpassed by anyone in world literature, interested him throughout his life. He believed that the ballad, while remaining within the lyric sphere, achieved objectivity; such a blending of lyric emotion and objective setting was not possible in any other form. In range, the ballad allowed him to explore both historical incidents and psychological tragedies and even to blend the two. He was familiar with German and Scottish ballads and borrowed judiciously from these as well as from the Hungarian ballads of Transylvania. In vocabulary and form, he explored the possibilities of the language and metrical variations. In theme, he gave his readers a feeling for their history. By portraying Hungarian history through words and actions with which his audience could easily identify, he reinforced the unity and continuity of the nation. Arany’s earlier ballads, whether on historical themes or dealing with private tragedy, are less elaborate than the later ones. “Rákocziné” (“Rákoczi’s Wife”) is still in the direct folk-narrative style. “Rozgonyiné” (“Rozgonyi’s Wife”) also turns to a historical incident, the rescue of King Sigismund from battle by Cicelle Rozgonyi, but the emphasis is on the beauty and bravery of the lady who joins her husband in battle. “Török Bálint” and “Szondi’s Two Pages” The Turkish wars provided Arany with much material. In “Török Bálint,” he recounts the treachery of the Turks, who lure the champion of the widowed queen of Lajos II and her infant son into Turkish territory, then imprison the queen’s protector in Constantinople. The ballad focuses on the complicated political maneuverings of Bálint Török and the treachery of the monk György. The story is told through innuendo and dialogue: how the queen was beset by both the Habsburgs and the Turks; Török’s plan seemingly to unite with the Turks to gain victory; the suggestion that the monk betrayed him when he was invited to the Turkish camp after the victory; and how—while Török was ostensibly a guest of the Turks—the Turks took the city and drove out the queen and her infant son. Others are given honors by the sultan—Brother György is appointed governor—but the hero is imprisoned. Through this tale, Arany not only depicts the fall of Buda but also suggests the fateful division of the country, beset by both the Turks and the Habsburgs and forced to choose one or the other, or, as Bálint Török did, to try to play off one against the other. “Szondi két apródja” (“Szondi’s Two Pages”) records the faithfulness of the pages who sing the deeds of their fallen master and refuse to leave his grave in spite of the promises and threats of the Turkish Ali. Interwoven with this song are the words of the Turkish messenger, who gradually loses his patience: All saw the battle, all recognize Szondi’s heroism—but Ali will be angry if his offer is refused.

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“The Welsh Bards” In 1857, when Emperor Francis Joseph made a visit to Hungary and let it be known that he wished the poets to celebrate this event, Arany wrote “A walesi bardok” (“The Welsh Bards”). This ballad, based on a tradition that King Edward I of England had executed five hundred bards after his conquest of Wales, was a condemnation of the Habsburg ruler. Naturally, it was not published until later (1863), when the allusion was less obvious. The ballad shows the influence of Scottish and medieval English models, which Arany had been studying for some time. The four-line stanza is in alternating iambic tetrameter and trimeter with an abcb rhyme scheme. Repetition and skillful variation are used both to move the narrative along and to paint the psychological mood. The scene is set with great economy, and the action is presented through dialogue. The opening lines, describing the triumphant march of the king, are repeated with significant variations at the beginning of each new section: “Edward the King, the English king/ Strides on his fallow horse/ Let’s see, he says, just what the worth/ of the Welsh domains.” He inquires about rivers and land and meadows (“Did the spilt patriot blood do it good?”) and the people (“Are they happy . . . like the beast driven to the yoke?”). The courtiers assure him that all is well in words that echo the king’s but with an ironic twist: “The people, the God-given people/ Are so happy here, Sire/ Its huts are silent, all silent/ Like so many barren graves.” The scene thus set in the first five stanzas is developed in the next section, which begins with the same two lines but intensifies the contrast between conqueror and conquered in the last two: “Edward the King, the English king/ Strides on his fallow horse/ Around him silence where’er he goes/ And a mute domain.” The silence of the land puts its stamp on the banquet Edward holds that night, for the nobles sit in silence, and when Edward calls for song and toasts to celebrate his victory, “Words are choked, sound is suspended,/ Breath is caught” as an ancient bard rises. Arany presents three songs, or rather fragments of songs, for as each bard blesses the dead or curses Edward, he is sent to the stake. In the three songs, three different ages, three different styles are presented, symbolizing the united opposition of all. Edward flees the land, however, and in this final section, Arany gives the psychological retribution for the king’s crime, which is not so much his conquest of the Welsh, but his presumption that the conquered should sing his praises: “Edward the King, the English king/ Gallops on his fallow steed,/ Around him burns earth and sky/ The entire Welsh domain.” He is now fleeing a land that seems to be burning, yet it is only the fires of his own executioners. Nor does he find peace at home: All noise disturbs him, and drum, fife, and music will not drown out the curses of the Welsh banquet and the martyr-song of the five hundred. Crime and the supernatural Crime or sin upsets the balance of nature: It is this idea that lies at the heart of these ballads and dominates the series Arany wrote in 1877. In the late ballads, however, the scene 55

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is transferred to private life, and the crime itself becomes the focal point; the punishment often is more severe, and the role of the supernatural as a manifestation of spiritual disorder is more important. In “Éjfeli párbaj” (“Midnight Duel”), the Knight Bende’s bride has been won in an unfair fight, and he has to duel with the ghost of his slain rival on three successive nights of the wedding festivities. Arany develops the mood gradually, from carefree joy to the bride’s fear and the puzzling behavior of the host that forces the guests to leave. On the third night, Bende’s guards watch as he hews and slashes the air, even killing some of them, thus fulfilling the ghostly foe’s prediction that he will slay in the spirit, himself being a spirit. The interplay of the real and the imagined is at the core of the drama, as indeed it is in most of these ballads. Only the guilty see the supernatural forces, for these are projections of their own guilt and thus drive them mad. In “Az ünneprontók” (“The Defilers of the Sabbath”) and “Hídavatas” (“Bridge Dedication”), supernatural punishment is meted out to groups rather than to sinful individuals: Sunday revelers are forced by a demoniac bagpiper to perform a dance of death, and a procession of suicides jumps from a newly built bridge. It is interesting to contrast the concentration and technical skill achieved here with the style of certain earlier ballads of sin and retribution: “A Hamis tanú” (“The False Witness”), “Ágnes Asszony” (“The Woman Agnes”), and “Bor Vitéz.” In these earlier ballads, Arany tends to exploit the supernatural for its own sake, although in “The Woman Agnes,” the protagonist’s punishment takes place in her own unbalanced mind. “Tengeri hántás” (“Corn Husking”) and “Vörös Rébék” (“Red Barbara”) rely on folklore and superstition to create an eerie world in which human actions seem to be ruled by supernatural powers. In the first poem, the Halloween atmosphere of cornhusking and storytelling in the fields at night provides the background for a tale of illicit and tragic love. In the second, a snatch of a folk song serves as the leitmotif for a tale of infidelity and murder. “Tetemre hívas” (“Ordeal of the Bier”) also has ancient beliefs at its core: A murdered youth begins to bleed in the presence of his lover, who, in a teasing mood, had given him the fatal dagger. While the narrative is relatively straightforward, the mood of intrigue and the grand medieval setting give the poem a mysterious quality. The climax, in which the girl suddenly goes mad with horror, achieves the surprising psychological realism of which the ballad form is capable. The Death of King Buda Throughout his life, Arany sought to create a popular national epic. The Toldi trilogy had not fulfilled these expectations fully, for it lacked the necessary historical component in the person of the central figure. The theme of the original settlement of Hungary would have been appropriate, but Arany found the historical and legendary material too limited. He projected events into an earlier period, that of the Hun conquest under the leadership of Attila. Originally, he planned a trilogy that would trace the fall of Attila and the fate of his son Csaba, who, according to legend, had led the remnant of Attila’s 56

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forces back to their homeland, leaving a token force of Székelys in Transylvania. Their descendants later regained this patrimony and established the modern Hungarian state. Only the first poem, The Death of King Buda, was completed, but Arany did leave fragments of the other parts as well as several detailed outlines. In The Death of King Buda, Arany united the archaic and the modern, the naïve and the sophisticated. He used a variety of sources and elements: Greek and Western history and legend, Eastern motifs in the tales and customs of the Huns, folklore, epic dreams and prophecies, even borrowings from the Nibelungenlied (c. 1200; English translation, 1848). All these elements contributed to the realism of the poem, which was reinforced by Arany’s attention to psychological conflicts. Formally and stylistically, Arany broke new ground in The Death of King Buda. In its form, the poem presents yet another variation of the Hungarian Alexandrine: The twelvesyllable line is an accented one with a definite caesura, and while Arany maintains the hexameter, two of the accented feet in each half are significantly stronger than the third, so that the line seems shorter and closer to ballad and other meters of folk poetry. The occasional alliteration enhances the archaic quality of the verse, although the couplet rhyme is maintained. In diction, Arany again turned to popular speech and to the Hungarian literary heritage. The numerous footnotes show how consciously he used both popular expressions and archaic forms and how carefully he researched chronicle and legend for each detail—but also the sound reasons he had for departing from these sources in any respect. Late lyrics Arany’s late lyrics, written mostly in 1877, are characterized by introspection and a peaceful acceptance of life, particularly of his old age and its infirmities. Originally intended only for himself, they are intensely personal yet reveal the same values that inform his more public poems. Whatever their point of departure, these late poems are about his love for his homeland (particularly the scenes of his youth on the Alföld) and the changes he had experienced over the years. They capture the mood of quiet meditation in forms that are as rich as any he had used. “A tölgyek alatt” (“Under the Oaks”) is a meditative lyric in which Arany recalls happy hours spent under oak trees in his childhood as he rests under the oaks at his retreat on St. Margit Island. The poem’s dominant mood is quiet and resigned, yet it gathers a variety of colors and scenes ranging from childhood games to the sunsets of old age. “Vásárban” (“At the Market”) also serves as a release for the poet’s homesickness for the Hungarian Plain: A wagon from this region with its load of wheat reminds him of the activities, the sights, and the sounds of the harvest, in which he, too, once participated. He also expresses the hope that after many sorrowful years, the region—and the country—will see better times. Personal comment and a concern for his country, both the “smaller one” and the larger nation, mingle naturally in these poems, as do the poet’s childhood memories and the concerns of his old age. 57

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Legacy Drawn almost reluctantly into a literary career, Arany left a legacy rich in both creative and critical works. It has been said that if Hungary were suddenly to disappear, its history and life (at least through the nineteenth century) could be reconstructed from Arany’s works. In many ways, he is a national poet. One reason that he is not better known abroad is that, aside from the difficulty of translating his rich language, it is difficult to convey the Hungarian scenes, ideas, moods, and emotions of his verse without an overabundance of notes and commentary. Nevertheless, Arany was a poet who dealt with universal themes and general human problems. While the setting of his poetry reflects what he knew best, the ideas come from his wide reading and perceptive studies of the Western tradition. His critical works and his own practice showed how native Hungarian themes and concerns could be integrated into the body of Western literature. When he is approached from this comparative perspective, Arany can offer his wealth to the non-Hungarian reader as readily as he has been inspiring Hungarian readers for generations. Other major works nonfiction: Prózai dolgozatai, 1879; Zrinyi és Tasso, 1885. translations: A Szent-Iván éji alóm, 1864 (of William Shakespeare’s play A Midsummer Night’s Dream); Hamlet, dán királyfi, 1867 (of Shakespeare’s play Hamlet); János király, 1867 (of Shakespeare’s play King John); Aristophanes vígjátékai, 1880 (of Aristophanes). miscellaneous: Arany János hátrahagyott iratai és levelezése, 1887-1889. Bibliography Adams, Bernard. “Janos Arany and ‘The Bards of Wales.’” Slavonic and East European Review 77, no. 4 (October, 1999): 726-731. A critique of Arany’s poem “The Bards of Wales,” concluding that the tale of the massacre of Welsh bards by Edward I of England is traditional rather than historically accurate. Basa, Enik¹ Molnár. Hungarian Literature. New York: Griffin House, 1993. This overview of Hungarian literature provides context on Arany’s work. Preminger, Alex, and T. V. F. Brogan, eds. New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1993. Contains an informative section on Hungarian poetry. Reményi, Jóseph. Hungarian Writers and Literature. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1964. A history and critical study of Hungarian literature including the works of Arany. Includes bibliographic references. Enik¹ Molnár Basa

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MIHÁLY BABITS Born: Szekszárd, Hungary; November 26, 1883 Died: Budapest, Hungary; August 4, 1941 Principal poetry Levelek Irisz koszorújából, 1909 Herceg, hátha megjön a tél is!, 1911 Recitativ, 1916 Pávatollak: M±fordítások, 1920 Jónás könyve, 1940 Hátrahagyott versei, 1941 Vlogatott m±vei, 1959 Összegy±jtött versei, 1963 21 poems = 21 vers, 1988 Other literary forms Although best known for his lyric poetry, Mihály Babits (BOB-ihts) was also among the outstanding essayists of modern Hungary, and his novels and short stories were important expressions of the Hungarian intellectuals’ search for their place in a changing society. Equally familiar with the history of European and Hungarian culture, the formal and contextual problems of literature from Homer to the moderns, and the literary struggles of his own times, Babits wrote essays on topics ranging from Henri Bergson and Friedrich Nietzsche to folk literature. Especially revealing of his attitude toward the responsibility of creative artists is his 1928 essay, Az írástudók árulása (the treason of the intellectuals), which took its topic as well as its title from Julien Benda’s La Trahison des clercs (1927). Babits’s awareness of the intellectual and artistic ferment of the twentieth century is evidenced by the numerous reviews and critical essays he published. Babits’s novels and short stories are marked by the lyrical approach to prose characteristic of his generation. His short novel A gólyakalfia (1916; The Nightmare, 1966) is heavily garlanded with the Freudian trappings of the period, particularly with notions concerning dreams and split personalities. The novel Timár Virgil fia (1922; the son of Virgil Timár) is closer to the author’s own experiences, as it deals with the life of a teacher-priest whose conflict with the urban world ends in tragic isolation, while Kártyavár (1923; house of cards) offers a repulsive picture of modern Budapest and its corrupting influence on human character. Babits’s best novel is Halálfiai (1927; the condemned), an obituary-like tableau of his own generation, a Hungarian Buddenbrooks in which embezzlers, small-town curmudgeons, susceptible wives, and repre59

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sentatives of the emerging urban bourgeoisie are masterfully presented. Elza pilóta vagy a tökéletes társadalom (1933; Elza the pilot, or the perfect society) is a witty, stylistically elegant, though somewhat anemic utopian novel that takes place in “the fortysecond year of the next war,” and which is graced by an emphasis on two lasting human values: peace and decency. Babits’s translating activities began as mere philological excursions into other literatures, in part to satisfy his curiosity, and in part to assist him in finding his own voice. In time, however, he developed into one of the most significant modern Hungarian translators, with a range that included classical Greek drama and medieval Latin verse as well as the works of Dante, William Shakespeare, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, George Meredith, Edgar Allan Poe, Oscar Wilde, and Charles Baudelaire. The impressionistic ease of Babits’s early translations was replaced by a disciplined striving for precision and faithfulness. It should be mentioned among the lasting contributions of Babits that, as the curator of the Baumgarten Foundation and as the editor of the journal Nyugat, he exercised great refining, moderating, and encouraging influence on his contemporaries and on younger generations of writers as well. Achievements Mihály Babits, the lyric poet of “restless classicism,” embodied the modern synthesis of the Hungarian spirit with the great European values. His only major award came in 1940, when he won the San Remo Prize from the Italian government for his translation of Dante’s La divina commedia (c. 1320, 3 volumes; The Divine Comedy, 1802). While his humanistic orientation and moral stand remained consistent throughout his life, the marginal nature of his background, combined with the events of his times, presented him with a weighty dilemma: His liberal erudition made him break with the provincialism of the late nineteenth century and urged him to lead his culture toward an acceptance of Western European trends, but his innate idealism made him lean toward conservatism and reinforced his view of literature as an “elite function,” independent of any social utility. His writings represent the highest level of urban liberalism in Hungarian literature. Standing on the ground of a humanism that was declared anachronistic and unrealistic by many of his contemporaries, Babits defended the cultural values he considered timeless, against all onslaughts, from Right and Left alike. His experimentation with form and his meticulous craftsmanship enabled him to become one of the most accomplished masters of Hungarian literature. During his declining years, Babits became a living cultural symbol in his country: He dared to produce intellectual writings in an age when the cult of spontaneous life-energy was approaching its peak and young geniuses openly raged against the artistic validity of intellect.

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Biography Mihály Babits was born the only son of an intellectual Roman Catholic family. His father, a circuit judge, was assigned to Budapest and the city of Pécs before he died in 1898. Thus, young Babits became acquainted with various parts of Hungary but always considered Transdanubia (or, as he preferred to call it, Pannonia, after the ancient Roman territory) as his home region. From 1901, he studied at the University of Budapest, majoring in Hungarian and Latin. During his school years, he began to write poetry, and among his best friends he could count Dezs¹ Kosztolányi and Gyula Juhász, who were also to become outstanding poets. After receiving his diploma in 1906, Babits taught in high schools in Szeged, in Fogaras (Transylvania), and in one of the workers’ districts of Budapest. His poems were first published in 1902, and by 1908, he was one of the chief contributors to the new literary journal Nyugat. During the years preceding World War I, he published several volumes of poetry, read voraciously to acquire a broad European background, and began to translate the classics. He was opposed to the war from its beginning, and his pacifism became ever more outspoken. The nationalist press of the period attacked him, and one of his poems, “Fortissimo,” provoked the confiscation of the journal in which it appeared. Although decidedly apolitical, Babits welcomed the Revolution of 1918, seeing in it the end of Hungary’s participation in the war and the birth of a national republic. As the revolution was quickly taken over by Hungary’s handful of Bolsheviks, however, he became disappointed and aloof, even though the short-lived Republic of Councils appointed him professor of world literature at the University of Budapest. His acceptance of this position was harshly criticized in certain quarters during the subsequent years of counterrevolutionary backlash, but by that time his position as one of the central figures in Hungarian cultural life was established. In 1921, Babits married Ilona Tanner, who (under the name Sophie Török) was herself an accomplished poet. At their summer home, in one of the most picturesque parts of Hungary, they entertained many of the country’s best writers and poets. In 1927, Babits was appointed curator of the prestigious Baumgarten Foundation, which had as its aim the aiding of impoverished young writers and artists. This meant not only that his financial situation improved but also that he became perhaps the preeminent literary arbiter in the country—a role that was confirmed when he became the editor of Nyugat. The 1930’s brought a series of painful and destructive illnesses to Babits: first polyarthritis, later cancer of the larynx. The frail man underwent dangerous operations that proved to be only half successful. During the last years of his life, he was able to communicate only with the aid of his “talking notebooks.” In spite of his illnesses, however, he remained active. In 1940, he was awarded the San Remo Prize by the Italian government for his translation of Dante’s The Divine Comedy and subsequently he was elected a member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. He died of cancer in 1941.

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Analysis The first volumes of the young Mihály Babits, Levelek Irisz koszorújából (leaves from Iris’s wreath) and Herceg, hátha megjön a tél is! (prince, what if the winter comes?), contain poems representing the best of Hungarian fin de siècle aestheticism and secessionist tendencies. Babits rejected both the lyrical approach of his contemporaries—who, in the tradition of Hungarian populism, relied on the anecdotal retelling of subjective experiences—and the pathos of the neo-Romantics. The most frequent object of his early poetry is a cultural experience treated in an intellectualized manner; his own feelings appear only indirectly and in a highly generalized form. Another notable trait of Babits’s youthful poetry is its playful richness and variety of tone. The poet refuses to reveal his feverish inner turmoil, his painful loneliness, and his internal conflict between thought and action. He hides behind a number of veils: now a scene from Hindu mythology, now a figure of the Roman Silver Age, now an episode from modern life—many worlds, many styles, many ways of looking at human existence. The poet’s touch makes the rather ponderous Hungarian words dance in exciting configurations. Babits’s verse can be read in a number of ways, not only because of the virtuoso arrangement of rhyme and rhythm but also because of the shimmering sound and sense of every word within the lines. Perhaps more than any of his Hungarian predecessors, Babits maintained a strong connection with the fine arts, not merely in his themes and images but also in his approach to literature. His stance as a craftsman was consciously chosen to distinguish himself from the multitude of spontaneous and pseudospontaneous versifiers. Despite his experimental playfulness, Babits’s poems are always thoughtful, often philosophical; they are also among the most eloquent expressions of the fin de siècle’s characteristic moods: nostalgia, dissatisfaction, and a superstitious, almost mystical Weltangst. There are also powerful streaks of Satanism and sin consciousness in his poetry. This strain in Babits’s work is not attributable to the poet’s personal experience, for he led a quiet, almost ascetic life; rather, it can be viewed as an expression of “preventive guilt,” resulting from the purity of his soul: While he recoiled from the touch of the vulgar, he was at the same time attracted by it. Babits considered himself one of the last descendants of the great Hungarian poets of the nineteenth century and refused to bow to the “vulgar” democratism of his age. His sentences, therefore, remain among the weightiest in Hungarian literature; the poet crammed them with colorful and unusual words, arranged so that the reader is forced to read the lines rapidly, without relaxing his intellectual excitement. If they are to yield their full meaning, though, the sentences have to be broken down and dissolved, somewhat like those of the English sonneteers. As in the work of his great contemporary, Endre Ady, the sentences in Babits’s verse have a larger function than simply conveying the idea: With their solidity or elusive airiness, their zigzagging speed or ponderous pace, they are meant to express the atmosphere and the emotional content of the poetic text. 62

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There was a perceptible conflict between the young poet and the culture of Hungary under a dual monarchy, but this was scarcely manifested in writings of social or political content. The overwhelming presence of subjective elements, the almost total exclusion of reality, the adoration of the past, and an emphatic cultivation of Nietzschean individualism are all indicative of Babits’s desire to evade having to deal with the present, even at the risk of becoming isolated. World War I The years of World War I brought significant changes in Babits’s poetry. “The cool glitter of classical contemplation” is gone from the poems written during this period. The style is now simpler and closer to everyday experience, while the poet’s active pacifism also forced him to discontinue his flirtation with irrationalism. Babits remained immune to the radical fervor that infected many of his contemporaries, but his desire for peace was passionate and, at times, militant. After he claimed, in one of his poems, that he would rather shed blood for the little finger of his beloved than for any flag or cause, the nationalistic press of the period attacked him sharply. This did not stop the poet from repeating his cry for peace: “Let it end!” The signs pointing toward a great social upheaval in Hungary filled him with hope and enthusiasm: “The world is not a plaything! Here, one must see and create!” Soon, however, it became obvious that he viewed the events of 1919 (the “mud and blood of the revolution,” in the words of a Hungarian historian) with increasing apprehension. Hope in the passing of the chaos permeates his writings after 1919, and, in a characteristically bitter image, he compares political ideologies to “slow-acting poisons.” Postwar changes In words as well as deeds, Babits put a distance between himself and public affairs during the post-World War I decades. “Fence in your property!” was his ars poetica; he sought to preserve his islandlike independence and remain aloof from politics, which interested him only as “a threatening force, which may seriously interfere with my life.” Nevertheless, Babits’s withdrawal into the shell of love (as represented by his 1921 marriage, and by the frequent get-togethers with a small circle of friends) cannot be classified as a frightened retreat. In stating his conviction that it is “better not to understand one’s age and to be left behind” (repeated later as “noble souls do not pay obeisance to their immediate environments”), Babits remained consistent with his elitist conception of art. As the spiritual leader, later editor, of Nyugat, and as the curator of the prestigious Baumgarten Foundation, he remained uncompromising in upholding the highest artistic standards, and he refused to treat literature as a social force, or as a propaganda tool. At the same time, there were anticapitalist pieces among his poems (“The Mice of Babylon”) and, realizing that the age of fin de siècle individualism was ended, he was enthusiastic about the rise of a socially and politically active neopopulist trend in 63

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Hungarian literature. Even his hitherto dormant nationalism was aroused, and in several poems he eloquently pleaded the cause of his nation. The form of Babits’s poetry now changed. The craftsman gave up strict rhyme and rhythm and assumed the freer style of expressionism, while his sentences became more puritanical, almost democratic in their spareness. He became more aware of the dominance of concrete experience, and registered this with sad resignation, because he could never become a vitalist. The main motive of his poems remains the primacy and freedom of the human spirit over matter, a message he often conveyed with the resignation of a wounded combatant. Jónás könyve With Europe shifting toward the right and the ascent of fascism, even Babits found it impossible to remain aloof. He was forced to take sides for moral and intellectual reasons. His condemnation of anything cheap, low-grade, and vulgar—which had made him lose faith in the Bolshevik experiment—was turned against the rising tide of another ideological madness, foreboding new horrors for his continent. He began to revise his views but had no time to complete this task; illness and suffering—which are the topics of several late works in Babits’s oeuvre—sapped his energy during his final years. In Jónás könyve (the book of Jonah), a confessional allegory on the biblical theme, Babits appears chastened and repentant of his earlier idealism and aloofness: “The wicked find their cronies among the silent!” The most eloquent testimony of the poet, however, is perhaps best summed up in these lines from one of his essays: I still believe in human reason. I am still convinced that, as far as it reaches, it faithfully serves that which it cannot comprehend, . . . and that the poem will not suffer but improve if it is constructed by human intellect (as long as the Owner watches over the Architect!). Europe has experienced years of mindless horror: Let the age of reason come forth!

Other major works long fiction: A gólyakalfia, 1916 (The Nightmare, 1966); Timár Virgil fia, 1922; Kártyavár, 1923; Halálfiai, 1927; Elza pilóta vagy a tökéletes társadalom, 1933. nonfiction: Az írástudók árulása, 1928; Esszék, Danulmányok, 1978 (2 volumes). translation: Dante Romédiája, 1913, 1920, 1923, 1939 (of Dante’s Divine Comedy). miscellaneous: Összegy±jtött munkái, 1937-1939 (collected works, including prose and poetry). Bibliography Basa, Enik¹ Molnár, ed. Hungarian Literature. New York: Griffon House, 1993. A historical overview that provides some background to the life and work of Babits. Includes bibliographic references. 64

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Czigány, Lóránt. The Oxford History of Hungarian Literature from the Earliest Times to the Present. Rev. ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 1986. A critical and historical overview of Hungarian literature. Includes bibliographic references and an index. Lengyel, Balázs. “A Poet’s Place: Mihály Babits.” New Hungarian Quarterly 24, no. 90 (Summer, 1983). A brief critical study of the poetic works of Babits. Remenyi, Joseph. “Mihály Babits.” World Literature Today 63, no. 2 (Spring, 1989): 186. In his poetry, Babits reflects the introspective uneasiness of the modern man and his attempts to find meaning in a meaningless life. András Boros-Kazai

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STANISUAW BARA«CZAK Born: Pozna½, Poland; November 13, 1946 Principal poetry Koretka twarzy, 1968 Jednym tchem, 1970 Dziennik poranny: Wiersze 1967-1971, 1972 Ja wiem, /e to niesuuszne: Wiersze z lat, 1975-1976, 1977 Sztuczne oddychanie, 1978 Where Did I Wake Up? The Poetry of Stanisuaw Bara½czak, 1978 (translated by Frank Kujawinski) Under My Own Roof: Verses for a New Apartment, 1980 (translated by Kujawinski) Tryptyk z betonu, zmòczenia i kniegu, 1981 Wiersze prawie zebrane, 1981 Atlantyda i inne wiersze z lat, 1981-1986, 1986 Widokówka z tego kwiata: I inne rymy z lat, 1986-1988, 1988 The Weight of the Body: Selected Poems, 1989 (translated by Bara½czak et al.) 159 wierszy, 1968-1988, 1990 Podró/ zimowa: Wiersze do muzyki Franza Schuberta, 1994 Zimy i podró/e, 1997 Chirurgiczna precyzja: Elegie i piosenki z lat, 1995-1997, 1998 Wiersze zebrane, 2006 Other literary forms Though Stanisuaw Bara½czak (bo-RA-zhok) is principally known in his native Poland as a poet, he is also a prolific translator and essayist. In the English-speaking world, he may be best known for his translations of the 1996 Nobel Prize-winning poet Wisuawa Szymborska with his frequent collaborator Clare Cavanagh. He has also translated a large amount of English-language poetry into Polish to great acclaim; Cavanagh has acknowledged him as “perhaps the most gifted and prolific translator from English in the history of Polish literature.” A translation of his book-length investigation of the writing of fellow Polish poet Zbigniew Herbert, Uciekinier z Utopii: O poezji Zbigniewa Herberta (1984; A Fugitive from Utopia: The Poetry of Zbigniew Herbert, 1987) was published by Harvard University Press. Several of his essays, which predominantly explore Eastern European writers and life under censorship, are collected in Breathing Under Water and Other East European Essays (1990).

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Achievements Stanisuaw Bara½czak received the Kokcielski Foundation Prize in 1972, the Alfred Jurzykowski Foundation Literary Award in 1980, and the Terrence Des Prés Prize in 1989. His poetry collection Chirurgiczna precyzja: Elegie i piosenki z lat, 1995-1997 (1998; surgical precision) won the influential Nike Literary Award (1999) for being the best book published in Poland in 1998. He also received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1989 and a medal for meritorious service from his alma mater, Adam Mickiewicz University, in 1995. He is the recipient, with his cotranslator Cavanagh, of the 1996 PEN/ Book-of-the-Month Club Translation Prize for View with a Grain of Sand: Selected Poems (1995), their translation of the poetry of Szymborska. In addition, he has played a significant role in introducing Polish poetry to a wide English-speaking audience through his tireless translations and criticism, following in the path of his predecessor Czesuaw Miuosz. Biography Stanisuaw Bara½czak was born in 1946 in Pozna½, where he remained as a student, studying Polish at Adam Mickiewicz University. His first collection of poetry, Koretka twarzy (proofreading the face), appeared in 1968, as Bara½czak was pursuing his master’s degree. Once he gained the degree in 1969, he began teaching Polish literature at the university; in 1974, after receiving his Ph.D., he was elevated to the position of assistant professor. Bara½czak’s activity as a poet, editor, and critic were complemented by his leadership in political movements of the time, though he never separated the two impulses in his work and intellectual development. Cavanagh notes that its “fusion of poetry and politics . . . was the hallmark” of his generation of Polish poets, known as the New Wave or Generation of ‘68. The latter title refers to the riots in March of 1968, as students protested the suppression of a performance of Dziady (parts 2, 4, 1823, and 3, 1832; Forefathers’ Eve, parts 2, 4, 1925, and 3, 1944-1946), a classic verse drama by the Polish national poet, Adam Mickiewicz. In 1976, Bara½czak was instrumental in editing unauthorized literary journals such as Zapis and, in 1980, became a founding member of KOR (the Committee for the Defense of Workers), a group that solidified the connections between workers and intellectuals and would be instrumental in the foundation of the Polish trade union Solidarity. These political activities led to the official blacklisting of Bara½czak’s works and, in 1977, the loss of his teaching position. During this period, Bara½czak was unable to publish his writing through official channels, though some collections of his translations into Polish appeared in domestic publication; instead, he published in underground (samizdat) editions and through Polish émigré publishers, notably in France. Though Bara½czak’s position at Adam Mickiewicz University was reinstated in 1980, largely because of the political impact of the Solidarity movement, he immigrated 67

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to the United States in 1981 to take a position at Harvard University, where he ultimately became the Alfred Jurzykowski Professor of Polish Language and Literature. After his departure from Poland, Bara½czak’s translations from English to Polish and vice versa proliferated at a remarkable rate. He has translated into Polish the works of poets as diverse as William Shakespeare, the English Metaphysicals, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, W. H. Auden, and Seamus Heaney; in addition, he has translated into English and anthologized the works of Polish poets such as Jan Kochanowski, Szymborska, and various postwar poets. Analysis One of the primary concerns of Stanisuaw Bara½czak’s early poetry is the perversion of language perpetrated by government systems, which seek to manipulate reality through ideologically charged “newspeak.” The poet can effect the restoration of objective reality by attempting to point to the distinction between the distorted speech of official discourse and normal speech, with the unruly power of language and all its irrepressible contradictions. The act of reading a poem, through the social interaction of the reader and poet, allows the poet to return a measure of the complexity of language stripped of its ideological uses. As Bara½czak notes in his introduction to The Weight of the Body, he began writing poetry in part to “restor[e] the original weight to the overabused words.” In Bara½czak’s poems, this restoration is often achieved as the poem’s speakers voice bureaucratic constructions and clichés, then use repetition, minor alterations, or the context of the poem to counteract the currents of official language. Though his work has frequently been called political, Bara½czak has noted in interviews that he prefers to be considered a public poet. Although his work contains a component of social commitment, it is not political poetry in the sense of being a topical response to current situations and injustices. According to Bara½czak, the topical political poem is insufficiently complex because it fails to grapple with the problematic form of the poem’s transmission: the language that has been contaminated by the very uses it argues against. Part of the complexity of Bara½czak’s poems arises in the self-scrutiny of their speakers, who not only voice an outward-pointing condemnation of the falsifications perpetrated by the state in all aspects of life, but also incorporate the self-recrimination of an individual who considers himself to be implicated in the same world he criticizes, partially through the language on which he relies. “The perfidy of modern totalitarianism,” writes Bara½czak, “lies precisely in the fact that it imperceptibly blurs the difference between the oppressors and the oppressed, by involving the victim in the process of victimization.” Perhaps the most profound, and difficult to observe, means by which this blurring occurs is through propaganda, which taints all language and caused Bara½czak to note that for the New Wave poets, “the most interesting thing was not pure language but ‘dirty’ language, language spoiled and misused . . . that of mass media, of political speeches, of posters, things like that.” The reason that the superfi68

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cially political poem is insufficient is that it does not interrogate the language of its dissent, which operates on the ground belonging to its antagonists. A better solution, argues Bara½czak, is for the poet to heighten and emphasize the vitality of the language he uses—or, as he puts it, simply to “write his poems well.” It is notable that a poet so concerned with language—its official degradation, which forces its users to become party to the manipulations of the state—is also recognized as being among the most linguistically resourceful poets of his generation. Bara½czak’s poetry is characterized by his virtuosic use of intricate poetic forms. Although this quality may be most pronounced in his later work, it is evident in his earliest collections as well. The complex elaboration of his versification is matched by involved, imaginative patterning of images and conceits, which give the impression of a searching, flexible intellect struggling through impediments to create a finished thought of monumental stability and beauty. In an essay about prison letters composed in response to totalitarian regimes of the twentieth century, Bara½czak notes that “the chief wonder of art is that it thrives on overcoming difficulties. Being bound by countless rules immobilizes the author and sterilizes his expression only if he does not have much to say in the first place. . . . This is, in fact, the essence of all poetry.” The Weight of the Body The poems of The Weight of the Body are divided into two sections, corresponding to Bara½czak’s writing life in Poland and in the United States. Many of the early poems focus on the qualities of life under suppression, often presented through unexpected motifs. “The Three Magi,” for example, compares the arrival of officers from the secret police to the visitation of the Magi on Epiphany, as the speaker—responding to his inevitable arrest with surprising detachment—muses about the “gold of their watches” and the “smoke from their cigarettes,” which “fill the room with a fragrance like incense.” Although some of the poems respond to political events, even these poems are equally concerned with qualities of language. The first section of “The Restoration of Order”—a poetic sequence begun in December of 1981, written in response to General Wojciech Jaruzelski’s imposing of martial law in an effort to suppress the Solidarity movement—contains the recurring phrase “according to unconfirmed reports,” which introduces the dry tonalities of bureaucratic speech to the poem and also serves both to point to the irony of brutal suppression being characterized and diminished by such language and to heighten the reality of the exile’s disengagement from “facts on the ground.” Many of the poems in the second section of the book are preoccupied with questions of what Bara½czak calls “the invisible craft of exile” in the poem “Setting the Hand Brake.” For example, “After Gloria Was Gone” is set during the aftermath of Hurricane Gloria and describes the banding together of the speaker’s neighbors—each of whom appears to be a first-generation transplant, from Mrs. Aaron, who “. . . because she was 69

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blond,/ the nuns were willing to hide her . . .” to “. . . the new neighbor, what’s his name,/ is it Nhu or Ngu. . . .” The only suitable response to the cataclysmic power of the hurricane, the poem suggests, is banding together in a community, though it is impossible to forget “. . . our pasts and futures which have been crossed out/ so many times. . . .” Another common metaphor running through the collection involves the depiction of the failing body. At times, pain and bodily inadequacy are connected with interrogation or torture, which also serve as an analogue to the body politic that is being diagnosed. In a larger sense, however, these occurrences point to the despair an individual feels as an inherent part of the self betrays the rest. This complexity of image and concept emphasizes one of the essential qualities of Bara½czak’s writing: Its emphasis on human interaction and experience leads to its ability to be simultaneously concrete and allusive, political and metaphysical. According to the poet, “What political writing needs now is some sort of metaphysical dimension—not only the interest in horizontal or sociopolitical structures but also in some vertical dimension, which connects humanity with God, the universe, or whatever is eternal.” Other major works nonfiction: Ironia i harmonia, 1973; Etyka i poetyka, 1979; Ksiazki najgorsze, 1975-1980, 1981; Uciekinier z Utopii: O poezji Zbigniewa Herberta, 1984 (A Fugitive from Utopia: The Poetry of Zbigniew Herbert, 1987); Breathing Under Water and Other East European Essays, 1990; Tablica z macondo: Osiemnascie prob wytlumaczenia, po co i diaczego sie pisze, 1990; Poezja i duch uogolnienia: Wybor esejow, 1970-1995, 1996. translations: Spoiling Cannibals’ Fun: Polish Poetry of the Last Two Decades of Communist Rule, 1991 (edited and translated with Clare Cavanagh); View with a Grain of Sand: Selected Poems, 1995 (with Cavanagh; of Wisuawa Szymborska); Laments, 1995 (with Seamus Heaney; of Jan Kochanowski); Poems New and Collected, 19571997, 1998 (with Cavanagh; of Szymborska); Monologue of a Dog: New Poems, 2006 (with Cavanagh; of Szymborska). Bibliography Bara½czak, Stanisuaw. “A Conversation with Stanisuaw Bara½czak.” Interview by Daniel Bourne. Artful Dodge 12-13 (1985): 56-64. The poet treats issues of political suppression and censorship, the role of translation in his creative development, and the need of a metaphysical dimension in political writing. Cavanagh, Clare. “The Art of Losing: Polish Poetry and Translation.” Partisan Review 70, no. 2 (2003): 245-254. In discussing her philosophy and practice of translating, Cavanagh analyzes several of Bara½czak’s poems, tracing ways in which their work translating, together and separately, has influenced his poetry and incorporated new forms and voices into the tradition of Polish verse. 70

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_______. “Setting the Handbrake: Baranczak’s Poetics of Displacement.” In Living in Translation: Polish Writers in America, edited by Halina Stephan. New York: Rodopi, 2003. Cavanagh argues that while many critics perceive a gap between Bara½czak’s politically engaged early work and his later “metaphysical” poetry, written after his immigration to the United States, a “distinct poetics of displacement” is visible in both his early and later poetry. Kraszewski, Charles S. “Eschatological Imagery in the Early Verse of Stanisuaw Bara½czak.” Polish Review 46, no. 1 (2001): 43-61. An article exploring the apocalyptic language and imagery used by Bara½czak from 1968 to 1980. Serafin, Steven, ed. Twentieth-Century Eastern European Writers: Third Series. Vol. 232 in Dictionary of Literary Biography. Detroit: Gale Group, 2001. Contains a brief essay on Bara½czak examining his life and works. Todd Samuelson

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PAUL CELAN Paul Antschel Born: Czernowitz, Romania (now Chernivtsi, Ukraine); November 23, 1920 Died: Paris, France; April, 1970 Also known as: Paul Ancel Principal poetry Der Sand aus den Urnen, 1948 Mohn und Gedächtnis, 1952 Von Schwelle zu Schwelle, 1955 Gedichte: Eine Auswahl, 1959 Sprachgitter, 1959 (Speech-Grille, 1971) Die Niemandsrose, 1963 Gedichte, 1966 Atemwende, 1967 (Breathturn, 1995) Ausgewählte Gedichte: Zwei Reden, 1968 Fadensonnen, 1968 (Threadsuns, 2000) Lichtzwang, 1970 (Lightduress, 2005) Schneepart, 1971 (Snow Part, 2007) Speech-Grille, and Selected Poems, 1971 Nineteen Poems, 1972 Selected Poems, 1972 Gedichte: In zwei Bänden, 1975 (2 volumes) Zeitgehöft: Späte Gedichte aus dem Nachlass, 1976 Paul Celan: Poems, 1980 (revised as Poems of Paul Celan, 1988) Gedichte, 1938-1944, 1985 Sixty-five Poems, 1985 Last Poems, 1986 Das Frühwerk, 1989 Gesammelte Werke in sieben Bänden, 2000 (7 volumes) Glottal Stop: 101 Poems, 2000 Other literary forms The literary reputation of Paul Celan (TSEHL-on) rests exclusively on his poetry. His only piece of prose fiction, if indeed it can be so described, is “Gespräch im Gebirg” (1959), a very short autobiographical story with a religious theme. Celan also wrote an introductory essay for a book containing works by the painter Edgar Jené; this essay, entitled Edgar Jené und der Traum vom Traume, (1948; Edgar Jené and the Dream About 72

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the Dream, 1986), is an important early statement of Celan’s aesthetic theory. Another, more oblique, statement of Celan’s poetic theory is contained in his famous speech, “Der Meridian” (1960), given on his acceptance of the prestigious Georg Büchner Prize. (An English translation of this speech, “The Meridian,” was published in the Winter, 1978, issue of Chicago Review.) Achievements Paul Celan is considered an “inaccessible” poet by many critics and readers. This judgment, prompted by the difficulties Celan’s poetry poses for would-be interpreters seeking traditional exegesis, is reinforced by the fact that Celan occupies an isolated position in modern German poetry. Sometimes aligned with Nelly Sachs, Ernst Meister, and the German Surrealists, Celan’s work nevertheless stands apart from that of his contemporaries. A Jew whose outlook was shaped by his early experiences in Nazi-occupied Romania, Celan grew up virtually trilingual. The horror of his realization that he was, in spite of his childhood experiences and his later residence in France, a German poet was surely responsible in part for his almost obsessive concern with the possibilities and the limits of his poetic language. Celan’s literary ancestors are Friedrich Hölderlin, Arthur Rimbaud, Stéphane Mallarmé, Rainer Maria Rilke, and the German expressionists, but even in his early poems his position as an outsider is manifest. Celan’s poems, called Hermetic by some critics because of their resistance to traditional interpretation, can be viewed sometimes as intense and cryptic accounts of personal experience, sometimes as religious-philosophical discussions of Judaism, its tradition and its relation to Christianity. Many of his poems concern themselves with linguistic and poetic theory to the point where they cease to be poems in the traditional sense, losing all contact with the world of physical phenomena and turning into pure language, existing only for themselves. Such “pure” poems, increasingly frequent in Celan’s later works, are largely responsible for the charge of inaccessibility that has been laid against him. Here the reader is faced with having to leave the dimension of conventional language use, where the poet uses language to communicate with his audience about subjects such as death or nature, and is forced to enter the dimension of metalanguage, as Harald Weinrich calls it, where language is used to discuss only language—that is, the word “death,” and not death itself. Such poems are accessible only to readers who share with the poet the basic premises of an essentially linguistic poetic theory. In spite of all this, much of Celan’s poetry can be made accessible to the reader through focus on the personal elements in some poems, the Judaic themes in others, and by pointing out the biblical and literary references in yet another group. Biography Paul Celan was born Paul Ancel, or Antschel, the only child of Jewish parents, in Czernowitz, Romania (now Chernivtsi, Ukraine), in Bukovina, situated in the foothills 73

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of the Carpathian Mountains. This region had been under Austrian rule and thus contained a sizable German-speaking minority along with a mix of other nationalities and ethnic groups. In 1918, just two years before Celan’s birth, following the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Bukovina became part of Romania. Thus, Celan was reared in a region of great cultural and linguistic diversity, the tensions of which energized his poetry. Little is known of Celan’s early childhood, but he appears to have had a very close relationship with his mother and a less satisfying relationship with his father. Positive references to his mother abound in his poems, whereas his father is hardly mentioned. After receiving his high school diploma, the young Celan went to study medicine in France in 1938, but the war forced his return in the following year to Czernowitz, where he turned to the study of Romance languages and literature at the local university. In 1940, his hometown was annexed by the Soviet Union but was soon occupied by the Germans and their allies, who began to persecute and deport the Jewish population. Celan’s parents were taken to a concentration camp, where they both died, while the young man remained hidden for some time and finally ended up in a forced-labor camp. These events left a permanent scar on Celan’s memory, and it appears that he had strong feelings of guilt for having survived when his parents and so many of his friends and relatives were murdered. After Soviet troops reoccupied his hometown, he returned there for a short time and then moved to Bucharest, where he found work as an editor and a translator. In 1947, his first poems were published in a Romanian journal under the anagrammatic pen name Paul Celan. In the same year, he moved to Vienna, where he remained until 1948, when his first collection of poetry, Der Sand aus den Urnen, was published. After moving to Paris in the same year, Celan began to frequent avant-garde circles and was received particularly well by the poet Yvan Goll and his wife. Unfortunately, this friendship soured after Goll’s death in 1950, when Goll’s wife, Claire, apparently jealous of Celan’s growing reputation as a poet, accused him of having plagiarized from her husband. A bitter feud resulted, with many of the leading poets and critics in France and Germany taking sides. During this period, Celan also began his work as a literary translator, which was to be a major source of both income and poetic inspiration for the rest of his life. He translated from the French—notably the writings of Rimbaud, Paul Valéry, and Guillaume Apollinaire—as well as the poetry of William Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson, and Marianne Moore from the English and the works of Aleksandr Blok, Sergei Esenin, and Osip Mandelstam from the Russian. In the following years, Celan married a French graphic artist, Gisèle Lestrange, and published his second volume of poetry, Mohn und Gedächtnis (poppy and memory), containing many poems from his first collection, Der Sand aus den Urnen, which he had withdrawn from circulation because of the large number of printing mistakes and editorial inaccuracies it contained. Mohn und Gedächtnis established his reputation as a poet, 74

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and most of his subsequent collections were awarded prestigious literary prizes. Celan remained in Paris for the rest of his life, infrequently traveling to Germany. During his later years, he appears to have undergone many crises both in his personal and in his creative life (his feud with Claire Goll is only one such incident), and his friends agree that he became quarrelsome and felt persecuted by neo-Nazis, hostile publishers, and critics. His death in April of 1970, apparently by suicide—he drowned in the Seine—was the consequence of his having arrived, in his own judgment, at a personal and artistic dead end, although many critics have seen in his collections Lightduress, Snow Part, and Zeitgehöft, published post humously, the potential beginning of a new creative period. Analysis Paul Celan’s poetry can be viewed as an expressive attempt to cope with the past— his personal past as well as that of the Jewish people. Close friends of the poet state that Celan was unable to forget anything and that trivial incidents and cataclysmic events of the past for him had the same order of importance. Many of his poems contain references to the death camps, to his dead parents (particularly his mother), and to his changing attitude toward the Jewish religion and toward God. In his early collections, these themes are shaped into traditional poetic form—long, often rhymed lines, genitive metaphors, sensuous images—and the individual poems are accessible to conventional methods of interpretation. In his later collections, Celan employs increasingly sparse poetic means, such as one-word lines, neologisms, and images that resist traditional interpretive sense; their significance can often be intuited only by considering Celan’s complete poetic opus, a fact that has persuaded many critics and readers that Celan’s poems are nonsense, pure games with language rather than codified expressions of thoughts and feelings that can be deciphered by applying the appropriate key. Mohn und Gedächtnis Mohn und Gedächtnis, Celan’s first collection of poetry (discounting the withdrawn Der Sand aus den Urnen), was in many ways an attempt to break with the past. The title of the collection is an indication of the dominant theme of these poems, which stress the dichotomy of forgetting—one of the symbolic connotations of the poppy flower—and remembering, by which Celan expresses his wish to forget the past, both his own personal past and that of the Jewish race, and his painful inability to erase these experiences from his memory. Living in Paris, Celan believed that only by forgetting could he begin a new life—in a new country, with a non-Jewish French wife, and by a rejection of his past poetic efforts, as indicated by the withdrawal of his first collection. Mohn und Gedächtnis is divided into four parts and contains a total of fifty-six poems. In the first part, “Der Sand aus den Urnen” (“Sand from the Urns”), Celan establishes the central theme of the collection: The poet “fills the urns of the past in the 75

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moldy-green house of oblivion” and is reminded by the white foliage of an aspen tree that his mother’s hair was not allowed to turn white. Mixed with these reflections on personal losses are memories of sorrows and defeats inflicted on the Jewish people; references to the conquest of Judea by the Romans are meant to remind the reader of more recent atrocities committed by foreign conquerors. The second part of Mohn und Gedächtnis is a single poem, “Todesfuge” (“Death Fugue”), Celan’s most widely anthologized poem, responsible in no small part for establishing his reputation as one of the leading con temporary German poets. “Death Fugue” is a monologue by the victims of a concentration camp, evoking in vivid images the various atrocities associated with these camps. From the opening line, “Black milk of daybreak we drink it at sundown . . .”—one of the lines that Claire Goll suggested Celan had plagiarized from her husband—the poem passes on to descriptions of the cruel camp commander who plays with serpent-like whips, makes the inmates shovel their own graves, and sets his pack of dogs on them. From the resignation of the first lines, the poem builds to an emotional climax in the last stanza in which the horror of the cremation chambers is indicated by images such as “he grants us a grave in the air” and “death is a master from Germany.” Although most critics have praised the poem, some have condemned Celan for what they interpret as an attempt at reconciliation between Germans and Jews in the last two lines of the poem. Others, however, notably Theodor Adorno, have attacked “Death Fugue” on the basis that it is “barbaric” to write beautiful poetry after, and particularly about, Auschwitz. A close reading of this long poem refutes the notion that Celan was inclined toward reconciliation with the Germans—his later work bears this out—and it is hard to imagine that any reader should feel anything but horror and pity for the anonymous speakers of the poem. The beautifully phrased images serve to increase the intensity of this horror rather than attempting to gloss it over. “Death Fugue” is both a great poem and one of the most impressive and lasting documents of the plight of the Jews. “Auf Reisen” (“Travel”), the first poem of the third part of the collection, again indicates Celan’s wish to leave the past behind and to start all over again in his “house in Paris.” In other poems he makes reference to his wife, asking to be forgiven for having broken with his heritage and married a Gentile. As the title of the collection suggests, the poppy of oblivion is not strong enough to erase the memory of his dead mother, of his personal past, and of his racial heritage. In poems such as “Der Reisekamerad” (“The Traveling Companion”) and “Zähle die Mandeln” (“Count the Almonds”), the optimistic view of “Travel” is retracted; in the former, the dead mother is evoked as the poet’s constant travel companion, while in the latter, he acknowledges that he must always be counted among the “almonds.” The almonds (Mandeln) represent the Jewish people and are an indirect reference also to the Russian Jewish poet Osip Mandelstam, whose work Celan had translated. The irreconcilable tension between the wish to forget and the inability to do so completely is further shown in “Corona,” a poem referring to Rainer 76

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Maria Rilke’s “Herbsttag” (“Autumn Day”). Whereas the speaker of Rilke’s poem resigns himself to the approaching hardships of winter, Celan converts Rilke’s “Lord: it is time” into the rebellious “it is time that the stone condescended to bloom.” The poems in Mohn und Gedächtnis are not, for the most part, innovative in form or imagery, although the long dactylic lines and the flowery images of the first half begin to give way to greater economy of scope and metaphor in the later poems. There is a constant dialogue with a fictional “you” and repeated references to “night,” “dream,” “sleep,” “wine,” and “time,” in keeping with the central theme of these poems. Celan’s next collections show his continued attempts to break with the past, to move his life and his poetry to new levels. Von Schwelle zu Schwelle In Von Schwelle zu Schwelle (threshold to threshold), Celan abandoned his frequent references to the past; it is as if the poet—as the title, taken from a poem in Mohn und Gedächtnis, suggests—intended to cross over a threshold into a new realm. Images referring to his mother, to the persecution of the Jews, to his personal attitude toward God, and to his Jewish heritage are less frequent in this volume. Many German critics, reluctant to concentrate on Celan’s treatment of the Holocaust, have remarked with some relief his turning away from this subject toward the problem of creativity, the possibilities of communication, and the limits of language. Indeed, if one follows most German critics, Von Schwelle zu Schwelle was the first step in the poet’s development toward “metapoetry”—that is, poetry that no longer deals with traditional materia poetica but only with poetry itself. This new direction is demonstrated by the preponderance of terms such as “word” and “stone” (a symbol of speechlessness), replacing “dream,” “autumn,” and “time.” For Celan, Von Schwelle zu Schwelle constituted a more radical attempt to start anew by no longer writing about—therefore no longer having to think about—experiences and memories that he had been unable to come to grips with in his earlier poems. Speech-Grille Speech-Grille is, as the title suggests, predominantly concerned with language. The thirty-three poems in this volume are among Celan’s finest, as the enthusiastic critical reception confirmed. They are characterized by a remarkable discipline of expression, leading in many cases to a reduction of poetry to the bare essentials. Indeed, it is possible to see these poems as leading in the direction of complete silence. “Engführung” (“Stretto”), perhaps the finest poem in the collection and one of Celan’s best, exemplifies this tendency even by its title, which is taken from musical theory and refers to the final section of a fugue. A long poem that alludes to “Death Fugue,” it is stripped of the descriptive metaphors that characterized that masterpiece, such as the “grave in the air” and “the black milk of daybreak”; instead, experience is reduced to lines such as “Came, 77

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came./ Came a word, came/ came through the night,/ wanted to shine, wanted to shine/ Ash./ Ash, ash./ Night.” Die Niemandsrose Celan’s attempt to leave the past behind in Speech-Grille was not completely successful; on the contrary, several poems in this collection express sorrow at the poet’s detachment from his Jewish past and from his religion. It is therefore not surprising that Celan’s next collection, Die Niemandsrose (the no-one’s rose), was dedicated to Mandelstam, a victim of Joseph Stalin’s persecutions in the 1930’s. One of the first poems in this collection makes mention of the victims of the concentration camps: “There was earth inside them, and/they dug.” Rather than concentrating on the horrors of camp existence, the poem discusses the possibility of believing in an omnipotent, benevolent God in the face of these atrocities; this theme is picked up again in “Zürich, zum Storchen” (“Zurich, the Stork Inn”), in which Celan reports on his meeting with the Jewish poet Nelly Sachs: “the talk was of your God, I spoke/ against him.” Other poems contain references to his earlier work; the “house in Paris” is mentioned again, and autumn imagery, suggesting the memory of his mother, is used more frequently. Several other poems express Celan’s renewed and final acceptance of his Jewish heritage but indicate his rejection of God, culminating in the blasphemous “Psalm,” with its bitter tribute: “Praised be your name, no one.” Later years Celan’s poetry after Die Niemandsrose became almost inaccessible to the average reader. As the title Breathturn indicates, Celan wanted to go in entirely new directions. Most of the poems in Celan’s last collections are very short; references to language and writing become more frequent, and striking, often grotesque, portmanteau words and other neologisms mix with images from his earlier poems. There are still references to Judaism, to an absent or cruel God, and—in a cryptic form—to personal experiences. In the posthumously published Snow Part, the reader can even detect allusions to the turbulent political events of 1968. The dominant feature of these last poems, however, is the almost obsessive attempt to make the language of poetry perform new, hitherto unimagined feats, to coerce words to yield truth that traditional poetic diction could not previously force through its “speech-grille.” It appears that Celan finally despaired of ever being able to reach this new poetic dimension. The tone of his last poems was increasingly pessimistic, and his hopes, expressed in earlier poems, of finding “that ounce of truth deep inside delusion,” gave way to silence in the face of the “obstructive tomorrow.” It is the evidence of these last poems, more than any police reports, which make it a certainty that his drowning in the Seine in 1970 was not simply the result of an accident. Celan’s poetry can be understood only by grasping his existential dilemma after 78

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World War II as a Jewish poet who had to create his poetry in the German language. Desperate to leave behind everything which would remind him of his own and his people’s plight, he nevertheless discovered that the very use of the German language inevitably led him back to his past and made a new beginning impossible. Finally, the only escape he saw still open to him was to attempt to abandon completely the conventions of German lyric poetry and its language, to try to make his poetry express his innermost feelings and convictions without having to resort to traditional poetic diction and form. Weinrich suggests that Celan, like Mallarmé before him, was searching for the “absolute poem,” a poem that the poet creates only as a rough sketch and that the reader then completes, using private experiences and ideas, possibly remembered pieces of other poems. If this is true, Celan must have ultimately considered his efforts a failure, both in terms of his poetic intentions and in his desire to come to terms with his personal and his Jewish past. Other major works short fiction: “Gespräch im Gebirg,” 1959. nonfiction: Edgar Jené und der Traum vom Traume, 1948 (Edgar Jené and the Dream About the Dream, 1986); Collected Prose, 1986. translations: Der goldene Vorhang, 1949 (of Jean Cocteau); Bateau ivre/Das trunkene Schiff, 1958 (of Arthur Rimbaud); Gedichte, 1959 (of Osip Mandelstam); Die junge Parzel/La jeune Parque, 1964 (of Paul Valéry); Einundzwanzig Sonette, 1967 (of William Shakespeare). miscellaneous: Prose Writings and Selected Poems, 1977; Selected Poems and Prose of Paul Celan, 2001. Bibliography Baer, Ulrich. Remnants of Song: Trauma and the Experience of Modernity in Charles Baudelaire and Paul Celan. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 2000. Baer sees a basis for comparison of the nineteenth and the twentieth century poets. Bibliographical references, index. Bernstein, Michael André. Five Portraits: Modernity and the Imagination in TwentiethCentury German Writing. Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 2000. Compared with Celan are four other German poets and philosophers: Rainer Maria Rilke, Robert Musil, Martin Heidegger, and Walter Benjamin. Includes bibliographical references, index. Chalfen, Israel. Paul Celan. New York: Persea Books, 1991. A biography of Celan’s youth and early career. Includes bibliographical references. Colin, Amy D. Paul Celan: Holograms of Darkness. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1991. An overview of Celan’s cultural background as well as postmodernist textual analysis. 79

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Del Caro, Adrian. The Early Poetry of Paul Celan: In the Beginning Was the Word. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1997. A detailed treatment of the early volumes Mohn und Gedächtnis (1952) and Von Schwelle zu Schwelle (1955). Felstiner, John. Paul Celan: Poet, Survivor, Jew. 1995. Reprint. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2001. Illuminates the rich biographical meaning behind much of Celan’s spare, enigmatic verse. Includes bibliographical references, illustrations, map, index. Hillard, Derek. Poetry as Individuality: The Discourse of Observation in Paul Celan. Lewisburg, Pa.: Bucknell University Press, 2009. An examination of individuality in the writings of Celan. Touches on philosophy and the psychology of knowledge. Rosenthal, Bianca. Pathways to Paul Celan. New York: Peter Lang, 1995. An overview of the varied and often contradictory critical responses to the poet. Illustrated; includes bibliographical references, index. Tobias, Rochelle. The Discourse of Nature in the Poetry of Paul Celan: The Unnatural World. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006. Provides critical analysis of Celan’s poetry in terms of its relationship to the natural world. Wolosky, Shira. Language and Mysticism: The Negative Way of Language in Eliot, Beckett, and Celan. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1995. A useful comparative study that helps to place Celan in context. Bibliographical references, index. Franz G. Blaha

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ANDREI CODRESCU Born: Sibiu, Romania; December 20, 1946 Also known as: Andrei Perlmutter; Andrei Steiu Principal poetry License to Carry a Gun, 1970 The History of the Growth of Heaven, 1971 Comrade Past and Mister Present, 1991 Belligerence, 1993 Alien Candor: Selected Poems, 1970-1995, 1996 Poezii Alese/Selected Poetry, 2000 It Was Today: New Poems by Andrei Codrescu, 2003 Jealous Witness: New Poems, 2008 The Forgiven Submarine, 2009 (with Ruxandra Cesereanu) Other literary forms Andrei Codrescu (kah-DREHS-kew) has written novels, including Messiah (1999), Casanova in Bohemia (2002), and Wakefield (2004), and a collection of shorter pieces, A Bar in Brooklyn: Novellas and Stories, 1970-1978 (1999). He wrote the screenplay for Road Scholar: Coast to Coast Late in the Century (1993), which won several awards, including a Peabody Award. He has published collections of essays, including Zombifications: Essays from National Public Radio (1994), Hail Babylon! Looking for the American City at the End of the Millenium (1998), New Orleans, Mon Amour: Twenty Years of Writing from the City (2006), and The Posthuman Dada Guide: Tzara and Lenin Play Chess (2009), and several memoir/travelogues, including The Hole in the Flag: A Romanian Exile’s Story of Return and Revolution (1991) and Ay Cuba! A Socio-Erotic Journey (1999). He founded and has served as editor for and contributor to the online journal Exquisite Corpse: A Journal of Letters and Life. He has also been a commentator on National Public Radio and a columnist for Gambit Weekly, a prize-winning alternative newspaper in New Orleans. He has translated the work of Lucian Blaga, a modern Romanian poet, and edited anthologies of material from Exquisite Corpse. He has also issued a number of audio tapes and compact discs. Achievements Andrei Codrescu has received numerous awards and honors, including five National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, the Big Table Poetry Award (1970), the A. D. Emmart Humanities Award (1982), Pushcart Prizes (1983, 2005), the General Electric 81

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Foundation Poetry Award (1985), the Towson State University Literature Prize (1987), the American Civil Liberties Union Freedom of Speech Award (1995), the Mayor’s Arts Award, New Orleans (1996), the Literature Prize of the Romanian Cultural Foundation, Bucharest (1996), the Lowell Thomas Gold Award for Excellence in Travel Journalism (2001), the Ovidius Prize for literature (2006), and the Romania Radio Cultural Award (2008). He was awarded honorary doctorates from Shenandoah College and the Massachussetts College of Art. Biography Born Andrei Perlmutter in 1946 in communist-controlled Transylvania, Andrei Codrescu first published under the name Andrei Steiu, chosen to conceal his Jewishness in that anti-Semitic milieu. He emigrated to the United States in 1966, living at first in Detroit, where he associated with the Detroit Artists Workshop, founded by John Sinclair, a well-known poet and social activist. At about this time, he began publishing poetry in Romania, using the name Codrescu. After a year, Codrescu moved to New York, linking up with the New York Beat poets, and began to publish in English. After publishing his first poetry book, License to Carry a Gun, he moved to San Francisco; seven years later, he moved to Baltimore and ultimately settled in New Orleans. He became a United States citizen in 1981. From 1984 to 2009, he was the MacCurdy Distinguished Professor at Louisiana State University. He has two children, Lucian and Tristan, from his first marriage to Alice Henderson. He later married Laura Cole. Analysis Andrei Codrescu’s work can be seen as combining two elements: Surrealism and the expressions of a flâneur, the gentleman stroller described by Charles Baudelaire, who comments on the urban scene of which he is a part. These converge to form a goal of intensified awareness of oneself and the environment. Codrescu is both detached and involved. His rejection of convention avoids the rage of the alienated and is paradoxically both softened and made more penetrating by humor. Jealous Witness In Jealous Witness, Codrescu’s fascination with the urban milieu plays a central role. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, he focused on New Orleans. In “Cleaning Ladies,” he expresses his fear that an urban treasure is irremediably gone: they were cleansing storms katrina and rita they were cleaning women hired by the housing boom broom real estate real estate you kept rising like the water

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but the poor kept staying on in the days before the storms then came katrina and rita to finish what you began cleansing storms oh cleaning ladies making realtor dreams come true oh look over that rising sea I’ll take the lobster and the vino see the shining shining city it’s the new new orleans rising coin-operated by casinos

He alludes to the underclass, including artists, once protected and even nourished by the city’s special social architecture but threatened by mercantile interests and then literally swept away by the storms, but he deftly avoids anger by the playfulness of “housing boom broom” and the personification of the storms as members of that underclass. With anger controlled, the bitter sarcasm of a shining city that has become a gambling arcade slices away crass unconcern for what has been lost. This Surrealist flâneur has made the astonishing transition from marginalized outsider, foreigner and Jew, to academic insider and uncrowned laureate. That transition has not blunted his commitment to art as manifested both in his support of freshness and experimentation in poetry through Exquisite Corpse and in his rejoicing in beauty. In “The Incoming Sneeze or the Old Man’s Nose,” he writes: for you there is always beauty you can recognize by a whiff like a perfume in a crowd that’s what your crooked nose is for

The reference to his Jewishness is as unmistakable as is the romantic tone, and so, presumably, is the reference, conscious or not, to Edmond Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac (pr. 1897; English translation, 1898). The Forgiven Submarine In The Forgiven Submarine, Codrescu describes his exhilarating collaborative exploration of the unconscious with his coauthor, Ruxandra Cesereanu: the two divers were a shook-up pianist and a nearsighted drunk amerikan beatnik banding together for dives to great depths a pianist with hair from neverland and an amerikan with transylvanian moustaches sensitized by the imminence of nothingness his head and armpits shaved one earring in his ear new age aimlessness

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Critical Survey of Poetry gold chains jingling on his ankles setting the ocean foaming and setting minds to work chewing the cud ahoy there forgiven submarine we are diving your way out of submerged and unadorned time

The deliberately unsettling Surrealism is softened with slang and self-mockery, and the ambition of “setting minds to work” made more palatable, as it were, by the homespun metaphor of “chewing the cud.” Other major works long fiction: The Repentance of Lorraine, 1976; The Blood Countess, 1995; Messiah, 1999; Casanova in Bohemia, 2002; Wakefield, 2004. short fiction: A Bar in Brooklyn: Novellas and Stories, 1970-1978, 1999. screenplay: Road Scholar: Coast to Coast Late in the Century, 1993. nonfiction: A Craving for Swan, 1986; Raised by Puppets Only to Be Killed by Research, 1987; The Disappearance of the Outside: A Manifesto for Escape, 1990; The Hole in the Flag: A Romanian Exile’s Story of Return and Revolution, 1991; The Muse Is Always Half-Dressed in New Orleans, 1993; Road Scholar: Coast to Coast Late in the Century, 1993; Zombifications: Essays from National Public Radio, 1994; The Dog With the Chip in His Neck: Essays from NPR and Elsewhere, 1996; Hail Babylon! Looking for the American City at the End of the Millennium, 1998; Ay Cuba! A Socio-Erotic Journey, 1999; The Devil Never Sleeps, and Other Essays, 2000; An Involuntary Genius in America’s Shoes (and What Happened Afterwards), 2001; New Orleans, Mon Amour: Twenty Years of Writing from the City, 2006; The Posthuman Dada Guide: Tzara and Lenin Play Chess, 2009. translation: At the Court of Yearning, 1989 (of Lucian Blaga). edited texts: The Stiffest of the Corpse: An Exquisite Corpse Reader, 1983-1988, 1988; Thus Spake the Corpse: An Exquisite Corpse Reader, 1988-1998, 1999. Bibliography Codrescu, Andrei. “Andrei Codrescu Brings His Unique Take on America to Idaho.” Interview by Anna Webb. McClatchy-Tribune Business News, February 13, 2007, p. 1. Codrescu discusses everything from leaving Romania, to being with the Beat poets, to Hurricane Katrina and the city of New Orleans in Louisiana. He says the United States is “momentarily occupied by zombies,” but its “future is sound.” _______. “An Interview with Andrei Codrescu.” Interview by Richard Collins. Xavier Review 20, no. 2 (2000): 13-18. The author talks about his writings and his life. Collins, Richard. “Andrei Codrescu’s Mioritic Space.” MELUS 23, no. 3 (1998): 8384

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101. Miorita, a ewe in a Romanian folk poem, warns the shepherd that he is about to be betrayed and murdered. The shepherd asks the ewe not to tell his mother that he was murdered but rather that he married the daughter of a king. So Miorita wanders, telling the tale of a wedding that never occurred. Lucian Blaga, the poet whose works Codrescu translated, defined a Mioritic space as a geography of the Romanian imagination. Marin, Naomi. “The Rhetoric of Andrei Codrescu: A Reading in Exilic Fragmentation.” In Realms of Exile: Nomadism, Diasporas, and Eastern European Voices, edited by Domnica Radulescu. Lanham, Md.: Lexington Books, 2002. Discussion of how Codrescu’s status as an exile from his native land affects his writing. Olson, Kirby. Andrei Codrescu and the Myth of America. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 2005. Examines his poetry and essays and how they relate to Surrealism. Ratner, Rochelle. Review of It Was Today. Library Journal 128, no. 13 (August, 2003): 88. Sees his poems falling into two types, everyday poems and those reflecting his experiences as an exile. Alvin G. Burstein

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ZBIGNIEW HERBERT Born: Lvov, Poland (now Lvov, Ukraine); October 29, 1924 Died: Warsaw, Poland; July 28, 1998 Principal poetry Struna kwiatua, 1956 Hermes, pies i gwiazda, 1957 Studium przedmiotu, 1961 Selected Poems, 1968 Napis, 1969 Poezje wybrane, 1970 Wiersze zebrane, 1971 Pan Cogito, 1974 (Mr. Cogito, 1993) Selected Poems, 1977 Raport z oblò/onego miasta i inne wiersze, 1983 (Report from the Besieged City, and Other Poems, 1985) Elegia na odejkcie, 1990 (translation in Elegy for the Departure, and Other Poems, 1999) Elegy for the Departure, and Other Poems, 1999 The Collected Poems, 1956-1998, 2007 (Robert Hass, editor) Other literary forms Zbigniew Herbert (KEHR-behrt) was primarily a poet, but he was also a prose writer of considerable originality and distinction. A collection of essays titled Barbarzy½ca w ogrodzie (Barbarian in the Garden, 1985) appeared in Poland in 1962; these essays are a unique combination of personal, richly poetic, firsthand description with analytical, scholarly research. Herbert also wrote several plays, including radio plays as well as works for the stage; a collection of his dramatic works was published in 1970 under the title Dramaty (plays). In addition, Herbert published works in a genre of his own invention, his “apocryphas.” These prose pieces are a synthesis of the short story and the essay; they contest traditional accounts or interpretations of major historical events and present the very different (“apocryphal”) interpretations of the author. Although most of Herbert’s apocryphas take their subjects from Western European history, some go farther afield— to Chinese history, for example.

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Achievements Zbigniew Herbert exerted great influence as a poet and as a moral force both in Poland and Western Europe. He was above all the spokesperson of the individual conscience. He excited interest as a political poet, but although his poems addressed major political issues, they went far beyond immediate issues and encompassed a broad range of problems that are both philosophical and personal. Herbert resisted categorization and never represented a group or school of any kind. He gave the impression of being entirely alone, answerable only to his conscience—yet he managed at the same time to pitch his voice in such a way that he was one of the most authentically public poets of the age. This was the paradox of Herbert that gives his poetry its particular stamp. Although Herbert was an antirhetorical poet, it is difficult to separate the content of his writing from his style. His poetic forms and rhythms exerted a powerful influence on other poets. One of the two greatest living Polish poets (the other, Czesuaw Miuosz, has translated a number of Herbert’s poems into English), his influence has been acknowledged not only by younger Polish poets such as Ryszard Krynicki, Stanisuaw Bara½czak, and Jacek Bierezin but also by a wide range of poets in the United States and throughout the West. Herbert’s influence was recognized with several awards throughout his career. In 1958, he won the Polish Radio Competition Prize, and in 1964, he received the Millennium Prize from the Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences (United States). For his contribution to European literature, he was awarded the Nickolas Lenau Prize (Austria) in 1965. In 1973, he received both the Alfred Jurzykowski Prize and the Herder Prize. He also won the Petrarch Prize in 1979, the Bruno Schulz Prize in 1988, the Jerusalem Literature Prize in 1991, and a Jurzykowski Foundation Award. Biography Zbigniew Herbert grew up in the Polish city of Lvov; in 1939, when he was fifteen years old, this part of Poland was invaded by the Soviet Union. Herbert began to write poetry during World War II, and the war permanently shaped his outlook. The face of postwar Poland was permanently changed, socially, physically, and politically: Herbert’s native city became part of the Soviet Union. In 1944, Herbert studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków—he was always interested in painting, sculpture, and architecture—and a year later, he entered the Academy of Commerce, also in Kraków. In 1947, he received a master’s degree in economics and moved to Toru½, where he studied law at the Nicolas Copernicus University. He received the degree of master of laws in 1950. Herbert stayed on in Toru½ to study philosophy and was influenced by the philosopher Henryk Eizenberg. In 1950, he lived briefly in Gda½sk and worked there for the Merchant’s Review before moving to Warsaw, where for the next six years, he held a variety of jobs: in the management office of the peat industry, in the department for retired pensioners of the Teachers’ Cooperative, 87

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in a bank, in a store, and in the legal department of the Composers’ Association. Herbert’s poems began to appear in periodicals in 1950, but no collection was published in book form; during the increasing social and cultural repression of the Stalinist years, several of the magazines publishing Herbert’s work were closed by the government. It was only after the “thaw” of 1956 that his first two collections of poems were published, almost simultaneously. The event of publication after enforced silence is poignantly described in Herbert’s poem “Drawer.” In the late 1950’s, Herbert made his first trip to Western Europe. His collection of essays, Barbarian in the Garden, reveals the impact of this experience. Herbert spent 1965 to 1971 abroad, based in West Berlin but traveling to many countries, among them Greece, Italy, France, and the United States. He spent the 1970-1971 academic year teaching at California State University, Los Angeles. After returning to Poland to live in 1971, Herbert moved to West Berlin again in 1974, staying there intermittently until 1980, when he returned to Warsaw. He again left Poland in 1986 in protest of Communist policies but returned to Warsaw once communism was ended around 1990. Around this time, his health began to deteriorate and when, in 1996, the Nobel Prize was awarded to Wisuawa Szymborska (only seventeen years after another Pole and adopted Californian, Czesuaw Miuosz), the joy of this distinction was mixed with a touch of regret for Herbert. For many, Herbert’s achievements equaled those of his two honored compatriots, and there were those who considered him superior to both. He died in Warsaw on July 28, 1998. Analysis Zbigniew Herbert was a member of the generation of poets who came to maturity during World War II. They are known as the War Generation, but they are also referred to in Polish literary criticism as Kolumbowie (Columbuses), because it was they who first “explored” the new postwar reality. This generation proved to be one of the most talented in twentieth century Polish literature, including, in addition to Herbert, such varied figures as Tadeusz Ró/ewicz, Miron Bialoszewski, Tymoteusz Karpowicz, Szymborska, and Anna Swir. The war left an indelible imprint on all of them; as late as 1969, in the poem “Prologue,” which introduced Herbert’s fourth collection of poems, he wrote about those who took part in the war: “I must carry them to a dry place/ and make a large mound of sand/ before spring strews flowers for them/ and a great green dream stupefies them.” Lessons from the war Few assumptions about the world and about civilization—what it is and what it is not—survived the war unscathed. The sense of continuity was broken, and many shared the vantage point of what might be called the “rubbish heap” of the present. Herbert’s poem “Przebudzenie” (“Awakening”), from Wiersze zebrane, is a fine description of this attitude. It begins: 88

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When the horror subsided the floodlights went out we discovered that we were on a rubbish-heap in very strange poses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . We had nowhere to go we stayed on the rubbish-heap we tidied things up the bones and sheet iron we deposited in an archive We listened to the chirping of streetcars to a swallow-like voice of factories and a new life was unrolling at our feet.

The common experience of wartime destruction and of starting a “new life” united Herbert and the other members of his generation and gave them their unique temporal perspective. They drew very different conclusions from their experiences, however, and there is no consensus of attitude or ideology among them. Herbert is sometimes linked to Ró/ewicz, another poet who lived through the war, because they were close in age and were both moralists. Their values, however, were in fundamental conflict. Ró/ ewicz’s poetry after the war denied all previous values and emphasized purely personal experience, whereas Herbert arrived at entirely different conclusions. He wrote: Something makes me different from the “War Generation.” It seems to me that I came away from the war without accepting the failure of the earlier morality. It is still attractive to me most of all because I painfully feel the lack of tablets of values in the contemporary world.

Herbert was a more positive poet than many other members of the War Generation, although rarely have positive values been won against greater opposition and with greater struggle. Use of the past One of the most striking features of Herbert’s poetry was the manner in which he used the past. It was remarkably alive for him; historical figures frequently appeared in his poems with the vividness of contemporaries. In Western Europe and the United States, poetry that invokes the great traditions of Western culture is often associated with reactionary values. In Poland during the decade after World War II, however, a paradoxical situation arose in which some of the writers who had most completely rejected the prewar culture found that they had little basis for rebelling against the Stalinist present; on the other hand, a poet such as Herbert, who strived to repossess the culture of the past, was able to express revolt in one of its most intense and radical forms. It is a mistake, however, to call Herbert a classicist, as he was sometimes labeled. For him, the past was not a static source of value; he is not an antiquarian, as his poem “Classic” made clear. For Herbert, the past represented living experience rather than lifeless forms. He did not adhere to the past at the expense of the present; instead, the past is the 89

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ally of the present. The distinction is a useful one and even crucial, for Herbert’s use of the past was the opposite of that of a genuine classicist such as the contemporary Polish poet Jaroslaw Rymkiewicz. Herbert felt the dead are alive, made of flesh and blood. If there was a division between the past and the present, it was often spatial rather than temporal. In Herbert’s famous poem “Elegy of Fortinbras,” he assumed the persona of Fortinbras, who addresses Hamlet as his immediate contemporary; the poem ends by translating death into terms of spatial distance: “It is not for us to greet each other or bid farewell we live on archipelagos/ and that water these words what can they do what can they do prince.” The ever-present tension and dialogue between past and present did not restrict Herbert’s poetry; in fact, the reverse is true: He confronted the world in all its breadth, and his experience is placed in a seamless historical continuum. Avant-garde influence Herbert was influenced both by the Catastrophists, such as Miuosz, who stressed philosophical and historical themes in their poetry, and by the avant-garde poets of the 1920’s and the 1930’s, such as Jozéf Czechowicz, who eschewed punctuation. Several other poets of Herbert’s generation who lived through the war also turned to the avantgarde in their search for poetic forms that were capable of rendering their experience. Many of Herbert’s early poems shared the phenomenological preoccupations of the avant-garde; at the most fundamental level, poets were asking: How can one describe the world? How can one describe one’s experience? Herbert’s poems “I Would Like to Describe,” “Attempt at a Description,” “Voice,” “Episode in a Library,” “Wooden Bird,” “Nothing Special,” and the later “Mr. Cogito Thinks About the Voice of Nature and the Human Voice” all approached this concern from different angles. Herbert’s phenomenological preoccupations are particularly apparent in his handling of punctuation. Conventional punctuation was not automatically accepted by serious poets in Poland after the war, and Herbert was by no means alone in questioning its use. Prewar avant-garde poetry still enjoyed a high esteem among poets, and punctuation also had a political coloring: Lack of conventional punctuation became associated with revolt and with individualism. Herbert’s first collection of poems, Struna kwiatua (chord of light), which represented work done during the first postwar decade, eschewed conventional punctuation, particularly the use of periods. In a prose poem written somewhat later, “Period,” he placed punctuation in a very broad historical and social context; the poem ends: “In fact the period, which we attempt to tame at any price, is a bone protruding from the sand, a snapping shut, a sign of a catastrophe. It is a punctuation of the elements. People should employ it modestly and with proper consideration, as is customary when one replaces fate.” In other words, for Herbert, the “period” marked a hiatus in the texture of the world and of reality. Its thoughtless use is presumptuous and even destructive, violating the living tissue and the continuities of the real world. In England and America, the traditional use of punctuation was—with notable ex90

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ceptions—maintained after the war; accepted practice had not been put into doubt by new experience. In Central and Eastern Europe, however, especially in those countries that had experienced the worst destruction during the war and that had suffered under Nazi occupation, conventional punctuation was sharply questioned, along with other inherited poetic practices. Indeed, punctuation became one of the major topoi, or themes, of postwar Eastern European literature. The prose poem Parallel to Herbert’s radical reduction of punctuation (he frequently employed dashes, as well as occasional parentheses and question marks) was his development of the prose poem; much of the prose poetry written in Poland since 1957 was influenced by Herbert’s explorations in the genre. While his first collection of poems was restricted to largely punctuation-free verse, his second, Hermes, pies i gwiazda (Hermes, dog and star), had a separate section of prose poems, comprising sixty of the book’s ninety-five poems. Originally, Herbert intended these prose poems to constitute a separate volume, and he called them bajeczki (little fairy tales). His project was thwarted by an editor, however, and they were included in his second volume of poems. In subsequent volumes, Herbert intentionally interspersed prose poems among his punctuation-free verse poems, and this became his regular practice. In his third collection, Studium przedmiotu (study of the object), the ratio of prose to verse poems is eighteen to twenty-eight; in his fourth collection, Napis (inscription), fourteen to twenty-six; and in his fifth, Mr. Cogito, five to thirty-five. The choice to use one form or the other was always highly deliberate with Herbert, depending on his attitude toward the subject of the poem, his distance from it, and his tone, as well as the rhythms he used. The more reflective poems, especially those that assume considerable distance from the subject and those that use strong irony, were frequently written in prose. The various modulations of these two basic forms were always carefully worked out. This is only one of the ways, but an important one, in which the form of Herbert’s poetry is related to its content, and the resulting range of forms is astonishingly broad. Inanimate objects Herbert’s many poems about inanimate objects should be seen in the context of his attempt to explore the relationship between experience and reality. Herbert wrote fine poems (and again, his practice has been imitated by many younger Polish poets) about a pebble, a stool, a watch, armchairs, a clothes wringer; indeed, the title of one of Herbert’s collections of poems means “study of the objects.” Some readers have wondered why a poet such as Herbert, who was so consistently concerned with life and human experience, should write about lifeless objects. The poems were part of Herbert’s attempt to separate what is subjective from what is objective and to see clearly. In “I Would Like to Describe,” Herbert wrote: “. . . so is blurred/ in me/ what white-haired gentlemen/ 91

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separated once and for all/ and said/ this is the subject/ and this is the object.” Herbert was always interested in inanimate objects but not because they are inhuman. On the contrary, he tended to find human traits in objects (rather than vice versa) and to discover a community of interest between humans and objects. In a conversation in 1969, Herbert said that he was fascinated by objects because they are so completely different from us, and enigmatic. They come from a totally different world from ours. We are never sure that we understand them; sometimes we think so, other times we don’t, depending on how much of ourselves we project on them. What I like about them is their ability to resist us, to be silent. We can never really conquer them or tame them, and that is good.

Thus, while Herbert humanized objects, he also respected their fundamental opacity. At the same time, there was no abyss between humans and inanimate objects—on the contrary, there is a sense of identity with them, based on the realization of human fallibility and imperfection. Herbert was engaged in breaking down the barrier between the human and the inanimate and in extending the limits of the human. Enduring themes Herbert’s first volumes contain most of the themes that interested him throughout his career; certainly, his enforced silence during the Stalinist decade in Poland, from 1946 to 1956, contributed to the ultimate strength of these poems. Others of his generation, such as Ró/ewicz and Szymborska, adapted to the Stalinist demands and were permitted to publish; as a result, their books that appeared during this period are inferior to their later work. Herbert wrote for a long time without a public audience, but his poems assumed a firm core of consistency and strength as he developed his themes. First among them was the imperative to resist, to listen to the individual conscience; he was willing to suffer for his ideals. The moral demand to direct one’s gaze at reality itself is present in Herbert’s first volume, as is his gift for infusing the past with life. Some of these early poems are about the difficulty of writing after the war, about the loss of ideals; at a profound level, they reflected Herbert’s formal training in philosophy—not because the poems are explicitly “philosophical” but because they are informed by an intense, overriding concern for truth and clarity. Herbert consistently directed his attention outward, at the world as it exists. It was this stance that also makes it possible to consider Herbert as a “public” poet. The lines in these early poems are relatively short; they often seem to follow the rapidity of thought, and they already display the great agility that is typical of Herbert’s style. Hermes, pies i gwiazda Herbert’s second volume, Hermes, pies i gwiazda, is marked by the sudden infusion of prose poems in the second section. Irony becomes more prominent, and the poet’s tone is increasingly mordant. The individual lines of poems are sometimes longer in this 92

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volume, although there is the same agility and rapid spontaneity of association that marked the first volume. Studium przedmiotu Herbert’s third volume, Studium przedmiotu, carried his dialogue with objects to its furthest point. The volume is also among his most critical, taking aim at contemporary social and political reality. As he did this, however, Herbert evidently felt the need to assume a greater distance from the reality he sought to describe, and thus he adopted a variety of personas in this volume, giving his critique greater depth and reverberation. Napis Herbert’s fourth book, Napis, shows a greater concern for textures, and the lines have become somewhat longer. This volume has been called Herbert’s “expressionist” volume; in it, he gave full rein to his delight in dramatic metaphor. He developed further many of his previous themes, but the reader senses that there is a shift in the target of Herbert’s sense of revolt. Focusing less on immediate social and political realities, the poet was increasingly concerned with the universal and the archetypal, extending back into the past and into the subconscious. Mr. Cogito In Herbert’s fifth collection of original poems, Mr. Cogito, the dominant theme is the identity of the self, explored through the title figure. Sometimes the persona of Mr. Cogito is entirely playful; at other times, he allows the poet to confront painful personal matters without obtrusive emotion. The volume contains a number of poems of striking philosophical depth, among them “Georg Heym—the Almost Metaphysical Adventure” and “Mr. Cogito Tells About the Temptation of Spinoza.” Many poems in this book have longer lines than those of earlier volumes and are more meditative. They require a longer, deeper breath to read aloud, and some are very close to prose. A few are quite long and have a highly developed logical structure. Report from the Besieged City, and Other Poems Report from the Besieged City, and Other Poems marks a sharp return to topicality and contemporary events—in this case, the coup d’état of General Wojciech Jaruzelski and the imposition of martial law. Again , events are seen in the context of a broad historical framework, but they are observed in the present, taking place under one’s very eyes, as the title indicates. There are two major themes in this new collection. The first is the necessity to “bear witness” to the truth. Herbert assumed the role of chronicler of the “siege,” and although he said this role is secondary to that of the people who are fighting, it is really of the utmost importance. Knowledge of the true nature of the war, the reality of the lives of those who take part in it, and even their very identity depend on the 93

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chronicler, the poet. The second major theme is suffering and the need for suffering, never presented fatalistically but rather combined with the imperative to revolt no matter how hopeless the situation. Rarely in contemporary literature has the need for resistance been stated so clearly, so forcefully, and with so few illusions. The collection begins where “The Envoy of Mr. Cogito,” the last poem in Herbert’s previous volume, ended. In that poem, Herbert wrote that even if “the informers executioners cowards . . . will win,” the individual must still revolt: go upright among those who are on their knees among those with their backs turned and those toppled in the dust you were saved not in order to live you have little time you must give testimony . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . go because only in this way will you be admitted to the company of cold skulls to the company of your ancestors: Gilgamesh Hector Roland the defenders of the kingdom without limit and the city of ashes Be faithful Go

Elegy for the Departure, and Other Poems Elegy for the Departure, and Other Poems is made up of a translation of poems from Elegia na odejkcie (1990) as well as translations of works uncollected in English from throughout Herbert’s career. Its four sections draw chronologically from his writing, and a less politicized Herbert is evident in the selected poems. Darkness was certainly pouring into Herbert’s poetry and possibly into his life around the time when most of the poems from the 1990 collection were composed, but it was present in his verse from the beginning, especially in his early poems, in which he bid farewell to the ghosts of his friends fallen during the war. The English volume opens with one such poem, called “Three Poems by Heart,” which originally appeared in Struna kwiatua. The first of its three movements is a search for a person, or rather for a language, in which the memory of that person can be extracted from among horrifying images of wartime destruction: I can’t find the title of a memory about you with a hand torn from darkness I step on fragments of faces soft friendly profiles frozen into a hard contour.

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Readers will discern that here Herbert’s voice is growing more personal, his irony more astringent. His stoicism seems to falter in the face of very human and basic fear, as in “Prayer of the Old Men,” that ends on a mournful, pleading note: but don’t allow us to be devoured by the insatiable darkness of your altars say just one thing that we will return later

The book’s last section, focused on Herbert’s late poetry, contains some of his most spacious work, a groundspring of vitality and variety. There is a tarantella of a poem about Leo Tolstoy fleeing family and keepers at the end “with great bounds/ his beard streaming behind.” There is a somber, perfectly tuned image of Emperor Hirohito, history’s wildness departed, laboring over a tanka (a genre of Japanese poem) about the state railroad. There is the unsparingly registered loss of “Prayer of the Old Men”: when the children women patient animals have left because they can’t bear wax hands we listen to sand pouring in our veins and in our dark interior grows a white church of salt memories calcium and unspeakable weakness.

The book ends with the expansive “Elegy for the Departure of Pen Ink and Lamp,” in which Herbert laments the three objects presented in the poem both as companions of studious childhood and as symbols of the three ideas most often associated with “the Herbertian” vision: the critical mind, a “gentle volcano” of imagination, and “a spirit stubbornly battling” the darker demons of the soul. The tone of the poem is cryptic, and readers are unable to discern the nature of the personal catastrophe that seems to lie at its center. One learns only that the departure of the objects was caused by an unspecified “betrayal” on the part of the speaker and that it leaves him feeling guilty and powerless. The book ends with last words of the poem: “and that it will be/ dark.” With that, the door closed on the work of Herbert. Other major works plays: Jaskina filozofów, pb. 1970 (wr. 1950’s; The Philosophers’ Den, 1958); Dramaty, 1970 (collection of four plays). nonfiction: Barbarzy½ca w ogrodzie, 1962 (Barbarian in the Garden, 1985); Martwa natura z wòdziduem, 1993 (Still Life with a Bridle: Essays and Apocryphas, 1991); The King of the Ants: Mythological Essays, 1999. 95

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Bibliography Anders, Jaroslaw. Between Fire and Sleep: Essays on Modern Polish Poetry and Prose. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2009. Contains a chapter on Herbert that provides extensive analysis and notes the exploration of darkness in his poetry. Bara½czak, Stanisuaw. A Fugitive from Utopia: The Poetry of Zbigniew Herbert. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1987. A useful introduction, one of the first book-length studies published in English. Carpenter, Bogdana. “The Barbarian in the Garden: Zbigniew Herbert’s Reevaluations.” World Literature Today 57, no. 3 (Summer, 1983): 388-393. Excellent coverage in English by Herbert’s translator. Carpenter, Bogdana, and John Carpenter. Afterword to Selected Poems, by Zbigniew Herbert. 1977. Reprint. Kraków: Wydawnictwo Literackie, 2007. The translators’ afterword to a reprint of Selected Poems provides a biography and some analysis of the works. Hacht, Anne Marie, and David Kelly, eds. Poetry for Students. Vol. 22. Detroit: Thomson/Gale, 2005. Analyzes Herbert’s “Why the Classics.” Contains the poem, summary, themes, style, historical context, critical overview, and criticism. Includes bibliography and index. Kraszewski, Charles. Essays on the Dramatic Works of the Polish Poet Zbigniew Herbert. Lewiston, N.Y.: E. Mellen Press, 2002. Five essays on Herbert as playwright, comparing his drama with his poetry. Nizynska, Joanna. “Marsyas’s Howl: The Myth of Marsyas in Ovid’s Metamorphoses and Zbigniew Herbert’s ‘Apollo and Marsyas.’” Comparative Literature 53, no. 2 (2001): 151-170. Compares the Roman and Polish uses of the myth, emphasizing Herbert’s “translation” of the story. Shallcross, Bozena. Through the Poet’s Eye: The Travels of Zagajewski, Herbert, and Bridsky. Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 2002. Analyzes Herbert’s The Barbarian in the Garden, focusing on the poet as traveler and observer. Wood, Sharon. “The Reflections of Mr. Palomar and Mr. Cogito: Italo Calvino and Zbigniew Herbert.” Modern Language Notes 109, no. 1 (1994): 128-142. Compares the two writers’ creations of alter egos. Zagajewski, Adam. Introduction to The Collected Poems, 1956-1998, Zbigniew Herbert. Translated and edited by Alissa Valles. New York: Ecco, 2007. Informative introduction that provides background and critical analysis. John Carpenter Updated by Sarah Hilbert

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GYULA ILLYÉS Born: Rácegrespuszta, Hungary; November 2, 1902 Died: Budapest, Hungary; April 15, 1983 Principal poetry Nehéz föld, 1928 Sarjúrendek, 1931 H¹sökr¹l beszélek, 1933 Szálló egek alatt, 1935 Rend a romokban, 1937 Külön világban, 1939 Összegyüjtött versei, 1940 Egy év, 1945 Szembenézve, 1947 Egy mondat a zsarnokságról, 1956 (One Sentence on Tyranny, 1957) Kézfogások, 1956 Új versek, 1961 Nem volt elég, 1962 D¹lt vitorla, 1965 A költo felel: Válogatott versek, 1966 Poharaim: Összegyujtött versek, 1967 Fekete-fehér, 1968 Abbahagyott versek, 1971 Haza a magasban: Összegyüjtött versek, 1920-1945, 1972 Minden lehet, 1973 Teremteni: Összegyüjtött, 1946-1968, 1973 Különös testamentum, 1977 Összegyüjtött versei, 1977 (2 volumes) Nyitott ajtók: Összegyüjtött versforditások, 1978 (2 volumes) Közügy, 1981 What You Have Almost Forgotten: Selected Poems, 1999 Charon’s Ferry: Fifty Poems, 2000 Other literary forms Although principally a poet, Gyula Illyés (IHL-yays) was also the author of significant prose and drama. Two of his most important prose works appeared in the 1930’s: Puszták népe (1936; People of the Puszta, 1967), widely translated, is partly an autobiographical documentary and partly a sociography of Hungary’s poverty-stricken peas97

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antry; Pet¹fi (1936; English translation, 1973) is both a personal confession and a scholarly analysis of the great nineteenth century poet, Sándor Pet¹fi. Published late in Illyés’s life, the essays collected in Szellem és er¹szak (1978; spirit and violence), officially banned but published in the West in a facsimile edition, reflects his concern about the mistreatment of four million Hungarians living as minorities in countries neighboring Hungary. His principal plays deal with a search for lessons in Hungary’s history. Illyés also excelled as a translator of Louis Aragon, Ben Jonson, Robert Burns, Paul Éluard, Victor Hugo, Jean Racine, François Villon, and others; a collection of his translations was published in 1963 as Nyitott ajtó (open door). Achievements Gyula Illyés is internationally recognized as one of the leading poets of the twentieth century. French poet and critic Alain Bosquet wrote about him: “Only three or four living poets have been able to identify themselves with the soul of the century. Their genius burns in the Hungarian poet Gyula Illyés.” The International Biennale of Poets in Knokke-le-Zoute, Belgium, awarded him its Grand Prix in 1965, and the University of Vienna awarded him the Herder Prize in 1970. He received two literary prizes in France: the Ordre des Art et Lettres in 1974 and the Grand Prize in 1978 from the Société des Poètes Français. In 1981, he was awarded the Mondello literary prize in Italy. In 1969, he was elected vice president of the International PEN Club. In Hungary, among many other awards, he was three times the recipient of the Kossuth Prize. Apart from the highest critical acclaim, Illyés achieved the status of a national poet and an intellectual leader in Hungary and in Europe. His unbending loyalty to the downtrodden and his contributions in clarifying the most important issues of his times earned him an extraordinary moral authority. Biography Gyula Illyés was born into a family of poor farm workers on one of the large estates of a wealthy aristocrat. His grandfather was a shepherd and his father a mechanic; the joint efforts of his relatives were needed to pay for his schooling in Budapest. At the end of World War I, the Austro-Hungarian monarchy collapsed, giving way to a liberal republic, which was taken over by a short-lived Communist regime. Illyés joined the Hungarian Red Army in 1919. After the old regime defeated the revolution, he fled to Vienna in 1920, then went to Berlin, and a year later to Paris. He attended the Sorbonne, studying literature and psychology, and he supported himself by tutoring and by working in a book bindery. His earliest poetry appeared in Hungarian émigré periodicals. During those years, he made the acquaintance of many young French poets, some of whom later became famous as Surrealists: Aragon, Éluard, and Tristan Tzara. In 1926, the political climate became more tolerant in Hungary, and Illyés returned. He worked as an office clerk and joined the circle connected with the avant-garde periodical Dokumentum, edited by 98

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Lajos Kassák. Some of his early poems caught the eye of Mihály Babits, a leading poet and senior editor of the literary periodical Nyugat, and in a short time, Illyés became a regular contributor to that outstanding modern literary forum. Illyés’s first collection of poems was published in 1928, followed by twelve other books of poetry and prose, resulting in literary prizes as well as critical and popular recognition during the next ten years. Another decisive event in Illyés’s life is best described by him: I have arrived from Paris, being twenty-three-and-a-half years old. My new eyes saw a multitude of horrors when I looked around my birthplace. I had a deep and agonizing experience, I was outraged, shocked and moved immediately to action upon seeing the fate of my own people.

The result of this experience was People of the Puszta, a realistic personal account of the hardships and injustices that the poorest estate-servant peasants suffered. With this book, Illyés had joined the literary/political populist movement, which fought between the two world wars for the economic, social, educational, cultural, and political interests of the peasantry and, later, the working class as well. In 1937, Illyés became one of the editors of Nyugat, and, after its cessation, he founded and edited its successor, Magyar Csillag. After World War II, Illyés was offered leading literary and political positions and edited the literary periodical Válasz from 1946 to 1949, but as the Stalinist Communist Party, with the help of the occupying Soviet army, enforced totalitarian control over the country, Illyés withdrew from public life. He continued to write, however, and his poems and plays created during these years of dictatorship address the issues of freedom, power, morality, and hope. His monumental poem One Sentence on Tyranny, written in the early 1950’s but not published until 1956, was officially banned in Hungary; it became the emblem of the 1956 revolution. After the revolution was crushed by the Soviet army, Illyés went into passive resistance, not publishing anything until the government’s release, in 1960, of most jailed writers. In the 1960’s and 1970’s, Illyés published some thirty books, including poems, plays, reports, essays, and translations. In his old age, his themes became increasingly universal, and he died at the height of his creative powers, addressing issues of vital concern not only to his nation but also to humanity at large. Analysis Gyula Illyés’s immense prestige and world renown were largely the result of his ability to integrate the philosophies and traditions of Eastern and Western Europe, the views and approaches of the rational intellectual and of the lyric dreamer, and the actions of homo politicus and homo aestheticus. In a 1968 interview, Illyés confided, “With all the literary genres with which I experimented I wanted to serve one single 99

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cause: that of a unified people and the eradication of exploitation and misery. I always held literature to be only a tool.” Five sentences later, however, he exclaimed, “I would forgo every single other work of mine for one poem! Poetry is my first, my primary experience and it has always remained that.” André Frenaud has remarked of Illyés that he is a poet of diverse and even contradictory impulses: a poet who can be “violent and sardonic, who lacks neither visions coming from deep within, nor the moods of sensuality. He knows the cowardice of man and the courage needed for survival. He knows the past and interrogates the future.” Illyés began his literary career in the 1920’s under the influence of Surrealism and Activism. He found his original style and tone at the end of the 1920’s and the beginning of the 1930’s. Lyric and epic qualities combined with precise, dry, objective descriptions (whose unimpassioned tone is occasionally heated by lyric fervor) determine the singular flavor of his poetry. Nehéz föld and Sarjúrendek Illyés’s first book of poems, Nehéz föld (heavy earth), strongly reflects his intoxication with Surrealism and other Western trends. His next collection, Sarjúrendek, represents a turning point in his art; in this volume, Illyés turned toward populism and engagé realism, although he still retained many stylistic features of the avant-garde. Illyés’s tone became increasingly deep and bitter, his themes historical, and his style more and more intellectual during the 1930’s and 1940’s. In this period, he wrote many prose works, most of which reflected on historical, social, and political themes. He did not publish any significant collection of new poetry between 1947 and 1956. During this time of harsh political repression, he wrote historical dramas in which he sought to strengthen his people’s national consciousness by the examples of great patriots of the past. Kézfogások Illyés’s poetic silence ended in 1956 when he published a volume of poems titled Kézfogások (handshakes). This volume initiated another new phase for the poet: His style thereafter was more intellectual, contemplative, dramatic, and analytical. He never lost the lyric quality of his poetry, however, and the passionate lyricism of his tone makes the moral, ethical, and historical analysis of his poems of the next twenty-five years glow with relevance, immediacy, and urgency. D¨lt vitorla A good example of this style is found in his collection D¹lt vitorla (tilted sail), published in 1965. This book contains a number of long poems—written in free verse— about his fellow writers and artists, amplifying their messages, identifying with their visions, and offering Illyés’s conclusions. The volume also contains a number of prose 100

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poems. In his preface, Illyés gives his reasons for using this genre: He states that he wants “to find the most common everyday words to express the most complicated things. . . . To concentrate into a piece of creation all that is beautiful, good and true without glitter and pretention but with innovation and endurance.” Written in the middle 1960’s to another writer, “Óda a törvényhozóhoz” (“Ode to the Lawmaker”) analyzes the role of poets. The poet is “the chief researcher” who uncovers the future, “the progressive, the fighter, the ground breaker,” a destroyer of surface appearances “who separates the bad from the good,” who shows when the ugly is beautiful and when the virgin is a harlot. Such experimenters, such researchers, are the writers he celebrates: “They are the ones I profess as examples! They are the ones who signal the direction towards a tomorrow!” The tomorrow that these exemplary researcher-poets promote is one of pluralism and tolerance. In this poem, a passionate lyricist evokes a future that the rational intellectual already knows—a future that requires freedom combined with order. “Make laws, but living laws so that we [can] stay human.” The poet demands recognition of shadings and nuances, of the “exception, which may be the rule tomorrow.” How can the individual relate to the modern powers of his world as well as realize his individual goals of freedom and humanity? The title poem of D¹lt vitorla offers a clue. “Look—when do mast and sail fly forward most triumphantly? When tilted lowest.” The ancient Aesopian parable, about the reed that bows to the wind and survives while the proud oak tree breaks and dies, is given a new dimension in this poem: The boat flies forward while it heels low. The issue of relating to the ruling power structure—of surviving sometimes unbearable dictatorial pressures and of being able to realize oneself in spite of authoritarian inhumanities—has been a perennial problem in Hungary. Illyés’s sailboat offers a possible solution to the dilemma of whether one should compromise or perish: It sways, bows, and bends, but using, instead of opposing, the forces of the wind, it dashes ahead. One Sentence on Tyranny Sometimes such a solution is not possible: The wind may be a killer hurricane. In totalitarian dictatorships, there is no escape. This is the conclusion reached by Illyés in One Sentence on Tyranny. This 183-line dramatic sentence is a thorough and horrifying analysis of the nature of such total oppression. Tyranny permeates every minute of every hour. It is present in a lover’s embrace and a wife’s goodbye kisses; it is present not only in the torture chambers but also in the nursery schools, the churches, the parliament, and the bridal bed; it is in everything, so that, finally, man becomes tyranny himself. He creates it, and it stinks and pours out of him; it looks at him from his mirror. Where there is tyranny, all is in vain. In Illyés’s poem, the metaphors of Franz Kafka have become dehumanizing and annihilating realities.

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Strength and weakness The opportunity of people to be happy and free, to be able to fulfill themselves, should not depend on power or brute force. What chance do the weak have? Illyés the lyric poet and the concerned humanist is at his best when he redefines strength and weakness in several long poems written in the 1960’s. In “Ditirambus a n¹khöz” (“Dithyramb to Women ”), he contrasts the hard, sharp, strong and proud forms of being with the fragile, yielding, and soft forms, and he finds the latter ones stronger: “Not the stones and not the metals, but grass, loess, sedge became the protest.” Not the fortresses but the twig, wax, and pen have carried humans so far. Not the weapons and the kings but the clay, the fur, the hide have become the leaders. Not the armored soldiers storming to victory but the loins and breasts, the singing and the spinning, the everyday-working and humanity-protecting women have become the strongest. “Good” strength is defined here not as the strength of force, weight, uncompromising boldness, and pride, but as the strength of flexibility, endurance, resilience, beauty, and love. The contrast is masterfully woven not only between the forceful and softly enduring but also between the boastfully heroic and the gray, everyday, silent endeavor. As Illyés emphasizes in the concluding lines of another poem, “Hunyadi keze” (“The Hand of Hunyadi”): “Cowardly are the people who are protected by martyrs alone. Not heroic deeds but daily daring, everyday, minute-by-minute courage saves men and countries.” This motif of quiet everyday work and courage gives new dimensions to Illyés’s theme of strength in weakness; it provides depth to the idea, further developed in “Az éden elvesztése” (“The Loss of Paradise”), a modern oratorio, a moral-political passion play about the chances of the average weak and powerless human individual to avoid the impending atomic cataclysm. After repudiating those who, because of naïveté, blind faith, fatalism, or determinism, accept the inevitability of an atomic war, Illyés argues with those who would capitulate to the threatening powers because of their feelings of weakness and powerlessness. In his “Hymn of the Root,” Illyés emphasizes that “Leaf and tree live according to what the root sends up to them to eat” and that “from the deepest depths comes everything that is good on this Earth.” In a “Parable of the Stairs,” he offers a concrete program of “everyday, minute-by-minute courage,” by which the seemingly weak and powerless can win over the powerful, over dehumanization, over evil. Whenever we correct a mistake, that is a step. Whenever we dress a wound: one step. Whenever we reprimand a bossy person: one step. Whenever we do our job right without needing a reprimand: ten steps. To take a baby in one’s arm, to say something nice to its mother. . . .

In the final lines of this oratorio, the prophet urges his people:

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Illyés, Gyula When the day of fury comes, when the atom explodes, on that final day, before that terrible tomorrow, people let us dare to do the greatest deed: . . . . . . let us begin here, from the depths by the strength of our faith, . . . . . . . . . . let us begin life anew.

Other major works long fiction: Hunok Párizsban, 1946. plays: Ozorai példa, pb. 1952; Fáklyaláng, pb. 1953; Dózsa György, pb. 1956; Malom a Séden, pb. 1960; Kegyenc, pb. 1963; Különc, pb. 1963; Tiszták, pb. 1969; Testvérek, pb. 1972; Sorsválasztók, pb. 1982. nonfiction: Pet¹fi, 1936 (English translation, 1973); Puszták népe, 1936 (People of the Puszta, 1967 ); Magyarok, 1938; Ebéd a kastélyban, 1962; Kháron ladikján, 1969; Hajszálgyökerek, 1971; Szellem és er¹szak, 1978; Naplójegyzetek, 1977-1978, 1991. translation: Nyitott ajtó, 1963 (of various poets). Bibliography Berlind, Bruce. Introduction to Charon’s Ferry: Fifty Poems, by Gyula Illyés. Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 2000. Berlind’s introduction to this work from the Writings from an Unbound Europe series, provides information on Illyés’s life and his poetry. Kolumbán, Nicholas, ed. Turmoil in Hungary: An Anthology of Twentieth Century Hungarian Poetry. St. Paul, Minn.: New Rivers Press, 1982. A collection of Hungarian poetry translated into English with commentary. Serafin, Steven, ed. Twentieth-Century Eastern European Writers: Third Series. Vol. 215 in Dictionary of Literary Biography. Detroit: Gale Group, 1999. Contains a brief essay on Illyés. Smith, William Jan. Introduction to What You Have Almost Forgotten, by Gyula Illyés. Willimantic, Conn.: Curbstone Press, 1999. The well-known poet provides a substantial introduction to Illyés and his poetry. Tezla, Albert. An Introductory Bibliography to the Study of Hungarian Literature. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1964. Contains publication information and some commentary on Illyés's work. 103

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_______. . Hungarian Authors: A Bibliographical Handbook. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1970. Extension of An Introductory Bibliography to the Study of Hungarian Literature, and is to be used in conjunction with that work. Károly Nagy

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IRVING LAYTON Born: Tîrgu Neamc, Romania; March 12, 1912 Died: Montreal, Quebec, Canada; January 4, 2006 Also known as: Irving Peter Lazarovitch; Israel Pincu Lazarovitch Principal poetry Here and Now, 1945 Now Is the Place, 1948 The Black Huntsman, 1951 Love the Conqueror Worm, 1951 (with Louis Dudek and Raymond Souster) Cerberus 1954, 1954 In the Midst of My Fever, 1954 The Long Pea Shooter, 1954 The Blue Propeller, 1955 The Cold Green Element, 1955 The Bull Calf, and Other Poems, 1956 The Improved Binoculars, 1956 Music on a Kazoo, 1956 A Laughter in the Mind, 1958 A Red Carpet for the Sun, 1959 The Swinging Flesh, 1961 Balls for a One-Armed Juggler, 1963 The Laughing Rooster, 1964 Collected Poems, 1965 Periods of the Moon, 1967 The Shattered Plinths, 1968 Selected Poems, 1969 The Whole Bloody Bird: Obs, Aphs, and Poems, 1969 The Collected Poems of Irving Layton, 1971 Nail Polish, 1971 Lovers and Lesser Men, 1973 The Pole-Vaulter, 1974 Seventy-five Greek Poems, 1974 The Darkening Fire: Selected Poems, 1945-1968, 1975 The Unwavering Eye: Selected Poems, 1969-1975, 1975 For My Brother Jesus, 1976 The Covenant, 1977 The Poems of Irving Layton, 1977 105

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The Tightrope Dancer, 1978 Droppings from Heaven, 1979 The Love Poems of Irving Layton, 1979 For My Neighbours in Hell, 1980 Europe and Other Bad News, 1981 A Wild Peculiar Joy: Selected Poems, 1945-1982, 1982 The Gucci Bag, 1983 The Love Poems of Irving Layton with Reverence and Delight, 1984 Dance with Desire: Love Poems, 1986 Final Reckoning: Poems 1982-1986, 1987 Fortunate Exile, 1987 Fornalutx: Selected Poems, 1928-1990, 1992 Raging Like a Fire, 1993 Other literary forms Irving Layton is known primarily for his poetry. He edited several collections of Canadian poems and wrote social and political essays and an autobiography, Waiting for the Messiah: A Memoir (1985). Achievements Irving Layton received numerous awards and honors from the Canadian government and from universities in Canada. He won Canada’s Governor-General’s Award in 1959 for his collection A Red Carpet for the Sun. In 1976, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in recognition for his literary achievements. Layton received honorary doctorates from three Canadian universities: Bishop’s University in 1970, Concordia University in 1976, and York University in 1979. Layton was honored internationally for his poetry. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature for two consecutive years (1982 and 1983) by admirers in Italy and Korea. In 1993, he was inducted into Italy’s Institute Pertini and was the first non-Italian to win the Petrarch Award, an Italian award that recognizes poetic talent. Layton’s works have been translated into numerous languages. Biography Irving Peter Layton was born Israel Pincu Lazarovitch in Tîrgu Neamc, Romania, in 1912 and moved at the age of one with his family to Montreal, Canada. He graduated from Baron Byng High School, which the Canadian novelist Mordecai Richler also attended. In the early 1930’s, Layton associated with many of Montreal’s disaffected leftwing intellectuals whose Marxist ideology helped shape the political and social attitudes of his early poetry and prose. Later in the decade, he attended Macdonald College, graduating with a bachelor of science degree. In 1938, he married Faye Lynch. After a 106

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brief stint in the Canadian Army during 1942-1943, he attended McGill University in Montreal, where he received an M.A. in economics and political science in 1946. For the next two decades, Layton earned his living teaching at Montreal high schools and at Sir George Williams University (now Concordia University). During this time, he became a member of a group of young poets in Montreal that included Louis Dudek and John Sutherland, who cofounded and edited First Statement, a periodical influential in the promotion of modern poetry in Canada. In 1945, Layton’s first work of poetry, Here and Now, appeared. Throughout his early career, he wrote and published a new collection each year, largely at his own expense; however, his work remained generally unrecognized. In 1948, he divorced his first wife and married Sutherland’s sister Betty, with whom he had a son and daughter. In the next decade, he began an extensive correspondence with the American poet Robert Creeley; this dialogue helped Layton formulate many of his ideas about poetry. The year 1956 marked a turning point in Layton’s career when his collection The Improved Binoculars was published with a laudatory preface by the distinguished American poet William Carlos Williams. With the publication in 1959 of his award-winning work A Red Carpet for the Sun by the prestigious Canadian publisher McClelland and Stewart, Layton began to achieve commercial success and critical recognition in the literary world. In 1957, Layton began a relationship with Aviva Cantor, with whom he had a son, David. He moved from Montreal with his new family and took a position as writer-inresidence at the University of Guelph in Ontario. Later that same year, he was appointed to the English department at York University in Toronto. With the publication of works such as The Collected Poems of Irving Layton in 1971 and Engagements: The Prose of Irving Layton in 1972, Layton began to develop a national reputation not only for crafting groundbreaking and conscientious poetry but also for espousing forthright and controversial ideas that shocked Canadian readers and provoked reviewers and literary critics. In the late 1960’s, after receiving the prestigious Senior Arts Fellowship from the Canada Council, Layton began to travel abroad extensively, visiting Israel, Asia, Australia, and Europe, and in 1974, his poetry was published in Italy with great success. At this time, Layton began to cultivate celebrity status in Canada and abroad, often to the detriment of real public appreciation for his poetic achievements. His vivacious personality, his provocative opinions, the erotic subject matter and imagery of his poetry, and his tumultuous relationship with his fourth wife, Harriet Bernstein, all contributed to his image as a member of the counterculture, which was the focus of many of his interviews and appearances in the media. Nonetheless, he undeniably influenced a new generation of Canadian poets such as Leonard Cohen and Seymour Mayne. Layton’s publication of several impressive collections throughout the 1980’s drew numerous awards and honors, and in 1982 and 1983, he was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature by admirers in Italy and in Korea. In 1985, he married Anna Pottier, a young Acadian, and settled in Montreal. In response to Elspeth Cameron’s Irving 107

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Layton: A Portrait, an unflattering biography published in 1985, Layton wrote Waiting for the Messiah, which described his early life in Montreal and his attempts to establish himself as a poet. Layton produced several more significant collections before 1994, when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. He died in 2006. Analysis Irving Layton’s significance as poet lies in his unique and complex articulation of the cultural, political, and social issues that preoccupied him during his lifetime. He is also important in Canadian literature as one of the country’s first writers to focus on questions related to the identity and survival of Jews and Jewish culture throughout the world. Many of Layton’s works give definitive proof to his own theories that poetry should be filled with vitality, subtlety, drama, and relevance to the real world. His poetry, with its erotically charged language and imagery, with its bold focus on new subject matter, and with its explosion of old myths and clichés, never failed to arouse both intense admiration and severe admonishment from critics, reviewers, and readers. In this respect, Layton followed the models of past writers who broke with tradition, such as the Romantic poets William Blake, Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Walt Whitman. In the modern author D. H. Lawrence and the poet Williams, he found the inspiration to denounce bourgeois values, particularly through the use of shocking language and a focus on taboo themes. Many of Layton’s early works, such as Here and Now and Now Is the Place, focused on descriptive poetry and on social satire that denounced Canada’s middle-class prudishness and philistinism. The latter theme permeated his collection The Cold Green Element. Once his reputation as poet and activist became firmly established after the critical and popular success of A Red Carpet for the Sun, Layton began to deal with topics encompassing a bolder vision in his poetry. Concern for the universal human condition became the major theme of collections written in the 1980’s, especially Europe and Other Bad News and A Wild Peculiar Joy. In such works, Layton continually underscored the values of poetic truth, social concern, and an honest confrontation with history. Another leading and highly controversial theme that permeated Layton’s writing was the importance of sexual love, which he equated with the act of writing poems. The Love Poems of Irving Layton with Reverence and Delight is his definitive collection on the topic. In it he explored his own responses to the various aspects of love through the numerous relationships he experienced throughout his lifetime. In the latter part of Layton’s career, he focused more intently on Jewish concerns, while continuing to reject any forms of established religion, which he viewed as the source of man’s inhumanity to man. Through his poetry, he began to articulate recognition of the Holocaust as a turning point in world history, much like other Jewish writers who bore witness to the effects of this event. In For My Brother Jesus and The Covenant, Layton used the prism of tragic history to explore the relationship between the survival of cultural heritage and the mission of the poet. 108

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In the two decades before his death, Layton was nationally recognized as a preeminent writer for his role in broadening the limits of Canadian literature. Internationally, he was praised and acknowledged as a poet of global significance for his energetic artistry in exploring the individual’s status in the contemporary world. A Red Carpet for the Sun The award-winning A Red Carpet for the Sun brought Layton recognition as a leading Canadian poet, especially since it was his first work to be issued by a major publishing house, McClelland and Stewart. The work features more than two hundred of his best poems written between 1942 and 1958. Many of the basic themes that run throughout Layton’s collections are represented here, such as the Western mythic ideas of death and rebirth and an exploration of how the twentieth century evil that is exemplified in the Holocaust and in nuclear war contributes to moral indifference and cultural atrophy. Layton’s corrective vision for the ills of the modern age, such as social inequities and bourgeois materialism, is exemplified in one of his most famous poems in the collection. “The Birth of Tragedy” both describes the joy and value of poetry for Layton and also celebrates his hero Friedrich Nietzsche. Other notable poems in the book include many that explore universal experience through personal moments, such as “In the Midst of My Fever,” “The Cold Green Element,” and “Berry Picking.” In the important preface to the collection, Layton reiterates his commitment, as a poet, to decry the inhumanity of the past and to help shape a better future for humankind. Balls for a One-Armed Juggler The poems of Balls for a One-Armed Juggler mark a turning point in Layton’s vision of the past. The collection focuses on the destruction of European culture following World War II and on the consequent universal decay of values and morals. In “The Real Values,” “Thanatos,” and the much-praised “A Tall Man Executes a Jig,” Layton demonstrates artistic complexity and control as he shapes a new perspective on the poet’s confrontation of harsh truths. The collection is significant as an expansion of social awareness and protest in the history of Canadian poetry. For My Brother Jesus For My Brother Jesus raised a storm of controversy in Canada because of the nature of its subject matter. In a reflection of Layton’s harsh reactions to the evils of the twentieth century, the book’s preface targets Christianity as the real source of anti-Semitism and as the destroyer of European culture. The collection underscores Layton’s revised vision of his cultural role. His mission is to be a militant poet and an artistic activist, to change the world, and to enter what he describes as the pantheon of Jewish heroes, a group that includes Jesus, whom he reclaims for the Jews as a symbol of the Jewish nation. Ultimately, Layton integrates the history of persecuted Jewry with his conception 109

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of the unique role played by another cultural outsider, the “prophet-poet,” who memorializes ways that cultural catastrophes have altered perceptions of God and humanity by all humankind in the twentieth century. In poems such as “The Haemorrhage,” Layton explores the significance of the tragedy of the Holocaust and other incidents of Jewish persecution throughout history. However, this collection also has a mellow tone of nostalgia and remembrance. Poems such as “Art of Creation” describe how the poet discovers invigorating energy in the past that haunts him. A Wild Peculiar Joy A Wild Peculiar Joy is a comprehensive collection of Layton’s poetry that he and the Canadian poet Dennis Lee selected. It was republished in 2004 with a new introduction by Sam Solecki and excerpts from Layton’s essays on poetry. Many of the selected poems reflect Layton’s strong social and political conscience. Both the title of the book and the poems that it encompasses mirror the intense nature of his provocative artistry. Notable pieces such as “The Fertile Muck” and “Whatever Else Poetry Is Freedom” fully articulate his construct of poet as visionary. Other major works nonfiction: Engagements: The Prose of Irving Layton, 1972; Taking Sides: The Collected Social and Political Writings, 1977; An Unlikely Affair: The Irving LaytonDorothy Rath Correspondence, 1980; Waiting for the Messiah: A Memoir, 1985; Wild Gooseberries: Selected Letters of Irving Layton, 1939-1989, 1989; Irving Layton and Robert Creeley: The Complete Correspondence, 1990. edited texts: Canadian Poems, 1850-1952, 1953 (with Louis Dudek); Pan-ic: A Selection of Contemporary Canadian Poems, 1958; Love Where the Nights Are Long: Canadian Love Poems, 1962; Anvil: A Selection of Workshop Poems, 1966; Anvil Blood, 1973; Shark Tank, 1977. Bibliography Francis, Wynne. “Irving Layton.” In Canadian Writers and Their Works, edited by Robert Lecker, Jack David, and Ellen Quigley. Poetry Series. Vol. 5. Toronto: ECW Press, 1985. Includes a brief biography and an analysis of how Layton fits into the Canadian tradition and milieu. The author uses a detailed analysis of Layton’s poetry to chronicle his struggle for acceptance. Jason, Philip K., ed. Masterplots II: Poetry Series. Rev. ed. Pasadena, Calif.: Salem Press, 2002. Contains an in-depth analysis of the poem “Golfers.” Mandel, Eli. The Poetry of Irving Layton. Rev. ed. Toronto: Coles, 1981. A revised edition of the author’s initial study published in 1969. Thoroughly analyzes the major thematic concerns of Layton’s poetry and examines the reactions of the EnglishCanadian establishment to his work. 110

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Mansbridge, Francis. Irving Layton: God’s Recording Angel. Toronto: ECW Press, 1995. A biography of Layton based on extensive interviews with his friends, family, and colleagues. The author, who edited an edition of Layton’s letters, underscores how his poetry and life overlapped. Mayne, Seymour, ed. Irving Layton: The Poet and His Critics. Toronto: McGraw-Hill Ryerson, 1978. A collection of criticism on the major works of Layton’s literary career that were published through 1975. Included are the opinions of critics and of poets from three generations. The reviews of American critics and poets are also represented. Smith, Jennifer, and Elizabeth Thomason, eds. Poetry for Students. Vol. 12. Detroit: Gale Group, 2001. Contains analysis and criticism of Layton’s “A Tall Man Executes a Jig.” Diana Arlene Chlebek

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OSIP MANDELSTAM Born: Warsaw, Poland, Russian Empire (now in Poland); January 15, 1891 Died: Vtoraya Rechka, near Vladivostok, Soviet Union (now in Russia); probably December 27, 1938 Principal poetry Kamen, 1913 (enlarged 1916, 1923; Stone, 1981) Tristia, 1922 (English translation, 1973) Stikhotvoreniya, 1928 (Poems, 1973) Complete Poetry of Osip Emilievich Mandelstam, 1973 Voronezhskiye tetradi, 1980 The Voronezh Notebooks: Poems, 1935-1937, 1996 Other literary forms Osip Mandelstam (muhn-dyihl-SHTAHM) was writing essays on Russian and European literature as early as 1913. Many of the theoretical essays were collected, some in considerably revised or censored form, in O poezii (1928; About Poetry, 1977). These, as well as his otherwise uncollected essays and reviews, are available in their original and most complete versions in Sobranie sochinenii (1955, 1964-1971, 1981; Collected Works, 1967-1969). Mandelstam’s prose was not republished in the Soviet Union, with the exception of his single most important essay, “Razgovor o Dante” (“Conversation About Dante”), written in 1933 but not published until 1967, when an edition of twentyfive thousand copies sold out immediately and was not reprinted. Mandelstam’s prose has been seen both as a key to deciphering his poetry and as a complex body of nonpoetic discourse of great independent value. All his prose has been translated into English. Achievements Osip Mandelstam’s poetry won immediate praise from fellow members of Russian literary circles, and he now holds an indisputable position as one of Russia’s greatest poets. Like many of his contemporaries, however, Mandelstam experienced anything but a “successful” literary career. His work appeared often in pre-Revolutionary journals, but Mandelstam was not among the writers whom the Bolsheviks promoted after 1917. By 1923, the official ostracism of independent poets such as Mandelstam was apparent, though many continued writing and publishing whenever possible. Mandelstam did not write poetry between 1925 and 1930, turning instead to prose forms that were as inventive and as idiosyncratic as his verse. Attempts to discredit him intensified after 1928. He was arrested twice in the 1930’s and is believed to have died while in transit to a Siberian labor camp. 112

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Even during the “thaw” under Premier Nikita Khrushchev, Mandelstam’s works were kept out of print, and it was not until 1973 that his “rehabilitation” was made credible by the publication of his poetry in the prestigious Biblioteka poeta (poet’s library) series. That slim volume was reissued. During the Soviet era in Russia, scholarly writing about Mandelstam, although limited, appeared; his name was mentioned in many but by no means all studies of literature. Official publications, such as textbooks or encyclopedias, relegated him to minor status and often commented disparagingly on his “isolation” from his age. The deep respect commanded by his poetry in the Soviet Union was nevertheless measured by the evolution of scholarly interest in his work. Mandelstam’s reputation outside Russia was initially slow in developing because of the extreme difficulty in obtaining reliable texts of his works and because of the scarcity of information about the poet. As texts and translations became available, Mandelstam’s reputation grew steadily. The single most important factor in making his work known in the West was the publication of two volumes of memoirs by his wife, Nadezhda Mandelstam. Vospominania (1970; Hope Against Hope: A Memoir, 1970) and Vtoraya kniga (1972; Hope Abandoned, 1974), issued in Russian by émigré publishers and translated into many Western languages, are the prime source of information concerning Mandelstam’s life. Works of art in their own right, they also provide invaluable insights into his poetry. Biography Osip Emilievich Mandelstam was born in Warsaw, Poland, on January 15, 1891. His family moved almost immediately to St. Petersburg, where Mandelstam later received his education at the Tenischev School (as did Vladimir Nabokov only a few years later). Mandelstam’s mother was a pianist; his father worked in a leather-tanning factory. Little is known about Mandelstam’s childhood or young adulthood; he recorded cultural rather than personal impressions in his autobiographical sketch, Shum vremeni (1925; The Noise of Time, 1965). Mandelstam took several trips abroad, including one to Heidelberg, where he studied Old French and the philosophy of Immanuel Kant at the University of Heidelberg from 1909 to 1910. He returned to St. Petersburg University’s faculty of history and philology but seems never to have passed his examinations. Mandelstam had a highly intuitive approach to learning that foreshadowed the associative leaps that make his poetry so difficult to read. His schoolmate Viktor Zhirmunsky, later a prominent Formalist critic, said of Mandelstam that he had only to touch and smell the cover of a book to know its contents with a startling degree of accuracy. Mandelstam had been writing in earnest at least as early as 1908, and he began publishing poems and essays in St. Petersburg on his return from Heidelberg. By 1913, his literary stance was defined by his alliance with the Acmeists, a group dedicated to replacing the murky longing of Russian Symbolism with a classical sense of clarity and 113

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with a dedication to the things of this world rather than to the concepts they might symbolize. Among the acquaintances made in the Acmeist Guild of Poets, Mandelstam formed a lifelong friendship with the poet Anna Akhmatova. The ideological positions taken by poets were soon overwhelmed by the political upheavals of the decade. Mandelstam did not serve in World War I. He greeted the Revolution with an enthusiasm typical of most intellectuals; he grew increasingly disappointed as the nature of Bolshevik power became apparent. Mandelstam worked in several cultural departments of the young Soviet government, moving between Moscow and St. Petersburg (renamed Leningrad) in connection with these and other jobs. In May, 1919, he met and later married Nadezhda Yakovlevna Khazina. The civil war parted the Mandelstams at times, but they were virtually inseparable until Mandelstam’s second arrest in 1938. Nadezhda Mandelstam became far more than her husband’s companion and source of strength. She recorded his poems after he had composed them mentally; she memorized the poems when it became clear that written texts were in jeopardy; and she ensured her husband’s poetic legacy many years after his death with her two volumes of memoirs and her lifelong campaign to have his poems published. An early indication of Mandelstam’s difficulties came in 1925, when the journal Rossiya rejected The Noise of Time. Living in or near Leningrad after 1925, Mandelstam busied himself with popular journalistic articles, children’s literature, translations, and, by the end of the decade, hack editorial work. Although he published volumes of poetry, prose, and literary criticism in 1928, an attempt to entrap him in a plagiarism scandal the same year demonstrated the general precariousness of his status under the new regime. Nikolai Bukharin, who saved Mandelstam more than once, arranged a trip to Armenia and Georgia that proved crucial in ending his five years of poetic silence. Mandelstam wrote a purgative account of the plagiarism trial, Chetvertaia proza (1966; Fourth Prose, 1970), as well as poetry and prose inspired by the Armenian land and people. After the journey, Mandelstam and his wife lived in near poverty in Moscow. Though he gave several readings, Mandelstam saw his prose work Puteshestviye v Armeniyu (1933; Journey to Armenia, 1973) denounced soon after its publication in the periodical Zvezda. On May 13, 1934, Mandelstam was arrested, ostensibly for a poem about Stalin’s cruelty; the act of reciting such a poem even to a few friends was characteristic of his defiance of the authorities and of the Soviet literary establishment, which he openly despised. Bukharin again intervened, and the terms of exile were softened considerably. First sent to Cherdyn, the Mandelstams were allowed to select Voronezh, a southern provincial city, as the place where they would spend the next three years. Mandelstam attempted suicide in Cherdyn and suffered intense periods of anxiety whenever Nadezhda Mandelstam was away, even briefly. He could find little work in Voronezh. Despite periods of near insanity, Mandelstam wrote (and actively sought to publish) three notebooks of poems in Voronezh. In May, 1937, the couple returned to 114

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Moscow, where Mandelstam suffered at least one heart attack. Heart ailments had plagued him for years, and throughout his poetry, shortness of breath was always to be a metaphor for the difficulty of writing. In the fall of 1937, a final respite from the hardships of Moscow was arranged. In the sanatorium in Samatikha, Mandelstam was again arrested in the early morning of May 2, 1938. In August, he was sentenced to five years’ hard labor for counterrevolutionary activities. In September, he was sent to a transit camp near Vladivostock, from which he wrote to his wife for the last time. The actual circumstances of Mandelstam’s death will probably never be known. The conditions of the camp almost certainly drove him, and not a few others, to the point of insanity. In 1940, his brother Aleksandr received an official statement that Mandelstam had died December 27, 1938, of heart failure. Nadezhda Mandelstam lived another forty-two years, sustained by her friendship with Anna Akhmatova and by her commitment to preserving her husband’s poems for a generation that could read them. As Mandelstam’s works began appearing in print, Nadezhda Mandelstam published her two invaluable volumes of memoirs, Hope Against Hope and Hope Abandoned. On December 31, 1980, she achieved her great wish, an achievement rare enough for Russians of her generation: She died in her own bed. Analysis In Osip Mandelstam’s first published essay, “O sobesednike” (1913; “On the Addressee”), he describes the ideal reader as one who opens a bottle found among sand dunes and reads a message mysteriously addressed to the reader. Mandelstam’s poetry, like the message in the bottle, has had to wait to find its reader; it also demands that a reader be aggressive and resourceful. His poems are intensely dependent on one another and are frequently comprehensible only in terms of ciphered citations from the works of other poets. The reader who wishes to go beyond some critics’ belief that Mandelstam’s lexicon is arbitrary or irrational must read each poem in the context of the entire oeuvre and with an eye to subtexts from Russian and European literature. Acmeism Mandelstam’s attempt to incorporate the poetry of the past into his works suited both the spirit and stated tenets of Acmeism, a movement he later defined as a “homesickness for world culture.” Mandelstam always saw the Acmeist poets as the preservers of an increasingly endangered literary memory. “True” poetry could arise only from a celebration of its dependence on the old. Poetry plows up the fields of time, he wrote; his own poems bring forth rich layers of subsoil by their poetics of quotation. Apparently opaque lyric situations, when deciphered, yield transparent levels of meaning. Mandelstam especially loved the myths of Greece and Rome, though his quotations are most often from nineteenth and twentieth century Russian poets. 115

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Using another metaphor, perhaps the most typical metaphor for the Acmeists, Mandelstam wrote in the early 1920’s that Russian poetry has no Acropolis. “Our culture has been lost until now and cannot find its walls.” Russia’s words would build its cultural edifices, he predicted, and it is in the use of the word that one must seek the distinctive feature of Mandelstam’s poetry. “Happily Neighing, the Herds Graze” An example of Mandelstam’s use of quotations will indicate how far interpretation of his poetry must stray from the apparent lyric situation. Referring to Mandelstam’s first collection of poems, Stone, Kiril Taranovsky has noted that a line in the poem “S veselym rzhaniem pasutsia tabuny” (“Happily Neighing, the Herds Graze”) quotes Alexander Pushkin’s famous statement, “My sadness is luminous.” Mandelstam’s line is “In old age my sadness is luminous.” Nineteen years later, Mandelstam wrote, in a poem memorializing Andrei Bely, “My sadness is lush.” The epithet here comes from the Slovo o polku Igoreve (c. 1187; The Tale of the Armament of Igor, 1915), but the syntax still recalls Pushkin. Interpreting the stylized line “My sadness is lush” thus requires knowing Pushkin and The Tale of the Armament of Igor, to say nothing of Mandelstam’s first quotation of Pushkin in “Happily Neighing, the Herds Graze” or the often ornate works of Andrei Bely. In “Happily Neighing, the Herds Graze,” Pushkin’s presence is also felt in the poem’s seasonal setting, his beloved autumn. The month mentioned, August, suggests Augustus Caesar, and the ancient Roman context is as significant as the Pushkinian overtones. The poem thus has more to do with the ages of human culture than with grazing herds; the poem contrasts the “classical spring” of Pushkin’s golden age of Russian literature with the decline of Rome. The dominant color in the poem is gold, specifically the dry gold of harvest. Russia in 1915 resembled Rome during its decline, as the Romanov dynasty faced its end, so that three historical periods come to bear on an interpretation of this apparently pastoral poem. The rise and decline of civilizations do not upset this poet, for whom the cyclical nature of the seasons suggests that historical change is itself cyclical. As Mandelstam wrote in 1918, “Everything has been before, everything will repeat anew. What is sweet to us is the moment of recognition.” To achieve such moments, the reader must allow Mandelstam’s metaphors to acquire meaning in more than one context. The contexts will border on one another in surprising ways, but it is his peculiar gift to his readers that when they read his poems, they see past poets and past ages of man from new vantage points. Stone Mandelstam’s first volume of poetry, Stone, was published in 1913, with successive enlargements in 1916 and 1923. Stone contains short lyrics, many of only three or four quatrains. The title evokes the volume’s dominant architectural motifs. Aside from the 116

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well-known triptych of cathedral poems in Stone, there are also poems of intimate interiors, designs in household utensils, and seashells. The patterns of crafted objects or complex facades allow Mandelstam to write in Stone about the structures of language, about how poems may best be written. At times, his metapoetic statements emerge completely undisguised. A landscape is described by the technical language of poetics in “Est’ ivolgi v lesakh” (“There Are Orioles in the Woods”), in which the birds’ singing is measured by the length of vowel sounds, their lines ringing forth in tonic rhythms. The day “yawns like a caesura.” Mandelstam pursues the probable relationship between the oriole and the poet in “Ia ne slyxal rasskazov Ossiana” (“I Have Not Heard the Tales of Ossian”). Here, a raven echoing a harp replaces the oriole; the poem’s persona intones, “And again the bard will compose another’s song/ And, as his own, he will pronounce it.” Mandelstam contrasts his own heritage with that of another land, as distinct as the singing of birds and men. Despite the differences between the battles of Russian soldiers and the feigned tales of Ossian, the poet’s entire received heritage is “blessed,” “the erring dreams of other singers” (“other” connotes “foreign” as well as “not oneself” in Russian). It is in making the dreams his own that the poet finds victory. In “Est’ tselomudrennye chary” (“There Are Chaste Charms”), Mandelstam concludes with an equally victorious quatrain. The poem has evoked household gods in terms derived from classical Rome and from eighteenth century poetry. After three quatrains of listening to ancient gods and their lyres, the poet declares that the gods “are your equals.” With a careful hand, he adds, “one may rearrange them.” Among the poems that both assert and demonstrate Mandelstam’s strength as an independent poet is “Notre Dame,” the shortest and most clearly Acmeist of his three 1912 cathedral poems. The Acmeists consistently praised the Gothic optimism of medieval architecture and art, and they shared that period’s devotion to art as high craft. In “Notre Dame,” Mandelstam praises the church’s “massive walls,” its “elemental labyrinth.” The cathedral becomes both that which the poet studies and that from which he is inspired to create something of his own. The outstretched body of Adam furnishes a metaphor for the opening description of the cathedral’s vaulted ceiling. Adam’s name, and his having been “joyful and first,” had once provided an alternative name for Acmeism, Adamism, which never took hold. The name “Adam,” nevertheless, invokes in “Notre Dame” the poetic principles of the movement, its clarity, its balance, its sense of the poem as something visibly constructed. “Notre Dame” is as close to a programmatic statement in verse as Mandelstam ever came; the poem does what a Gothic cathedral should do, “revealing its secret plan from the outside.” Tristia Mandelstam’s second volume, Tristia, appeared in 1922. Compared to the architectural poems of Stone, many drawing on the Roman tradition in classical culture, Tristia 117

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depends more on the myths of ancient Greece. It evokes the landscape of the Mediterranean or Crimean seas to frame tender, interiorized poems. The title is the same as that of a work by Ovid, written during his exile, and the connotations of tristia, both emotional and literary, resonate throughout the volume, though the title was not initially of Mandelstam’s choosing. The title poem, “Tristia,” addresses the difficulties of separation, the science of which the speaker says he has studied to the point of knowing it well. There are several kinds of separation involved, from women seeing men off to battle in stanza 1 to men and women facing their particular deaths in stanza 4. The poet feels the difficulty of moving from one kind of separation to another in stanza 3, where he complains, “How poor is the language of joy.” Ovid’s exile has been a continuous event since he wrote his Tristia (after 8 c.e.). There is joy in recognizing the repetition of historical and personal events; Mandelstam here performs his usual chronological sleight of hand in juxtaposing several ages in history, rising toward divinations of the future in the final stanza. The moment of recognition or remembrance is sought after in vain in “Ia slovo pozabyl, chto ia khotel skazat’” (“I Have Forgotten the Word I Wanted to Say”). Like its companion poem “Kogda Psikheia-zhizn’ spuskaetsia k teniam” (“When Psyche-Life Descends to the Shades”), the poem evokes the failure to remember poetic words as a descent into Hades. The close correspondence between these two psyche poems is characteristic of Mandelstam: The presentation of variants demonstrates his belief that the drafts of a poem are never lost. These poems also demonstrate the general Acmeist principle that there is no final or closed version of any work of literature. Psyche poems In the psyche poems, mythological figures are mentioned, such as Persephone or Antigone for their descent into the Underworld or for their devotion to the funeral ritual, respectively. The river mentioned in both poems is not Lethe, the river of forgetfulness, but Styx, the boundary of Hades. Forgetfulness plagues both poems, however; “I Have Forgotten the Word I Wanted to Say,” a formula repeated in one poem, equates the fear of death’s oblivion with the loss of poetry. The images of the dry riverbed, of birds that cannot be heard, of a blind swallow with clipped wings—all suggest an artist’s sterility. It is the dead who revive an ability to remember (hence their avoidance of the river Lethe), to recognize meanings as significant as those of the divining women at the end of “Tristia.” With the slowness so crucial to the entire volume, something develops in “I Have Forgotten the Word I Wanted to Say.” In “When Psyche-Life Descends to the Shades,” the soul is slow to hand over her payment for crossing the river. The “unincarnated thought” returns to the Underworld, but the black ice of its remembered sound burns on the poet’s lips. For Mandelstam, lips (like breathing), suggest the act of composing poetry, so that these twin poems conclude with a kind of optimism, however fearful. 118

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Several poems in Tristia treat the social causes of Mandelstam’s fear of poetic failure, among them two of his most famous: “Sumerki svobody” (“The Twilight of Freedom”) and “V Peterburge my soidomsia snova” (“In Petersburg We Shall Meet Again”). Both poems respond to the Revolution of 1917 ambiguously if not pessimistically. The sun both rises and sets in “The Twilight of Freedom,” where the “twilight” of the title could mean “sunset” as well as “dawn.” “In Petersburg We Shall Meet Again” also chooses an ambiguous source of light; the sun is buried and the “night sun” illuminates the final stanza. Images from the psyche poems reappear with more pronounced political overtones. In “The Twilight of Freedom,” there are immobilized swallows, bound into “fighting legions.” The people appear as both powerful and restrained, expressing perfectly Mandelstam’s perception of the Revolution as potentially empowering but finally overpowering. In “In Petersburg We Shall Meet Again,” the “blessed, meaningless word” that the poet feared forgetting in the Psyche poems seems miraculously renewed. The poem displays terrifying sights and sounds, from ominous patrols to whizzing sirens, yet the speaker clings to his “word” as if oblivious of everything else. The poem closes with a crowd leaving a theater, where the end of the performance suggests the end of an entire culture. Yet, as in the exhortation to be brave in “The Twilight of Freedom,” the poetic voice affirms its power to live beyond the threats of “Lethe’s cold” or the “Soviet night.” What endures in Tristia, though with difficulty, is what seemed immutable in Stone: faith in the word as the center of Russian culture. Poems In 1928, Mandelstam published a volume of poems comprising revised versions of Stone and Tristia, as well as some twenty new poems. Several had appeared in the second edition of Tristia. These poems are even less optimistic than the ambiguous poems of Tristia; they are permeated by a fear of disorder that so threatened Mandelstam’s voice that he ceased writing poems altogether from 1925 to 1930. The city arches its back threateningly in “In Petersburg We Shall Meet Again”; the back is broken in “Vek” (“The Age”). The age is dying in “Net, nikogda nichei ia ne byl sovremennik” (“No, I Was Never Anyone’s Contemporary”), a poem whose first line discloses as well as any of his works Mandelstam’s alienated state of mind. The source of light in these poems is not the sun, not even the occluded or nighttime sun, but stars that look down menacingly from the evening firmament. The air is steamy, foamy, dark, and watery, as impossible to breathe as the sky is to behold. Not being able to breathe, like not being able to speak, conveys Mandelstam’s extraordinary difficulty in writing during this period. “Slate Ode” and “The Horseshoe Finder” Two of Mandelstam’s most startling and most difficult poems date from the early 1920’s: “Nashedshii podkovu” (“The Horseshoe Finder”) and “Grifel’ naia oda” 119

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(“Slate Ode”). The poems test and affirm poetry’s ability to endure despite the shifting values of the age. “The Horseshoe Finder” binds together long, irregular verse lines without rhyme (a new form for Mandelstam) by repeating and interweaving clusters of consonants. Rejecting the slow realizations of Tristia, the poem moves quickly from one metaphorical cluster to another. Finding the horseshoe, also a talismanic emblem for poetry in “Slate Ode,” is like finding the bottled message in Mandelstam’s essay “On the Addressee.” The past can still be transmitted in “The Horseshoe Finder”: “Human lips . . . preserve the form of the last spoken word,” but these lips “have nothing more to say.” “Leningrad” Mandelstam resumed writing poetry in 1930, and, had the official literary establishment not been forcing him out of print, there could easily have emerged a third volume of verse from the poems written in Moscow and Voronezh. A clear task unites many of these poems, a task of self-definition. The fate of the poet has become a metaphor for the fate of the culture, so that intensely personal poems avoid all solipsism. The triangular relationship “world-self-text” emerges as a conflict to be resolved anew in each poem. Mandelstam returned to Leningrad, “familiar to the point of tears.” In his poem “Leningrad,” Mandelstam proclaims against all odds, echoing the famous Pushkin line, that he does not want to die. Death moves inevitably through the poem, though, as his address book leads only to “dead voices”; the poet lives on back stairs, awaiting guests who rattle a ball and chain. Mandelstam was arrested for the often-quoted epigram about Stalin; describing “cockroach whiskers” and “fat fingers, like worms,” the poem was perhaps his angriest of the period. The secret police could have arrested Mandelstam, however, for any number of works from the early 1930’s. Hatred of the “songs” with which the Soviets had supplied the new age, disgust at the ethos of the Socialist Utopia, and fear that Russia’s genuine cultural heritage would perish are frequent themes. Mandelstam wanted no part of the changes around him; he names himself as the “unrecognized brother, an outcast in the family of man” in a poem dedicated to Anna Akhmatova, his dear friend and fellow poet who also suffered ostracism. In the South and in Moscow, Mandelstam was befriended by several biologists. They inspired him to read Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, Charles Darwin, and other authors who in turn provided Mandelstam with a new metaphor for expressing his dislike of the age’s paeans to “progress.” In “Lamarck,” Mandelstam chooses to occupy the lowest step on the evolutionary ladder rather than join in the false advances urged by the government. These steps bring humankind down in the evolutionary chain, observes the poet, toward species that cannot hear, speak, or breathe—toward those that do not produce poetry. The age, in copious images of the silence of deafness, has grown dumb; self-definition nears self-denigration as the surrounding cultural edifices crumble and 120

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threaten to bring the new Soviet literature down with them. Destruction, pain, death, terror—these are the themes that dominate the post-1930 poems to a degree that would separate them from the poems written before 1925 even if there were no other distinctions. As Mandelstam wrote poems inspired by the chaos around him, so also the poems formally demonstrated the pervasiveness of chaos. Disintegration became both subject matter and structuring principle: The late poems demonstrate an openness, fragmentation, and avoidance of conventional poetic diction, meter, and rhyme that would have been inconceivable in the beautifully formed poems of Stone or Tristia. The early predilection for exact rhyme is reshaped by an admixture of near rhymes of all sorts. The poems grow rich in internal paronomasia, where interweavings of sounds create controlling structures in lines that seem otherwise arbitrarily ordered. The rhythms grow freer during the 1930’s as well. Mandelstam had used free verse in the 1920’s, as in “The Horseshoe Finder,” and returned to it for longer, more complex works such as “Polnoch’ v Moskve” (“Midnight in Moscow”). Conventionally metered poems include aberrant lines of fewer or more metrical feet or with entirely different schemes; conversely, the free verse of “Midnight in Moscow” permits interpolated lines of perfect or near-perfect meter. The spontaneity that the late poems explore represents the final version of Mandelstam’s longstanding commitment to the openness of the poetic text. Including fragments of conversation and unconventional constructions in these poems, Mandelstam was converting the destructive chaos around him to his own ends. Hence the fluidity of “cross-references” in his poetry, particularly in the late verse, where there are not only “twin” or “triplet” poems, as Nadezhda Mandelstam called them, but also entire cycles of variants, among them the poems on the death of Bely in 1934. Moving beyond the concrete referentiality of the early poems, the late Mandelstam dramatizes rather than describes the act of self-definition. The communicative act between poet and reader overrides the encoding act between poet and world, as the reader is drawn deeply into the process of decoding the poet’s relationships with his world and his poems. Mandelstam’s confidence that a reader would someday seek to understand even his most labyrinthine poems shines through unexpectedly during the late period. There are love poems to his wife and others—among the most remarkable is “Masteritsa vinovatykh vzorov” (“Mistress of Guilty Glances”)—as well as poems wherein renunciation yields extraordinary strength. Mandelstam’s enduring gift, long after he had himself fallen victim to the society at odds with him, was to find strength in the deepest threats to his identity. Hence, the halfhearted desire to write an ode to Stalin, which might save his wife after his own death, gave rise instead to a host of deeply honest poems that were as hopeful as they were embattled. Though the simple longings of the late poems may be futile, the act of recording his desires into completely threatened poems represents Mandelstam’s typical achievement in the late works.

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Other major works short fiction: Yegipetskaya marka, 1928 (The Egyptian Stamp, 1965). nonfiction: O prirode slova, 1922 (About the Nature of the Word, 1977); Feodosiya, 1925 (autobiography; Theodosia, 1965); Shum vremeni, 1925 (autobiography; The Noise of Time, 1965); O poezii, 1928 (About Poetry, 1977); Puteshestviye v Armeniyu, 1933 (travel sketch; Journey to Armenia, 1973); Chetvertaia proza, 1966 (wr. 1930 or 1931; Fourth Prose, 1970); Razgovor o Dante, 1967 (Conversation About Dante, 1965); Selected Essays, 1977; Slovo i kul’tura: Stat’i, 1987. children’s literature: Dva tramvaya, 1925; Primus, 1925; Kukhnya, 1926; Shary, 1926. miscellaneous: Sobranie sochinenii, 1955, 1964-1971, 1981 (Collected Works, 1967-1969); The Complete Critical Prose and Letters, 1979. Bibliography Baines, Jennifer. Mandelstam: The Later Poetry. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1976. Scholarly treatment of Mandelstam’s poems written in Moscow and Voronezh in the 1930’s. The study of these poems has been somewhat neglected because of their enigmatic nature. Brown, Clarence. Mandelstam. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1973. The best authority on Mandelstam in the English-speaking world presents his seminal work, covering all aspects of Mandelstam’s life and work. Brown’s analyses of Mandelstam’s poems are particularly valuable. Broyde, Steven. Osip Mandelstam and His Age: A Commentary on the Themes of War and Revolution in the Poetry, 1913-1923. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1975. A detailed analysis of Mandelstam’s poems inspired by, and centered on, war and revolution. There are many citations of poems, in Russian and in English. Cavanagh, Clare. Osip Mandelstam and the Modernist Creation of Tradition. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1995. Places Mandelstam within the modernist tradition of T. S. Eliot and Ezra Pound of reflecting a “world culture” divorced from strict national or ethnic identity. Glazov-Corrigan, Elena. Mandel’shtam’s Poetics: A Challenge to Postmodernism. Toronto, Ont.: University of Toronto Press, 2000. Analyses Mandelstam’s thoughts on poetry and art in the context of the major postmodern literary debates and traces their development throughout his writings. Describes Mandelstam’s intellectual world and its effect on his evolution as a thinker, specifically, on differences in his attitude toward language. Mandelstam, Nadezhda. Hope Against Hope: A Memoir. New York: Atheneum, 1970. The first volume of memoirs written by Mandelstam’s wife, dealing with biographical details but also with the genesis of many of Mandelstam’s poetms. 122

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_______. Hope Abandoned. New York: Atheneum, 1974. The second volume of the memoirs. Pollack, Nancy. Mandelstam the Reader. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995. A study of Mandelstam’s late verse and prose. The two genres receive approximately equal treatment, but the analyses of poems tend to be deeper. Prsybylski, Ryszard. An Essay on the Poetry of Osip Mandelstam: God’s Grateful Guest. Translated by Madeline G. Levine. Ann Arbor, Mich.: Ardis, 1987. A noted Polish scholar treats Mandelstam’s attraction to, and reflection of, Greek and Roman classicism, the musical quality of his poetry, his affinity to architecture and archaeology, and other features of the poetry. The author places Mandelstam in the framework of world literature. Zeeman, Peter. The Later Poetry of Osip Mandelstam: Text and Context. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1988. Detailed interpretations and analyses of Mandelstam’s poems written in the 1930’s. Zeeman uses primarily contextualization and historical reconstruction in his discussion of the poems, some of which are among the most difficult of all Mandelstam’s poems. Stephanie Sandler

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ITZIK MANGER Born: Czernowitz, Bukovina, Austro-Hungarian Empire (now Chernivtsi, Ukraine); May 28, 1901 Died: Gadera, Israel; February 20, 1969 Principal poetry Shtern oifn Dakh, 1929 Lamtern in Vint, 1933 Khumish Lider, 1935 Demerung in Shpigl, 1937 Volkens ibern Dakh, 1942 Der Shnyder-gezeln Nota Manger Zingt, 1948 Medresh Itzik, 1951, 1969, 1984 (reprintings of the Khumish Lider with later additions) Lid un Balade, 1952 Shtern in Shtoib, 1967 Other literary forms In 1938, Itzik Manger (MAYNG-ur) published in the Warsaw Yiddish press his Noente Geshtaltn (intimate figures), a newspaper series of bittersweet, fictionalized portraits of twenty forerunners of Yiddish poetry: troubadours, rhyming wedding jesters, itinerant actors, and writers of the nineteenth century and earlier. These popular artists expressed themselves in Yiddish when it was considered, even by its speakers, a language fit not for literature but for low-class entertainment. They were Manger’s first heroes; from their earthy folk style, he learned the art of simplicity. Manger’s only novel, Dos Bukh fun Gan-Eden (1939; The Book of Paradise, 1965), is a fantasy set in Paradise—a humorous vision of the afterlife in which familiar human weaknesses and pains persist. In The Book of Paradise, fantasy is the everyday norm, and the wrinkles are provided by earthly reality: the reality of human nature and the folkways of the Eastern European Jewish community. In Manger’s novel, Yiddish culture—its folklore, faith, parochialism, and beauty—is celebrated, satirized, and memorialized. The Book of Paradise was published in Warsaw in August, 1939, and nearly the entire edition was destroyed at the printer’s a month later by the invading German army. Only a handful of review copies mailed to the United States survived. Although Manger’s poetry places him in the line of the English and German Romantics and the French Symbolists, the cultural movement in which he was personally active was the Yiddish theater. Seeing himself as the modern heir of the itinerant Yiddish entertainers of older times, Manger was drawn to the musical theater as a medium for di124

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rect contact with his audience. His unusual popularity as a poet brought him the opportunity to write for several Yiddish theater productions in the 1930’s. Hotzmakh Shpiel, Manger’s adaptation of Abraham Goldfaden’s operetta, Di Kishufmakherin (the sorceress), was performed in Warsaw in 1936. (Goldfaden founded the Yiddish theater in the 1870’s in Romania, producing his first musicals in wine cellars and barns. His troupes played throughout Eastern Europe and in England in the 1880’s and 1890’s. In Manger’s gallery of portraits in Noente Geshtaltn, Goldfaden appears on his deathbed, hallucinating scenes.) Sometime in the 1930’s, Manger wrote the lyrics for the Warsaw musical production of Sholom Aleichem’s novel, Blondzne Shtern, 1912 (Wandering Star, 1952), a romance based on the lives of early Romanian Yiddish actors. In 1935, he wrote the lyrics for the first Yiddish musical film, Yidl mitn Fidl (released 1936; Yiddle with His Fiddle). Manger’s best-known work for the theater is the tragicomic operetta Megillah Lider, published in 1936 but not staged until thirty years later, when it was set to music by Dov Seltzer and performed in Israel and on Broadway as The Megillah of Itzik Manger. The first production of Manger’s operetta played from 1965 to 1969. It stirred much interest in Manger among the Yiddish-scorning youth of Israel and led to the Hebrew-speaking public’s discovery of Manger’s more serious poetry. It began to appear in translation in newspapers and magazines, and belatedly, Manger became the first Yiddish writer since Sholom Aleichem to win a wide readership in Israel. Achievements Itzik Manger’s place in the cultural history of the Jews was officially recognized in 1969 with the first annual awarding of the Manger Prize for Yiddish Literature. Among the twelve founding members of the Manger Prize Committee were the Hebrew writer S. Y. Agnon (corecipient of the 1966 Nobel Prize in Literature); two prime ministers of Israel, Levi Eshkol and Golda Meir; the then-president of Israel, himself a poet, Zalman Shazar; and the committee’s chairman, Shalom Rosenfeld, editor in chief of the Tel Aviv daily, Maariv. The committee made public what had been the private sentiment of many readers. Both for the older generation who knew the poet from prewar years in Europe and for the younger generation who had just discovered him, Manger was an intimate figure, a teacher, muse, and friend. For people whose beliefs in various opposing movements of Judaism and European humanism had failed, Manger’s gentle yet hardheaded, sensuous poetry was a spiritual renewal. His poems had the power to evoke feelings and discoveries of religious intensity, but with a light touch, a lighthearted, cheerful acceptance of the evanescence of all meaning. This acceptance made possible, or necessary, Manger’s anarchistic eclecticism. His poems assimilated and refined diverse sensibilities and philosophies, from Hasidism to nihilism, from Saint Francis to Friedrich Nietzsche and Sigmund Freud. Manger gleaned from these sources all that answered a human 125

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yearning; that which was abstract and therefore susceptible to rigidity and mystification, he sloughed off. Manger’s poetry readings in the 1930’s drew audiences of thousands in the major cities of Poland. Local musicians played the tunes they had composed for his words. Not since the days of Aleichem’s public reading tours a generation back had the flowering Yiddish cultural scene experienced such festivity. Within a decade of the publication of Manger’s first book, his works were in the curriculum of every grade in the secular Jewish school system of Poland, from kindergarten through secondary school. Manger’s artful mixture of innocence, irony, deviltry, and tenderness charmed away his culture’s old, argumentative obsessions with justice and truth, offering instead less instructive but more deeply satisfying ideals: love, beauty, and wisdom. Among poets, these preferences are not new; what is unusual is how far Manger’s love strove to outgrow itself, to reconcile the reckless thirst for meaning and beauty with the sober, responsible cultivation of wisdom. His works offered a way to live between beauty and wisdom—between the beauty of sensation, illusion, and faith and the wisdom of memory and detachment. Biography Itzik Manger was born in 1901 to Hillel Manger and Khava Voliner Manger, the first of three children close in age. His birthplace was the ethnically Romanian and Jewish city Czernowitz (now Chernivtsi, Ukraine), capital of Bukovina, a province of the Austrian Empire. The city was situated at the intersection of Bukovina, the Russian-ruled Ukraine, and the independent state of Romania; its official language was German. When the Russian army invaded Bukovina in 1914, the Manger family fled to Jassy, capital of the Romanian province of Moldavia, and settled there. The Mangers moved often, going from one single-room apartment or basement to another when the rent was due. Their home served also as the family’s tailor shop. “A roof I didn’t inherit from my parents,” Manger wrote, “but stars—plenty.” They were a happy family. The mother was pious and barely literate, but she knew thousands of Yiddish folk songs. The future poet, together with his brother and their younger sister, spent childhood summers in the country, in their paternal grandparents’ home. Riding through the countryside with his grandfather, Zaida Avremel the wagon driver, revealed wonders of nature and perspective to the boy from the slums. The misty Carpathian Mountains, where the spirit of the Baal Shem Tov, the founder of the Hasidic movement, had roamed seven generations before, haunted Manger, and over the years he returned again and again to this setting in his poetry. After finishing the traditional Jewish school for boys, Manger was enrolled in a state secondary school in Czernowitz but was expelled in the second semester. This left him time to frequent cafés and wine cellars where Gypsy fiddlers played and to volunteer as a stagehand in the Yiddish theaters of Czernowitz and later Jassy, where he absorbed the folklore of his nineteenth century forerunners. 126

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In Czernowitz, an apprentice-tailor working for Manger’s father introduced the boy to the works of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Friedrich Schiller, and Heinrich Heine. At thirteen, Manger began writing poetry in German. His teens were an exhilarating time for him and his brother, Nota; together they discovered Rainer Maria Rilke, Friedrich Nietzsche, Paul Verlaine, and “Saint” Baudelaire. (Manger gave that title to only two others: Homer and the Baal Shem Tov.) Before the late nineteenth century, Yiddish had no tradition of poetry other than primitive folk writings and inspirational polemics. During Manger’s childhood and youth, the stories of I. L. Peretz and Aleichem created a body of modern Yiddish literature. Their example attracted the young writer of German poetry to his mother tongue and its speakers. At fifteen, Manger started to write in Yiddish, wondering whether modern poetry could be written in the language of wagon drivers, Hasidism, peddlers, and uneducated women. His doubts were banished when, in his late teens, he encountered the work of two immigrant Yiddish poets who were writing in New York. The gutsy and delicate lyricism of Moishe Leib Halpern and Mani Leib gave new power to Yiddish and set Manger on his course: He would refine the spirits of his ancient and modern fathers in the language of his mother’s lullabies. During his twenties, Manger was based in Bucharest, where he was active in the Yiddish avant-garde grouped around Eliezer Steinbarg. The group’s influences were Russian, French, and German literature mixed with Slavic, Gypsy, and Jewish folklore. The spirit of the group reflected that of the times: Europe was in ferment and the Jews were in turmoil. World War I, the Bolshevik Revolution, and the Russian Civil War broke up what was left, after the mass migration to the United States, of the old Eastern European Jewish communities. In 1923, the immigration quotas set by the United States Congress closed the “Golden Door,” and Jews came in increasing numbers to the large cities of Eastern and Central Europe. Throughout the nineteenth century and into the twentieth, the religious faith of the Jews had been eroded by contact with the outside world and its liberal ideas. A minority clung zealously to fundamentalism; for the rest, the intensity of the lost faith became converted into various new drives: assimilation, economic and professional ambition, public service, leftist radicalism, political and cultural nationalism, intellectual activity, and art. In the popular Gentile mind, the traditionally despised Jews became the symbol of all the changes that were hitting Europe too fast: inflation, labor conflict, sexual revolution, and radical “modern” ideas of all kinds. Anti-Semitic parties and economic boycotts proliferated in Poland, Romania, Lithuania, and Germany. For the newly “emancipated” Jews, the world seemed to totter between salvation and ruin. Amid the welter of mass movements promising the Jews a brighter future, Manger, after an adolescent leftist period, raised the unlikely banner of the renewal of Yiddish folk song. “Our wounds need balm,” he wrote in a manifesto in his twenties. “All roads lead to Rome and all roads lead to the kingdom of Beauty.” Some of the roads taken by 127

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Yiddish poets in the 1920’s came under his attack. He criticized the radical modernists who were influenced by trends in Germany and the Soviet Union for breaking away from their Jewish roots and experimenting with deliberately unmusical verse. With his brother’s meager earnings as a tailor and the occasional support of culture patrons, he traveled throughout the Jewish centers of Romania, Poland, and Lithuania, addressing crowds in outdoor markets, political meetinghouses, and wine cellars, reading poetry and lecturing on Yiddish folklore and Aleichem’s sad humor. For a people whose religion was built on preserving strict dichotomies, Manger dissolved such rigid categories as old-fashioned or modern, popular or classical, secular or sacred. Manger’s effect on his audience was described by a poet who grew up in Poland in the 1920’s, Avraham Sutzkever, in the autumn, 1958, issue of Di goldene Keit, the Israeli Yiddish literary journal that he edited: It was “like a child with a mirror throwing a drop of sun on an old man.” In 1928, Manger moved to Warsaw, the main center of Yiddish life and culture. When his first book, Shtern oifn Dakh (stars on the roof), was published in 1929, he instantly became a folk hero, known throughout Eastern Europe. Nourished by an enthusiastic public in Warsaw, he wrote more than half of his lifework there and nearly all his best. Nevertheless, tired of writers’ feuds and of the scandals caused by his penchant for wine, women, and what rabbis called Decadent poetry, Manger left Warsaw in 1938, traveling to Paris, where there was a colony of expatriate Eastern European Jewish artists and intellectuals. Not much is known of his two years in France. It was there that he wrote his fantasy novel, The Book of Paradise, a wistful, gently mocking love letter to the world he had left behind. As the German army approached Paris in 1940, Manger fled to Algiers, where thousands of legally stateless refugees scrambled for the limited opportunities of transport to safer destinations. The glint in Manger’s eye caught the interest of a boat captain and won Manger a space on a boat to Liverpool in late 1940. During the war, Manger managed the German section of a London bookstore owned by Margaret Waterhouse, a great-granddaughter of the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley; she was Manger’s companion and nurse for most of his ten years in England. The two months that he spent in a Liverpool hospital upon his arrival from Algiers did not completely cure him of the effects of the hunger and exhaustion he had suffered while fleeing the Nazis, and his poor health was aggravated by his increased drinking in England. While his people were being massacred in Europe, Manger immersed himself in English and Scottish folklore: “From Herrick to Burns” was his title for an unpublished anthology of English poetry that he did not finish translating into Yiddish. In 1942, Manger’s brother, Nota, died on a Soviet collective farm from hunger, exposure, and battle wounds. He had joined the Army of the Red Star as a believer in Socialism. During his years in England, Manger waited for a U.S. visa. He considered the Yiddish-speaking immigrant community of New York as the closest thing to a home and as 128

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the only audience that could support him. In 1951, he left England for Montreal, whose Jewish community had invited him to give a series of readings and lectures during the last months of his wait for a U.S. visa. The enthusiasm with which he was received both in Montreal and, later that year, during a tour making public appearances in American cities, attended by crowds in the thousands, helped to restore his spirits. In 1951, he met and married Genya Nadir, the widow of the Yiddish writer Moishe Nadir. They lived in Brooklyn for the next fifteen years. New York was a disappointment. It was clear that its Yiddish cultural scene had little future beyond the generation then growing old. Finding a society more open and tolerant than they or their ancestors had ever had, the Jews of America were rushing to assimilate. For most of those who clung to their ethnic roots, the compelling myths and visions were those of a Hebrew future (Zionism) or past (traditional Judaism). Yiddish was the language of the ghetto, whose history Jews wanted to forget. The humanistic renewal of Jewish culture that had been carried on in Yiddish squandered much of its idealism and prestige in leftist ideological squabbling that seemed anachronistic, at best, to most of the generation that grew up after the Great Depression. After the passing excitement of his arrival in the United States, Manger fell into the mood that his poetry had taught others to transcend: bitterness. The little poetry that he wrote in New York had a tired feeling. He managed to antagonize and alienate most of his friends. In the midst of the largest, freest, and richest Jewish community in history, he and his works were neglected. The remnants of the thriving Yiddish cultural scene of prewar Europe had become concentrated in a few neighborhoods of New York, with each writer coveting a share of a shrunken audience. In Israel, the bitterness of the Holocaust survivors was sublimated by the positive determination to build a country. In New York, the bitterness of the non-Zionist Yiddishists spilled out on the only people with whom they had much contact: one another. Manger complained in his letters that he was being boycotted by the Yiddish journals of New York, whose literary editors and their friends were his rivals for the title of the “Last Great Yiddish Poet.” As if to belittle his stature as the most popular poet by far in the history of Yiddish, critics in New York referred to him as a mere “balladeer” or “satirist.” Manger, however, lived to see the redemption of the years he had spent facing oblivion. Ironically, it came to him in Israel, the country that had struggled to do away with the history of the Jewish Diaspora—the Diaspora whose language, ethos, and schleppers he had celebrated, liberated, enlightened, and exalted. As he lay in Israeli hospitals for the last two and a half years of his life, totally crippled and speechless from a nervous disease but still able to show something of a smile, he heard the news of the nation’s rediscovery of his works. On the radio, he heard pop stars and schoolchildren singing his poems, in Hebrew translation, to their old tunes and to new ones as well. He read of the Manger festivals presented by the nation’s cultural elite. Three weeks after the return of his power of speech, he died. 129

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Analysis Using the verse patterns and simple language of traditional Yiddish folk songs, Itzik Manger created a style that brought modern poetic sensibilities to an ordinary audience. In style and theme, his poems transform the commonplace into something subtle, wondrous, and beautiful. His subjects are sad—loneliness, disappointment, death, confusion, frustration—but his poems usually evoke smiles. Manger’s voice changes not only from poem to poem but also often within the same poem. With seeming indiscriminateness, he mixes nursery rhymes, gangster jargon, regional Yiddish dialects, classical mythology, traditional prayers, and burlesque theater with the poetic traditions of Europe. His anachronisms have their own integrity, and the same can be said of his irrationalities and contradictory traits in general. Their coming together feels perfectly natural to a reader, like an intuitive click or a rhyme. In the same moment that one of Manger’s paradoxes hits the reader, it also resolves itself; it is as if the reader has secretly sensed it already, so that all that is left to do is smile at a crumbled convention. The poetic clichés that Manger enjoyed using would make a novice blush. He loved the moon and brings it in dozens of times: as a big loaf of bread for a hungry family, a crescent twinkling in Hagar’s hair, an earring for Rachel, but usually just as the moon. He went out of his way to use it in rhymes. Equally unoriginal is the form in which he almost always wrote, rhymed quatrains: He meant for his poems to be sung. A list of the poets and other sources he both plagiarized and collaborated with would run as long as the Jewish exile. Ballads Of the many kinds of poems that Manger wrote—ballad, lyric odes, mystical fancies, still lifes, prayers, confessions, ditties, love poems, elegies, children’s songs, lullabies, mood reflections, satires, autobiographies, scenes of local color—it is the ballads that have most interested literary critics. In his essay “The Ballad: The Vision of Blood,” published in 1929, Manger acknowledged that he was influenced by the traditional British ballad of the supernatural. This influence was already apparent in “Ballad of a Streetwalker,” his first published poem, which appeared in 1921 in the Bucharest Yiddish journal, Kultur, edited by the fabulist-poet Eliezer Steinbarg. The poem anticipates Manger’s mature verse, with its emphasis on the primacy of the moment, provocative understatement and paradox, plain speech, twilight blurring of the natural and the supernatural, psychological realism, compassion for characters on the fringe of society, distant, detached perspectives, and word music. Indeed, of his essential traits, only lightheartedness and folk traditionalism were missing. In “The Ballad of the Bridal Veil,” published in Manger’s first collection, a maiden is spinning thread for her bridal veil. At midnight, when the thread runs out, seven aged 130

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women enter, and with the white thread of their hair they weave her a veil. At dawn, they depart, and the maiden turns to the mirror. Her face has turned white. In the ballads Manger wrote after his twenties, there is a lighter touch, as if he had been released from a spell. While he continued to explore the irrational and to develop his ghostly, grotesque symbolism, he filled his later ballads with incongruous turns of phrase and rhythm, nuances of bittersweet irony, a homey Jewish warmth, and a respect for mundane exigencies as an escape from spiritual tension. He became more resigned to chaos, alienation, cruelty, and perplexity. “The Ballad of Hanna’leh the Orphan” exemplifies this later style. An orphan girl is visited by her mother’s grave. The tears she sheds on the grave, on her mother’s instruction, sprout a wonderful husband. With scissors, the daughter snips him apart from the grave, and after she brushes off the worm dangling from his nose, they introduce themselves. As soon as they meet, they go to get married, and the mother’s grave waits outside the officiating rabbi’s house. On her mother’s instruction, the daughter cries again—this time for a baby girl—and one sprouts from the grave. The groom then dismisses his dead mother-in-law, as “we no longer need you.” The young family goes off, carrying a thin thread tied to the grave. With unsentimental compassion and delicately eccentric charm, the poet exposes the powerful secret fears and the twisted longings and loves of his heroes. With a folksy Yiddish playfulness that belies the tension latent in the ballad, he makes a dance of the strange collisions and collusions of instinct. “The Bent Tree” A tragic sense pervades Manger’s work, yet none of his works is tragedy. In “The Bent Tree,” a child looks outside and sees birds flying away for the winter. He decides that he must become a bird. His mother warns him of the dangers, but he insists. Just as he is about to take flight, she rushes to bundle him up against the weather, from head to toe. He lifts his wings, about to fly, but he is now too heavy. All he can do is sing, “I look sadly in my Mama’s/ Eyes, without a word./ It was her love that didn’t let/ Me become a bird.” What in real life is a bitterly tragic conflict is ameliorated in the poem by the enchantingly grotesque and comic action, by the fact that it is the frustrated child who expresses the generously tragic perspective of the final sentence, and by the poet’s setting of the lyrics to a lullaby tune, so that they are sung (confessed?) by parents to their children. Religious influences Manger’s folkloristic approach to family situations was in the tradition begun in the Book of Genesis, the collection of prose poems about sibling rivalries, marriage problems, and intergenerational relations that is the foundation of Jewish civilization. For adult Jewish men, the traditional course of study has been the interpretation and argumentation of the Talmud, the body of law that developed as an attempt to fix a detailed code of behavior based on the teachings of the Torah (the books of Moses, the first five 131

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books of the Old Testament). For Jewish women and children, the path along which the tradition developed has been the study of the Old Testament stories themselves and of the Midrashim, legends included in the Talmud, which embellish the original biblical texts. In Manger’s religious education, the key influence was his mother, a woman who could read only haltingly and could not write at all. Her knowledge of the Bible came from the Tsena Urena, a sixteenth century Yiddish version of the Bible, adapted for women. The book is a rambling narrative of retellings of the original stories according to the Midrashim, interwoven with fairy tales, exhortations to piety, household advice, and anecdotes about modern-day heroes (such as Jewish tailors) and villains (such as Christian gentry). The characters in the Tsena Urena are portrayed with the quaint reverence of the rabbinic tradition, but with an intimacy and historical naïveté that presents them as if they were members of the reader’s family several generations removed. Khumish Lider With an imagination whose first literary influence was the Tsena Urena, Manger wrote his own Midrashim, his Khumish Lider, transporting the patriarchs to a nineteenth century Eastern European Jewish setting. With his wagon driver, Eliezer, Abraham rides with Isaac to the sacrifice: “Where are we riding to, Daddy?” “To Lashkev, to the Fair.” “What are you going to buy me, Daddy, In Lashkev, at the Fair?” “A porcelain toy soldier, A trumpet and a drum, And some satin for a dress For Mama back at home. . . .”

Fully a third of the Khumish Lider is about women caught in a man’s world: Abishag the Shunamite (five ballads), Bathsheba, Ruth (eight ballads), Dinah, Jephthah’s Daughter, and Hagar (three ballads). In one of the last-named ballads, Abraham dismisses his concubine, Hagar, the mother of his son Ishmael, at the instigation of his wife, Sarah. As Hagar packs her things to leave, she pauses to look at a straw summer hat, a silk apron, and some beads that Abraham gave her in better days. She sighs, “This must be what was meant for us;/ Ishmaelik’l, don’t be scared . . . Such were the ways of the Patriarchs/ With their long and pious beards. . . .” One month after its publication in 1935, the Khumish Lider was banned by Agudas Yisroel, the rabbinical council of Poland, as “poison for Jewish children” and “blasphemy against the People, Torah and God of Israel.” From another perspective, Manger’s accomplishment was to infuse the sacred stories with a sensitivity developed by a people’s long and varied experience of living with them—a gift back to its source. 132

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The Holocaust For a Yiddish poet, and one who was so intimately attuned to the yearnings of his people, Manger wrote surprisingly little about the Holocaust. He told an interviewer in 1958 that much time would have to pass before hatred of the Germans and their helpers faded enough for artistic objectivity. In his few poetic attempts to face the destruction of his people and culture, he took two approaches: involving Jewish folk motifs and legendary figures in the reality and its aftermath, and bringing the horror down to the small scale of a personal and subjective view. The sad streak that had always run through his poetry grew more pronounced in the 1940’s; the tone of some of his poems recalls the pessimism of Ecclesiastes, though Manger is more gentle. In his poetry, visionary experience prevails over sorrow. In poems that only obliquely show signs of struggle or historical awareness, he ekes enchanting meaning and music out of the quotidian. In the survey of Yiddish literature that appears in The Jewish People: Past and Present (an English-language reference work published between 1952 and 1955), Shmuel Niger, the preeminent Yiddish critic, referred to Manger as “a hopeless romantic”—an apt judgment, if taken as an affectionate tribute to the poet’s childlike capacity for wonder. Other major works long fiction: Dos Bukh fun Gan-Eden, 1939 (The Book of Paradise, 1965). plays: Hotzmakh Shpiel, pr. 1936; Megillah Lider, 1936 (libretto; The Megillah of Itzik Manger, pr. 1965). nonfiction: Noente Geshtaltn, 1938. miscellaneous: Gezamlte Shriftn, 1961; Shriftn in Proze, 1980; The World According to Itzik: Selected Poetry and Prose, 2002. Bibliography Davin, Dan. Closing Times. New York: Oxford University Press, 1975. A collection of correspondence and reminiscences by several authors, including Manger. Kahn, Yitzhok. Portraits of Yiddish Writers. Translated by Joseph Leftwich. New York: Vantage Press, 1979. A collection of essays on Yiddish writers, including Manger. Manger, Itzik. The World According to Itzik: Selected Poetry and Prose. Translated and edited by Leonard Wolf. Introduction by David G. Roskies and Leonard Wolf. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2002. This selected collection of Manger’s prose and poetry provides history, biography, and literary criticism. Roskies, David G. “The Last of the Purim Players: Itzik Manger.” Prooftexts: A Journal of Jewish Literary History 13, no. 3 (September, 1993): 211-235. A biographical and critical overview of Manger’s life and work. Sherman, Joseph, ed. Writers in Yiddish. Vol. 333 in Dictionary of Literary Biography. Detroit: Thomson Gale, 2007. Contains an essay discussing Manger’s life and works. David Maisel 133

ADAM MICKIEWICZ Born: Zaosie, Lithuania; December 24, 1798 Died: Burgas, Turkey; November 26, 1855 Principal poetry Ballady i romanse, 1822 Gra/yna, 1823 (English translation, 1940) Dziady, parts 2, 4, 1823, and 3, 1832 (Forefathers’ Eve, parts 2, 4, 1925, and 3, 1944-1946) Sonety krymskie, 1826 (Sonnets from the Crimea, 1917) Sonety, 1826 “Farys,” 1828 (“Faris”) Konrad Wallenrod, 1828 (English translation, 1883) Pan Tadeusz: Czyli, Ostatni Zajazd na litwie historia Szlachecka zr. 1811 i 1812 we dwunastu ksiegach wierszem, 1834 (Pan Tadeusz: Or, The Last Foray in Lithuania, a Tale of Gentlefolk in 1811 and 1812, in Twelve Books in Verse, 1917) Poems by Adam Mickiewicz, 1944 Selected Poetry and Prose, 1955 Selected Poems, 1956 The Sun of Liberty: Bicentenary Anthology, 1798-1998, 1998 Treasury of Love Poems by Adam Mickiewicz, 1998 Other literary forms In the last twenty years of his life, Adam Mickiewicz (meets-KYEH-veech), the national bard and prophet of Poland, wrote only a handful of poems, turning instead to religious and political works and to literary criticism. The messianic fervor of Mickiewicz’s prose is exemplified by Ksiegi narodu polskiego i pielgrzymstwa polskiego (1832; The Books of the Polish Nation and of the Polish Pilgrims, 1833, 1925), a tract written in a quasi-biblical style. Mickiewicz’s lectures given at the Collège de France in Paris, where from 1840 to 1844 he held the first chair of Slavic literature, fill several volumes of his complete works. Achievements Adam Mickiewicz embodied in his work the soul of the Polish people. Through his poetry, he symbolized the land, history, and customs of Poland. Starting as a classicist and then quickly becoming a Romantic, he portrayed the everyday life of the Polish people and, at the same time, gave voice to visions and prophecies. His poems, written to be 134

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understood by the common man, brought him instant popular acclaim but also exposed him to attacks from many critics, who condemned his Romanticism and his provincial idioms. The first volume of Mickiewicz’s poetry was published in Wilno in an edition of five hundred copies. It contained ballads and romances, genres of poetry then unknown in Poland, and portrayed the common people in a simple but eloquent manner. A second volume followed in 1823, containing Gra/yna, a tale in verse, and parts 2 and 4 of a fragmentary fantastic drama, Forefathers’ Eve. With the publication of these works, followed by the narrative poem Konrad Wallenrod, set in medieval Lithuania, Mickiewicz became the founder of the Romantic movement in Polish literature. During his greatest creative period, in the years from 1832 to 1834, Mickiewicz published part 3 of Forefathers’ Eve, which seethed with the eternal hatred felt by the Poles for their Russian conquerors. With its publication, Mickiewicz became a national defender, proclaiming that Poland was the Christ among nations, crucified for the sins of others. Like a prophet, he predicted that Poland would rise again. Pan Tadeusz, Mickiewicz’s masterpiece, was also written during this period. An epic poem in twelve books depicting Polish life in Lithuania in 1811 and 1812, it is the greatest work of Polish literature and perhaps the finest narrative poem in nineteenth century European literature. Devoid of hatred or mysticism, it warmly and realistically depicts the Polish land and people and embodies a firm faith in their future. Biography Adam Bernard Mickiewicz was born on December 24, 1798, on the farmstead of Zaosie, near Nowogródek, a small town in Lithuania. After the Tartars’ savage destruction of Kiev in 1240, the area previously known as Byelorussia and the Ukraine were annexed by the warlike Grand Duchy of Lithuania. In four centuries, however, the Lithuanian gentry was almost completely Polonized, and after the union with the Polish Crown in 1386, Lithuania’s territory was greatly reduced. In the district of Nowogródek, while the gentry was predominantly Polish (old immigrants from Mazovia), the peasants were Byelorussian. Mickiewicz’s father, Mikolaj, was a lawyer and a small landowner. His mother, Barbara (Orzeszko) Majewska , was also from the middle gentry. Both families had a strong military tradition. It is noteworthy that Mickiewicz, the national bard of Poland, the ardent patriot who gave such superb literary expression to the life and aspirations of the Polish people, never even saw Poland proper nor its cultural centers, Warsaw and Krakow. Moreover, during his lifetime, Poland did not exist as a sovereign state, for Mickiewicz was born after the so-called Final Partition of 1795, when Poland was divided among Russia, Prussia, and Austria-Hungary. Mickiewicz, one of five sons, started his education at home and then continued at the Dominican parochial school in Nowogródek. Later, he studied philology at the Univer135

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sity of Wilno, where he excelled in Latin and Polish literature. He was greatly influenced by a liberal historian, Joachim Lelewel, who later became a leader in the Insurrection of 1830-1831. At the university, Mickiewicz was one of the six founders of the Philomathian Society, a secret society that emphasized Polish patriotism and tried to influence public affairs. After spending a short time in Kowno as a district teacher of Greek and Latin, Polish literature, and history, Mickiewicz returned to Wilno, where he maintained close relations with his friends in the Philomathian Society. In 1823, Mickiewicz and several of his friends were arrested by the Russian authorities for plotting to spread “senseless Polish nationalism” and were confined in the Basilian Monastery in Wilno, which had been converted to a prison. After their trial on November 6, 1824, Mickiewicz and his friend Jan Sobolewski were sent to St. Petersburg to work in an office. In 1819, before his imprisonment and deportation, Mickiewicz met and fell in love with Maryla Wereszczaka, the daughter of a wealthy landowner. Maryla, however, complying with the wishes of her family, refused to marry Mickiewicz, who was only a poor student, and married the rich Count Puttkamer instead. Partially inspired by his unrequited love for Maryla, Mickiewicz turned to writing Romantic poetry and, with the publication of two small volumes of poetry in 1822 and 1823, became the founder of the Romantic school in Poland. His earlier writing shows the influence of the pseudoclassical style then prevalent in Poland. Mickiewicz stayed in Russia almost four years and wrote his Sonety and Sonnets from the Crimea there as well as Konrad Wallenrod and “Faris,” an Arabian tale. He lived in St. Petersburg, Odessa, and Moscow, where he was warmly accepted into literary circles, befriended by Alexander Pushkin and others, and made a welcome guest in the literary salon of Princess Zenaida Volkonsky (herself an accomplished poet, whom Pushkin called “tsarina of muses and beauty”). He often improvised there, gaining the admiration of Pushkin, who called him “Mickiewicz, inspired from above.” In 1829, Mickiewicz secured permission to leave Russia and lived for a time in Switzerland and then in Rome. The Polish Insurrection broke out in 1830, and Mickiewicz tried in vain to join the revolutionists in August, 1831. After the defeat of the insurrection, Mickiewicz settled in Paris, where he spent most of his remaining years. In 1834, he married Celina Szymanowski, the youngest daughter of Maria Szymanowski, a famous concert pianist, whom he had met while still in Russia. The marriage was unhappy because of her mental illness, and her early death left Mickiewicz with several small children. During this period, he wrote part 3 of Forefathers’ Eve, a mystical and symbolic dramatic treatment of his imprisonment at Wilno by the Russian authorities. The poem embodied the anti-Russian feeling of the Polish people and intensified their hatred of their oppressor. Mickiewicz’s next poem was his masterpiece, Pan Tadeusz, which glorifies the rustic life of the Polish gentry in picturesque Lithuanian Byelorussia and praises the Napoleonic invasion of Russia as symbolic of Poland’s hope for libera136

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tion (“God is with Napoléon, Napoléon is with us”). Pan Tadeusz is a true national epic. After the publication of his masterpiece, Mickiewicz fell under the influence of Andrzej Towia½ski, a charismatic figure who preached that a new period in Christianity was at hand and that he himself was its prophet. Unconditionally accepting Towia½ski’s claims , Mickiewicz was compelled to give up his professorship at the Collège de France when he used his position to advance the doctrines of Towia½ski’s sect. Mickiewicz spent his last years working for Polish independence and aiding fellow exiles. In 1855, following the outbreak in the previous year of the Crimean War, which he hailed as a prelude to the liberation of Poland, Mickiewicz went to Constantinople. He contracted cholera and died on November 26, 1855. His body was first sent to Paris; in 1890, it was brought to Wawel Castle in Krakow, where it now rests with Tadeusz Kokciuszko and the Polish kings. Analysis The Romantic movement had unique features in Poland, where it did not begin until the 1820’s, some thirty years later than in England and Germany. The most prominent literary figure of Romanticism in Poland was Adam Mickiewicz, whose poetry grew out of his formative years in Lithuanian Byelorussia. Mickiewicz wrote poems that had universal as well as regional and national significance. A poet of genius, he raised Polish literature to a high level among Slavic literatures and to a prominent place in world literature. Although he was in many respects the quintessential Romantic poet, Mickiewicz eludes categorization. There is a strong classical strain running throughout his oeuvre, evident in the clarity of his diction and the precision of his images. He combined meticulous observation of the familiar world with an evocation of spiritual realms and supernatural experience. His concerns as a poet went beyond poetry, reflecting a responsibility to his beloved, oppressed Poland and to humanity at large. As he was a spokesperson in exile for Polish freedom, so he remains a spokesperson for all those who share his hatred of tyranny. From classicism to Romanticism Mickiewicz’s work in philology at the University of Wilno instilled in him the values of eighteenth century classicism. Accordingly, his first significant poem, “Oda do mlodokci” (“Ode to Youth”), reflected the tradition of the Enlightenment, but it also contained some of the pathos of Romanticism. In the ballad “Romantycznok6” (“The Romantic”), this pathos becomes the dominant tone. The poem concerns a woman who is mocked and regarded as insane because, in despair, she talks to the ghost of her beloved. Mickiewicz treats her sympathetically, concluding: “Faith and love are more discerning/ Than lenses or learning.” Revealing a Slavic preference for faith and feeling rather than Western rationalism, Mickiewicz returned to these youthful ideas in his later, more complex works. 137

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Mickiewicz’s shift toward a thoroughgoing Romanticism was influenced by his reading of Italian, German, and English literature, by his study of early Lithuanian history, and by his love for Maryla Wereszczaka. With his first two volumes of poetry Mickiewicz raised the stature of Polish poetry. His first volume contained short poems, mainly a group of fourteen “ballads and romances” prefaced with a survey of world literature. “The Romantic,” the programmatic poem of the Polish Romantic movement, expresses his faith in the influence of the spirit world on man. Forefathers’ Eve, parts 2 and 4 The second volume of Mickiewicz’s poems contained the second and fourth parts of the incomplete fantastic drama, Forefathers’ Eve; a short poem, “The Vampire,” connected with that drama; and a short tale in verse, Gra/yna. The genre of the fantastic drama was in fashion at the time. Forefathers’ Eve, complete with ghosts and demons, was based on a folk rite that involved serving a meal to the spirits of the departed on All Souls’ Day. Part 2 of Forefathers’ Eve (the first part of the poem to be written) is an idealization of this rite, in which Mickiewicz probably had participated as a boy in Lithuanian Byelorussia. He explained that Forefathers’ Eve is the name of a ceremony celebrated by the common folk in memory of their ancestors in many parts of Byelorussia, Lithuania, Prussia, and Courland. The ceremony, once called the Feast of the Goat, originated in pagan times and was frowned upon by the Church. In the first part of Forefathers’ Eve, for which he only completed a sketch, Mickiewicz appears in the guise of Gustav, a name taken from Valérie (1803), a sentimental novel by Baroness von Krüdener. Gustav kills himself, disappointed in his love for Maryla. In a revised version of part 2 of Forefathers’ Eve, Mickiewicz added a section expressing his love for Maryla. He depicts Maryla as a “shepherdess in mourning dress” whose lover, Gustav, has died for her. His spirit appears and gazes on the shepherdess and then follows her as she is led out of a chapel. In the fourth part of the poem, his ghost appears at the house of a priest and delivers passionate, sorrowful monologues, pouring out his sad tale of disillusioned love while casting reproaches upon Maryla. He recommends to the priest the rites of Forefathers’ Eve and finally reenacts his own suicide. Gustav is Mickiewicz’s version of the self-dramatizing Romantic hero, but he is also a tragic hero in the Aristotelian sense, since he is defeated by a mistake in judgment—his overwhelming love for a person who proves to be unworthy. Gra/yna Mickiewicz wrote Gra/yna, an impersonal narrative poem, at about the same time he wrote the highly personal and passionate Forefathers’ Eve. Gra/yna resembles the tales or “novels” in verse characteristic of the Romantic movement in Western Europe but lacks the supernatural elements and the exoticism that distinguish such works. The poem concerns the Lithuanians’ struggle in the fourteenth century against the German 138

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Knights of the Cross. Mickiewicz was inspired by the ruins of a castle near Nowogródek, by his study of early Lithuanian history, and by his reading of Torquato Tasso, Sir Walter Scott, and Lord Byron. In the narrative, the Lithuanian prince, Litavor, plans to join the Teutonic Knights against Duke Witold. These traitorous intentions are foiled by Gra/yna, Litavor’s brave and patriotic wife. Dressed in her husband’s armor, she leads the Lithuanian knights in battle against the Teutons instead of accepting their help against her compatriots. Mickiewicz modeled his heroine on Tasso’s Clorinda and Erminia, although the type goes back to Vergil’s Camilla and ultimately to the Greek tales of the Amazons. This stately narrative reveals Mickiewicz’s extraordinary gift for vivid characterization, even though the poet himself did not attach much importance to the work. Sonnets from the Crimea At the end of 1826, Mickiewicz published his first cycle of sonnets, the so-called love sonnets. There were few Polish models in the sonnet form, and he turned for a model to the Petrarchan sonnet, with its elaborate rhyme scheme and rigid structure. His second cycle of sonnets, Sonnets from the Crimea, was vastly different in thought and feeling and was met with hostile criticism from Mickiewicz’s classically minded contemporaries. While in Russia, Mickiewicz had made a trip of nearly two months through the Crimea, and it was this journey that produced the eighteen poems that constitute the Sonnets from the Crimea. He made the trip with, among others, Karolina Soba½ski, with whom he had an ardent love affair; critics have speculated that the three sonnets “Good Morning,” “Good Night,” and “Good Evening” reflect their relationship. With his Sonnets from the Crimea, Mickiewicz introduced to Polish literature the Romantic poetry of the steppe, the sea, and the mountains, as well as the Oriental elements of European Romanticism, represented by Byron and Thomas Moore in England and by Pushkin in Russia. The sonnets express an attitude toward nature that is characteristically Romantic and at the same time “modern”: Nature is valued for its own sake as well as for its symbolic reflection of the poet’s psychological states. The sonnets are further distinguished by their exotic vocabulary, the fruit of Mickiewicz’s study of Persian and Arabic poetry, mainly in French translation. (Near Eastern and Oriental literature was popular throughout Europe toward the end of the eighteenth century.) The rigid structure demanded by the sonnet form enabled Mickiewicz to communicate his psychological experiences with utmost conciseness, and these poems are among his finest. Konrad Wallenrod Mickiewicz had conceived the idea of his next major work, Konrad Wallenrod, while in Moscow in 1825. Like Gra/yna, the poem is set in medieval Lithuania during the conflict between the Lithuanians and the Knights of the Cross. Konrad Wallenrod is 139

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both longer and more powerful than Gra/yna, however, and, although the poet modified and altered history to some extent, it is mainly based on actual historical events; Mickiewicz himself described the work as “a story taken from the history of Lithuania and Prussia.” A tale in verse in the Byronic style, the poem relates the tragedy of a Lithuanian who is forced by fate to become a Teutonic Knight. The hero, in an effort to save his people from annihilation, sacrifices all that is dear to him, including his own honor. Mickiewicz changed the historical Wallenrod, an ineffective Grand Master of the Knights of the Cross, to a Lithuanian who, captured as a youth, has been reared by the Germans and then gains influence and authority over the Teutonic Knights in order to destroy them. To capture the aura of intrigue, Mickiewicz studied Machiavelli and read Friedrich Schiller’s Die Verschwörung des Fiesco zu Genua (pr., pb. 1783; Fiesco: Or, The Genoese Conspiracy, 1796). The poem reverts to the somber and Romantic atmosphere that Mickiewicz had temporarily abandoned in his sonnets; it is Byronic in type, and Mickiewicz evidently used The Corsair (1814) and Lara (1814) for inspiration. Mickiewicz’s Wallenrod, however, differs markedly from the Byronic hero: Above all, he is a patriot, rather than a mysterious outsider. Indeed, so clear is the political allegory that underlies Konrad Wallenrod that it is surprising that the Russian censors allowed the poem to be published. “Faris” In St. Petersburg in 1828, Mickiewicz wrote “Faris ,” a poem depicting an Arab horseman’s extravagant ride through the desert. Mickiewicz had developed an interest in Arabic poetry through his contact with the Oriental peoples in the south of Russia. The Arabic word faris means “horseman” or “knight.” Mickiewicz’s special affection for the poem is often attributed to its story of a proud, strong will that triumphs over great obstacles; perhaps Mickiewicz saw himself in this light. Forefathers’ Eve, part 3 Mickiewicz wrote his greatest works, part 3 of Fore fathers’ Eve and Pan Tadeusz, in a brief period from 1832 to 1834. Part 3 of Forefathers’ Eve is only loosely connected with parts 2 and 4, published almost ten years earlier. It is the longest, the most enigmatic, and certainly the most famous of the three parts. The poet went back for his subject matter to his Wilno days in 1823, when the Russian authorities arrested him and other members of the Philomathians. Using his personal experience in the Romantic manner, Mickiewicz sought to justify the actions of a loving God in allowing a devout Roman Catholic country such as Poland to be partitioned by three cruel neighbors, each “on a lower moral level than their victim.” While in Rome, Mickiewicz had been intrigued by Aeschyulus’s tragedy Prometheus desmftTs (date unknown; Prometheus Bound, 1777), with its presentation of the Titan who rebels against Zeus in the name of love for humanity, and Aeschylus’s influ140

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ence is apparent in part 3 of Forefathers’ Eve. The story of Prometheus attracted many Romantic writers, including Percy Bysshe Shelley and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Mickiewicz, who had considered writing his own poetic drama about Prometheus, may have been influenced by these authors as well in composing the third part of Forefathers’ Eve. Part 3 of Forefathers’ Eve consists of a prologue, nine scenes, and a final sequence of six long poems about Russia. This sequence, titled “Ustcp” (“Digression”), constitutes a second act or epilogue. In the prologue, Maryla’s lover, Gustav, a young prisoner, is seen in his cell in the Basilian Monastery, watched over by good and evil spirits. He takes the name Konrad, suggesting an affinity with Konrad Wallenrod. The first scene, a description of the life of the student prisoners, is followed by the improvisation—the foundation of the whole drama—in which Konrad arrogantly challenges God’s justice, charging him with an absence of feeling or love in spite of his strength and great intellect. Konrad declares that he himself is greater than God, since he loves his nation and desires her happiness. The improvisation and the following scenes reflect the fulfillment of Mickiewicz’s previous plan of writing a tragedy with the Prometheus theme adapted to a Christian setting. Konrad’s arrogant pride, although inspired by love for Poland and a sense of divinity within himself, is blasphemous. Father Peter, who represents mystic humility just as Konrad represents mystic pride, receives in a vision an understanding of the source of Konrad’s torment—the problem of the fate of Poland, an innocent victim crushed by cruel foreign powers. He sees Poland as the Christ among nations, who, crucified by Prussia, Russia, and Austria, will rise again. The promised hero who will bring about the resurrection of Poland is probably Mickiewicz himself, although in the work there is reference only to a hero whose name is “Forty and Four.” With this notion that Poland is the Christ among nations, Mickiewicz became the founder of Polish messianism, a mystic faith that helped to define “Polishness” for generations and that is not without influence in Poland even today. Pan Tadeusz In November, 1832, Mickiewicz began work on Pan Tadeusz, a narrative poem that was to become his masterpiece. He worked on the poem until February, 1834. Pan Tadeusz, a stately epic of 9,712 lines, is a story of the Polish gentry. The poem’s twelve books present the whole of Polish society in Lithuanian Byelorussia during a highly significant period of history, the time of Napoleon’s campaign in Russia, in 1811-1812, a time when Polish society appeared to have achieved a temporary harmony, stability, and order. Mickiewicz stresses the value of ritual, order, and ceremony, and his characters are courteous, modest, and patriotic. The subtitle of Pan Tadeusz—Or: The Last Foray in Lithuania, a Tale of Gentlefolk in 1811 and 1812, in Twelve Books in Verse—is significant: Mickiewicz’s use of the word “tale” may indicate, as some critics have argued, that Pan Tadeusz is not an epic or 141

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narrative poem at all, although it is connected to these genres , but a blending together of a number of genres to achieve the poet’s artistic purpose in a truly Romantic style. The word “last” in the subtitle implies the disappearance of a traditional way of life, as exemplified in the “foray” or ritualistic execution of justice. Mickiewicz’s two main themes, the recapture of the past and the conflict between reality and appearance, are classic themes in Western literature, and the poem thus attains a certain universality in spite of its intense concern with a specific cultural and historical tradition. The plot concerns Tadeusz, an impressionable young man recently graduated from the university; his love for Zosia; and a feud over a castle between the Soplicas and the Horeszkos: Tadeusz is a Soplica, while Zosia is a Horeszko (a premise that recalls William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, pr. c. 1595-1596). To add to the conflict, the father of Tadeusz has killed Zosia’s grandfather. The plot becomes more involved later in the work when an emissary of Napoleon turns out to be Tadeusz’s father disguised as a monk, Father Robak. (In constructing his plot, Mickiewicz was influenced by Sir Walter Scott.) Mickiewicz chose for his setting rural Lithuanian Byelorussia, the land of his childhood, to which he longed to return. The real hero of the poem is Jacek Soplica, who wants to marry Eva, the daughter of an aristocrat, the Pantler Horeszko. When he is rejected, Jacek kills the Pantler in a fit of anger, under circumstances that falsely suggest collusion with the Russians. Jacek spends the rest of his life humbly serving his country. He becomes a monk and works as a political agent urging Poles to join Napoleon in his campaign against Russia and so to contribute to the restoration of Poland in an indirect manner. Mickiewicz united in Jacek the conflicting motives of pride and humility, represented in part 3 of Forefathers’ Eve by Konrad and Father Peter. In Pan Tadeusz, Mickiewicz is no longer a prophet and teacher, appearing rather as a kindly, genial man who is proud of the glorious past of his country and has faith in her future. He is once more the jovial companion of his Wilno days and no longer the leader of Polish exiles who were haunted by their own misfortunes and those of Poland. He is a realist who sees the faults of his countrymen but still loves them. It is difficult to believe that part 3 of Forefathers’ Eve and Pan Tadeusz were written by the same poet within a period of two years. In the latter, the poet is moved by childlike wonder: He sees beauty in even the most commonplace scenes in Poland, such as a young girl feeding poultry in a farmyard. The period about which he was writing embodied the whole life of Old Poland—its people, its customs, and its traditions. While the action of Pan Tadeusz develops in the country among rural people, set against a background of vibrant descriptions of nature and animals, all classes of the gentry are described, including the wealthy, the aristocratic, the middle class, and the poor gentry, and there are representatives of a number of old offices, such as chamberlain, voyevoda, pantler, cupbearer, seneschal, judge, and notary. In addition, there are representatives of other classes and nationalities, including the peasants (rather incompletely presented, however), a Jew, and various Russians. 142

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In Pan Tadeusz, Mickiewicz describes nature in a manner that has never been equaled in Polish literature. He paints verbal pictures of the forest, meadows, and ponds at different times of the day and night in different lights and in myriad colors; he describes sunrises and sunsets, and the world of plants and animals, all with acute perception. Mickiewicz also meticulously describes a mansion, a castle, a cottage of the provincial gentry, an inn, hunting parties, the picking of mushrooms, feasts, quarrels, duels, and a battle—an extraordinary range of settings and experiences. The masterpiece of Polish literature, Pan Tadeusz is regarded by many as the finest narrative poem of the nineteenth century. “The smile of Mickiewicz” reflected in the kindly humor of the poem, the radiant descriptions, and the dramatic truth of the characters, all contribute to its excellence. Pan Tadeusz is known and loved throughout Poland, by peasants as well as university professors. With this masterpiece, Mickiewicz reached the summit of his literary career. It is unfortunate that the total effect of the poem, which is derived from a close interaction of diction, style, and word associations, the portrayal of marvelously drawn characters, the presentation of setting, and the creation of a dynamic atmosphere, cannot be conveyed in all its beauty in translation. Other major works plays: Jacknes Jasinski, ou les deux Polognes, 1836; Les confédérés de Bar, 1836. nonfiction: Ksiegi narodu polskiego i pielgrzymstwa polskiego, 1832 (The Books of the Polish Nation and of the Polish Pilgrims, 1833, 1925); Pierwsze wieki historyi polskiej, 1837; Wyklady Lozanskie, 1839-1840 ; Literatura slowianska, 1840-1844 (4 volumes). Bibliography Debska, Anita. Country of the Mind: An Introduction to the Poetry of Adam Mickiewicz. Warsaw: Burchard, 2000. A biography of Mickiewicz that also provides literary criticism, particularly of Pan Tadeusz. Gross, Irena Grudzinska. “How Polish Is Polishness: About Mickiewicz’s Gra/yna.” East European Politics and Societies 14, no. 1 (Winter, 2000): 1-11. Mickiewicz has been enshrined as an icon, his work classic and his vibrant presence is felt strongly in Polish culture. Gross examines Mickiewicz’s poem Gra/yna and the nationalism in it. Kalinowska, Izabela. “The Sonnet, the Sequence, the Qasidah: East-West Dialogue in Adam Mickiewicz’s Sonnets.” Slavic and East European Journal 45, no. 4 (Winter, 2001): 641. Looks at Orientalism in the sonnets Mickiewicz published in 1826. Koropeckyj, Roman. Adam Mickiewicz: The Life of a Romantic. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2008. This biography of Mickiewicz examines his entire life as well as his major works. _______. The Poetics of Revitalization: Adam Mickiewicz Between “Forefathers’ 143

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Eve,” Part 3, and “Pan Tadeusz.” Boulder, Colo.: East European Monographs, 2001. This work focuses on two works, Forefathers’ Eve, part 3, and Pan Tadeusz, and the author’s development between them. Welsh, David. Adam Mickiewicz. New York: Twayne, 1966. An introductory biography and critical study of selected works by Mickiewicz. John P. Pauls and La Verne Pauls

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CZESUAW MIUOSZ Born: Šeteiniai, Lithuania; June 30, 1911 Died: Kraków, Poland; August 14, 2004 Also known as: J. Syru6 Principal poetry Poemat o czasie zastyguym, 1933 Trzy zimy, 1936 Wiersze, 1940 (as J. Syru6) Ocalenie, 1945 Kwiatuo dzienne, 1953 Traktat poetycki, 1957 (A Treatise on Poetry, 2001) Król Popiel i inne wiersze, 1962 Gucio zaczarowany, 1964 Wiersze, 1967 Miasto bez imienia, 1969 (Selected Poems, 1973) Gdzie wschodzi suo½ce i kòdy zapada, 1974 Utwory poetyckie, 1976 Bells in Winter, 1978 Poezje, 1981 Hymn o perle, 1982 Nieobjòta ziemia, 1984 (Unattainable Earth, 1986) The Separate Notebooks, 1984 The Collected Poems, 1931-1987, 1988 Provinces, 1991 Facing the River: New Poems, 1995 Wiersze wybrane, 1996 Piesek przydrozny, 1997 (Road-side Dog, 1998) Poezje wybrane—Selected Poems, 1998 To, 2000 New and Collected Poems, 1931-2001, 2001 Second Space: New Poems, 2004 Selected Poems, 1931-2004, 2006 Wiersze ostatnie, 2006 Other literary forms Although it was the poetry of Czesuaw Miuosz (MEE-wohsh) that earned for him the 1980 Nobel Prize in Literature, his work in other genres is widely known among the in145

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Czesuaw Miuosz (©The Nobel Foundation)

ternational reading public. One of his most important nonfiction works is the autobiographical volume Rodzinna Europa (1959; Native Realm: A Search for Self-Definition, 1968). Unlike most autobiographies, this volume emphasizes the social and political background of the author’s life at the expense of personal detail. For example, Miuosz makes but two passing references to his wife in the course of the entire work. Despite such lacunae, it is a work of the utmost personal candor and is indispensable for anyone endeavoring to fathom Miuosz’s poetic intent. Similarly helpful is the novel Dolina Issy (1955; The Issa Valley, 1981), the plot of which focuses on a young boy’s rites of passage in rural Lithuania during and after World War I. An understanding of the Manichaean metaphysics that inform this work as well as Native Realm is fundamental to a reading of Miuosz’s poetry. In an earlier novel, Zdobycie wuadzy (1953; The Seizure of Power, 1955), Miuosz presented a series of narrative sketches dealing with the suppression of the insurrection in Warsaw by the Germans in 1944, the Red Army’s subsequent advance through Po146

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land, and the eventual seizure of power by pro-Soviet Polish officials. Miuosz also analyzed Communist totalitarianism in a work of nonfiction, Zniewolony umysu (1953; The Captive Mind, 1953). A large part of this book is devoted to the fate of four writers in Communist Poland and provides a moving account of their gradual descent into spiritual slavery under the yoke of Stalinist oppression. Although Miuosz designates these men only by abstract labels—Alpha, the Moralist; Beta, the Disappointed Lover; Gamma, the Slave of History; and Delta, the Troubadour—their real identities are easily surmised by anyone familiar with postwar Polish literature. Some of Miuosz’s nonfictional works were originally written in English, notably The History of Polish Literature (1969, enlarged 1983). A large section of this volume is devoted to contemporary literature, and it is instructive to read Miuosz’s critical evaluation of his own stature as a Polish poet. Another valuable work originally written in English is Kwiadectwo poezji (1983; The Witness of Poetry, 1983), which gathers Miuosz’s Charles Eliot Norton lectures, given at Harvard University during the 1981-1982 academic year. Throughout these lectures, Miuosz argues that poetry should be “a passionate pursuit of the real.” More than half of the essays contained in Emperor of the Earth: Modes of Eccentric Vision (1977) are also written in English. Most of the pieces in this collection are devoted to Polish and Russian writers with whom the author shares a spiritual affinity. Among the essays included are two chapters from Miuosz’s monograph on Stanisuaw Brzozowski, Czuowiek wkród skorpionów (1962; man among scorpions), which was published on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the death of this controversial Polish writer. (These two chapters were translated by the author himself, as were some of the other essays that were originally written in Polish.) The “Emperor of the Earth” referred to in the title is a character in a Russian work of science fiction who poses as a benefactor of humankind but who in reality is the Antichrist, a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Miuosz thus underscores his belief that a religion of humanity often paves the way for totalitarian rule. If there is any thematic unity among the disparate essays included in Emperor of the Earth, it is to be found in the author’s long-standing fascination with the problem of evil. Miuosz also published two important collections of essays and what he called a “spiritual autobiography,” Ziemia Ulro (1977; The Land of Ulro, 1984). In these volumes, Miuosz is inclined toward historical speculation and takes a deeply pessimistic view of contemporary society. The title The Land of Ulro is derived from the poetry of William Blake, where Ulro represents the dehumanized world created by materialistic science. Just as the inhabitants of Blake’s Ulro are destined one day to experience a spiritual awakening, so Miuosz is hopeful regarding humanity’s ultimate redemption. Kontynenty (1958; continents) is a collection of works in various genres, including poems, literary essays, diary excerpts, and translations of poetry from several languages. Later, Miuosz published a similar potpourri, Ogród nauk (1979; the garden of 147

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knowledge). This volume is divided into three parts: The first section consists of essays; the second part presents verse translations (with commentary) of French, Yiddish, English, and Lithuanian poetry; and the third and final subdivision contains a translation of the biblical Ecclesiastes together with a stylistic analysis of biblical discourse and its relevance to the modern age. Miuosz was very active in translating works from other languages into Polish. His most important translations from French include the poetry of his cousin Oscar de L. Miuosz and that of Charles Baudelaire. In 1958, while in exile in Paris, Miuosz edited and translated selected writings of Simone Weil from French into Polish. Having taught himself English in Warsaw during the war years, he later put his talents to good use by translating works of English-language poets such as Walt Whitman, Carl Sandburg, and T. S. Eliot. It was Miuosz, in fact, who produced the first Polish version of Eliot’s The Waste Land (1922) in 1946. To promote the fortunes of contemporary poets from Poland, Miuosz translated from Polish into English. For this purpose, he issued an anthology in 1965 titled Postwar Polish Poetry. He also produced English versions of many of his own poems, working either independently or in collaboration with his students and fellow poets. Working from the original Greek and Hebrew, he rendered the Gospel According to Saint Mark, the book of Ecclesiastes, and the Psalms into Polish, with the goal of translating the entire Bible into a Polish that is modern yet elevated, sharply distinct from the debased journalistic style of many modern translations of the Bible. Achievements Prior to receiving the 1980 Nobel Prize in Literature, Czesuaw Miuosz had already won a number of other prestigious awards and honors. When his novel The Seizure of Power was published in France in 1953 under the title La prise du pouvoir, he received the Prix Littéraire Européen (jointly with German novelist Werner Warsinsky). In 1974, the Polish PEN Club in Warsaw honored him with an award for his poetry translations. He was also granted a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1976 for his work as both poet and translator. He received honorary doctorates from the University of Michigan in 1977 and from Catholic University in Lublin, Poland, in 1981, when he finally returned to his native country after thirty years. In 1978, he was selected as the fifth recipient of the biennial Neustadt International Prize for Literature by a panel of judges assembled under the auspices of the editorial board of World Literature Today (formerly called Books Abroad). Miuosz accepted the award in public ceremonies held at the University of Oklahoma on April 7, 1978. In a written tribute to his candidate for the 1978 Neustadt Prize, Joseph Brodsky, the eminent Soviet émigré writer and Nobel laureate, declared that he had no hesitation whatsoever in identifying Miuosz as one of the greatest poets of his time, perhaps the greatest. Miuosz’s preeminence as a poet in no way stems from any technical innovations to be found in his poetry, as he was actually quite indifferent toward avant-garde 148

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speculation pertaining to aesthetic form, and the greatness of his poetry lies in its content. The most remarkable aspect of Miuosz’s poetry is that, despite his having experienced first hand the depths of humankind’s depravity in the form of Nazi barbarism and Soviet tyranny, it still affirms the beauty of this world and the value of life. From the Commonwealth Club of California, he received two Silver Medals (1988, 1991) and one Gold Medal (2001). He won three Northern California Book Awards in poetry (1984, 1991, 1995), the Robert Kirsch Award from the Los Angeles Times (1990), and a PEN Center USA Literary Award for poetry (1992). One of Miuosz’s most impressive achievements was that he continued to produce outstanding new work after the age of eighty. In 1997, he published two volumes of a memoir, Abecadlo Milosza (1997; Miuosz’s ABCs, 2001), written in a distinctively Polish genre called abecadlo, an alphabetical arrangement of entries on people, places, and events from an individual’s life. His collection of aphorisms, anecdotes, musings, and observations, Road-side Dog, won the 1998 Polish Nike Literary Prize. In 2002, the Northern California Book Awards presented a Special Recognition Award for distinguished contirbution to literature and culture to Miuosz. Biography Czesuaw Miuosz was born to Aleksandr Miuosz and Weronika (Kunat) Miuosz in Šeteiniai, which is located in the Kédainiai province of Lithuania. This area of Europe is a place where Polish, Lithuanian, and German blood intermingled over the centuries, and the ancestry of Miuosz himself was a mixed one. It can, however, be established through legal documents that his father’s ancestors had been speakers of Polish since the sixteenth century. Nevertheless, Miuosz had great pride in his Lithuanian origins and even took perverse pleasure from the fact that Lithuania was the last country in Europe to adopt Christianity. The lateness of this conversion, which occurred in the year 1386, permitted the survival of pagan attitudes toward nature on the part of the peasantry, and the influence of this pagan heritage can be detected in much of Miuosz’s poetry as well as in his novel The Issa Valley. Like much of Poland itself, Lithuania was part of czarist Russia’s empire at the time of Miuosz’s birth. Miuosz’s father, a civil engineer by profession, made a yearlong trip to Siberia in 1913 under government contract and was accompanied by his wife and son. Shortly after their return home, when World War I broke out, his father was drafted into the Russian army as a military engineer and once again took his family to Russia, where they remained for the duration of the conflict. In these years, Miuosz imbibed Russian to such a degree that proficiency in that language became second nature to him and never deserted him in subsequent years. After the Bolsheviks seized power in Russia, the Miuosz family returned to the newly independent Baltic states for a few years but finally decided to settle down in the city of Wilno. This city, although once the capital of ancient Lithuania, had long been a pre149

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dominantly Polish-speaking municipality and was then incorporated into a fully restored Poland. In Wilno, Miuosz entered a Roman Catholic high school at the age of ten. There, he received exceptionally thorough training in religion, science, and the humanities over the course of eight years. It was also there that Miuosz received his first exposure to the Gnostic and Manichaean heresies that were to profoundly alter his outlook on life. Nothing in his home life could be said to have inspired the religious rebelliousness that he manifested in high school. His father was actually indifferent toward any form of worship, and his mother, although a devout Catholic, was quite tolerant of other faiths. Miuosz’s religious revolt, however, stopped far short of atheism, for he lived in a state of constant wonder at the mystery of life and kept expecting an epiphany to occur at any moment. In 1929, Miuosz matriculated as a law student at the King Stefan Batory University in Wilno and soon published his first poems in its literary review, Alma Mater Vilnensis. Here, he also became affiliated with a group of young poets who referred to themselves as ?agary (brushwood) and who subsequently founded a journal bearing the same name. While still a student, Miuosz published a slim volume of verse called Poemat o czasie zastyguym (a poem on congealed time), for which he received the poetry award from the Polish Writers Union in 1934. In the same year, Miuosz obtained a master’s degree in law from the University of Wilno as well as a fellowship in literature from the Polish government, enabling him to study in Paris during the years of 1934 and 1935. Miuosz had already been in France on one prior occasion when he and two other students from the university made an excursion to Western Europe in the summer of 1931. One of the highlights of that junket was his meeting with Oscar de L. Miuosz (18771939), a cousin of his from Lithuania and a highly accomplished poet in the French language. As a result of Miuosz’s obtaining his fellowship, the two cousins were able to see each other often, and the older man exerted a profound influence on his young relative from Poland. Oscar de L. Miuosz especially enjoyed indulging in prophetic visions of a catastrophe that was about to befall Europe. His cousin’s prophecies struck a responsive chord in Miuosz, whose own psychological state was somewhat chaotic at this time. When Miuosz returned to Poland after his fellowship year in France, he published a collection of poems titled Trzy zimy (three winters), in which the theme of personal and universal catastrophe is expressed. Oscar de L. Miuosz also helped to shape his young cousin’s views on the craft of poetry and fostered his commitment to a poetry anchored in religion, philosophy, and politics. Miuosz went on to obtain employment with the Polish Radio Corporation at its station in Wilno. He was eventually ousted from his post as programmer because of pressure exerted by local rightist groups, who considered him to be a dangerous left-winger if not an actual Communist. Although Soviet-style Communism never attracted Miuosz, his attitude toward Marxist dialectical and historical materialism was a decidedly favorable one at that time. It is also true that Miuosz did little to conceal his intense dislike for 150

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the reactionary politicians who controlled Poland after the death of Marshal Pilsudski in 1935. Fortunately, a sympathetic director of Polish Radio in Warsaw offered him a comparable post in that city, and after touring Italy in 1937, Miuosz settled down to a successful administrative career in broadcasting. This phase in Miuosz’s life came to an abrupt halt when the Germans attacked Poland on September 1, 1939. Miuosz put on a uniform in time to join units of the Polish armed forces in a retreat to the eastern part of the country. This region was soon to come under Soviet occupation as a result of an invasion by the Red Army that was initiated on September 17, 1939, and Miuosz eventually returned to Wilno. Wilno had changed drastically since Miuosz last saw it, for the Soviets chose to award the city to Lithuania as a gesture of goodwill shortly after capturing it. The Soviets, however, gradually increased their control over Lithuania and finally coerced it into becoming a Soviet Socialist Republic in the summer of 1940. When Lithuania was officially annexed to the Soviet Union, Miuosz concluded that its servitude would, in all likelihood, prove to be permanent, and he resolved to return to Warsaw. At great personal peril, Miuosz made several border crossings to get back to the part of Poland that the Germans had designated as the Government General. Despite the horrendous conditions in Warsaw, Miuosz continued to write poetry and clandestinely published a new volume of verse called Wiersze (poems) in 1940 under the pseudonym J. Syru6. This was probably the first literary work to be printed in occupied Warsaw. It was run off on a ditto machine and laboriously sewn together by Janina Dluska, whom Miuosz married in 1944 and by whom he was subsequently to become the father of two sons. When the Germans decided to rearrange the holdings of Warsaw’s three largest libraries, Miuosz managed to get himself hired as a laborer loading and transporting the packing cases, and he spent the next few years engaged in this interminable project. Some form of opposition to the German occupiers was a moral imperative, and he soon became active as a writer in the Resistance movement. In 1942, Miuosz edited a clandestine anthology of anti-Nazi poetry that appeared under the title Piek½ niepoldlegla (the independent song) and also provided the underground press with a translation of Jacques Maritain’s anticollaborationist treatise À travers le désastre (1941). Almost as an act of defiance toward the German oppressors, Miuosz began an intensive study of the English language and derived spiritual sustenance from reading poems such as Eliot’s The Waste Land. Eliot’s poem surely must have made appropriate reading at the time of such tragedies as the Warsaw Ghetto uprising in the spring of 1943. A revolt against the Germans on a much grander scale occurred in the latter half of 1944 as the Red Army reached the outskirts of the Polish capital. The underground Home Army, whose hierarchy was controlled by the London-based government-in-exile, sought to take charge in Warsaw prior to the arrival of the Russian forces and launched an attack on the Germans stationed within the city. Not surprisingly, the Rus151

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sian response to the insurrection was to cease all military activity against the Germans on the Warsaw front, and the Home Army was left to its own resources to do battle with the vastly superior Nazi forces. Miuosz himself was not a member of the Home Army because he had no desire to see the restoration of the political establishment that had governed Poland before World War II. Then, as later, he considered the rising to be an act of folly. The bitter struggle lasted more than two months and cost more than two hundred thousand Polish lives. After the surrender of the Home Army, the Germans forced the evacuation of the surviving populace and then systematically destroyed the city, block by block. Caught completely unawares by the outbreak of the rising. Miuosz and his wife were seized by the Germans as they attempted to leave Warsaw, but after a brief period of detention in a makeshift camp, they were released through the intercession of friends. Thereafter, they were to spend the next few months wandering about as refugees until the Red Army completed its annihilation of the German forces and Poland was at last liberated after more than five years of Nazi rule. Since Warsaw had been almost totally destroyed, the center of literary activity in Poland had gravitated to Kraków, and it was there in 1945 that a collection of Miuosz’s wartime poetry was issued in a volume titled Ocalenie (rescue). This work was one of the very first books to be published in postwar Poland. Because of his prominence as a poet, Miuosz was selected for service in the diplomatic corps and was posted as a cultural attaché at the Polish Embassy in Washington, D.C., from 1946 to 1950. He then was transferred to Paris, where he was appointed first secretary for cultural affairs. In 1951, shortly after the practice of Socialist Realism became mandatory for all Polish writers, he decided to break with the home government in Warsaw and to start life anew by working as a freelance writer in France. The next decade proved to be remarkably productive for Miuosz. His reasons for breaking with the Warsaw regime were fully set forth in the nonfictional study The Captive Mind as well as in the political novel The Seizure of Power. At the same time, he continued to create poetry of the highest order. His novel The Issa Valley also dates from this period, as does his long poem A Treatise on Poetry. In recognition of these literary accomplishments, Miuosz was invited to lecture on Polish literature at the University of California, Berkeley, during the academic year 1960-1961. In 1961, he decided to settle in Berkeley after he was offered tenure as a professor of Slavic languages and literatures. He became a naturalized American citizen in 1970 and eventually retired from active teaching in 1978 with the rank of professor emeritus. Just as he retained his creativity during his years in exile as a freelance writer in Paris, so too did Miuosz manage to maintain his literary productivity within an academic environment in the United States. Fully one-third of the works included in the edition of Miuosz’s Utwory poetyckie (collected poems), which was printed under the aegis of the Michigan Slavic Publications in 1976, were written in the United States. His lifetime achievement as a poet received acknowledgment when he was selected as the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1980. 152

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In June, 1981, Miuosz returned to Poland for the first time since his self-imposed exile in 1951. The Polish government, still under Communism, now claimed him, although his Nobel Prize acceptance speech was published only after the anti-Communist sentiments were edited out. Polish presses were now able to publish his poetry, at last making it available in Polish to his native people, many of whom had never heard of their newly crowned national bard. With the declaration of martial law in December, 1981, however, his work was again banned by the government, although some of it remained available in samizdat, or underground, publications. Upon his return to America, Miuosz began a series of lectures as the Charles Eliot Norton Professor at Harvard University for the academic year 1981-1982. These l ectures were later published in The Witness of Poetry. Miuosz was incredibly prolific in his twilight years, publishing several collections of poetry, essays, and criticism: As he entered his nineties, Miuosz continued to publish. His wife, Janina, died in 1986 after a ten-year battle with Alzheimer’s disease. Miuosz married again and divided his time between Berkeley and Kraków until his death in 2004. Analysis The principal group of Polish poets in the period between the two world wars was known by the name “Skamander,” after the title of its official literary organ. The Skamander group consisted of a number of poets with very disparate styles and diverse interests, and its members included such renowned literary figures as Julian Tuwim, Kazimierz Wierzy½ski, Jaroslaw Iwaszkiewicz, Antoni Suonimski, and Jan Lecho½. Since the Skamanderites were viewed as belonging to the literary establishment, younger poets formed movements of their own in opposition. A group now designated as the First Vanguard was centered in the city of Kraków during the 1920’s and derived much of its aesthetic program from the ideas propounded by the Futurists in Italy. Around 1930, many new literary groups sprang up in various parts of Poland, and these groups are today known collectively as the Second Vanguard. Building on the formal innovations of the First Vanguard, its members generally sought to intensify the social and political dimensions of poetry. The ?agary group of poets, to which Czesuaw Miuosz belonged while a student at the University of Wilno, was part of the Second Vanguard. Because of the apocalyptic premonitions expressed in their poetry, the Wilno group soon came to be labeled “catastrophists.” Poemat o czasie zastygUym Miuosz’s first published book, Poemat o czasie zastyguym, represents a youthful attempt to write civic poetry and is often marred by inflated political rhetoric as well as by avant-garde experimentation in both language and form. Apparently, Miuosz himself recognizes its overall shortcomings, since he chose to exclude the work from the edition of his collected poems published at Ann Arbor in 1976. 153

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Trzy zimy His next work, Trzy zimy, is largely free from the defects of the previous one and constitutes a decided advance in Miuosz’s development as a poet. Despite his continued reliance on elliptical imagery, these poems frequently attain a classical dignity of tone. This quality is even present when Miuosz gives vent to forebodings of personal and universal catastrophe. One of his finest poems in this vein is called “Do ksiedza Ch.” (to Father Ch.) and is passionate and restrained at the same time. Here, after describing a world being destroyed by natural calamities as a result of humanity’s sinfulness, Miuosz ends his poem on a note of reconciliation. Shared suffering will, he says, reunite longtime antagonists, and the last pagans will be baptized in the cathedral-like abyss. Ocalenie Such premonitions of catastrophe turned into reality after the outbreak of World War II. The poems that Miuosz wrote during the war years in Poland were gathered together and published in 1945 under the title Ocalenie. Among the works in this collection are two outstanding poems that deal with the destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto. The first is “Campo di Fiori” and begins with a description of this famous square in modern-day Rome. The poet recalls that Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake on that very spot before a crowd that resumed its normal activities even before the flames were completely extinguished. The scene then shifts to Warsaw, where the crowds also carry on with mundane matters on a beautiful Sunday evening even while the ghetto is ablaze. The loneliness of the Jewish resistance fighters is then likened to the solitary fate suffered by Bruno. The poet, however, resolves to bear witness to the tragedy and to record the deeds of those dying alone, forgotten by the world. The second poem is called “Biedny chrzekcijanin patrzy na getto” (“A Poor Christian Looks at the Ghetto”). Here, the poet watches as bees and ants swarm over the ruins of the Ghetto. He then spots a tunnel being bored by a mole, whose swollen eyelids remind him of those of a biblical patriarch. Guilt overwhelms the poet as he wonders if in the next world the patriarch will accuse him of being an accomplice of the merchants of death. This guilt is less that of a survivor than of one who regrets that he was unable to help a fellow human being in his hour of need. Many other poems in the collection focus on purely personal themes, but it is in his role as a national bard that Miuosz is most impressive. Although Miuosz’s poetic style is generally modern in character, the reader frequently encounters traces of the diction and phraseology associated with great Romantic poets such as Adam Mickiewicz, Juliusz Suowacki, and Cyprian Norwid. Any avant-garde preoccupation with finding new modes of linguistic expression could only have appeared trivial in the light of the horrendous events that overwhelmed the poet and his nation during the war years.

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KwiatUo dzienne While in exile in France during the years 1951 to 1960, Miuosz published two important volumes of verse : Kwiatuo dzienne (daylight) and A Treatise on Poetry. In the first of these works, the poet dwells on political grievances of various sorts. One of the best of these political poems is titled “Dziecie Europy” (“A Child of Europe”). After a bitterly ironic opening section in which the poet reminds those who managed to live through the war how often they sacrificed their honor as the price of survival, he goes on to ridicule the belief in historical materialism and implies that the doctrine of the inevitability of socialism rests more on the use of force against all classes of society than on the laws of history. To those who are compelled to live in a communist state, he offers a counsel of despair: If you wish to survive, do not love other people or the cultural heritage of Europe too dearly. A Treatise on Poetry In his A Treatise on Poetry, Miuosz surveys the development of Polish poetry in the twentieth century and discusses the role of the poet in an age of crisis. A work of about twelve hundred lines, it is unrhymed, except for a few rhymed insertions, and employs a metrical line of eleven syllables with a caesura after the fifth syllable. The meter is quite familiar to Polish readers because of its previous appearance in major literary works by Mickiewicz and Suowacki. Even so, Miuosz’s style here is classical rather than Romantic. A dissertation of this kind that employs verse has, to be sure, a number of contemporary counterparts, such as W. H. Auden’s The Double Man (also known as New Year Letter; 1941) and Karl Shapiro’s Essay on Rime (1945 ), but the genre had not been used in Polish literature since the Renaissance. A Treatise on Poetry is, therefore, considered to be in the nature of an innovation in Miuosz’s homeland. For this and other reasons, it is ranked very highly among the poetical works in Miuosz’s oeuvre. Król Popiel i inne wiersze The publication of Miuosz’s Król Popiel i inne wiersze (King Popiel and other poems) in 1962 was closely followed by a second volume of verse titled Gucio zaczarowany (Bobo’s metamorphosis) two years later. In both works, all formal features associated with poetry are minimized. Stanza, rhyme, and regular meter tend to disappear, and the poet veers toward free verse. The title poem in the first work tells the story of Popiel, a mythical king from the time of Polish prehistory who was said to have been devoured by mice on his island fortress in the center of a large lake. In recounting this legend, Miuosz makes the reader aware of the narrow mode of existence that must have been the lot of Popiel and his kingly successors, for whom possession of territory and material objects was of overriding importance and to whom all cosmological speculation was alien. The pettiness of Popiel’s end mirrors the pettiness of his thought.

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Gucio zaczarowany Much longer and much more complex is “Gucio zaczarowany” (“Bobo’s Metamorphosis”), the title poem of the subsequent collection. Miuosz, with the assistance of Richard Lourie, has himself translated the work into English and is thus responsible for its current title; a more literal rendition of the original Polish would be “enchanted Gucio.” (Gucio is one of the diminutive forms of the name Gustaw.) The poem itself has eight sections; in the seventh, an individual called Bobo (Gucio) is transformed into a fly for a few hours. As a result of this experience, Bobo often has difficulty adopting a purely human perspective on matters. All of the other sections of the poem likewise involve the problem of reconciling various perspectives. In the final section, the poet explores the psychological tensions that arise between a man and a woman as they mutually recognize the impossibility of penetrating the private universe of another person’s mind. In place of understanding, they have no recourse but to posit humanity and tenderness. The dialectical tension in this poem, and its resolution, is quite typical of Miuosz’s cast of mind, for he intuitively looks at the world in terms of contrary categories such as stasis and motion or universal and particular. Similarly, in many of his poems, a sense of apocalypse is juxtaposed to a feeling of happiness. Miasto bez imienia In Miasto bez imienia (city without a name), a collection of verse published in 1969 and translated in the 1973 collection Selected Poems, Miuosz does much to clarify his view of poetry in the works titled “Ars poetica?” (“Ars Poetica?”) and “Rady” (“Counsels”). The opening lines of “Ars Poetica?” are used by the author to proclaim his desire to create a literary form that transcends the claims of either poetry or prose. Nothing short of this, he declares, is capable of satisfying the demoniac forces within the poet that inspire the content of his work. There can, however, be no assurance that the daimon will be an angel, for a host of Orphic voices compete for possession of a poet’s psyche. Over the years, so many invisible guests enter a poet’s mind that Miuosz likens it to a city of demons and reminds the reader how difficult it is for anyone who writes poetry to remain only one person. Still, he personally eschews the morbid and expresses his disdain for confessional poetry of the psychiatric variety. Miuosz is committed to the kind of poetry that helps humankind to bear its pain and misery, and he underscores this belief in “Counsels.” Younger poets are hereby cautioned against propagating doctrines of despair. This earth, Miuosz insists, is not a madman’s dream, nor is it a stupid tale full of sound and fury. He himself concedes that this is a world wherein justice seldom triumphs and tyrants often prosper. Nevertheless, Miuosz argues that Earth merits a bit of affection if only because of the beauties it contains. Neither in “Counsels” nor elsewhere in his poetical oeuvre does Miuosz ever hold God to be the cause of the misfortunes that humans inflict on other humans, and he likewise absolves the deity of responsibility for any of the other evils that befall human be156

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ings in this world. His conception of God has much in common with that to be found in the writings of the Gnostics and Manichaeans, for which he first developed a partiality while still a high school student in Wilno. Hence, Miuosz is frequently tempted to view God as a perfect being who is completely divorced from all forms of matter and who is, therefore, not responsible for the creation of the material universe. In that light, everything that has a temporal existence can be said to be under the control of a Demiurge opposed to God. Miuosz does, however, advise his readers not to assume a divine perspective in which humanity’s earthly tribulations are to be seen as inconsequential. In “Do Robinsona Jeffersa” (“To Robinson Jeffers”), a poem included in his essay collection Widzenia nad zatoká San Francisco (1969; Visions from San Francisco Bay, 1982), Miuosz objects to the way in which Jeffers, in some of his poetry, demotes the stature of humanity by contrasting people’s pettiness with the immensity of nature. Miuosz prefers to remain true to his Slavic and Baltic heritage, in which nature is anthropomorphized, rather than to adopt an inhuman view of the universe such as the one propounded by Jeffers. Gdzie wschodzi sUo«ce i k dy zapada The free-verse style of Gdzie wschodzi suo½ce i kòdy zapada (from where the sun rises to where it sets) sometimes borders on prose. The author, in fact, freely juxtaposes passages of verse and prose in the title poem, an explicitly autobiographical work that is almost fifty pages long. In the seven sections of this poem, Miuosz moves between past and present in a spirit of free association and contemplates the nature ofan inexplicable fate that has brought him from a wooden town in Lithuania to a city on the Pacific coast of the United States. True to his dialectical frame of mind, Miuosz’s attitudes alternate between forebodings of death and affirmation of life. “Dzwony w zimie” (“Bells in Winter”), the final section, contrasts the Wilno of his youth, where he was usually awakened by the pealing of church bells, with the city of San Francisco, whose towers he views daily across the bay in the winter of his life. The entire poem is an attempt to bridge the gap between his expectations as a youth in Poland and the realities of his old age in America. “You Who Have Wronged” Bridge-building in the reverse direction occurred when Polish workers belonging to the Solidarity movement selected some lines from one of Miuosz’s poems to serve as an inscription on the monument erected outside the shipyards in Gda½sk for the purpose of commemorating the strikers who died during demonstrations against the government in 1970. These lines are taken from the poem “Który skrzywdzilek” (“You Who Have Wronged”), included in the collection Kwiatuo dzienne, and run as follows:

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Critical Survey of Poetry You, who have wronged a simple man, Bursting into laughter at his suffering . . . Do not feel safe. The poet remembers. You may kill him—a new one will be born. Deeds and talks will be recorded.

For a poet in exile, it must have been a source of profound satisfaction to learn that his words had been chosen by his countrymen to express their own longing for a free and independent Poland. Verse that previously had been circulated clandestinely in samizdat form could now be read by everyone on a public square in broad daylight. The Collected Poems, 1931-1987 Like the other long serial poems, “La Belle Époque” from “New Poems, 19851987,” which appears at the end of The Collected Poems, 1931-1987, mixes verse and prose, speaks in multiple voices, and moves freely in time, along the way pointing out the intersections of personal fate with history. The poem returns over its seven sections to a few central characters. The poet’s father and the beautiful teenage Ela seem to represent for the poet the inevitable human tendency toward empathy and connection; he identifies so closely with each that he feels he “becomes” them. However, such feeling is terrifyingly fragile in the face of catastrophe, whether natural catastrophes or the everyday catastrophe of human mortality. Miuosz relates with necessary, quiet detachment, for instance, the fact of the execution of Valuev and Peterson, train passengers engaged in a debate over mortality, each feverishly in pursuit of his own truth. The poem’s final section asserts the fragility of not only the individual human, but also the entire belle époque and its nearsighted optimism with the sinking of the Titanic. “La Belle Epoque,” with its harsh pessimism, is not the conclusion to “New Poems, 1985-1987.” Rather, in the last poem, “Six Lectures in Verse,” with characteristic insight, Miuosz goes beyond the contradiction of mortality to a new recognition: that the facts of history and mortality are forgotten in that moment when sensuous reality is far more present and more “real” than any concept we have of it. Facing the River From the mid-1980’s to the mid-1990’s, Miuosz’s poetry underwent a profound change. The poem “Realism,” in the collection Facing the River, gives some indication of the source and direction of his poetic goals. Admitting that the language humans use to tame nature’s random molecules fails to capture eternal essences or ontological reality, Miuosz still insists on a realm of objectivity embodied in the still life. Abstractionism and pure subjectivity are not the final prison for the triumph of the ego, and Miuosz recalls Arthur Schopenhauer’s praise of Dutch painting for creating a “will-less knowing” that transcends egoism through “direct[ing] such purely objective perception to the 158

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most insignificant of objects.” So Miuosz proceeds in “Realism” from the still life to the idea of losing himself in a landscape: Therefore I enter those landscapes Under cloudy sky from which a ray Shoots out, and in the middle of dark plains A spot of brightness glows. Or the shore With huts, boats, and on yellowish ice Tiny figures skating. All this Is here eternally, just because once it was.

This is remarkable because the preceding poem, “The Garden of Earthly Delights: Hell,” completes the series of meditations—written more than a decade earlier and published in Unattainable Earth—on Hieronymous Bosch’s terrifying painting of the same title. In moving from the scene of worldly hell to the Dutch still life and landscape, Miuosz conveys his desire to move beyond the tragic and egocentric to the sensuous, yet peaceful and eternal. “The Garden of Earthly Delights: Hell” is, in fact, one of the most frightening poems in this, the most hell-haunted of all of Miuosz’s work. This is the “missing panel” of Miuosz’s meditation on Bosch’s painting, The Garden of Earthly Delights. Sensitive to such details in the painting as “a harp/ With a poor damned man entwined in its strings,” one feels Miuosz’s own painful skepticism of the worth of a life in art. Here he takes one of the most painful jabs at his own endless pursuit of the real as hiding fear of death: Thus it’s possible to conjecture that mankind exists To provision and populate Hell, The name of which is duration. As to the rest, Heavens, abysses, orbiting worlds, they just flicker a moment. Time in Hell does not want to stop. It’s fear and boredom together (Which, after all, happens) And we, frivolous, Always in pursuit and always with hope, Fleeting, just like our dances and dresses, Let us beg to be spared from entering A permanent condition.

This is the ironic version of what he says in “Capri”: “If I accomplished anything, it was only when I, a pious boy, chased after the disguises of the lost Reality.” The question for Miuosz is when the “chasing” stops that carried him forward in time, out of his past, and now back into his past. Where is the final reality beneath “dresses” and “disguises,” metaphors for the changing forms of history and of his own art? 159

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Second Space Second Space was published just after Miuosz’s death. The title comes from the first poem in the collection, in which the author meditates on most people’s loss of belief in the afterlife. Most of the other thirty-one poems in the collection have religious themes as well, although a few, such as “New Age” and “Late Ripeness” discuss old age, and “A Master of My Craft” is a salute to fellow poet Jaroslaw Iwaszkiewicz, a member of the Skamander group. The shortest poem with only five lines is “If There Is No God,” an argument that even if God does not exist, there are still moral laws by which to live. The longest poem in the collection, “Treatise on Theology,” covers twenty pages. As the title indicates, it concerns Christianity, especially Catholicism. The narrator describes a young man, clearly based on Miuosz himself, who is a poet struggling with his religious beliefs and meditating on the mysteries of the Trinity, Original Sin, and Redemption. There are several references to Mickiewicz, a Polish poet who combined elements of the Enlightenment and romanticism; Jacob Boehme, a theologian who was burned at the stake for supporting the astronomical theories of Copernicus; Arthur Schopenhauer, a German philosopher known for his atheistic pessimism; Emanuel Swedenborg, a Swedish scientist who became a mystic and theologian; and Charles Darwin, the English scientist who developed the theory of evolution. “Father Severinus” is a monologue by a Catholic priest who no longer believes in God, especially in the necessity of the Crucifixion, and feels guilty for consoling his parishioners with church doctrines in which he no longer believes. He wonders why Christians worship a man who bleeds and why they feel a need for Hell when life on Earth is bad enough. He is envious of the ancient Greeks, who worshiped gods such as Athena, Apollo, and Artemis. He thinks that if he had been at the Council at Nicea in 325, he would have voted against making the concept of the Holy Trinity a critical part of Christian doctrine. The name of the poem is a reference to the Roman Christian philosopher Boethius, whose full name was Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius and whose best known work was De consolatione philosophiae (523; The Consolation of Philosophy, late ninth century). “Apprentice” is an appreciation of Miuosz’s distant cousin Oscar de L. Miuosz, and this poem is the most thoroughly footnoted work in this collection. Czesuaw Miuosz met his relative in Paris in 1931, developed a closer relationship with him, studied his poetry and catastrophism based on the Book of Revelations, studied Swedenborg under his guidance, and talked to other people who knew him. In this poem, Miuosz imagines what it must have been like to have been the other Miuosz and laments that Oscar would have been better off if he had not been born wealthy and lived in Paris for most of his adult life. Selected Poems, 1931-2004 Selected Poems, 1931-2004 contains more than one hundred poems arranged chronologically. The first poem in the collection is “Dawns,” which belongs to his early pe160

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riod when, under the influence of Oscar de L. Miuosz, he was preoccupied with catastrophes. The last is “Orpheus and Eurydice,” a modern retelling of the classic myth. In Miuosz’s version, Orpheus has to deal with automobiles, elevators, and other modern devices on his journey to Hades. The underworld’s entrance, a glass-paneled door, has a sidewalk in front of it, and Hades is several hundred stories below the ground in the form of a labyrinth. Orpheus still carries a nine-string lyre, and he uses his voice to persuade the goddess Persephone to free Eurydice. The poem does not change the ending, but afterward, Orpheus finds consolations in the scents, sounds, and textures of nature. Other poems include “The World” (1943), which is written in the style of a nursery rhyme and follows a group of children coming home from school. Their mother feeds them soup, a boar’s head comes to life and confronts them, they read poetry and picture books before going to play in the woods, and find reassurance from their father that the night’s darkness will pass. The darkness symbolizes the Nazi occupation, and the children’s father represents God. One year later, Poland was “liberated” by the Red Army, and the Communists replaced the Nazis. In “Mid-Twentieth-Century Portrait” (1945), he portrays a Communist Party official as a hypocrite. Over the years, Miuosz wondered whether poetry was a worthy pursuit, and even when he decided it was, he wondered whether he was worthy of it. In “Song of a Citizen” (1943), the speaker wonders whether poetry is worthwhile. “With Trumpets and Zithers” (1965) celebrates life, but the poet despairs over whether he can adequately describe it. In “Secretaries” (1975), Miuosz compares the work of a poet to a secretary who merely transcribes what other people say. Miuosz was always interested in philosophical issues. “Encounters” (1936) argues that mediation is not enough when responding to the world. Whimsical metaphysical questions concern “Magpiety” (1958). When the poet sees a magpie in France, is it improbable that it is the same magpie he had seen years before in Lithuania. In the tradition of Plato, he tries to grasp the essence of the magpie, which he calls “magpiety.” In “To Raja Rao” (1969), Miuosz traces his development from youthful visionary to a more mature man who rejects both Western rationalism and Eastern mysticism. In “Bypassing Rue Descartes” (1980), Miuosz rejects rationalism in the tradition of René Descartes. In “Slow River” (1936), Miuosz uses multiple voices to show how difficult it is for people to accept nature’s beauty on its own terms. “From the Rising of the Sun” (19731974) is a fifty-page poem using not only multiple voices, but also multiple languages, including Polish, Lithuanian, and Byelorussian. Other major works long fiction: Zdobycie wuadzy, 1953 (The Seizure of Power, 1955); Dolina Issy, 1955 (The Issa Valley, 1981). nonfiction: Zniewolony umysu, 1953 (criticism; The Captive Mind, 1953); Rodzinna Europa, 1959 (autobiography; Native Realm: A Search for Self-Definition, 1968); 161

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Czuowiek wkród skorpionów, 1962 (criticism); The History of Polish Literature, 1969 (enlarged 1983); Widzenia nad zatoká San Francisco, 1969 (Visions from San Francisco Bay, 1982); Prywatne obowiázki, 1972; Emperor of the Earth: Modes of Eccentric Vision, 1977; Ziemia Ulro, 1977 (The Land of Ulro, 1984); Nobel Lecture, 1981; Kwiadectwo poezji, 1983 (criticism; The Witness of Poetry, 1983); Zaczynajác od moich ulic, 1985 (Beginning with My Streets: Essays and Recollections, 1991); Rok mykliwego, 1990 (A Year of the Hunter, 1994); Legendy nowoczesnokci, 1996 (Legends of Modernity: Essays and Letters from Occupied Poland, 1942-1943, 2005); Abecadlo Milosza, 1997 (Miuosz’s ABCs, 2001); Striving Towards Being: The Letters of Thomas Merton and Czeslaw Milosz, 1997; Zycie na wyspach, 1997; To Begin Where I Am: Selected Essays, 2001; Rozmowy Czesuaw Miuosz: Aleksander Fiut “Autoportret przekorny,” 2003; Czesuaw Miuosz: Conversations, 2006. edited texts: Piek½ niepoldlegla, 1942; Postwar Polish Poetry, 1965; With the Skin: Poems of Aleksander Wat, 1989; A Book of Luminous Things: An International Anthology of Poetry, 1996. miscellaneous: Kontynenty, 1958; Ogród nauk, 1979. Bibliography Davie, Donald. Czesuaw Miuosz and the Insufficiency of Lyric. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1986. The poet Davie examines the poetry of Miuosz , paying attention to technique. Fiut, Aleksander. The Eternal Moment: The Poetry of Czesuaw Miuosz. Translated by Theodosia S. Robertson. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990. A comprehensive examination of the artistic and philosophical dimensions of Miuosz’s oeuvre. Fiut analyzes the poet’s search for the essence of human nature, his reflection on the erosion of the Christian imagination, and his effort toward an anthropocentric vision of the world. Grudzinska-Gross, Irena. Czesuaw Miuosz and Joseph Brodsky: Fellowship of Poets. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2010. Examines the relationship between these two poets and compares and contrasts them. Ironwood 18 (Fall, 1981). Special Miuosz issue. Published a year after Miuosz received the Nobel Prize, this issue’s self-proclaimed purpose was to “help Americans absorb and assimilate his work.” Offers a broad range of responses to Miuosz’s work from his American and Polish contemporaries, many well-known and admired poets themselves, such as Robert Hass, Zbigniew Herbert, and Stanisuaw Bara½czak. Malinowska, Barbara. Dynamics of Being, Space, and Time in the Poetry of Czesuaw Miuosz and John Ashbery. New York: P. Lang, 2000. A discussion of poetic visions of reality in the works of two contemporary hyperrealistic poets. In its final synthesis, the study proposes the comprehensive concept of ontological transcendence as a model to analyze multidimensional contemporary poetry. Includes bibliographical references. 162

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Miuosz, Czesuaw. Interviews. Conversations with Czesuaw Miuosz. Edited by Ewa Czarnecka and Aleksander Fiut. Translated by Richard Lourie. New York: Harcourt, 1987. Incredibly eclectic and illuminating set of interviews divided into three parts. Part 1 explores Miuosz’s childhood through mature adulthood biographically, part 2 delves more into specific poetry and prose works, and part 3 looks at Miuosz’s philosophical influences and perspectives on theology, reality, and poetry. It is especially interesting to hear Miuosz’s interpretations of his own poems. _______. Interviews. Czesuaw Miuosz: Conversations. Edited by Cynthia L. Haven. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2006. Part of the Literary Conversations series, this collection of interviews examines the poet’s views on literature and writing. Mozejko, Edward, ed. Between Anxiety and Hope: The Poetry and Writing of Czesuaw Miuosz. Edmonton: University of Alberta Press, 1988. Although these seven articles by accomplished poets and scholars are not focused around any one theme, some topics that dominate are catastrophism and the concept of reality in Miuosz’s poetry and his place in Polish literature. Also shows Miuosz’s ties with Canada in an article comparing his artistic attitudes to those of Canadian poets and an appendix describing his visits to Canada. Nathan, Leonard, and Arthur Quinn. The Poet’s Work: An Introduction to Czesuaw Miuosz. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1991. The first book by an American to serve, as Stanisuaw Bara½czak puts it in the foreword, as a “detailed and fully reliable introduction . . . to the body of Miuosz’s writings.” This work by two of Miuosz’s Berkeley colleagues (Nathan was also a cotranslator with Miuosz of many of his most challenging poems) benefits from the authors’ lengthy discussions of the texts with the poet himself. Victor Anthony Rudowski; Tasha Haas; Robert Faggen Updated by Thomas R. Feller

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DAN PAGIS Born: Radautsi, Romania; October 16, 1930 Died: Jerusalem, Israel; July 29, 1986 Principal poetry Shaon ha-hol, 1959 Sheut mauheret, 1964 Gilgul, 1970 Poems by Dan Pagis, 1972 Moah, 1975 Points of Departure, 1981 Milim nirdafot, 1982 Shneim asar panim, 1984 Shirim aharonim, 1987 Variable Directions: The Selected Poetry of Dan Pagis, 1989 Col ha-shirim, 1991 Other literary forms Although Dan Pagis (pah-GEE) is internationally known as a poet, he has written a children’s book in Hebrew, ha-Beitzah she-hithapsah (1973; the egg that tried to disguise itself). As a professor of medieval Hebrew literature at Hebrew University, he has published important studies on the aesthetics of medieval poetry, including expositions of Moses Ibn Ezra, Judah ha-Levi, Ibn Gabirol, and the other great poets of the eleventh and twelfth centuries who celebrated the colors and images of worldly existence in elegant, formal verse. Pagis’s own poems, more understated and conversational than the medieval texts he studied, have been translated into Afrikaans, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Estonian, French, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, SerboCroatian, Swedish, Vietnamese, and Yiddish. Achievements The first generation of Israeli poets often used a collective identity to write poetry of largely ideological content. However, the reaction to previous ideological values that arose in the late 1950’s and the 1960’s has been described by Hebrew critic Shimon Sandbank as “the withdrawal from certainty.” Poets Yehuda Amichai and Natan Zach were at the forefront of this avant-garde movement, a “new wave” that included Dan Pagis, Tuvia Ruebner, Dahlia Ravikovitch, and David Rokeah. These poets of the 1950’s turned away from the socially minded national poets, believing in the poet as an individual and using understatement, irony, prosaic diction, and free verse to express their own views. 164

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Most of all, the revolution in Hebrew verse that Pagis, Amichai, and Zach brought about was the perfection of a colloquial norm for Hebrew poetry. Pagis and Amichai especially made efforts to incorporate elements of classical Hebrew into the colloquial diction, with Pagis often calling on a specific biblical or rabbinical text. His poems have appeared in major American magazines, including The New Yorker and Tikkun. Biography Dan Pagis was born in Radautsi, Romania, and was brought up in Bukovina, speaking German in a Jewish home in what was once an eastern province of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He spent three years in Nazi concentration camps, from which he escaped in 1944. After he arrived in Palestine in 1946, Pagis began to publish poetry in his newly acquired Hebrew within only three or four years, and he became a schoolteacher on a kibbutz. He settled in Jerusalem in 1956, where he earned his Ph.D. from Hebrew University and became a professor of medieval Hebrew literature. Pagis also taught at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, Harvard University, and the University of California, at both San Diego and Berkeley. During his life, he was the foremost living authority on the poetics of Hebrew literature of the High Middle Ages and the Renaissance. He was married and had two children. Pagis died of cancer in Jerusalem in 1986. Analysis Reflecting the geographic and linguistic displacements of his life, displacement is a governing concept in Dan Pagis’s poetry, in the sense that to “displace” is to remove or put out of its proper place. Although there is a great deal of horror in his poetry, the historical record of that horror is so enormous that Pagis uses displacement to give it expression without the shrillness of hysteria or the bathos of melodrama. Instead, he cultivates a variety of distanced, ventriloquist voices that become authentic surrogates for his own voice. Pagis survived one of the darkest events in human history and managed to set distance from it through the medium of his art. Pagis is a playful poet as well, sometimes using humor and whimsy to transform the displacement of his life from a passively suffered fate into an imaginative reconstruction of reality. Poems by Dan Pagis In Poems by Dan Pagis, it is apparent why many discussions of Pagis’s poems tend to pigeonhole him as a “poet of the Holocaust.” The first poem is titled “The Last Ones,” and the first-person speaker in the poem speaks for all the Jews left after the Holocaust. Ironically, he states that “For years I have appeared only here and there/ at the edges of this jungle.” Nevertheless, he is certain that “at this moment/ someone is tracking me. . . . Very close. Here.” The poem ends with the line “There is no time to explain,” indicating a collective consciousness that is still running in fear for its life. 165

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A section of the book called “Testimony” contains six Holocaust poems, among them “Europe, Late,” the brilliant “Written in Pencil in the Sealed Railway-Car,” and the chilling “Draft of a Reparations Agreement.” In “Europe, Late,” the speaker betrays his innocence by asking what year it is, and the answer is “Thirty-nine and a half, still awfully early.” He introduces the reader to the life of the party, dancing the tango and kissing the hand of an elegant woman, reassuring her “that everything will be all right.” However, the voice stops midsentence at the end of the poem, “No it could never happen here,/ don’t worry so—you’ll see—it could.” Often Holocaust themes are placed in an archetypal perspective, as in the widely known poem “Written in Pencil in the Sealed Railway-Car.” The speaker is “eve” traveling with her son “abel,” and she means to leave a message for her other son. “If you see my other son/ cain son of man/ tell him i”; here the poem ends abruptly, leaving the reader to meditate on the nature of evil. In “Draft of a Reparations Agreement,” the speaker is again a collective voice, the voice of the perpetrators of the Holocaust. The agreement promises that “Everything will be returned to its place,/ paragraph after paragraph,” echoing the bureaucratic language in which the whole Nazi endeavor was carried out. In a kind of mordant displacement the draft writer promises “The scream back into the throat./ The gold teeth back to the gums.” Also, . . . you will be covered with skin and sinews and you will live, look, you will have your lives back, . . . . . . . . . . . . Here you are. Nothing is too late.

The exquisite irony exposes the absurdity of reparations as well as the lunacy of the speaker. Points of Departure In Points of Departure, Pagis’s voice runs the gamut from horrifying to deceptively whimsical. In “End of the Questionnaire,” he creates a questionnaire to be filled out posthumously, with questions including “number of galaxy and star,/ number of grave.” “You have the right to appeal,” the questionnaire informs the deceased. It ends with the command, “In the blank space below, state/ how long you have been awake and why you are surprised.” Ironically, this poem provokes the reader to meditate on the great finality of death. “The Beginning” is a poem about “the end of creation.” Pagis envisions the end as “A time of war,” when “distant fleets of steel are waiting.” The shadow of the Holocaust hovers over all, as “High above the smoke and the odor of fat and skins hovers/ a yellow magnetic stain.” The poet seems to be saying that the Holocaust is the beginning of the 166

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end, when “at the zero-hour/ the Great Bear, blazing, strides forth/ in heat.” In a charming cycle in which five poems are grouped under the heading “Bestiary,” each poem is rich with humor and whimsy. In the first, “The Elephant,” Pagis writes of the pachyderm who ties on sixteen “marvelously accurate wristwatches” and “glides forth smoothly/ out of his elephant fate.” Armchairs also become animals in this bestiary: “The slowest animals/ are the soft large-eared leather armchairs” that “multiply/ in the shade of potted philodendrons.” Balloons also are animate, as they “fondle one another” and cluster at the ceiling, humbly accepting their limit. However, what is playful suddenly becomes ominous, as The soul suddenly leaks out in a terrified whistle or explodes with a single pop.

The darkest poem in this group is the one titled “The Biped.” Pagis points out that though he is related to other predatory animals, “he alone/ cooks animals, peppers them,/ he alone is clothed with animals,” and he alone “protests/ against what is decreed.” What the poet finds strangest is that he “rides of his own free will/ on a motorcycle.” “The Biped” becomes an existential comedy through this odd mixture of traits Pagis chooses to juxtapose, including the last three lines of the poem, which state “He has four limbs,/ two ears,/ a hundred hearts.” “Brain” The highly intellectual poetry of Pagis treats each subject in a style which seems most appropriate. In “Brain” (from Points of Departure), he uses several different styles to illustrate the tortured life of this brain in exile, or, what the reader might imagine, Pagis himself. Typical of his later poetry, “Brain” is concerned with the ambivalence of the poet’s experience of the world and employs images from the laboratory, popular culture, the Hebrew Bible, and medicine. The poem begins with a reference to religious life, although the “dark night of the soul” here becomes ironically “the dark night of the skull,” during which “Brain” discovers “he” is born. In part 2, in a biblical reference, “Brain hovers upon the face of the deep,” yet he is not a deity when his eyes develop, he discovers the world complete. Brain first suspects that he is the whole universe, as an infant is aware only of itself, but then suspects he embodies millions of other brains, all “splitting off from him, betraying him from within.” In a sudden shift of tone in part 4, Pagis gives us an image of Brain, looking exactly as one would picture him: “grayish-white convolutions,/ a bit oily, sliding back and forth.” Brain sets out to explore the world and makes a friend, with whom he communicates over radio sets in the attic. He questions the friend to find out if they are alike, and when they become intimate Brain asks, “Tell me, do you know how to forget?” 167

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When his life is half over, Brain finds his “bush of veins” enveloping him, snaring him, and in a fit of existential despair, he wonders why he ever spoke, to whom he spoke, and if there is anyone to listen to him. Part 9 is an encyclopedic entry describing the brain, and Brain is embarrassed by so much praise; he commands “Let there be darkness!” and closes the encyclopedia. Brain metamorphoses throughout the poem and starts to think about outer space. Toward the end of this remarkable poem, Brain is receiving signals from light years away and makes contact with another world, which may be a heart. The discovery is cloaked in the language of science fiction; Brain is both a microcosm and a macrocosm, and he is astounded to find that There is a hidden circle somewhere whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere; . . . so near that he will never be able to see it.

With his new knowledge, his old sarcasm and jokes desert him, along with his fear. Finally, he achieves what he desires; “he no longer has to remember.” “Instructions for Crossing the Border” The second line of “Instructions for Crossing the Border,” “You are not allowed to remember,” is typical of the preoccupation with memory that haunts this poet. The advice is positive, almost upbeat: “you are a man, you sit in the train./ Sit comfortably./ You’ve got a decent coat now.” This is sinister advice, considering that the last line is a direct contradiction of the second: “Go. You are not allowed to forget.” The voice is that of an official speaking, addressing “Imaginary man.” It is a dehumanized voice, one that cannot recognize the man to whom it is speaking; the addressee is only present in the speaker’s imagination. Although it is an early poem, using the stripped and spare vocabulary of his early work, “Instructions for Crossing the Border” forecasts the later “Brain” in its preoccupation with obliterating memory. “Harvests” “Harvests” starts with a deceptively benign image, that of “The prudent fieldmouse” who “hoards and hoards for the time of battle and siege.” Other benign images follow until an ironic twist in the sixth line, “the fire revels in the wheat,” hints at what is ahead. What waits, of course, is the hawk, against whom the mouse’s prudence and marvelously tunneled home is no protection at all. To darken the image further, the hawk is both “sharp-eyed” and “punctual,” implying that the time of the mouse’s demise is de168

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termined and no matter how canny he is, the hawk will appear at the appointed time. “Harvests” is a small parable in which Pagis, typically, uses animals to make a statement about the human condition, similar to his whimsical poem “Experiment of the Maze.” Other major works nonfiction: The Poetry of David Vogel, 1966, fourth edition, 1975; The Poetry of Levi Ibn Altabban of Saragossa, 1968; Secular Poetry and Poetic Theory: Moses Ibn Ezra and His Contemporaries, 1970; Hindush u-mascoret be-shirat-ha-hol ha-’Ivrit, Sefarad ve-Italyah, 1976. children’s literature: ha-Beitzah she-hithapsah, 1973. Bibliography Alter, Robert. “Dan Pagis and the Poetry of Displacement.” Judaism 45, no. 80 (Fall, 1996). This article places the poet among his peers, primarily Yehuda Amichai and Natan Zach, illuminating Pagis’s similarities and differences. _______. Introduction to The Selected Poetry of Dan Pagis. Translated by Stephen Mitchell. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996. Alter examines the life of Pagis and offers some literary criticism in this introduction to a translation of selected works. Originally published as Variable Directions in 1989. Burnshaw, Stanley, T. Carmi, and Ezra Spicehandler, eds. The Modern Hebrew Poem Itself. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1989. This book offers a stunning explication of Pagis’s poem “The Log Book” and an afterword covering Hebrew poetry from 1965 to 1988. Provides a detailed discussion of the literary world Pagis inhabited and places him securely in the poetic movement of his generation. Each poem is presented in the original Hebrew, in phonetic transcription, and in English translation. Keller, Tsipi, ed. Poets on the Edge: An Anthology of Contemporary Hebrew Poetry. Introduction by Aminadav Dykman. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2010. Contains a selection of poems by Pagis as well as a brief biography. The introduction discusses Pagis and Hebrew poetry in general, placing him among his fellows. Omer-Sherman, Ranen. “In Place of the Absent God: The Reader in Dan Pagis’s ‘Written in Pencil in a Sealed Railway Car.’” Cross Currents 54, no. 2 (Summer, 2004): 51-61. Discusses teaching Pagis’s well-known poem to students and their reactions and understandings. He also briefly outlines Pagis’s life and provides analysis of the poem itself. Sheila Golburgh Johnson

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SÁNDOR PET¨FI Born: Kiskörös, Hungary; January 1, 1823 Died: Segesvár, Hungary; July 31, 1849 Principal poetry A helység-kalapácsa, 1844 (The Hammer of the Village, 1873) Versek, 1842-1844, 1844 (Poems, 1842-1844) Cipruslombok Etelke sírjáról, 1845 (Cypress Leaves from the Tomb of Etelke, 1972) János Vitéz, 1845 (Janos the Hero, 1920; revised as John the Hero, 2004) Szerelem gyöngyei, 1845 (Pearls of Love, 1972) Versek II, 1845 (Poems II, 1972) Felhok, 1846 (Clouds, 1972) Összes költeményei, 1847, 1848 (Collected Poems, 1972) “Széchy Mária,” 1847 Az apostol, 1848 (The Apostle: A Narrative Poem, 1961) Sixty Poems, 1948 Sándor Pet¹fi: His Entire Poetic Works, 1972 Other literary forms Sándor Pet¹fi (PEHT-uh-fee) wrote several short narrative pieces for the fashion magazines and periodicals of his day. “A szökevények” (the runaways) was published in the Pesti Divatlap in 1845. The following year, his melodramatic novella A hóhér kötele (The Hangman’s Rope, 1973) was published in the same magazine. In 1847, he published two tales in Életképek: “A nagyapa” (the grandfather) and “A fakó leány s a pej legény” (the pale girl and the ruddy boy). “Zöld Marci,” a drama written in 1845, was destroyed by the author when it was not picked up for theatrical production; the bombastic Tigris és hiéna (tiger and hyena) was withdrawn from production but published in 1847. The most valuable prose Pet¹fi wrote was the personal essay and brief diary entries relating to the events of March, 1848. “Úti jegyzetek” (“journal notes”) was serialized in Életképek in 1845; in 1847, Hazánk published his “Úti levelek Kerényi Frigyeshez” (travel notes to Frigyes Kerényi). Lapok Pet¹fi Sándor naplójából (pages from the diary of Sándor Pet¹fi) appeared in 1848. In addition, his letters, published in the 1960 Pet¹fi Sándor összes prózai muvei és levelezése (complete prose works and correspondence of Sándor Pet¹fi), provide good examples of his easy prose style. Early in his career, Pet¹fi earned some money doing translations of works by such authors as Charles de Bernard, George James, and William Shakespeare. In 1848, Pet¹fi’s translation of Shakespeare’s Coriolanus (pr. c. 1607-1608) appeared. He also began a translation of Romeo and Juliet (pr. c. 1595-1596) but died before finishing it. 170

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Achievements Sándor Pet¹fi has been called Hungary’s greatest lyric poet. He made the folk song a medium for the expression of much of the national feeling of the nineteenth century, establishing a new voice and introducing new themes into Hungarian poetry. Building on past traditions, he revitalized Hungarian poetry. Though a revolutionary, he did not break with all tradition, but rather sought a return to native values. Choosing folk poetry as his model, he endorsed its values of realism, immediacy, and simplicity. He also exploited to the fullest its ability to present psychological states through natural and concrete images, with an immediacy that had an impact beyond the poetic sphere. Pet¹fi’s poetry is the “poetry of Hungarian life, of the Hungarian people,” according to Zsolt Beöty. However, although Pet¹fi drew on popular traditions, he did so with the conscious art of a cultivated poet. This combination of Romantic style and realistic roots gives his poetry a freshness and sincerity that has made him popular both in Hungary and abroad. More important, it has assured him a place in the development of Hungarian lyricism. Pet¹fi’s impact, however, goes beyond Hungary. He appeals to the emotions yet maintains a distance: His themes seldom lose their universality. For Pet¹fi, the revolutionary ideal of the nineteenth century applied equally to politics and poetics. Folk orientation and nationalism were equally an organic part of his poetry, and his revolutionary ideals were unthinkable without a popular-national input. Thus, he both mirrors and creates a new world, a new type of person, and a new society. He is an iconoclast and revolutionary only when he perceives existing values and systems as denying the basic value of human life. His endorsement of conventional values of family, home, and a just social order can be understood only in this context. Style and form, matter and manner were never separate for Pet¹fi. A consummate craftsperson and a conscious developer of the style and vocabulary of mid-nineteenth century Hungarian poetry, he knew that in helping to create and enrich the new poetic language, he was bringing poetry to the masses. In exploring the language, he made poetic what had been commonplace. Following in the footsteps of the great Hungarian language reformers and poets of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, Pet¹fi expanded the scope of poetry in both theme and language. Like William Wordsworth and Robert Burns in English literature, he placed emphasis on everyday themes and the common person. It would be unfair to the earlier molders of Hungarian poetry, from Mihály Csokonai Vitéz through Károly Kisfaludi, Dániel Berzsenyi, and Mihály Vörösmarty, to minimize their influence on Pet¹fi. To a great extent, they created a modern Hungarian poetic medium no longer restricted by the limitations of language. Simultaneously, they created a poetic language and encouraged the taste of the public for native themes and native styles. Classical and modern European influences had been absorbed and naturalized by these men. The German influence, strong for both political and demographic reasons, had 171

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also been greatly reduced. The intellectual and cultural milieu, in fact, changed so dramatically in these years that German- language theaters and publications were becoming Hun garian in language as well as sentiment. For example, Hazánk (homeland), a periodical to which Pet¹fi contributed regularly, was called, until 1846, Vaterland. As a poet of a many-faceted national consciousness, Pet¹fi was always committed to the simple folk, to the common person. He did not categorically support the unlettered peasant in favor of the clerk, nor did he condemn the class hierarchy of earlier times without cause. He did condemn, however, inequity and petrified institutions that did not allow for the free play of talent. He endorsed human values above all. Biography Sándor Pet¹fi was born on January 1, 1823, in Kiskörös—a town located on the Hungarian plain—to István Petrovics, innkeeper and butcher, and his wife, Mária Hruz. Pet¹fi’s father’s family, in spite of the Serbian name (which Pet¹fi was to change when he chose poetry as his vocation), had lived in Hungary for generations. His mother, Slovak by birth, came from the Hungarian highlands in the north. Such an ethnic mix was not unusual, and the young man grew up in what he himself considered the “most Magyar” area of all Hungary, the region called Kis Kúnság (Little Cumania) on the Great Plains. Much of his poetry celebrates the people and the landscape of this region: Though not the first to do so, he was more successful than earlier poets in capturing the moods of the region known as the Alföld (lowlands). Pet¹fi’s father was wealthy, and desiring his sons to be successful, he determined to educate them. The young Pet¹fi was sent to a succession of schools that were designed to give him a good liberal education in both Hungarian and German, among them the lower gymnasium (high school) at Aszód, from which he graduated valedictorian. He was active in various literary clubs and, through the zeal of several nationalistic teachers, became acquainted with the prominent authors of the eighteenth century: Berzsenyi, József Gvadányi, and Vitéz, as well as the popular poets of the day, Vörösmarty and József Bajza. The year spent at Selmec, in the upper division of the gymnasium, was marred by his father’s financial troubles and by Pet¹fi’s personal clashes with one of his teachers. As a result of these pressures, he yielded to his penchant for the theater and on February 15, 1839, when he was barely sixteen, ran away with a group of touring players. Pet¹fi’s decision to become an actor was not made lightly, for he knew the value of an education, and he made every effort to complete his studies later. The years that followed were particularly hard ones. Pet¹fi roamed much of the country, traveling mostly on foot. He took advantage of the hospitality offered at the farms and manor houses, and thus he came to know a wide spectrum of society. On these travels, he also developed his appreciation for nature, uniting his love for it with the objectivity of one who lives close to it. Since acting could not provide him a living, Pet¹fi decided to join the army, but he 172

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was soon discharged for reasons of ill health. In the months following, he became friends with Mór Jókai, later a prominent novelist but at that point a student at Pápa. Pet¹fi, determined to complete his studies, attended classes there. He joined the literary society and gained recognition as a poet: “A borozo” (the wine drinker), his first published poem, appeared in the prestigious Athenaeum in May, 1842, and he also won the society’s annual festival. Pet¹fi, then nineteen, considered himself a poet; he was determined that this would be his vocation. He planned to finish his studies, to become a professional man able to support himself and to help his parents and also to pursue his chief love, poetry. When a promised position as tutor fell through, however, he was once more forced to leave school and to make his living as an actor, or doing whatever odd jobs (translating, copying) he found. In the winter of 1843-1844, ill and stranded in Debrecen, he copied 108 of his poems, determined to take them to Vörösmarty for an opinion. If the verdict was favorable, Pet¹fi would remain a poet and somehow earn his living by his pen; if not, he would give up poetry forever. The venture succeeded, and this volume, Poems, 18421844, firmly established his reputation. A subscription by the nationalistic literary society Nemzeti Kör provided Pet¹fi with some funds, and on July 1, 1844, he accepted a position as assistant editor of the Pesti Divatlap. From this time on, he earned his living chiefly with his pen. Besides submitting shorter pieces to a variety of journals, he published two heroic poems and a cycle of love lyrics. In March of 1845, he left the Pesti Divatlap to tour northern Hungary. A rival journal, Életképek, published the series of prose letters, “Journal Notes,” in which Pet¹fi reported his impressions of the people and scenes he encountered. Two more volumes of poetry, Pearls of Love and Poems II, appeared. Although he became increasingly dedicated to Életképek, Pet¹fi continued to publish in a variety of journals. In 1846, while campaigning for better remuneration for literary contributors to journals—founding the Society of Ten and even leading a brief strike—Pet¹fi published another volume of poetry, Clouds, and a novella, The Hangman’s Rope. In the fall, he took a trip to eastern Hungary, intending to publish a second series of travel reports. Early in the trip, however, he met Júlia Szendrey, and the travelogue, as well as his life, changed dramatically. He fell in love with her almost at their first meeting. They were engaged and, despite parental opposition, gained a grudging approval and were married a year later. Júlia was to provide the inspiration for Pet¹fi’s best love lyrics. Sharing his political and national convictions, she encouraged his involvement in politics, even in the campaigns of 1848 and 1849. Pet¹fi’s “Úti levelek Kerényi Frigyeshez” (travel notes to Frigyes Kerényi) thus became more than an account of the customs and sights of Transylvania and the eastern part of the country; they show the development of the relationship between Pet¹fi and Júlia, their courtship and marriage. The year 1846 also marked the beginning of Pet¹fi’s friendship with János Arany. Pet¹fi had been drawn to Arany when the latter won a literary prize with his epic Toldi 173

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(1847; English translation, 1914). Feeling that they were kindred spirits, Pet¹fi wrote immediately—and also composed a poem in praise of the then-unknown man from Nagyszalonta. Later, after they met, their friendship deepened and, with it, Arany’s influence on the younger man. Arany helped form the objective vein in Pet¹fi’s poetry. Thus, the influence of a worthy mentor who could rein the excesses of his emotions helped Pet¹fi attain the perfection of the poems he wrote between 1846 and 1849. Finally, Pet¹fi also achieved a measure of financial independence through a contract signed in August of 1846 with the publisher Gustáv Emich for the publication of his Collected Poems. This relationship assured Pet¹fi a regular, if modest, income and gave him a friend and adviser who would stand him in good stead in his last, troubled years. After his marriage and brief honeymoon at Koltó, the hunting castle lent to him by Count Teleki, Pet¹fi and his wife returned to Pest in November of 1847 . Several poems commemorate the weeks at Koltó, including “Szeptember végen” (at the end of September), regarded by many critics as one of the masterpieces of world literature. In Pest, too, Pet¹fi continued to write, contributing to various journals. His poetry of this period included political themes, and he became increasingly involved in the liberal movements that were sweeping the city. While the seat neither of the Diet nor of the king, Buda and Pest were still regarded by many Hungarians as the rightful center of the country. There was agitation to have the capital returned from Pozsony, now that the reason for its move, the presence of the Turks, no longer existed. Social, legal, and economic reforms were sought, and the cessation of certain military measures, such as the special occupation status of Transylvania and parts of the southeastern region of the country; simply, the Hungarian people desired the reunion of their artificially divided country. As one of the leaders of the young radicals, Pet¹fi took part in these political activities, which were to culminate in the demonstrations of March 15, 1848. He had written his “Nemzeti dal” (national ode) the previous day for a national demonstration against Austria. During the day, when his poem, along with the formal demands expressed in the Twelve Points, was printed and distributed without the censor’s approval as an affirmation of freedom of the press, Pet¹fi was in the forefront, reciting the ode several times for the gathering crowds. Through a series of negotiations, acceptance in principle of the program of reform was won. The revolution—as yet a peaceful internal reform— had begun. When both public safety and national security seemed threatened by the invitations of the Croatian army of Count Josef Jella5i6 and similar guerrilla bands, Pet¹fi became a member of the Nemzetor (national guard), which he was to commemorate in one of his poems. He joined the staff of the Életképek, which had been edited by his friend Jókai since April, 1848. He published his diary on the events of March and April, 1848, a lively if fragmented account of his activities and thoughts in those days, and also a translation of Shakespeare’s Coriolanus. In September, he undertook a recruiting tour, and in October, he joined the regular army. The War of Independence was in full force by 174

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this time, relations between the Hungarians and the Habsburgs having deteriorated completely. Even the fact that Júlia was expecting the couple’s first child in December did not allow Pet¹fi to draw back from the struggle he had so often advocated in his poems. Commissioned as a captain in the army on October 15, 1848, Pet¹fi was assigned to Debrecen. He had difficulties with the discipline and procedures of army life, however, until transferred to the command of General Józef Bem, a Polish patriot and skillful general who was winning the Transylvanian campaign. Through the first half of 1849, Pet¹fi participated in the Transylvanian campaigns, visiting his wife and son whenever a lull in the fighting or his adjutants’ duties allowed. On July 31, 1849, he took part in the Battle of Segesvár and was killed by Cossack forces of the Russian army, which had come to aid the Austrians according to the agreements of the Holy Alliance. Pet¹fi’s body was never found, because he was buried, according to eyewitnesses, in a mass grave. This fact, however, was not known until much later, and many rumors of his living in exile, in hiding, or in a Siberian labor camp were circulated in the 1850’s, proof of the people’s reluctance to accept his death. His widow’s remarriage was severely criticized, though eventually the poet’s death had to be accepted. His poetry, however, continues to live. Analysis Antal Szerb remarked in his 1934 work, Magyar irodalomtörténet (history of Hungarian literature), “Pet¹fi is a biographical poet. There is no break between the experience and its poetic expression.” Sándor Pet¹fi’s poetry, although best analyzed from a biographical perspective, is not autobiographical; its themes and topics span a surprisingly broad range for a career compressed into such a few years. The Hungarian tradition In the early poems, written from 1842 to 1844, Pet¹fi had already established his distinctive style and some of his favorite themes. Although he was influenced both by classical poets (especially Horace) and by foreign poets of his own era—Friedrich Schiller, Heinrich Heine, the Hungarian-born Austrian poet Nikolaus Lenau, and probably the English poets Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley—Pet¹fi believed that Hungarian poetry must free itself of its dependence on foreign rules of prosody in order to reflect native meters and patterns. In this, he was not the first: The tradition of medieval verse and song had survived and had been revived by previous generations of poets; the seventeenth century epic of Miklós Zrinyi had continued to inspire poets; the folk song, too, had been cultivated by earlier poets, notably Csokonai in the late eighteenth century and Kisfaludi in the early nineteenth century. What was new in Pet¹fi’s approach was his conscious effort to establish a poetic style that put native meters and current speech at the center of his art. 175

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Proof of his success is found not only in the immense and ongoing popularity of his poetry among all classes of the population, but also in the recognition accorded him by Arany, who was later to define the “Hungarian national meter” chiefly on the basis of a study of Pet¹fi’s use of native rhythms. Pet¹fi’s early poems were written primarily in the folk-song style. In subject, they ranged from Anacreontics to love lyrics to personal and meditative poems. The love poems are light and playful exercises without great emotional commitment, but they present the people and locale Pet¹fi was later to make his own: the puszta, its people, plants, and animals. In “Egri hangok” (sounds of Eger), however, the Anacreontic is used for a serious and patriotic purpose, anticipating Pet¹fi’s later use of this genre. The poem grew out of a personal experience: Walking from Debrecen to Pest in February of 1844, in his gamble to be recognized as a poet or to abandon this vocation, he was welcomed by the students of the college. The poem opens with a quiet winter scene: On the ground, there is snow; in the skies, clouds; but for the poet everything is fine, because he is among friends in a warm room, drinking the fine wines of Eger. The mood is not rowdy but serene and content. Juxtaposing natural imagery and emotion in a manner reminiscent of folk song, he states: “If my good spirits would have seeds:/ I’d sow them above the snow,/ And when they sprout, a forest of roses/ Would crown winter.” The mood here, however, only sets the stage for the patriotic sentiment that is the poem’s real purpose. Pet¹fi moves on to consider the historical associations of the city of Eger, the scene of one of the more memorable sieges of the Turkish wars; thus, he examines the decline of Hungary as a nation. He does not dwell long on nostalgia, however, but turns back to the good mood of the opening scenes to predict a bright future for the country. The family Pet¹fi’s early poems about his family reveal the emotional depth of his best work. They are full of intense yet controlled feeling, but the setting, the style, and the diction remain simple; a realistic note is never lacking. Contemplating a reunion with the mother he has not seen for some time, he rehearses various greetings, only to find that in the moment of reunion he “hangs on her lips—wordlessly,/ Like the fruit on the tree.” The felicitous choice of image and metaphor is one of the greatest attractions of Pet¹fi’s poetry. “Egy estém otthon” (one evening at home) and “István öcsémhez” (to my younger brother, István) reflect the same love and tender concern for his parents. The emotions are deep, yet their expression is restrained: He sees his father’s love manifest in the grudging approval bestowed on his “profession” and his mother’s love manifest in her incessant questions. Objective in his assessment of his father’s inability to understand him, he knows that the bond between them is no less strong. His own emotions are described in a minor key, coming as a comment in the last line of the quatrain, a line that has the effect of a “tag,” because it has fewer stresses than the other three. 176

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The Hammer of the Village Pet¹fi’s two heroic poems use the same devices to comment on society—albeit in a light and entertaining manner. The Hammer of the Village, written in mock-heroic style, satirizes both society and the Romantic epic tradition, which by this time had become degraded and commonplace. Using a mixture of colloquialism and slang, the parody is peopled with simple villagers who are presented in epic terms. The characters themselves behave unaffectedly and naturally; it is the narrator who assumes the epic pose and invests their jealousies and Sunday-afternoon amusements with a mock grandeur. Thus, Pet¹fi shows his ability to use the heroic style, though he debunks certain excesses in the heroic mode then fashionable, presenting the life he knows best; he does this not by ridiculing simple folk but by debunking pretentiousness. Though popular, the poem understandably failed to gain the critical approval of the journal editors, whose main offerings were often in the very vein satirized by Pet¹fi. Janos the Hero In contrast, Janos the Hero received both critical and popular support. It has served as the basis of an operetta and has often been printed as a children’s book—especially in foreign translations. Much more than a fairy tale cast in folk-epic style, the work has several levels of meaning and explores many topics of deep concern for the poet and his society. The hero and his lover, his adventures, his values, and his way of thinking are all part of the folktale tradition. The epic is augmented by more recent historical material: the Turkish wars and Austrian campaigns, events that mingle in the imagination of the villagers who have fought Austria’s wars for generations and who fought the Turks for generations before that. The characterization, however, remains realistically rooted in the village. The French king, the Turkish pasha, even the giant are recognizable types. The hero, Janos, remains unaffected and unspoiled, but he is never unsophisticated. His naïveté is not stupidity; he is one to whom worldly glory has less appeal than do his love for Iluska and his desire to be reunited with her. The style of the poem reinforces this “obvious” level: It is written in the Hungarian Alexandrine, a ten- to eleven-syllable line divided by a caesura into two and two, or two and three, measures. The language is simple and natural, but, as in the folk song, the actual scene is merged with the psychological world of the tale. The similes and metaphors of the poem reflect the method of the folk song and thus extend the richness of meaning found in each statement. The use of the devices goes beyond their traditional application in folk song. Through the pairing of natural phenomena and the protagonist’s state of mind, a higher level of meaning is suggested: The adventures of Janos become symbolic of the struggle between good and evil. Iluska becomes the ideal for which he strives as well as the force that keeps him from straying from the moral path; he does not take the robbers’ wealth to enrich himself, nor does he accept the French throne and the hand of 177

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the princess. Helping the weak and unfortunate, he continues to battle oppression, whether in the form of an unjust master or the Turks or giants and witches who rule over the forces of darkness. The images used by the lovers on their parting illustrate these principles quite well: Janos asks Iluska to remember him in these words: “If you see a dry stalk driven by the wind/ Let your exiled lover come to your mind.” His words are echoed by Iluska’s answer: “If you see a broken flower flung on the highway/ Let your fading lover come to your mind.” The cosmic connections are suggested, yet nothing inappropriate on the literal level is said. Furthermore, the dry stalk is an appropriate symbol for the griefstricken and aimlessly wandering Janos. The faded flower as a symbol of the grieving girl becomes a mystical metaphor for her; in the concluding scenes, Janos regains Iluska when he throws the rose he had plucked from her grave into the Waters of Life. The realism of the folk song and the quality of Hungarian village life are not restricted to the description of character or to the imagery. The setting, particularly when Janos is within the boundaries of Hungary, is that of the Hungarian plain. He walks across the level, almost barren land, stops by a sweep well, and encounters shepherds, bandits, and peddlers, as might any wanderer crossing these regions. These touches and Janos’s realistic actions—such as eating the last of the bacon that he had carried with him for the journey, using the brim of his felt hat for a cup and a mole’s mound for a pillow, and turning his sheepskin cloak inside out to ward off the rain—reaffirm the hero’s basic humanity. He is not the passive Romantic traveler in the mold of Heine or of Byron. He never becomes a mere observer; instead, he naturally assumes an active role and instinctively takes charge of his own life and of events around him. Even in the more mythical setting of the second half of the poem, his sense of purpose does not waver. The years 1845 and 1846 were intensely emotional ones for Pet¹fi, and many of his works of this period suffer from a lack of objectivity and of emotional distancing. Love, revenge, and patriotism, a struggle between national priorities, the gulf between the rich and the poor—all sought a voice. The simple lyric of the traditional folk song was not yet strong enough to carry the message, and Pet¹fi sought a suitable medium of expression. In this time of experimentation, he found in the drama of the Hungarian people an objective correlative for his own emotions. Clouds The collection Clouds contains occasional poems in the world-weary mood of the previous year, but new forms and a new language show that to a great extent Pet¹fi had mastered the conflicting impulses of the earlier works. The best poems lash out against injustice, or they are patriotic poems that become increasingly militant in tone. In “A Csárda romjai” (the ruins of the Csárda), Pet¹fi takes a familiar landmark of the arid, deserted lowlands and makes it a metaphor for the decline of the country. The poem opens as a paean to these plains, the poet’s favorite landscape because it reminds him of free178

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dom; in succeeding stanzas, he seems to digress from the objective scene into sentimentality. He stops himself, however, before this train of thought goes too far; inasmuch as it is the ruin before him that has inspired these thoughts, the poem is also returned to the concrete scene. The ruin is of stone—a rarity here—so he seeks an explanation, which is soon given: A village or city once stood here, but the Turks destroyed it and left only a half-ruined church. A parenthetical expression brings the poem back to the idea of lost liberty (“Poor Hungary, my poor homeland,/ How many different chains you have already worn”), and the narrative is then resumed. In time, an inn was built from the church, but those who once lodged there are now long dead. The inn has lost its roof, and its door and window are indistinguishable; all that remains is the sweep of the well, on top of which a lone eagle sits, meditating on mutability. In the final four lines, the scene is expanded to encompass the entire horizon, which serves to give it an optimistic and magical tone. The melancholy scene is bathed in sunshine and surrounded by natural beauty. The parallelism between the decline of the nation and the slow ruin of the church-inn has been established, and a note of optimism for the nation’s future has been introduced, but precise development of this idea is only suggested. The point is not belabored. “A négy-ökrös szekér” The poems of these years showed great variety; not all are in the meditative-patriotic vein. In “A négy-ökrös szekér” (the ox cart), for example, Pet¹fi returned to a more personal theme: a nighttime ride in an oxcart. The poem is set in the country; the speaker is on a visit home. With a group of young friends, he returns to the next village in an oxcart to prolong the party. The magic of the evening is suggested in the second stanza—— “The merchant breeze moved over the nearby leas/ And brought sweet scents from the grasses”—but the refrain anchors the scene in reality: “Down the highway, pulling the cart,/ The four oxen plodded slowly.” The poem remains a retelling of the evening, although a pensive note is introduced when the poet turns to his companion, urging that they choose a star “which will lead us back/ To the happy memories of former times.” The poem then closes with the calm notes of the refrain. “Tündérálom” The culmination of this process of revaluation and poetic development comes in “Tündérálom” (fairy dream). This lyric-psychological confession is written in iambic pentameter and eight-line stanzas with a rhyme scheme of abcbbdbd so that the b rhyme subtly connects the two halves. Its real theme, despite the poet’s explicit statement that he has here conjured up “first love,” is the search for happiness. As such, the poem fits Pet¹fi’s preoccupations in 1845 and 1846. Although many of the trappings of Romanticism are found in the poem, the longing for an unattainable ideal is given its own expression. It is almost impossible to trace specific influences, yet the poem expresses some of 179

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the quintessential notions of the Romantic movement without ever quite losing touch with reality. The poem owes its success partly to its images, through which the everyday world is constantly brought into contact with the ethereal without disturbing it in the slightest: I’m a boatman on a wild, storm-tossed river; The waves toss, the light boat shakes, It shakes like the cradle that is rocked By the violent hands of an angry nurse. Fate, the angry nurse of my life. You toss and turn my boat, You, who like a storm drove on me Peace-disturbing passions.

Throughout, the ambiguity between realistic phenomena and magical manifestations is maintained: The dreamer seems to imagine the latter, but the former are asserted. Thus, the mysterious sounds he hears are iden tified as a swan’s song, and, as he leaps from a mountain peak into the sky to gain his ideal, he falls back to awake to a lovely yet earthly maiden. Thus, the idyll is again returned to reality. The ambiguity can be sustained so successfully because it is the imagery that creates the mood, and Pet¹fi’s sure handling of imagery never allows it to get out of control. The description of the progress of the idyll illustrates this well: Dusk approached. On golden clouds The sun settled behind the violet mountains; A pale fog covered this dry sea, The endlessly stretching plain. The cliff on which we stood glowed red From the last rays, like a purple pillow On a throne. But truly, this was a throne And we on it the youthful royal couple of happiness.

In a sense, this poem was for Pet¹fi the swan song of the purely internal lyric. Appropriately, it exhibits the best qualities of his subjective, Romantic early verse. It is melodious, and it unfolds the story in a series of rich and sensuous images. The objective world is completely subordinated to the imaginative one, but it is not ignored. Symbols abound, but they are suggestive, not didactic. The girl in the poem is Imagination and Inspiration; she is the ideal goal of those starting their careers. When she is lost, the ideal is lost, but Pet¹fi suggests in the closing lines that such an ideal can be held for only a moment. It must give way to reality; thus, it is not lost, only changed. The impractical dreams of youth are supplanted by the practical programs of adulthood which will implement these goals. 180

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“Levél Várady Antalhoz” Two more poems of this fertile period deserve mention: “Levél Várady Antalhoz” (letter to Antal Várady) and “Dalaim” (my songs). Each of these poems serves as an ars poetica. In the former, Pet¹fi states that the beauty of nature has revived him and cured him of his world-weariness, and he affirms his commitment to social and political causes. The six stanzas of “Dalaim” are a masterful expression of the variety of themes and moods found in Pet¹fi’s poetry, from the landscape poetry of his homeland to joy, love, Anacreontics, patriotism, and the desire to free his homeland of foreign rule, as well as to the fiery rage that makes his songs “Lightning flashes of/ his angry soul.” “Dalaim” “Dalaim,” like “Tündérálom,” serves as a transition to the final, mature phase of Pet¹fi’s poetry, characterized by a harmonious fusion of the often divergent trends identified so far in his poetry. Personal experiences and national events play as important a part in the formation of this style as do the experimentations of his earlier years. Structure and mood, internal and external scenes merge as his themes become more complex and his subjects more serious. “Naïve realism” is supplanted by a deeper realism, and the personal point of view is gradually replaced by a conscious spokesman for the Hungarian people. The intense emotions of Pet¹fi’s mature poems continue to be expressed in a restrained style, and even the deep love poetry addressed to his wife finds expression in a controlled style that continues to reflect the Hungarian folk song and the European traditions that influenced him at the beginning of his career. “Reszket a bokor, mert” The objective lyric style that marks the best of Pet¹fi’s poetry had two inspirations. One was his wife, Júlia; the other was his friend and fellow poet Arany. Though Pet¹fi’s love for Júlia was deep and passionate, the poetry in which he celebrates that love is both objective and universal. The poems of his courtship and marriage show a progression from an emphasis on physical beauty to a desire for spiritual identification. The style remains that of the folk song and the direct personal lyric, but the imagery brings a wealth of associations to bear on the relationship. Most prominent are images of blessedness and fulfillment. In “Reszket a bokor, mert” (the bush trembles, because), the intensity of feeling is almost too much for the classic folk-song pattern, yet the poet retains the delicate balance between form and content. Written shortly after their meeting, before Pet¹fi had a firm commitment from Júlia, the poem is essentially a question posed through a range of associations: “The bush trembles, for/ A little bird alighted there./ My soul trembles, for/ You came to mind.” In the following lines , the balance between the exterior, natural scene and the interior, psychological one is maintained. The beloved is likened to a diamond—pure, clear, and precious—and to a rose. This latter image receives emphasis 181

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and gains freshness as Pet¹fi uses the word rozsaszálam—that is, a single, longstemmed rose. To the usual associations, grace and slenderness are added, along with the suggestion of something individual, unique. The last stanza poses a question: Does Júlia still love him in the cold of winter, as she had loved him in the warmth of summer? Through the reference to the seasons, Pet¹fi not only retains the parallelism on which the poem is built but also refers to the actual moment from which the poem springs. All this, even the gentle note of resignation in these lines, leads to the statement: “If you no longer love me/ May God bless you,/ But if you do still love me,/ May He bless you a thousandfold.” Júlia’s answer was, “A thousand times,” and from that time on, Pet¹fi seems to have had no doubt that her commitment to him was as complete as his to her. “Szeptember végen” The poems continue to chronicle the events and emotions of the courtship, marriage, and honeymoon. “Szeptember végen” (at the end of September) records a day of meditative peace touched by melancholy. The images raise it to extraordinary heights, and the skillful use of meter and mood, image and meaning makes it a masterpiece. It unites the virtues of folk poetry and the gentle philosophy of Pet¹fi’s peaceful moments in an eternal tribute to his wife. Its three stanzas of eight lines each, written in dactylic tetrameter, a relatively slow and descending cadence, are meditative yet grand, suggesting that the poet’s soliloquy is not merely a personal matter. The images reflect the scene at Koltó in the foothills of the eastern Carpathians and the autumn setting with its associations of death. The atmosphere created again depends on the union of the natural and the psychological. The poet addresses his wife, calling her attention to the contrast between summer in the garden and the snow already on the mountaintops. He, too, feels this contrast: The rays of summer are still flaming in my young heart, And in it still lives spring in its glory, But see, gray mingles with my dark hair; The hoarfrost of winter has smitten my head.

A line that rivals François Villon’s “Où sont les neiges d’antan?” (Where are the snows of yesteryear?) introduces the next stanza: “The flower fades, life fleets away.” This line gently leads the poem to the next topic, the brevity of life and the poet’s premonition that he will precede his wife to the grave. Will she mourn him, or will she soon forget their love? The gradual movement of the poem, revealing the manner in which one emotion fades into another, enables the poet to escape excesses of sentimentality and melancholy in spite of the topic. As always, realistic touches help bring the reader to accept the closing lines. On one level, the poem is a metaphysical statement concerning the enduring 182

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reality of love. On another, it is a deeply felt personal declaration of love set in a specific time and place. The poet’s control of his material enables him to assert, without a trace of the maudlin, that life has no more durability than a flower, that permanence is to be found only in the love that endures beyond the grave. The themes of love, nature, and death are united in such a way that not one of them is slighted, not one of them is vague and impersonal. “Rózsabokor a domboldalon” Though his married years were also years of increasingly greater involvement in public affairs and politics, Pet¹fi continued to write beautiful love poems to his wife. In “Rózsabokor a domboldalon” (rosebush on the hillside), he returns to the happy, carefree tones of the folk song as he compares his wife’s leaning on him to the wild rosebush hugging the hillsides. “Minek nevezzelek?” (what shall I name you?) also uses a lighter style, as the poet seeks to explain just what his wife means to him. A catalog of her ethereal charms and spiritual qualities tumbles forth, for he cannot summarize her essence in a word. The directness of his approach, as well as the seeming paradoxes in which the description is couched, again invites the reader to go beyond the surface to think about the thesis of the poem. “Szeretlek, kedvesem” Shortly before his death, Pet¹fi wrote “Szeretlek, kedvesem” (I love you, my dear). Again, there is what seems to be a breathless profession of love as Pet¹fi lists the ways in which he loves Júlia. The eighty lines of the poem constitute essentially one sentence. Its form, free verse in lines ranging from two to four measures, reflects this quality. The message is not frivolous, however, for he succeeds in conveying a depth of love that excludes all other feelings yet encompasses all. Theirs is a fully mutual relationship, as he states in the last line, for he has learned all he knows of love from her. “Bolond Istók” In Pet¹fi’s objective poetry of the time, also, the mood of these years of married happiness is seen. The verse narrative “Bolond Istók” (crazy Steve) reflects this mood in its story of a wandering hero who finds a haven and a loving wife through his dedication and service. The objectivity and restrained style of the poem balance the hardships of the student with the sentimental overtones of the grandfather, who is disillusioned with his son. Even the romantic flight of the granddaughter to escape a marriage her father wishes to force on her is spared sentimentality. Tongue-in-cheek hyperbole is often the key: The deserted farm “seems to be still in the throes of the Tatar raids,” and the old housekeeper and host seem about as civil as Tamburlaine’s forces when Istók first comes upon them. The young man’s optimism serves to offset this mood and also to introduce the new theme: the arrival of the granddaughter, whose plea for help is to bring 183

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hope and new life to the old farmstead. In time, he marries the girl, and in due course a cradle is rocked by the hearth. The cycle of life reasserts itself over the disruption caused by evil. Other poems, such as “A v½dor” (the wanderer), “A kisbéres” (the hired man), and “A téli esték” (winter evenings), return to the theme of domestic bliss, as do two prose works written during this period: “A nagyapa” (the grandfather) and “A fakó leány s a pej legény” (the pale girl and the ruddy boy). Friendship with Arany Pet¹fi’s friendship with Arany also reinforced the objective orientation of his poetry. The two men shared many of the same goals, though they did not always agree on the methods to be followed in achieving them. Poetically, too, they differed, yet the friendship was fruitful for both. In the years following their first exchange of letters, their correspondence ranged from their common concern with creating a national poetry, to their families, to a general exchange of information and ideas. The naturally more reserved as well as more pessimistic Arany was often shaken out of his soberness by the playful letters of Pet¹fi. The two friends, occasionally joined by others, undertook several projects together. As a result of their collaborative efforts, Pet¹fi wrote “Széchy Mária” (1847) and began his translation of Shakespeare. It was in Pet¹fi’s genre and landscape poems, however, that the influence of Arany’s calmer, more objective style seems to have borne the richest fruit. Patriotic poems Nationalism, a sense of commitment to and concern for the Hungarian people, and patriotism, a commitment to the political institutions of a free and independent Hungarian nation, are themes found throughout Pet¹fi’s poetry. Often, these concerns appear in an oblique way. Increasingly, after March 15, 1848, however, they became open topics of his poetry while continuing to influence the other genres in the same indirect fashion as earlier. As early as 1846, in “Egy gondolat bánt engement” (one thought troubles me), Pet¹fi had expressed a desire to die on the battlefield in defense of liberty. The next year, he stated the obligation of the poet to sacrifice personal feelings in the interests of patriotic and human duty in “A XIX: Század költ¹i” (the poets of the nineteenth century). After the events of March, 1848, Pet¹fi plunged into these responsibilities fully; it is perhaps this which gives his poetry the masculine quality not captured by Western European poets of his time: He calls for action with the conviction of one who is ready to be the first to die in battle. These sentiments are skillfully stated in “Ha férfi vagy, légy férfi” (if you are a man, then be one)—a poetic declaration of principles in which didacticism does not detract from poetic value. A sense of responsibility to his wife and family did not interfere with Pet¹fi’s com184

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mitment to his people; if anything, it contributed to the commitment. Júlia shared his sentiments and supported her husband, and he considered her his partner in his work. “Feleségem és kardom” (my wife and my sword) must be read in conjunction with “Ha férfi vagy, légy férfi,” for it balances the picture. His wife, an equal partner, will tie the sword on her husband’s waist and send them off together, if necessary. Her heroism is to be admired no less than bravery on the battlefield. In the early years, Pet¹fi’s patriotic poetry had some nostalgic moments. By 1846, however, he had moved beyond the glorification of the past to the criticism of the present and suggestions for reforms. He called on poets to be active in bringing about reforms, and he urged his readers to take pride in Hungarian traditions. In “Magyar vagyok” (I am a Hungarian), he stated his unequivocal loyalty; “Erdélyben” (in Transylvania) shows the dedication to this eastern region of Hungary that had preserved Hungarian traditions and language in the trying years of the Turkish wars and the Austrian Partition—a dedication echoed by Hungarian poets today. “Nemzeti dal” The events of March 15, which were to transform not only Pet¹fi’s life but also the history of his country, seemed to crown with success the efforts of the reformers. Pet¹fi’s “Nemzeti dal” (national ode) inspired the demonstrators, and the Twelve Points made clear to everyone the goals they were espousing. The spirited call to arms in the refrain—“By the God of the Magyars,/ We swear/ We swear that captives/ We’ll no longer be!”—became the rallying cry of the nation. In the poem, nostalgia for the past is united with faith in the future, and the urgency and immediacy of the situation are emphasized in the words that virtually leap at the listener: “Up Magyar, the country calls!/ Here’s the time, now or never!/ Shall we be free or captives ever?/ This the question you must answer!” In contrast to the direct address here, the refrain is in a collective mode. A dialogue is thus established, with the poet calling on his audience to respond and prompting their response through the oath phrased in the refrain. In the six stanzas of this poem, Pet¹fi chides his countrymen for enduring servitude. It is time for the sword to replace the chain, he urges, so that the Hungarian name will again be great and future generations will bless them. The language and the images are as direct as the tone, and throughout, the poet emphasizes the need for heroic action regardless of the consequences. Understandably, the poem had great impact. If Pet¹fi had made only this contribution to the independence movement, he would have been remembered, but he did much more. The Revolution that had begun peacefully, and seemed, at first, to accomplish its goals through legal reform, escalated into war when Hungarian territory was invaded, first by the Croatian armies of Jella5i6, who had Imperial support, and later by Austrian forces, as the Chancery consolidated around the new king, Franz Joseph. National minorities within the country were urged by the Austrian government to attack the Hun185

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garians, and some did. Others, notably the German towns, remained neutral or espoused the Hungarian cause. As the war became an open struggle between the Hungarian Ministry and the Habsburgs, Hungarian leader Lajos Kossuth was able to force a final break with Austria, and the Habsburgs were formally deprived of their position as monarchs of Hungary. Pet¹fi became increasingly involved in both the political and the military events, seeing a break with Austria and the establishment of a republic as the only means of achieving social reform. Of the nearly 150 short lyrics he wrote in 1848 and 1849, almost all deal with the political and military turmoil in Hungary. Some are antimonarchist or anti-Habsburg, some chide the nationalities for turning on the land that gave them shelter earlier, and an increasing number glorify national virtues and ancient constitutional rights that had long been ignored by the monarchs. War poems Pet¹fi was not sanguine, however, and hopeful poems such as “1848” alternate with ones that express bitter disappointment, such as “Európa csendes, ujra csendes” (“Europe is quiet, is quiet again”). He saw that Europe had given up its democratic ideals, and no hope of support was left. However, he did not speak of Hungary’s cause as a hopeless if glorious one. Even the combined forces of Austria and Russia were no match for his poetic belief in victory, expressed in “Bizony mondom, hogy gyoz most a magyar” (“truly I say, now the Hungarians will win”). Though they constitute a relatively small percentage of his poetic work, Pet¹fi’s war poems deserve attention. For the most part, they are spirited, upbeat marches or a lively mixture of narrative and lyric moods, emphasizing the dedication and heroism of the soldiers. They do not glorify war for its own sake, but rather emphasize the patriotic reason for the combat. “Bordal” (wine song) returns to a traditional genre to urge all men to defend their homeland, “draining blood and life” from anyone who seeks to destroy it just as they “empty the glass of wine.” Pet¹fi’s confidence in the ultimate triumph of his cause, if not on the battlefield or in the treaty rooms then at least in the judgment of history, can be sensed in one of the last battle songs he wrote, “Csatában” (in battle). This poem is also notable for the personal involvement of the poet. He begins the poem by re-creating a battle in vivid natural images and giving it a cosmic frame: Wrath on the earth, Wrath in the sky! The red of spilt blood and The red rays of the sun! The setting sun glows In such a wild purple! Forward, soldiers, Forward, Magyars!

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Through such images and a wonderfully effective onomatopoeia, the whole universe seems to become involved in the strife. The poet’s own involvement, symbolic of the involvement of the nation, is signaled in the change in the refrain from “Forward” to “Follow me.” Shortly after composing this poem, Pet¹fi died on the battlefield of Segesvár. Within weeks, the Hungarian Resistance was also over, but Pet¹fi lives on in legend and in his poetry. Legacy Pet¹fi’s short poetic career established him as a poet of the first rank. The variety of themes and styles he handled with success is amazing; even the less powerful lyrics of his early years have enriched Hungarian literature and music, many of them having been set to music and passing into the modern “folk-song” repertory. His early fame and his fame abroad rested on both his republican sentiments and his romantic early death. Early translations into German were followed by English versions based on the German. His popularity grew with the worldwide interest in the Hungarian Revolution of 1848 and its brutal suppression; it also waned as political realities changed. The Pet¹fi behind the legend was neglected even in Hungary for a long time; abroad, he is still mostly known as a revolutionary hero, not as a poet. Translations, prepared with enthusiasm but lack of knowledge or skill, seldom do him justice. In Hungary, the most talented of his contemporaries recognized his talents independent of his political views. Today, there is general agreement about his position as a central figure in Hungarian literature and in the development of the Hungarian lyric. His republican, nationalistic, and patriotic ideas are also recognized; they are an essential part of the poet who spoke from the heart of his generation, who spoke for his people, and who spoke for the masses and indeed to give all classes of society a voice. He was truly a poet of national consciousness. Other major works long fiction: A hóhér kötele, 1846 (novella; The Hangman’s Rope, 1973). short fiction: “A szökevények,” 1845; “A fakó leány s a pej legény,” 1847; “A nagyapa,” 1847. plays: Tigris és hiéna, pb. 1847; Coriolanus, pb. 1848 (translation of William Shakespeare’s play). nonfiction: “Úti jegyzetek,” 1845; “Úti levelek Kerényi Frigyeshez,” 1847; Lapok Pet¹fi Sándor naplójából, 1848; Pet¹fi Sándor összes prózai muvei és levelezése, 1960; Pet¹fi Sándor by Himself, 1973; Rebel or Revolutionary? Sándor Pet¹fi as Revealed by His Diary, Letters, Notes, Pamphlets, and Poems, 1974. miscellaneous: Works of Sándor Pet¹fi, 1973.

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Bibliography Basa, Enik¹ Molnár, ed. Hungarian Literature. New York: Griffon House, 1993. This overview of Hungarian literature helps place Pet¹fi in context. _______. Sándor Pet¹fi. Boston: Twayne, 1980. An introductory biography and critical study of selected works by Pet¹fi. Includes bibliographic references. Ewen, Frederick. A Half-Century of Greatness: The Creative Imagination of Europe, 1848-1884. New York: New York University Press, 2007. Contains a chapter on Pet¹fi, examining his role as a soldier and discussing his work. Illyés, Gyula. Pet¹fi. Translated by G. F. Cushing. 1973. Reprint. Budapest: Kortárs Kiadó, 2002. An exhaustive biography and critical examination of the life and works of Pet¹fi. Szirtes, George. Foreword to John the Valiant, by Sándor Pet¹fi. Translated by John Ridland. London: Hesperus Press, 2004. Noted translator Szirtes provides background and some literary analysis for this bilingual translation of János Vitéz. Enik¹ Molnár Basa (including original translations)

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MIKLÓS RADNÓTI Miklós Glatter Born: Budapest, Austro-Hungarian Empire (now in Hungary); May 5, 1909 Died: Near Abda, Hungary; November 8(?), 1944 Principal poetry Pogány köszönt¹, 1930 (Pagan Salute, 1980) ¡jmódi pásztorok éneke, 1931 (Song of Modern Shepherds, 1980) Lábadozó szél, 1933 (Convalescent Wind, 1980) ¡jhold, 1935 (New Moon, 1980) Járkálj csak, halálraítélt!, 1936 (Walk On, Condemned!, 1980) Meredek ±t, 1938 (Steep Road, 1980) Naptár, 1942 (Calendar, 1980) Tajtékos ég, 1946 (Sky with Clouds, 1980) Bori notesz, 1970 (Camp Notebook, 2000) Subway Stops, 1977 The Witness: Selected Poems by Miklós Radnóti, 1977 Radnóti Miklós müvei, 1978 Forced March, 1979 The Complete Poetry, 1980 Last Poems of Miklós Radnóti, 1994 Other literary forms Miklós Radnóti (RAWD-not-ee) excelled as a translator of classical and modern poetry from a number of Western languages into Hungarian. A collection of his translations appeared in 1943 under the title Orpheus nyomában (in the footsteps of Orpheus). Of his prose, Ikrek hava (1939; The Month of Gemini, 1979), a quasi autobiography, is most significant; also noteworthy is his doctoral dissertation on the Hungarian novelist and poet Margit Kaffka, Kaffka Margit m±vészi fejl¹dése (1934; the artistic development of Margit Kaffka). Achievements Miklós Radnóti received his doctoral degree in 1934 and was awarded the prestigious Baumgarten Prize only four years later. From this auspicious beginning, he began building his readership, so that by the height of his career few modern Hungarian poets had a wider reading public than Radnóti. Radnóti’s forte was his ability to fuse elements from diverse poetic traditions, filling traditional forms with new, unexpected messages, especially the terrifying experiences resulting from the Nazi Occupation of Central and 189

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Eastern Europe. While young, he boldly experimented with free verse, but his mature poetry is devoid of flamboyance, characterized instead by classical simplicity and dignity. His major contribution to Hungarian letters is that he served as an artistic and a moral example for several generations of Hungarian artists by speaking for his nation and representing his country’s best humanist traditions amid war, privation, and persecution. Biography Miklós Radnóti (born Miklós Glatter) lived for only thirty-five years, and even his birth was darkened by tragedy in that his mother and twin brother both died. Radnóti’s father soon remarried; Radnóti deeply loved his stepmother and the daughter born of the second marriage, yet grief and guilt feelings concerning the double tragedy of his birth influenced his entire creative life. The figure of his mother is a recurring image in Radnóti’s poetry and prose. Radnóti completed his elementary and high school education in Budapest. Then, following the suggestion of his guardian (his father, too, had died), he spent 1927 and 1928 in Liberec, Czechoslovakia (now Czech Republic), studying textile technology and working in an office. In the fall of 1930, he enrolled at Szeged University, majoring in Hungarian and French. By the time he received his doctorate in 1934, he had several volumes of poetry in print. It was during this period that he assumed the name “Radnóti,” after Radnót, the town in northeastern Hungary where his father had been born. During the late 1920’s and at the beginning of the 1930’s, Radnóti became involved with youth organizations that were culturally nurtured by ideas from the Left. During this period, he wrote “engaged” poetry, using a deliberately nonpoetical language meant to identify him with the working class. Since that identification lacked the reality of experience, it exhausted itself in language and remained unconvincing. During his first trip to Paris in 1931, Radnóti met a number of French writers and artists, who introduced him to the poetry of Guillaume Apollinaire, Blaise Cendrars, Paul Valéry, and Valery Larbaud. The progressive nature of this poetry liberated Radnóti from the confines of narrow social protest, and with his Storm and Stress period behind him, he began to develop his mature style. In 1935, Radnóti married his childhood sweetheart, Fanni Gyarmati, hoping to secure a teaching position in the Hungarian high school system. When this did not work out, he took temporary jobs, chiefly private tutoring, and accepted partial support from his wife’s family. As Hungary’s political climate turned increasingly fascist, Radnóti shared the fate of those who had been persecuted for their Jewish origins. With the exception of brief periods of respite, he spent the years from 1940 until his death in various forced-labor camps, first in Hungary and later, after Hungary’s occupation by the Nazis (March 19, 190

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1944), working a copper mine in Bor, Yugoslavia (now Serbia). In the course of the Nazi retreat, Radnóti’s company was also returned to Hungary, then moved west in the direction of the German (Austrian) border. Radnóti, however, died while still in Hungary, murdered by the soldiers guarding his group. He was among those who were shot after being forced to dig their own graves. When Radnóti’s body was exhumed on June 23, 1946, nearly two years after his death, a small, black notebook was found in which Radnóti had written ten poems. (These poems appear in the volume Sky with Clouds.) It is a measure of Radnóti’s current standing in Hungarian poetry that a scholarly facsimile edition of this notebook, Camp Notebook, originally issued in 1970, had gone into multiple printings. Analysis At the beginning of his career, Miklós Radnóti saw himself as a representative of a new literature, different in language and style from that of the previous generation of Hungarian poets. Together with fellow rebels, he attacked what he regarded as the tepid traditions of the past, boldly declaring himself one of the “modern shepherds.” The title of his first volume, Pagan Salute, suggests the rebellious spirit of Radnóti’s early work. The narrator of this first collection rejects the pacifying teachings of church and state and sings about the freedom of love and his desire for a natural life. The Romantic image of the shepherd placed in a pastoral landscape is one of the few happy, carefree images in all of Radnóti’s work. “Law” Radnóti’s youthful poems are characterized by social commentary, often obliquely expressed by means of images from nature. In “Law,” for example, an allegory about the illegal Socialist movement after the Nazi victories of 1933, Radnóti advances his political views in the guise of a “nature poem.” The wind “drops” passwords and whistles the secret signals of the conspirators. The political freeze is described as winter, and the new grass bares not the expected “blade” but a “dagger.” The laws of nature are translated by Radnóti into the law of revolution, and in the last stanzas, the poet confirms his ties with the underground movement and calls on others to follow his example. A tree dropping a “leaf,” which by this point in the poem can be interpreted only as a political “leaflet” or flier, compels the reader to respond; thus, the poem becomes its own political leaflet. Love poems Radnóti’s early work is also characterized by a strong erotic charge, although it is often unclear whether this represents a genuine expression of sexual desire or is merely another manifestation of the poet’s urge to revolt against social conventions. Between 1933 and 1935, when he married Fanni Gyarmati, however, Radnóti’s erotic/political 191

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poems changed dramatically. A new gravity and a mood approaching resignation accompanied his awareness of impending war; his manner became calmer and more controlled. His language, too, was simplified, so that a more personal, lyric voice could emerge. The erotic flame of the sexual poems was replaced by a lyric glow, and the violent sexual images by intimate, tender descriptions of lovers. Radnóti became protective of married love, remaining silent about sexual relations. Indeed, Radnoti’s love poems to Fanni recall in their classical simplicity the great love lyrics of Mihály Vörösmarty and Sándor Pet¹fi, the preeminent Hungarian poets of the nineteenth century. “Like a Bull” Finally, the transition from Radnóti’s youthful, rebellious stance to his mature style can be traced in the poet’s changing self-image. In “Like a Bull,” written in 1933, the poet is represented by a young bull, a pointedly strong and masculine image chosen to reflect an unsentimental view of the cruelties of the world during troubled times. In other poems of this period, the narrators are young men who do not attempt to hide from their fate and who openly condemn the perpetrators of evil. “War Diary” Gradually, however, there is a transformation in the poet’s self-image: He is reduced, as it were, to his pure function as a poet. This transformation begins with the cycle “War Diary,” in which the poet envisions himself both as a corpse and as a disembodied spirit. The entire cycle of four poems is marked by a sense of distance, as if the poet had already died and was now observing life from the other side. The effect is not one of detachment but rather of extraordinary poignancy: The poet has stripped himself of all that is inessential, but not of his humanity. This cycle anticipates the poems that Radnóti wrote in Serbian concentration camps during the final days of his life; in one of these last poems, “Root,” the poet writes: “I am now a root myself—/ it’s with worms I make my home,/ there, I am building this poem.” This image is a far cry from the bold, patriotic, young songster of Radnóti’s early verse. “I Cannot Know . . .” Among Radnóti’s images, a few run throughout his oeuvre as recurring metaphors and symbols. He uses the figure of the pilot, for example, as an embodiment of the amorality chillingly evident in the war. The pilot becomes a symbol of all willing instruments in the service of inhumanity; his actions derive from a worldview in which separation leads to indifference. When sufficient distance is created between malefactor and victim, the wrongdoer ceases to feel any guilt concerning his crime. In the poem “I Cannot Know . . .” (written in 1944), Radnóti pits the humanist’s values against those of the pilot. It is a poem about Hungary as seen, on one hand, by a native son, the poet, and, on 192

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the other hand, by a pilot of a bomber from another country. The poet sees his “tiny land” on a human scale: “when a bush kneels, once in a while,/ at my feet, I know its name and can name its blossom;/ I know where people are headed on the road, as I know them.” To the man in the plane, however, “it’s a map, this country,/ he could not point to the home of Mihály Vörösmarty.” The pilot sees only military targets—“army posts, factories”—while the poet sees “grasshoppers, oxen, towers, farms, gentle fields.” “Second Eclogue” Radnóti treats the symbolic figure of the pilot with greater complexity in his “Second Eclogue,” a poem in dialogue form that opens with the bragging of a dashing pilot. The pilot concludes his speech, the first of the poem’s four parts, by asking the poet, “Have you written since yesterday?” The poet answers, “I have,” and while he retains a touch of a child’s wonder at the miracle of people being able to fly, he goes on to identify the differences between his permanent role as a humanitarian and the pilot’s temporary role in social change. Listening to each other, they begin to perceive themselves better. The poet recognizes the strengths of his own position by measuring his moral courage against the daring stunts of the pilot. As the poet discovers with surprise his own courage, so in his second speech the pilot admits his fears. Indeed, he goes beyond this admission to acknowledge a far more troubling truth: He, who “lived like a man once,” has become something inhuman, living only to destroy. Who will understand, he asks, that he was once human? Thus, he closes his second speech with a plea to the poet: “Will you write about me?” The poet’s answer, which concludes the dialogue, is brief: “If I live. And there’s anyone around to read it.” In this poem, written in 1941, Radnóti anticipated the conclusions drawn by survivors of the Holocaust: He penetrated and understood the psyche of the offender. He does not forgive. Rather, he draws a circle to connect the murderer and his victim, by which a sort of intimacy is established: In a terrible, absurd way, they alone share the crime. “Song” and “A Little Duck Bathes” Radnóti employed recurring images such as that of the pilot to add resonance to his verse, to create a rich texture of associations and layers of meaning. The same impulse lies behind his “quotation” of poetic forms and themes from a great diversity of sources, varying from Vergil to Hungarian folk culture, in which he establishes a fruitful tension with his models. “A Little Duck Bathes,” for example, is based on one of the most popular Hungarian nursery rhymes. By reversing the structure of the first sentence, Radnóti establishes the dialectical tension by which the entire poem is structured: The unabashed eroticism of the text is counterpointed by the original meter of the nursery rhyme. The energy of the new poem derives from its conflict with its model. Similarly, Radnóti’s poem “Song” is modeled on the “outlaw song,” a readily identifiable type of 193

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Hungarian folk song. Dealing with the misery of the homeless refugee, the poor exile, and the defeated patriot, the outlaw song (derived in turn from the kuruc song) provides Radnóti with a vehicle for calling attention to historical precedents for the exile of poets within their homeland. Radnóti’s technique of complex “quotation” is supremely exemplified in his eclogues. Radnóti’s eight poems written in this classical form constitute his literary testament. In them, he describes and responds to the devastating events of his time, deliberately choosing this traditionally bucolic genre to convey his tragic vision. “Eighth Eclogue” Radnóti’s eclogues achieve their greatest evocative power precisely from this conflict between form and content, which forces the reader to assume a critical distance, to reflect on the implications of this violation of genre. In these poems, Radnóti meditates on the nature of poetry and on the poet’s commitment to a better world. For Radnóti, to live meant to create, and even amid filth, indignities, and the fear of death, the concept of home appears in a literary metaphor, a land in which it is known what a hexameter is. The “Eighth Eclogue,” the last of the series, combines biblical and classical traditions. Here, the poet conducts a dialogue with the biblical Nahum, a true prophet; Nahum encourages the poet by telling him that prophets and poets are closely related, suggesting that they should “take to the road” together. Thus, in his “Eighth Eclogue,” Radnóti revived the messianic conception of the poet that was at the heart of the Romantic movement in Hungary. Long before the actual forced march that ended in his death, Radnóti spiritually set out on the lonely road leading to the grave. By 1940, his imminent death had become a recurring image in his poems, frequently appearing in concluding lines. Here, Fanni alone can offer him comfort; her bodily closeness is his only haven. Her presence quiets his fears following nightmares about death (“Your Right Hand on My Nape”), and only her embrace can make the moment of death pass as if it were a dream (“In Your Arms”). “Forced March” Although he had long been prepared for death, Radnóti paradoxically regained a hope for survival during the last bitter weeks of his life. The wish to live, to return to Fanni, to tell about the horrors, and to wait for a “wiser, handsome death” permeates several of the poems so aptly called the “hymns from Bor.” Well aware that this hope was flimsy at best, based on desire more than on truth, Radnóti expressed its elusiveness in “Forced March.” The poem begins with a judgmental view of the poet, observed in the third person. His unreasonable behavior is exposed, his foolish agreement to his own torture is condemned. He is called upon to explain his decision to walk on, and his answer is shown up as a naïve, self-deceiving daydream. Halfway through the poem, however, a sudden 194

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transformation occurs, a shift from the third person to the first. Judgment turns into a confession of hope, the war-torn landscape is transmuted into an idyll of bygone days, dogged resistance into a cosmic, optimistic message. In a world from which reason has disappeared, anything, including superstition and magic, can serve as crutches. Thus, by the end of the poem, the two halves of the lyric ego merge, and harmony is reestablished—a new harmony in which primordial beliefs are accepted as truth, befitting a world devoid of civilization. Each line of “Forced March” is broken by a caesura, marked by a blank space, so that the poem is divided into two jagged columns. The pounding rhythm of the verse re-creates the sound of the heavy footsteps with which the exhausted men dragged themselves on the road—a beautiful example of form functioning as message. “Forced March” impresses and moves the reader with its spontaneity, its simple vocabulary and familiar imagery, its emotional directness, and yet—characteristically of Radnóti—the texture of the poem is more complex than might at first appear, for woven into it are allusions to a medieval masterpiece, Walther von der Vogelweide’s “Ouwe war sint verswunden alliu miniu jar?” (“Where Have All My Years Disappeared?”)—a poem that Radnóti had translated. There, too, home can never again be what it once was; the people are gone, the farmhouse has collapsed, and what was once joyous has disappeared. “Forced March” has a special place in Radnóti’s oeuvre: It represents hope’s triumph over despair. Above all, it shows the artist’s triumph over his own fate. It proves that even during the last weeks of his tormented life, Radnóti was able to compose with precise poetic principles in mind, that he was in control of his material, playing secretly with literary and existential relationships and creating out of all this an enduring testament. “Razglednicas” Radnóti’s last poems were four short pieces that chart his final steps toward death and, at the same time, signal his withdrawal from participation in life. These poems are collectively titled “Razglednicas,” a word of Serbo-Croatian origin meaning picture postcards, and indeed they provide a terrifyingly precise pictorial description of the horrors that the poet experienced in the last month of his life. Separate as they stand in their unique message, the “Razglednicas” are by no means unrelated to the rest of Radnóti’s poetry. They have a particularly close emotive and textual contact with his longer poems (such as “Forced March” and “Letter to My Wife”) written during the same period, and together they render a final panorama of Radnóti’s surroundings, depicting the devastation that humans and nature suffer in a ravaging war. Other major works nonfiction: Kaffka Margit m±vészi fejl¹dése, 1934; Ikrek hava, 1939 (The Month of Gemini, 1979). translation: Orpheus nyomában, 1943. 195

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Bibliography Birnbaum, Marianna D. Miklós Radnóti: A Biography of His Poetry. Munich: FinnishUgric Seminar, University of Munich, 1983. Connects Radnóti’s poems to events in his life. Useful as an introduction to both. George, Emery. The Poetry of Miklós Radnóti: A Comparative Study. New York: KarzCohl, 1986. The best scholarly analysis of Radnóti’s poetry by his leading translator. Gömöri, George, and Clive Wilmer, eds. The Life and Poetry of Miklós Radnóti: Essays. Boulder, Colo.: East European Monographs, 1999. A good collection of critical essays on various, often highly esoteric, themes in Radnóti’s poetry. Ozsváth, Zsuzsanna. In the Footsteps of Orpheus: The Life and Times of Miklós Radnóti. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2000. A very readable biography of the poet. M. D. Birnbaum

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CARL RAKOSI Callman Rawley Born: Berlin, Germany; November 6, 1903 Died: San Francisco, California; June 24, 2004 Principal poetry Two Poems, 1933 Selected Poems, 1941 Amulet, 1967 Ere-VOICE, 1971 Ex Cranium, Night, 1975 My Experiences in Parnassus, 1977 Droles de Journal, 1981 History, 1981 Spiritus I, 1983 Meditation, 1985 The Collected Poems of Carl Rakosi, 1986 Poems, 1923-1941, 1995 The Earth Suite, 1997 Other literary forms Although Carl Rakosi (rah-KOH-see) is known principally for his poetry, he published a collection of nonfiction writings, The Collected Prose of Carl Rakosi (1983). Achievements Carl Rakosi came to public attention fairly late. Between 1939 and 1965, he wrote no poetry. A young English poet who was doing research at the State University of New York at Buffalo contacted him and asked about his post-1941 work; it was this query that spurred him to begin writing once more. His Selected Poems, published by New Directions in 1941, had received little notice, but the growing audience for poetry in the 1960’s welcomed Amulet, his second New Directions book. Since that time, New Directions, Black Sparrow Press, and the National Poetry Foundation at the University of Maine have kept his writing in print, and it has continued to spark the interest of critics and a new generation of poets and readers. Rakosi won the National Endowment for the Arts award in 1969 and fellowships from the same institution in 1972 and 1979. He also won a Distinguished Service award from the National Poetry Association in 1988, and the PEN Center USA West Poetry Award for Poems, 1923-1941 in 1996. He was the honored guest at the International Objectivist 197

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Conference in France in 1990. His manuscripts and letters are split between the holdings of the University of Wisconsin in Madison and the Widener Library at Harvard. Biography Carl Rakosi was born on November 6, 1903, to Hungarian nationals Leopold Rakosi and Flora Steiner, who were at that time living in Berlin. The young Rakosi was brought to the United States in 1910; his father and stepmother reared him and his brother in various midwestern cities—Chicago; Gary, Indiana; and Kenosha, Wisconsin. Rakosi made many attempts to begin a career. After earning his B.A. in literature at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, he tried social work in Cleveland and New York City. He returned to Madison for an M.A. in educational psychology and then worked as the staff psychologist in the personnel department at Bloomingdale’s for a time. He taught English at the University of Texas at Austin and made forays into law school (in Austin) and medical school (in Galveston). Having found neither law nor medicine congenial, he taught high school in Houston for two years. At the outset of the Depression, he tried social work again, returning to Chicago to work at the Cook County Bureau of Public Welfare. By now he had changed his name, to Callman Rawley. He served a two-year stint as a supervisor at the Federal Transit Bureau in New Orleans; then, following a period of working as a field supervisor for Tulane University, he started to work—in a pioneering role—as a family therapist at the Jewish Family Welfare Society in New York. At the same time, he pursued graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania; in 1940 he received an M.A. in social work. His professional course was now clear. After three years as a case supervisor at the Jewish Social Service Bureau in St. Louis and two years as assistant director of the Jewish Children’s Bureau in Cleveland, he became executive director of the Jewish Family and Children’s Service in Minneapolis in 1945. He continued in this post until 1968; between 1958 and 1968, he also had a private practice. One notes in this chronology the marked absence of any job directly connected to writing. Rakosi’s first spell as a poet had resulted in publication in the prestigious Little Review, alongside James Joyce’s Ulysses (1922) in serial form; he had also been included in An “Objectivists” Anthology (1932), edited by Louis Zukofsky, which many years later came to be seen as a landmark event. The long hiatus that followed has been described thus by Rakosi himself: By 1939 writing was coming harder and slower to me as more of me became involved in social work and in reading and writing professional articles. . . . I wrote some sixty . . . and my evenings were swallowed up by the things that a man who is not a writer normally spends his time on in a big city: the theater, concerts, professional meetings, friends, girlfriends. . . . In addition, my Marxist thinking had made me lose respect for poetry itself. So there was nothing to hold me back from ending the problem by stopping to write. I did that. I also stopped reading poetry. I couldn’t run the risk of being tempted.

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In December, 1965, he received a letter from British poet Andrew Crozier asking what had become of his poetry since 1941. This letter prompted him to take up his pen once again. The results were soon made available to the poetry-reading public in a series of books; the work was much anthologized, and Rakosi was asked to give readings at a number of distinguished venues. This Rip Van Winkle of poetry had reawakened to a different decade—one for which his gifts appeared to have been waiting. His résumé soon began to show many jobs related to his poetry and writing: From 1968 to 1975, he was writer-in-residence in Saratoga Springs, New York; he was writerin-residence at the University of Wisconsin from 1969 to 1970; he served as a faculty member for the National Poetry Festival in 1973; and he was poet-in-residence for Michigan State University in 1974. In 1986, he became the senior editor of the literary magazine Sagetrieb, a critical journal located in Maine. In 1939, Rakosi was married to Leah Jaffe. Their daughter, Barbara, was born in St. Louis in 1940, and a son, George, was born in Cleveland in 1943. The couple stayed together for half a century; Leah Jaffe Rakosi died in San Francisco in 1988. San Francisco continued to be Rakosi’s home until his death in 2004. Analysis Because of his early connection with Louis Zukofsky, Carl Rakosi is often spoken of as an Objectivist poet. When both poets were young, Zukofsky had been advised by Ezra Pound to start a literary movement, the better to draw attention to his own poetry. Pound told him that he need not look for complete agreement among the members of his movement, as long as certain views were held in common. Zukofsky took his mentor at his word. He contacted several poets of his generation (along with William Carlos Williams, who was some twenty years their senior) and published their work as An “Objectivists” Anthology, with an introduction by himself. This essay has long been puzzled over by students of American poetry. Rakosi himself found Zukofsky’s definition of Objectivism baffling. “It was so at odds,” he says, “with any association I could make with the word ‘Objectivist,’ which has ‘object’ in its belly.” Rakosi has characterized Zukofsky’s tone in the essay as “aloof” and “rebuffing,” as if he were simultaneously presenting the poetry for inspection and arrogantly dismissing his readership. Zukofsky’s explanation, according to Rakosi, fit only his own poetry. There was a fundamental gulf between Zukofsky and the three other poets most often named as Zukofsky’s fellow Objectivists: Charles Reznikoff, George Oppen, and Rakosi. These three “were credited with a place in literary history for the wrong reason, because of a name.” Nevertheless, Rakosi came to like the label “Objectivist.” Although Zukofsky’s tortuous definition left him cold, the name “conveyed a meaning which was, in fact, my objective: to present objects in their most essential reality and to make of each poem an ob199

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ject, meaning by this the opposite of vagueness, loose bowels and streaming, sometimes screaming, consciousness.” Even as Zukofsky spurned the term, Rakosi welded it to his own practice. He aimed to convert the subjective experience into an object “by feeling the experience sincerely; by setting boundaries to it and incorporating only those parts which belong together.” The poem, he has said, should be like a sculpture; the reader should be able to come at it from any angle and find it “solid and coherent.” Honesty and craftsmanship are the qualities needed for constructing such poems. As is often the case when a poet supplies a definition of poetry, there is a certain amount of question-begging here. What guarantee can the poet give (even to himself) of his own sincerity and honesty? By what criteria does one decide which parts belong together? Will everyone who “views” (reads) the poem find it solid and coherent? If so, how does one account for readers’ variation in taste? Yet Rakosi’s aims become clearer when they are viewed in historical context and in the light of his actual practice. Zukofsky launched his movement in 1930, some two decades after Ezra Pound and H. D. (Hilda Doolittle) had declared themselves Imagists in the process of renovating poetry by throwing out “bad habits dear to the poets of the Victorian age.” Zukofsky was heavily influenced by Pound and by another inductee in the Imagist movement,William Carlos Williams. Given that Rakosi, Reznikoff, Oppen, and others anthologized under Zukofsky’s editorship were also mindful of, and to some extent sympathetic with, the principles of Imagism, it is small wonder that there are several points of resemblance between Imagism and the Objectivists. “A Retrospect” The theoretical writing of Ezra Pound, however, had a lucidity of expression that frequently eluded Zukofsky. In “A Retrospect,” Pound articulated the following principles for Imagism: 1. Direct treatment of the “thing” whether subject or objective. 2. To use absolutely no word that does not contribute to the presentation. 3. As regarding rhythm: to compose in the sequence of the musical phrase, not in sequence of a metronome.

The result is well known: a radical reappraisal of poetic terms and practice; the birth within English-language poetry of “the modern”; “free” verse; a cessation of “moral tagging” or other explicit aid to the reader as to the poem’s meaning; an endeavor to rescue the art from the muddyings to which it had been subjected when its practitioners sought to truck and higgle with the increasingly wide—and not necessarily deep—audience brought by universal education. Rakosi’s brief lyrics are rightfully classified as modernist for their terse, strippeddown qualities, which give the impression (and that is what counts) of sincerity and honesty. Yet they could hardly be called straightforward—and that is fortunate. They have 200

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far too much art to them. In fact, it is hard to take at face value Rakosi’s oft-repeated assurances of his ingenuous nature, for his poems strike one as weapons of supreme irony. Ingenuousness is simply one of the more empowering poses available to such an artist, although on any given occasion he may be actually ingenuous. Reading Rakosi, it is hard to forget that for many years he worked as a psychotherapist, picking with care the words needed to lead his clients toward self-discovery. Not that he lied to them—quite the contrary: He had to stay with what was true. His role was to select, from all there was to talk about, that which he perceived as being of most use in the present. At any given moment much had to be suppressed; otherwise there would have been a blurring of outline, a loss of necessary definition and discovery. “The Experiment with a Rat” These are the considerations and requisite skills of the psychotherapist—and in Rakosi’s poetry they are also the chief characteristics. Here is “The Experiment with a Rat”:

Every time I nudge that spring a bell rings and a man walks out of a cage assiduous and sharp like one of us and brings me cheese. How did he fall into my power?

One notes the absence of a rhyme scheme and regular rhythm, but one also notices subtle juxtapositions of sound, rhythms that are less obvious than the iambic but distinct nevertheless, Pound’s ”cadence of the musical phrase. “ The vocabulary is spare, and there are only two adjectives, segregated on their own line, as though to prevent their contaminating the rest of the poem. Most of the words are of Anglo-Saxon provenance, giving the Latinate “assiduous” a certain shock value. The tone is quiet, casual, even offhand. The reader may not at first grasp the radical nature of the point of view, for the casual air disarms attention. Suddenly one realizes how the tables have been turned—almost. While it is true that the laboratory assistant endures a trapped existence akin to that of the laboratory rat—a fact it could be salutary for the assistant to acknowledge—the slight exaggeration involved in equating rat and human being implies another truth. When one is actually trapped like the rat, one is quite capable of denying it by the kind of presumption evidenced in the final question. 201

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“Family Portrait, Three Generations” “Family Portrait, Three Generations” is similarly thought-provoking: all looking into the lens, eyes wide, straight ahead: holding: “We’re plain, we’re church goers, Who dares say anything against that?”

As if he were a combination of camera and tape recorder, the poet refrains from any direct comment on the phenomena he presents “objectively.” Because of this approach, the poem has the ring of truth. It is not easy to see how the poet has in fact rigged things—he has put words in the mouths of his subjects. Yet, after all, are these not exactly the right words? Surely this is what these good folk “say”—not in words, but in their demeanor, their bearing, their lives. Every reader has known someone like the family in the poem. Perhaps the reader has a bit of it in himself. Do not most human beings lead their lives principally in the eyes of others, afraid of censure, terrified of scandal? Many of Rakosi’s poems are equally disarming, apparently simple, certainly economical studies of American life. He sees Americans with remarkable clarity—piercing through a democrat’s clothing to reveal the would-be emperor underneath. No doubt the dislocations of his own life—being virtually abandoned by his parents for most of his infancy, coming to the United States at the age of seven, and having to replace German and Hungarian with English—helped shape Rakosi into the careful observer who wrote these poems. Perhaps one should in fact identify a third dislocation and view his twentyfive-year poetic hiatus as a further estrangement that came to enhance his later work. He is certainly not one of the herd. Rakosi had even held himself apart from the movement with which he has been so often associated, Objectivism. His eye is always cool; his poetry is elegant even when he chooses to write in the vernacular; in his poems great and trivial become the same (since nothing can manifest itself except in the everyday); the surfaces of his work never ruffle. “Domination of Wallace Stevens” In reading Rakosi, one is reminded at times of that other master of elegance in American poetry, Wallace Stevens. In 1925, in fact, Rakosi wrote a six-part poem called “Domination of Wallace Stevens.” It is a remarkable pastiche, and all the more note202

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worthy when one realizes that it was written by a young man of twenty-two. It begins, “Clear me with this master music/ when the coryphee skips on the oak floor/ and the clouds depress me like the lower keys.” The reader soon encounters “Miss Ordway in a plush repose,/ counting the curves pitched in her portly mirrors/ by seven bored and pygmy globes.” This is excellent fun, and by the poem’s end the reader may well judge that Stevens had been dominated by young Rakosi, and that the domination of the man twice his age had been shaken off. Yet like Jacob, who wrestled with the angel and limped thereafter, throughout his career Rakosi recurs to certain tones—one might call them “dictive gestures”—that set an echo of the other poet resonating between text and reader, as in “The Transmutation into English”: And let them watch their examples, for in England the example of quintessence is The Law Of England is the quintessence of reason. They will try to sneak into heaven on that word.

Rakosi’s sparer idiom, however, always reasserts itself quickly and most effectively. The Protestant Stevens and the Jewish Rakosi, the classic American and the recent immigrant, do make a strange couple, as Rakosi no doubt knows. It is a knowledge that he probably savors—for, after all, he can “do” Stevens, while Stevens never “did” Rakosi. “The Review” and “VI Dirge” Rakosi has said that of the four principal Objectivists, it was Reznikoff for whom he felt the greatest affinity. At times, he has taken a leaf from the older poet’s book and let document testify with no more interference than arrangement. Reznikoff’s Testimony (1934) made use of court transcripts in this way; for Rakosi, notes to the welfare department at times said all there was to be said. “VI Dirge,” for example, comes from the gathering called “American Nymphs”: This is to let you know that my husband got his project cut off two weeks ago and I have not had any relief since.

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Rakosi’s work can be hilarious, kindly, and sarcastic all at once—and the masterful self-restraint the reader is induced to picture him exercising makes his terseness all the more amusing. The moment of deflation proves to be worth the wait, as in “The Review,” which quotes a journalistic piece that pictures a famous American poet on a stage, gazing at an audience with “Olympian disdain.” The quote is followed by Rakosi’s eloquently brief comment: “Aw sheeit!” This final exclamation might only be an echo of what the Olympian figure himself muttered, looking out at an audience that was projecting—as the reviewer did—tragic and heroic qualities onto him. This kind of sympathy always hovers about Rakosi’s satire, a constant possibility. When Faust puts a word wrong, Rakosi will hear him, but that angel will always save the poem from utter condemnation. Later years In the 1980’s and 1990’s, Rakosi’s work began to be included in the major poetry anthologies and taught in universities as the Objectivists as a group came to be recognized as an important part of the literary canon. Not only did the long careers of the Objectivists allow them to be important writers in both the modern and postmodern periods, but also in terms of influence studies, the Objectivists were quite literally deemed to be the inheritors of the legacy of Pound and Williams. It was a legacy that they would fundamentally call into question, even as they served as mentors themselves to many major contemporary poets. Although Rakosi preferred the friendship of poets to acclaim by literary scholars, he eventually found himself serving as the last surviving Objectivist for posterity. Other major works nonfiction: The Collected Prose of Carl Rakosi, 1983. miscellaneous: The Old Poet’s Tale, 1999 (poetry and prose). Bibliography Bromige, David, et al. “The Royaumont Conference.” Poetry Flash, November, 1989June, 1990. An account of the September, 1989, conference on the Objectivists held near Paris, with American and French poets as panelists and Rakosi, the only surviving Objectivist poet, as featured speaker. Bromige’s article discusses some of the conference’s salient issues; the matter of opacity in the poem stirred up controversy continued in subsequent letters and articles. Rakosi contributed a revealing letter. “Carl Rakosi, One Hundred, a Poet Who Influenced Others.” The New York Times, July 12, 2004, p. B8. This obituary describes Rakosi’s poetry as “honest and direct, with a dose of irony.” Codrescu, Andrei. “Carl Rakosi: A Warm, Steady Presence.” Baltimore Sun, April 1, 1984. Discusses Rakosi’s humanism. 204

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Heller, Michael D. Conviction’s Net of Branches. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1985. Discusses the Objectivist movement and examines Rakosi’s varying styles. _______. “Heaven and the Modern World.” The New York Times Book Review, March 8, 1987. Discusses Rakosi’s responses to the contemporary world. _______, ed. Carl Rakosi: Man and Poet. Orono: National Poetry Foundation, University of Maine, 1993. Offers criticism and interpretation of Rakosi’s work. Bibliography and index included. Perloff, Marjorie. “Looking for the Real Carl Rakosi: Collected and Selecteds.” Journal of American Studies 30 (August, 1996): 271-283. Perloff reviews Poems, 19231941 and The Collected Poems of Carl Rakosi, as well as Carl Rakosi: Man and Poet, edited by Michael D. Heller. Rakosi, Carl. The Collected Prose of Carl Rakosi. Edited by Burton Hatlen. Orono: National Poetry Foundation, University of Maine, 1983. These pieces shed much light on Rakosi’s poetry. Hatlen supplies an afterword, “Carl Rakosi and the Re-invention of the Epigram,” which touches also on other aspects of Rakosi’s writing, beginning with a general survey of the work in its historical setting. _______. Interview by Tom Devaney and Oliver Brossard. American Poetry Review 32, no. 4 (July/August, 2003): 20. Rakosi talks about his love of writing and music and about the influence of Wallace Stevens and the Objectivists on his writing. David Bromige

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TADEUSZ RÓ?EWICZ Born: Radomsko, Poland; October 9, 1921 Principal poetry Niepokój, 1947 (Unease, 1980) Czerwona ròkawiczka, 1948 Piòc poematów, 1950 Czas który idzie, 1951 Wiersze i obrazy, 1952 Równina, 1954 Srebrny kuos, 1955 Ukmiechy, 1955 Poemat otwarty, 1956 Poezje zebrane, 1957 Formy, 1958 Przerwany egzamin, 1960 Rozmowa z ksiòciem, 1960 Guos anonima, 1961 Zielona ró/a, 1961 (Green Rose, 1982) Nic w puaszczu Prospera, 1962 Niepokój: Wybór wierszy, 1945-1961, 1963 Twarz, 1964 Poezje wybrane, 1967 Wiersze i poematy, 1967 Twarz trzecia, 1968 Faces of Anxiety, 1969 Regio, 1969 Plaskorzezba, 1970 Poezje zebrane, 1971 Wiersze, 1974 Selected Poems, 1976 “The Survivor,” and Other Poems, 1976 “Conversation with the Prince,” and Other Poems, 1982 Napowierzchni poematu i w krodku, 1983 Poezje, 1987 Poezja, 1988 (2 volumes) Tadeusz Ró/ewicz’s Bas-Relief, and Other Poems, 1991 They Came to See a Poet, 1991 (originally as Conversation with the Prince) 206

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Opowiadania, 1994 Slowo po slowie, 1994 Niepokój: Wybór wierszy z lat, 1944-1994, 1995 Selected Poems, 1995 “Zawsze Fragment” and “Recycling,” 1996 Nozyk profesora, 2001 Recycling, 2001 New Poems, 2007 Other literary forms Tadeusz Ró/ewicz (REWZH-veech) is known as a playwright as well as a poet, a leading figure in postwar absurdist theater. He has also published both short fiction and novels, as well as essays. Achievements After World War II, Tadeusz Ró/ewicz became a spokesperson for his generation, and the Polish people responded quickly to his work. In 1955, he received the government’s Art Award First Category for Równina (the plain), and in 1959, the city of Kraków gave him its literary award. In 1962, the Polish Ministry of Culture and Art gave him its First Category Award, and in 1966, he again received the government’s Art Award First Category, in recognition of his entire oeuvre. In 1970, he received a special prize from the magazine Odra. He received the Prize of the Minister of Foreign Affairs (Poland), 1974 and 1987; the Austrian National Prize for European Literature, 1982; the Gold Wreath Prize for Poetry (Yugoslavia), 1987; the Wuadysuaw Reymont Literary Prize, 1999. He was awarded other honors as well: the Home Army Cross (London) in 1956; the Alfred Jurzykowski Foundation Award (New York), 1966; the Medal of the Thirtieth Anniversary of the People’s Poland, 1974; the Order of Banner of Labour, Second Class, 1977; and the Great Cross of Order Polonia Restituta, 1996. In 2000, he was awarded Poland’s prestigious Nike Award for his book Matka odchodzi (1999; mother departs). Biography Tadeusz Ró/ewicz’s father, Wladysuaw Ró/ewicz, worked as a clerk in the courthouse in Radomsko, a town in central Poland. His mother, Stefania Ró/ewicz, came from the village of Gelbardów. They had three sons, Tadeusz being the middle child, born on October 9, 1921. The poet began his schooling in Radomsko, where he wrote his first works for school publications. When the Germans occupied Poland, they forbade all but the most primitive education for Poles; Ró/ewicz worked as a manual laborer and as a messenger for the city government while continuing his education in a special underground school. 207

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In 1943 and 1944, Ró/ewicz fought against the German occupation forces as a member of the Home Army (the underground forces directed by the Polish government-inexile, in London). His own brother was murdered by the Gestapo in 1944. In an interview with James Hopkins for The Guardian’s May 19, 2001, issue, he recalled: “I saw people who were brought through the streets on carts . . . dead bodies, naked bodies.” After the war, he passed a special examination and entered Jagellonian University in Kraków, where he studied art history. Faced with the horrors inflicted by the Germans during the war, Ró/ewicz determined that he must find a way to “create [Polish] poetry after Auschwitz,” since the innocent Romanticism of the nation’s prewar poetry seemed incompatible with postwar realities. Because of the special circumstances of his youth, Ró/ewicz knew comparatively little of the world outside Radomsko when he entered the university. He first saw the mountains of southern Poland, for example, when he was twenty-five years old. His first journey outside the country took place in 1948, when he went to Hungary, a trip that he subsequently described in a travelogue. His later journeys have included visits to China, Germany, and Italy, but his work, even when it concerns foreign places, retains its unique Polish perspective. In 1949, Ró/ewicz married and moved to Gliwice, where his son Kamil was born in 1950. A second son, Jan, was born in 1953. He made trips abroad, including to the United States. In 1968, Ró/ewicz moved to Wrocuaw, which would become his home for more than three decades. In his interview with Hopkins, the eighty-year-old Ró/ ewicz commented sardonically: I don’t like bad journalists, bad poets, bad painters, bad singers, and bad politicians; the latter inflict most harm. Next to the Germans.

Ró/ewicz does not forget the past. Analysis The horrific events experienced by Tadeusz Ró/ewicz during World War II have led to his terse poetics that seek the voices of common people, often through quotations, anecdotes, news reportage: an “art of collage,” as Ró/ewicz put it. As a result, his tone is a populist, democratic one—humane and never grandiose. Accordingly, sparseness characterizes Ró/ewicz’s poems, if not his poetic output. Many of his poems are exceedingly short, and even his longer works are often marked by short lines and short stanzas. Ró/ewicz is a master of the dramatic break in the line and between stanzas. He uses the broad, blank margins of the page for dramatic impact, as if he were forcing the words out into the surrounding silence, as if he did not fully trust the power of words to convey his meaning. The effect is that of a speaker who broods as he speaks, choosing his words with extreme care and, after they have been said, relapsing into a brooding silence. “I See the Mad” presents a complex drama in ten lines ar208

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ranged into four stanzas. An English translation contains a total of only thirty-nine words, but the Polish original is even more concise: It has a mere twenty-nine. Ró/ewicz speaks in straightforward sentences with straightforward words. Ordinary, even mundane, verbs and nouns abound, sometimes in lists, as if the poet were insisting to himself that the words actually correspond to the reality he sees before him. When one considers that he spent his youth subjected to the terrors of the Nazi occupation, one can understand his sense of wonder that the ordinary objects of daily life do indeed exist before him, that an ordinary existence is still possible. Though the speaker of a Ró/ewicz poem may participate in the action or even cause it, his most important role is almost always that of an observer: He witnesses the events of the poem. When he comments upon them, he often does so with terse, sardonic irony. The speaker confronts the reader, causing him to ask himself how a normal life can be possible after such horrifying experiences and even causing him to question what constitutes a normal life. “I See the Mad” Ró/ewicz presents his work to the reader in a double dramatic context: the drama that he describes in the work, and the drama reinforced by Ró/ewicz’s sparseness, of the poet speaking or writing his words. Many of his poems may be seen as miniature plays, the characters acting out various roles. In “I See the Mad,” for example, he presents himself at sea in a small boat—a traditional metaphor for life as a journey, especially a journey through obstacles. These obstacles give the poem its unique Ró/ewicz stamp. They consist of crazy people who believe they can walk on water; instead, they have fallen into it. As the poet sails through their struggling bodies, they try to save themselves by grasping his boat. To keep his craft afloat, he is forced to knock their hands away from the boat. In effect, he must condemn them to death by drowning. Who are these people floundering about in the water? One thinks immediately of Christ walking across the water to his disciples and of Peter attempting to walk on the water to meet him and sinking. Are those in the poem Christians who think that the laws of physics will be suspended for them? Or are they arrogant people who think that they can perform miracles, claiming for themselves the power of God? The poet does not say. He cannot know, for he has no time, in his role of besieged traveler, for philosophical inquiries. He must keep pushing the frantic hands off his boat. In the second stanza, the poet states: “even now they tilt/ my uncertain boat.” At first reading, the words “even now” might seem superfluous, but they put the poem in a strange, new perspective. The poem is written in the present tense: “I see,” not “I saw.” When the poet shows himself in his boat in the first stanza, he also stands, in a sense, outside the boat, reliving the experience as he writes or thinks about it. Thus, the two actions, writing or speaking the poem and knocking away the hands that threaten the poet’s safety, merge into one, just as the two narrators and the two times, past and pres209

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ent, also merge. In the first stanza, the poet plays a leading role in the drama. In the second, he effectively stands outside the proscenium arch, commenting on the action— only to be pulled dramatically back into the experience. In the third stanza, the poet is again trying to keep his little boat steady. As he pushes the hands off, he notes that they are stiff, perhaps a natural result of being in cold water. With the word “stiff,” the poet jumps forward in time, as if he already sees the hands as stiff and dead because of his actions. Nevertheless, he has no choice. The poem ends with the poet continuing his journey into the future: “I knock off their stiff hands/ knock them off/ year in year out.” The poem may be seen as a surrealistic nightmare, the poet sailing through a sea of the dead and dying. It contains also, with an ironic twist, the Darwinian concept of the survival of the fittest: The poet, the survivor, describes himself as “cruelly alive,” and the word “cruelly” vibrates in this context. In one sense, he must be cruel to push off the desperate hands that threaten to capsize his little boat. In another sense, he is “cruelly alive” because his own life force sustains him at a time when it would be easier for him to give up the struggle and simply let his boat be overturned. The poet remains afloat because he knows a human being cannot walk on the water. He sees the world as it is, and this concept of recognizing the nature of reality plays a central role in Ró/ewicz’s work. One who knows the nature of the world is not guaranteed a happy or beautiful life, but at least the person has a chance to survive. Central, too, is the function of the speaker, who acts on at least four levels: Ró/ewicz himself, in his personal life; Ró/ewicz as a Polish Everyman, responding to the situations a Pole finds in the contemporary world; Ró/ewicz as a twentieth century Everyman, witnessing and responding to the events of the twentieth century; and Ró/ewicz as a universal Everyman, witnessing and responding to the problems humanity has faced throughout its history. “I Screamed in the Night” In “I Screamed in the Night,” the dead confront the poet. They may be people he knew as a young fighter in the Polish underground army. (In one of his short stories, Ró/ ewicz tells of having to pass a trash can every day, into which were stuffed bodies of Polish partisans for whom the Nazis had forbidden burial.) In addition, Ró/ewicz, speaking as a generic Pole, refers to the many Polish dead who fought against the Germans and the Russians. He may also be thinking of the Poles killed during the time of Joseph Stalin. The poem, however, has even broader meanings. It also refers to all the dead in World War II and, indeed, to all people killed in all wars. History haunts the poet. He screams in the literal night, perhaps in dreams or nightmares, but the darkness also becomes symbolic, a moral darkness: “cold and dead/ a blade from the darkness/ went into my body.” The poem seems to offer no consolation, no solution.

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“The Prodigal Son” Sometimes Ró/ewicz gains even greater dramatic impact and depth of narration by speaking through a persona. In “The Prodigal Son,” the poet questions the routines of daily life from the point of view of an outsider. In the biblical story, the prodigal son leaves home and wastes his inheritance in riotous living. Reduced to beggary, he returns home to ask for a position as one of his father’s servants. His father, however, embraces him, clothes him, kisses him, and tells his servants, “Bring out the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and make merry; because this my son was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and is found.” Ró/ewicz adds still another dimension by basing his poem on a painting that depicts the biblical story—a painting by Hieronymus Bosch, a Flemish painter of the late Gothic period who is noted for his grotesque and amusing caricatures of people in strange situations. The prodigal son appears first at the inn from which he set out on his travels. There, he broods on the experiences he has undergone since the door of the establishment closed behind him. In the poem, the door seems to act on its own, as if its closing and opening were a natural process. When the symbolic door of his childhood home closes behind him, the young man must go out into the world. He finds that the world is filled with incredibly cruel and grotesque monsters. Senseless suffering abounds. Thus, the late medieval world of Bosch, with its grotesque characters, overlaps the contemporary world caught in the convulsions of World War II: I saw life with a wolf’s jaw a pig’s snout under the hood of a monk the open guts of the world I saw war on earth and in heaven crucified people who redeemed nothing

When Ró/ewicz’s prodigal son returns, he finds no father to welcome him, clothe him, or feed him. His former friends at the inn do not even recognize him. When he pays for a beer at the inn, the waitress looks suspiciously at the money, which she suspects may be counterfeit. Then she studies his face, as if it, too, were somehow suspect. She may be the same pretty Maggie who closed the door after he went out, but so many years have passed that they do not recognize each other. Perhaps, as she studies his face, she thinks she may have seen him someplace before. Another former friend sits in a corner with his back turned. The prodigal son then thinks of how, out in the world, he was sustained by illusions, 211

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by thoughts of the joyful reception awaiting him when he returned home. “I thought every house/ would extend a glad hand,” he states, “every branch bird and stone/ come to my reception.” Having come to recognize the reality of the outside world, he returns home to recognize reality there also, and he decides not to go to his father’s house. Instead, without revealing his identity, he goes out the door of the inn once again, vowing this time never to return. Here again, the speaker functions on four levels. Ró/ewicz speaks about his personal experience of growing up and going out into the world. On a national level, the prodigal son may be seen as one of the Polish soldiers, many of whom fought as members of the British and French forces, returning home to Poland after the fall of Germany to find the terror of the Stalinist period. The prodigal son may also be a twentieth century person, who finds it impossible to return to the comfortable beliefs of previous centuries. Finally, he represents the universal experience of a young person coming of age to find both the world and his home different from what he has always imagined. The poem is not, however, entirely pessimistic. The prodigal son comes to know the true nature of both the outside world and the home he left behind, and for Ró/ewicz, such knowledge is the first step toward wisdom. Stripped of illusions, the prodigal son returns to the world with a strange, bitter sense of personal freedom, and his decision may be seen as a mark of moral growth. “Falling” Much of Ró/ewicz’s art concerns such moral development, although he seldom lectures the reader as he does in “Falling,” in which he laments the absence of standards in contemporary life. One might expect such a moralistic poem to focus on the absence of God and Heaven in the modern world, but instead it focuses on the absence of Hell, of lower depths to which a person might sink and from which he might rise. Ró/ewicz looks back ironically to the good old days when there were such phenomena as fallen women and bankrupt businessmen. He quotes the Confessiones (397-401; Confessions, 1620) of Saint Augustine but laments that such distinctions between good and evil now seem possible only in literature, in such works as Albert Camus’s La Chute (1956; The Fall, 1957). Stavrogin, “the monster”—and Ró/ewicz’s use of quotation marks illustrates his point about modern moral judgments— asks in Fyodor Dostoevski’s Prestapleniye i nakazaniye (1866; Crime and Punishment, 1886) if faith can really move mountains. His question cannot be answered in the affirmative. More typical of contemporary literature, Ró/ewicz observes, is Françoise Sagan’s Bonjour tristesse (1954; English translation, 1955), in which moral heights and moral depths do not exist, the entrance to Hell having been changed to the entrance to the vagina. Ró/ewicz cites the Italian film Mondo Cane (1961) as giving an unforgettably grotesque but true moral picture of contemporary life, while the Vatican Council, which should be concerned with setting standards, tables a motion to debate the relationship 212

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between the faithful and the laity because it cannot define the term “the faithful.” He concludes that contemporary human beings, like Adam, are morally fallen, but because of the lack of standards, they do not fall down but fall in all directions at once. Indeed, he says that “falling” is the wrong word. “To the Heart” If, however, traditional religious and social norms no longer apply, an individual may still make moral progress personally by recognizing the world as it is. In this sense, even such a short, brutal drama as “To the Heart” may be read in a moral context. The poem begins with two words that might serve as a motto for all Ró/ewicz’s poetry, “I saw.” The poet witnesses and reports the action. In this case, he sees a specialist—a cook—killing a sheep, and by placing the cook in the broader category of specialist, he gives the cook’s actions wider application. He watches as the cook places his hand in the sheep’s mouth, pushes it down through the animal’s throat, grasps the beating heart, and tears it out. At the end, the poet comments tersely, “Yes sir/ that was/ a specialist.” Here, a human obviously violates the natural world, but the implications go deeper. The cook, after all, does his job, putting meat on the table of those who employ him. Would it make any difference if he killed a chicken or a cow? It certainly would to the poet, for because of their nature, sheep have become important symbols. They stand for meek people. Christ, the Good Shepherd, spoke of people as sheep, and he charged Peter to care for them. If on one level the poem may be read as an allegory of humanity’s violation of nature, it may be seen on another as humanity’s violation of fellow humans. The cook may be compared to the man in the boat of “I See the Mad” who must beat off the hands of drowning people to stay afloat. The brutal cook, however, seems to have none of the compassion of the man in the boat. Nevertheless, the poet, viewing the action, retains his sensibility. In fact, he develops a kind of X-ray vision and supersensitive touch. He sees inside the sheep. As the cook touches the animal’s heart, the poet feels it beating. He sees the cook close his fist on it and feels the heart torn out. The title “To the Heart” has two meanings: It implies the direction of the cook’s arm as he shoves it down the sheep’s throat, as well as the direction of the poem, which becomes a short moral lesson directed to the heart of the poet and the heart of the reader. The “heart” of the title, therefore, comes to stand not only for the sheep’s heart but also for the organ that is the traditional symbol of human kindness and love. Kindness and love that do not take into account the brutalities of life will surely lead to disaster, however, as perhaps they did for those naïve souls who believed they could walk on water. “I Am a Realist” Once a person sees the world as it is, can there be further progress? Is the brutal, material world the only reality? In several poems, Ró/ewicz hints at a spiritual world, one that can be discovered only through recognizing all the ills of the material one. In his 213

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poem “I Am a Realist,” he enumerates details of daily life: His young son plays with a ladybug, his wife makes coffee and complains that her hair is falling out, while the poet takes an apple from the table and goes to work writing realistic poetry. The poem, however, takes a strange twist at the end. The poet, tired of his realistic details, complains: “I am a realist and a materialist/ only sometimes I’m tired/ I close my eyes.” “Remembrance from a Dream in 1963” In “Remembrance from a Dream in 1963,” the poet shows what can happen when his eyes are closed. He dreams of Leo Tolstoy lying in a bed, his face pulsing with light. Suddenly, the scene becomes dark, and the poet asks Tolstoy what should be done. Tolstoy answers, “Nothing.” Then he begins to glow again, even to burn like the sun: “a gigantic radiant smile/ burst into flame.” Here, Ró/ewicz receives his revelation, such as it is, from a noted realistic writer, Tolstoy. When the blazing light around the novelist goes out just before he speaks, the poet notices that Tolstoy’s skin is rough and broken, “like the bark of an oak.” (Even in recounting dreams and mystic revelations, Ró/ewicz remains a realist, noting such specific details.) When the poet asks what should be done, the reader is tempted to ask in return, “About what?” Both Ró/ewicz and Tolstoy, however, understand the question, which appears on the surface to concern the temporary darkness. Darkness, however , serves as a traditional symbol of loss of faith. Ró/ewicz’s question concerns eternal verities, truth and love, and their place in the universe. He may also be asking what should be done about his own doubts about the purpose of life. Tolstoy’s answer, coming as it does with a huge smile, might seem to be a kind of cruel joke. Nevertheless, Tolstoy shares Ró/ewicz’s concerns, whereas the “specialists” of the world do not. The answer he gives comes in two ways: in his words and in his actions. He may well be counseling Ró/ewicz that one person’s actions cannot change the nature of things and that Ró/ewicz, having done what he can, must accept that fact. To a writer who performs his task well, there may come a kind of mystical peace, even an unexplained joy in life. (Indeed, despite the gloom in his life and in his art, Ró/ewicz in person can be at times uncommonly cheerful.) “Alpha” In this way, the writer’s craft itself becomes an important symbol in Ró/ewicz’s work. In “Alpha,” he pictures himself as a medieval monk illuminating a manuscript that recounts a particularly brutal history: my left hand illuminates a manuscript of the murdered the blinded the burned

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Why the left hand? The poet may be left-handed, but “left,” signifying unlucky or awkward, is much more important. The ancient Greek augurs believed that omens seen over the left shoulder predicted evil. The Roman soothsayers divided the heavens vertically into two segments. If the omen appeared in the left side, it was considered unfavorable. In the Polish language, moreover, as in English, to say that someone did something “left-handedly” means that it was done suddenly, without much consideration, and probably badly. A student who has written an assignment poorly may be said to have done it with his left hand. Thus, Ró/ewicz presents himself both as a prophet of ill tidings and as a rather awkward writer—implying not necessarily that his writing is inferior to that of others, but rather that it cannot equal his vision of the world. Even song, he says, did not “escape whole,” a phrase that could have two meanings: Even song did not escape untouched from the ravages of history, or even song did not escape his clumsy, left-handed efforts. Nevertheless, despite what he considers the clumsiness of his words and the terrible message they convey, in the very act of writing, he stumbles on a kind of revelation that another world exists after all, a world of the spirit which he can but suggest in his work. my left hand paints white as a unicorn an unreal letter from the other world

Ró/ewicz, in spite of the brutalities and injustices of history, which he insists on confronting head-on, retains a consistently moral stance in his work. Humans must, he insists, recognize life as it actually is, not as they would like it to be. Reflecting on his own life, on the tragic history of his nation, on the convulsions of the twentieth century, and on the history of the world, he retains his sensibility, h22is ability to feel as a human being in the midst of uncaring and unfeeling people. His persistence is rewarded when he catches glimpses from time to time of a possible world beyond the one in which he lives—glimpses that on rare occasions afford him inklings of joy. Recycling As he entered his eighth decade, Ró/ewicz’s concerns extended into his first English collection of the new millennium, Recycling. The subject matter is topical, but the themes are the enduring ones in Ró/ewicz’s poems: Man’s inhumanity to man and the horrors of war. Here they are juxtaposed to the trivialities of late twentieth century Western culture. In the title poem, three sections counterpose aspects of the war to modern life: In “Fashion (1944-1994)” the fashion industry is contrasted with Nazi brutality against women; in “Gold”—a reference to Nazi gold and its inhumane origins—Ró/ ewicz satirizes revisionists who argue that the Holocaust is a fiction; and “Meat,” using 215

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a collage of news clippings, plays off the 1990’s fear of mad cow disease, at times through the use of lurid humor (“a cow in a shed started singing”). Recycling into the present, the past appears throughout this collection—as both threat and admonition. Other major works long fiction: Kmier6 w starych dekoracjach, 1970 ; Echa lekne, 1985. short fiction: Opaduy likcie z drzew, 1955; Przerwany egzamin, 1960; Wycieczka do muzeum, 1966; Opowiadania wybrane, 1968; Opowiadania, 1994. plays: Kartoteka, pr., pb. 1960 (The Card Index, 1961); Grupa Laokoona, pb. 1961; Kwiadkowie albo nasza maua stabilizacja, pb. 1962 (in German; pr. 1964, in Polish; The Witnesses, 1970); Akt przerywany, pb. 1964 (in German; pr. 1970, in Polish; The Interrupted Act, 1969); Kmieszny staruszek, pb. 1964 (The Funny Old Man, 1970); Spaghetti i miecz, pb. 1964; Wyszedu z domu, pb. 1964 (Gone Out, 1969); Przyrost naturalny: Biografia sztuki teatralnej, pb. 1968 (Birth Rate: The Biography of a Play for the Theatre, 1977); Stara kobieta wysiaduje, pb. 1968 (The Old Woman Broods, 1970); The Card Index, and Other Plays, 1970; Teatr niekonsekwencji, pb. 1970; The Witnesses, and Other Plays, 1970; Na czworakach, pb. 1971; Pogrzeb po polsku, pr. 1971; Sztuki teatralne, pb. 1972; Biaue mau/e stwo, pb. 1974 (White Marriage, 1977; also known as Marriage Blanc); Odejscie Guodomora, pb. 1976 (The Hunger Artist Departs, 1977; based on Franz Kafka’s story “The Hunger Artist”); Do piachu, pr., pb. 1979 (wr. 19551972); Pulapka, pb. 1982 (The Trap, 1997); Teatr, pb. 1988; Dramaty wybrane, pb. 1994. nonfiction: Przygotowanie do wieczoru autorskiego, 1971; Nasz starszy brat, 1992; Forms in Relief, and Other Works, 1994; Matka odchodzi, 1999. edited text: Kto jest ten dziwny nieznajomy, 1964. miscellaneous: Poezja, dramat, proza, 1973; Proza, 1973; Proza, 1990 (2 volumes); Reading the Apocalypse in Bed: Selected Plays and Short Pieces, 1998; Kup kota w worku: Work in Progress, 2008 (includes poems and essays). Bibliography Bara½czak, Stanislaw, and Clare Cavanagh, eds. and trans. Polish Poetry of the Last Two Decades of Communist Rule: Spoiling Cannibals’ Fun. Foreword by Helen Vendler. Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 1991. Bara½czak’s masterful translations offer a sampling of Cold-War-era poems from an oppressed people. Bibliography, index. Contoski, Victor. Introduction to Unease, by Tadeusz Ró/ewicz. St. Paul, Minn.: New Rivers Press, 1980. Contoski’s introduction provides some biographical and historical background. Czerniawski, Adam, ed. The Mature Laurel: Essays on Modern Polish Poetry. Chester Springs, Pa.: Dufour Editions, 1991. More than three hundred pages address con216

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temporary Polish poetry, placing Ró/ewicz’s work in context. Bibliography, index. Filipowicz, Halina. A Laboratory of Impure Forms: The Plays of Tadeusz Ró/ewicz. New York: Greenwood Press, 1991. Although it focuses on his drama, this monograph offers important context for understanding Ró/ewicz’s writing in general. Bibliographical references, index. Gömöri, Georg. Magnetic Poles: Essays on Modern Polish and Comparative Literature. London: Polish Cultural Foundation, 2000. A brief (163-page) overview of Polish literature today and its foundations. Bibliography, index of names. Hirsch, Edward. “After the End of the World.” American Poetry Review 26, no. 2 (March/April, 1997): 9-12. Focusing on the works of Polish poets Zbigniew Herbert, Tadeusz Ró/ewicz and Wisuawa Szymborska, Hirsch reveals how their postWorld War II poetry is similarly haunted by guilt. He has found that the major poets of postwar Poland share a distrust of rhetoric, of false sentiments and words. Sokoloski, Richard. Introduction to Forms in Relief and Other Works: A Bilingual Edition, by Ró/ewicz Ottawa, Ont.: Legas, 1994. Offers useful insights into Ró/ewicz’s poetics. _______. “Modern Polish Verse Structures: Reemergence of the Line in the Poetry of Tadeusz Ró/-ewicz.” Canadian Slavonic Papers 37, nos. 3/4 (September, 1995): 431-453. The general evolution of verse forms in modern Polish poetry is reexamined in order to distinguish certain modifications formulated by Ró/ewicz. Victor Contoski Updated by Christina J. Moose

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ANTONI SUONIMSKI Born: Warsaw, Poland; November 15, 1895 Died: Warsaw, Poland; July 4, 1976 Principal poetry Sonety, 1918 Czarna wiosna, 1919 Harmonia, 1919 Prada, 1920 Godzina poezji, 1923 Droga na Wschód, 1924 Z dalekiej podrózy, 1926 Oko w oko, 1928 Wiersze zebrane, 1929 Okno bez krat, 1935 Alarm, 1940 Popiól i wiatr, 1942 Wybór poezji, 1944 Wiek klòski, 1945 Poezje, 1951 Liryki, 1958 Nowe wiersze, 1959 Rozmowa z gwiazda, 1961 Wiersze, 1958-1963, 1963 Poezje zebrane, 1964 Mlodok6 górna: Wiek klòski, Wiek meski, 1965 138 wierszy, 1973 Wiersze, 1974 Other literary forms The poetic output of Antoni Suonimski (slawn-YIHM-skee) forms a relatively small part of his voluminous work. He was especially prolific as an author of nonfiction. During the 1930’s, and again during the 1960’s and 1970’s, Suonimski’s name was associated with the feuilleton even more than with poetry. He undoubtedly was one of the most accomplished masters of the felieton, a specifically Polish hybrid consisting of elements of literary essay, political column, and satirical lampoon. Before World War II, his popularity was also the result of his vitriolic criticism (particularly theatrical reviews), comedies in the manner of George Bernard Shaw, and science-fiction novels 218

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with some of the flavor of H. G. Wells. In 1966, he published Jawa i mrzonka, two short stories consisting of first-person monologues. Toward the close of his life, he published his memoirs, Alfabet wspomnie½ (1975). Achievements Throughout the sixty years of his literary career, Antoni Suonimski successfully reached a large readership and exerted a powerful moral influence on opinions and attitudes in Polish society. His political position was that of an independent intellectual with pronounced liberal and democratic views. Especially in the 1930’s, as both rightwing and left-wing groups in Poland grew dangerously radical, Suonimski stood out as the most prominent defender of common sense, human rights, and civil liberties, always the first to ridicule totalitarian or chauvinist follies in his immensely popular feuilletons. He maintained the same position during the war, which he spent in exile; in postwar Poland, his intransigent stance exposed him more than once to the ill will of the communist regime. In the last decades of his life, Suonimski, while he was still actively participating in Poland’s literary life, was generally considered to be a living symbol of the best traditions of the Polish liberal intelligentsia. His funeral in Laski, near Warsaw, underlined his influence as it became a silent demonstration by independent-minded intellectuals. Unlike Suonimski’s unquestionable moral authority, his reputation as a poet has been subject to many critical reevaluations. He entered the literary scene in approximately 1918, as cofounder of an iconoclastic poetic group, Skamander, whose innovation consisted primarily of denying the validity of the post-Romantic tradition under the new circumstances of regained national independence. Very soon, however, the young rebels from Skamander, acclaimed as the Polish Pléiade , achieved prominent positions in the literary establishment while becoming artistically more and more conservative, especially in comparison to various avant-garde movements of that time. Suonimski, in particular, can be viewed as the most rationalistic, traditional, direct, and “public” among the Skamander poets. By no means an artistic innovator, he was still highly esteemed for his integrity and immediacy of appeal; his Alarm, for example, written in 1939 in Paris and repeatedly broadcast to Poland, has certainly become the most remembered Polish poem of the entire war period. In the postwar years, Suonimski’s willful defense of traditional artistic devices did not obstruct his own interesting development as a poet, and his final rapprochement with the Christian philosophical tradition (although he remained an agnostic) enriched his late poetry with a new, metaphysical dimension. Against the background of twentieth century Polish poetry, his poetry appears, even in the eyes of his opponents, as an unmatched example of clarity, precision, and moral sensitivity, happily married to a sense of humor.

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Biography The son of a Warsaw physician, Antoni Suonimski was born and reared in a family proud of its Jewish ancestors, including an eighteenth century inventor and mathematician. The poet’s father was a member of the Polish Socialist Party and professed the progressivist and rationalistic ideology of Polish positivism. Initially, Suonimski chose the career of an artist rather than that of a writer. He studied painting in Warsaw and Munich, and although his first poem was published as early as 1913, he was not yet giving his writing any serious thought. Instead, he was making his living by drawing cartoons for satirical weeklies. Only in 1918 did he publish his first sonnets, which he later considered his actual debut. In the last years of World War I, Suonimski entered into friendly relations with several other young poets, especially Julian Tuwim and Jan Lecho½. Together they created in 1918 a poetic cabaret, Picador, which two years later evolved into a poetic group called Skamander (which also included Jarosuaw Iwaszkiewicz and Kazimierz Wierzy½ski). In a few years, the five Skamander poets gained an astonishingly large following; for the next two decades, if not more, the mainstream of Polish literary life was dominated by them and their informal school. Their influence found a particularly efficient outlet in Wiadomokci Literackie, a literary weekly of liberal orientation, to which Suonimski was perhaps the most prolific contributor. This weekly published most of his poems and articles, as well as his caustic theatrical reviews and, above all, his “Kroniki tygodniowe,” the enormously popular weekly “chronicles,” or feuilletons. The success of these chronicles reduced for a while Suonimski’s lyrical productivity. Although between 1918 and 1928 he had published many books of poems, during the next decade only one new collection appeared. Instead of poetry, in the 1930’s he wrote mostly nonfiction of various sorts, ranging from purely nonsensical parodies to serious publications, including a report on his trip to the Soviet Union, Moja podró/ do Rosji (1932), interesting as a document of his fascination with “progress” and, at the same time, his unequivocal repugnance for the horrors of totalitarianism. At that time, his uncompromising liberal stance earned for him many violent attacks from both the Left and the Right. As a Jew and an outspoken liberal, Suonimski had every reason to fear both Nazis and communists; Suonimski left Warsaw in September, 1939, and found his way to Paris via Romania and Italy. After the fall of France, he escaped to London. He stayed there with his wife until 1946, editing the émigré monthly Nowa Polska; his wartime poetry collection, Alarm, was reedited several times during the early 1940’s. While in London, he also began to work for UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization). Even though he was officially repatriated in 1946, he soon returned to the West, to serve, until 1951, first as chairman of the literary section of UNESCO, then as director of the Polish Cultural Institute in London. In 1951, Suonimski again returned to Poland with his wife, this time for good. Ini220

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tially a cautious supporter of the new political order, he soon began to find himself more and more at odds with the Communist regime. His spectacular comeback to public life occurred in 1956, when, in the celebrated “thaw,” he was elected president of the Polish Writers’ Union, a position he held until 1959. In the 1960’s he returned to his favorite genre, writing a new series of feuilletons for a satirical weekly, Szpilki. The year 1968 brought about the culmination of Suonimski’s fame as the grand old man of Poland’s intellectual opposition. After having courageously contributed to the protest of Polish writers against the regime’s anti-Semitic and anti-intellectual campaign, the poet became a target for personal attacks from the Communist Party leader, Wuadysuaw Gomuuka. Suonimski was all but blacklisted, at least until the early 1970’s, when he found a shelter in a Catholic weekly, Tygodnik Powszechny. There, in 1972, he began publishing his last series of feuilletons, later collected in Obecnok6 (1973) and Ciekawok6 (1981). The publication of 138 wierszy in 1973 initiated the public reappearance of his poetry as well. His continuing participation in the protests of intellectuals, however, made him a target of state censorship until the end of his life. He died as a result of injuries suffered in a car accident. Analysis Antoni Suonimski occupies a unique place in twentieth century Polish poetry as a result of a fundamental paradox in his work: his self-contradictory attitude toward tradition. As a man of ideas, he had always been in favor of progress, common sense, and tolerance; he unflaggingly fought all forms of obscurantism. The course of contemporary history, however, turned such efforts into their opposite: What initially was a progressive and modern stance soon began to appear as a defense of traditional, old-fashioned, outdated values. Suonimski’s poetry seems therefore to be a peculiar combination of modern problematics and conservative artistic means; the poet himself appears as a champion of the public weal who is paradoxically aware of his quixotic loneliness. The Skamander poets This apparent rift can be traced back to the very beginnings of Suonimski’s literary career. As a member of a group of young poets, later called Skamander, he provided the chief battle cry in a couplet from one of his early poems: “My country is free, is free. . . . So I can throw Konrad’s cloak off my shoulders.” Konrad, the name of poet Adam Mickiewicz’s Romantic hero, symbolizes here the whole tradition of national martyrdom as embodied in messianic poetry of the great Polish Romantics. Under the circumstances of Poland’s newly regained independence, such a tradition seemed nothing but a needless burden, and Suonimski, like the other Skamandrites, at first rejected the Romantic heritage ostentatiously and totally.

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Parnassianism Suonimski’s individual way of doing this, however, was rather atypical. Apart from a long poem, Czarna wiosna (confiscated by government censors in 1919), in which, by way of an exception, he gave vent to anarchic slogans in an expressionistic style, he appeared in his early poems (most of them sonnets) as an utterly classical and harmonious Parnassian, very much in the spirit of José-Maria de Heredia. The only difference from the original Parnassianism was that Suonimski was using the classical forms not for art’s sake, but rather to pose questions of an overtly ethical nature and to propound an active attitude toward contemporary reality. This peculiar manner, in which classical devices are used for anticlassical purposes and moral earnestness is disguised as aestheticism, remained a trademark of his poetry in later years. This does not mean, however, that Suonimski’s later work did not evolve. In fact, in his poems written in the mid-1920’s, there is no trace of his youthful rejection of the Polish Romantic tradition. On the contrary, collections such as Godzina poezji, Droga na Wschód, and Z dalekiej podrózy enter into an explicit dialogue with the shadows of the greatest poets of the Polish nineteenth century, even going so far as to imitate Romantic verse forms. What attracted Suonimski to Romanticism, however, was not its messianic obsession. Rather, his rationalistic and liberal mind discovered in the native Romantic tradition a powerful current of humanism and universalism, according to which the brotherhood of humankind should always weigh more than nationalistic prejudices. This is explicit in one of Suonimski’s most overt lyrical manifestos, “He Is My Brother.” Pessimism of the 1930’s In the 1920’s, Suonimski could have been accused, not without justification, of being a naïve optimist who professed Wellesian confidence in progress and the ultimate triumph of reason. His beliefs, however, underwent an important modification in the course of the next decade. The ominous course adopted by the European powers in the 1930’s forced the poet to give up, at least partly, his outdated positivist illusions. It was becoming more and more apparent that the development of science and technological progress did not necessarily go hand in hand with the ethical improvement of humankind. Therefore, the rapid growth of pessimistic and even catastrophic tendencies that marked Polish literature in the 1930’s found its reflection also in Suonimski’s work. Nevertheless, his volume Okno bez krat is pessimistic only as far as its picture of the contemporary world is concerned; evil is still seen as humankind’s irrational and passing folly, capable of being overcome. Accordingly, Suonimski’s poetry in this period became even more “public” and utilitarian; in Okno bez krat, he does not hesitate to resort to what could be termed poetic publicism, characterized by a didactic or satirical tone; an increased use of rhetorical devices; regular verse; and simple, transparent, sometimes quite prosaic language. If such stylistic features seem to prove that, in the 1930’s, Suonimski still believed in 222

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the didactic effectiveness of poetry, one must be aware that, on the other hand, some growing doubts were also often expressed in his poems of that period. His personal experiences (he constantly was being vilified, especially by the nationalistic Right, for his pacifism and supposed lack of patriotic feelings) certainly had much to do with his perplexity. At any rate, the theme of the poet’s loneliness among a hostile crowd recurs in his poems written at that time. Since they alluded clearly to the archetypal image of the ostracized prophet, Suonimski’s poems of the 1930’s would have taken on a thoroughly Romantic aspect were it not for his infallible rationalism and ironic sense of humor. Popiól i wiatr If Suonimski ever relinquished his self-irony and detachment, it was perhaps in his wartime poetry, in which the fate of the exiled poet found its precedents in the biographies of Polish Romantics. Especially in the long poem Popiól i wiatr, Suonimski attempted to revive the century-old genre initiated by Mickiewicz’s Pan Tadeusz: Czyli, Ostatni Zajazd na litwie historia Szlachecka zr. 1811 i 1812 we dwunastu ksiegach wierszem, 1834 (Pan Tadeusz: Or, The Last Foray in Lithuania, a Tale of Gentlefolk in 1811 and 1812, in Twelve Books in Verse, 1917). Like the latter, it is a nostalgic tale in which the exiled poet recalls the images of places and years that now seem to be irretrievably lost. What is striking is that Suonimski’s rationalistic humanism remains intact, even in those poems in which he speaks about the horrors of war. Even at this darkest moment, he hopes against hope that, once the war is over, humankind will recover from its moral degradation and reconstruct the system of its fundamental ethical values. The 1960’s and 1970’s This belief seemed to be corroborated by the quite literal reconstruction of Poland in the immediate postwar years, which Suonimski greeted with enthusiasm and renewed hope. Very soon, however, his liberal principles —consisting, above all, in caring about the fate of the individual rather than some mythical “historical necessities”—prompted him to an ever-growing skepticism about the possibilities of the new political system and the truth of its slogans. It is worth noting that this time, his adoption of an independent stance as a defender of traditional values had something more to it than superficial common sense. In the 1960’s and 1970’s, Suonimski’s poetry acquired a wider philosophical perspective. While remaining classical and rationalistic in its style and rhetoric, it became essentially tragic in its vision of existence. The symbolic figures of Hamlet and especially Don Quixote organize key images in these later poems, serving as metaphors for the unresolvable contradictions of human fate. Suonimski realized painfully that the human being is reduced to nothingness if placed against an indifferent universe and hostile history; he nevertheless refused to accept this situation, remaining, as he himself put it, “unreconciled with the absurdity of existence.” The human spirit, doomed to fail in most cases, nevertheless must cope with adversity, not because there is any guarantee of victory, but because 223

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“only the human thought, free and fearless, can justify the subsistence of that feeding ground called ‘the world.’” Within this existential context, the role of the poet is compared, with a certain amount of self-disparaging irony, to that of Don Quixote: His defense of illusory values may seem objectively useless and ridiculous, but it is precisely this hopeless struggle that makes him worth remembering. In the last years of Suonimski’s life, the supposedly outmoded poet was rapidly gaining in topicality and importance. His individual development coincided with society’s tendency to seek genuine spiritual values in a world degraded by fear and deceit. Suonimski, old enough to ignore the postwar avant-garde yet young enough to grasp the spirit of the modern age, was able to contribute significantly to that spiritual revival. Other major works long fiction: Teatr w wiòzienia, 1922; Torpeda czasu, 1924; Dwa ko½ce kwiata, 1937. short fiction: Jawa i mrzonka, 1966. plays: Wie/a Babel, pb. 1927; Murzyn warszawski, pr. 1928; Lekarz bezdomny, pb. 1930; Rodzina, pb. 1933. nonfiction: O dzieciach, wariatach i grafomanach, 1927; Mòtne uby, 1928; Moja podró/ do Rosji, 1932; Moje walki nad Bzdurá, 1932; Heretyk na ambonie, 1934; W beczce przez Niagare, 1936; Kroniki tygodniowe, 1927-1939, 1956; Wspomnienia warszaw skie, 1957; W oparach absurdu, 1958, 1975 (with Julian Tuwim); Artykuuy pierwszej potrzeby, 1959; Gwalt na Melpomenie, 1959; Zauatwione odmownie, 1962, 1964; Jedna strona medalu, 1971; Obecnok6, 1973; Alfabet wspomnie½, 1975; Cieka wok6, 1981. Bibliography Gillon, Adam, and Ludwik Krzyzanowski, eds. Introduction to Modern Polish Literature. Rev. ed. New York: Hippocrene Books, 1982. Provides translations of selected works and a brief biographical background of Suonimski. Keane, Barry. Skamander: The Poets and Their Poetry, 1918-1929. Warsaw: Agade, 2004. Discusses the formation of Skamander and the poets’ beliefs. Centers on Suonimski and provides a critical analysis of his work. Miuosz, Czesuaw. The History of Polish Literature. 2d ed. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983. Offers a historical background for the works of Suonimski. Includes bibliographic references and an index. Polonsky, Antony, and Monika Adamczyk-Garbow ska, eds. Contemporary Jewish Writing in Poland: An Anthology. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press , 2001. Contains a biography of Suonimski as well as translations of his works. Describes his poetry as characterized by a struggle between emotional content and classical form. Stanisuaw Bara½czak 224

JULIUSZ SUOWACKI Born: Krzemieniec, Poland; September 4, 1809 Died: Paris, France; April 3, 1849 Principal poetry Poezye, 1832 (2 volumes), 1833 (3 volumes; includes ?mija, Arab, Lambro, powsta½ca grecki, and Godzinna mykli) Anhelli, 1838 (English translation, 1930) Poema Piasta Dantyszka o piekle, 1839 Trzy poemata, 1839 (includes Wacuaw, W Szwajcarii [In Switzerland, 1953], and Ojciec zad/umionych [The Father of the Plague-Stricken, 1915]) Grób Agamemnona, 1840 (Agamemnon’s Grave, 1944) Beniowski, 1841 Genezis z ducha, 1844 Król-Duch, 1847 Other literary forms The dramatic works of Juliusz Suowacki (slawv-AHT-skee) are among the most highly esteemed offerings in the repertory of the modern Polish theater. Despite his early death, Suowacki managed to complete close to twenty full-length plays of great variety. Six of these works are especially popular with Polish audiences: Maria Stuart (pr. 1832; Mary Stuart, 1937), Kordian (pb. 1834), Balladyna (pb. 1839; English translation, 1960), Lilla Weneda (pb. 1840), Mazepa (pb. 1840; Mazeppa, 1930), and Fantazy (pb. 1866; English translation, 1977). The subject matter of these plays stemmed more from his literary and historical studies than from his personal experiences. Among the literary influences that shaped these works, those of Greek drama, William Shakespeare, and the French Romantic theater are especially prominent. Elements derived from Polish balladry and Slavic folklore also contribute to the stylistic diversity manifested in these plays. Later in life, Suowacki came increasingly under the influence of the seventeenth century Spanish playwright Pedro Calderón de la Barca, an influence evident in works such as Ksiádz Marek (pb. 1843; Father Mark) and Sen srebrny Salomei (pb. 1844; the silver dream of Salomea). Although both of these works are set in the Polish Ukraine, they combine elements of Spanish mysticism and Christian self-sacrifice in a manner that is reminiscent of Calderón’s sacramental dramas. Also noteworthy is Suowacki’s freeverse adaptation of Calderón’s El príncipe constante (pr. 1629; The Constant Prince, 1853), which has become one of the featured plays in the repertory of the Laboratory Theater in Wrocuaw in the production directed by its founder, Jerzy Grotowski. 225

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None of these dramatic works was ever performed onstage during Suowacki’s lifetime; his writings were prohibited from being published in his homeland as a result of his political activities as an émigré. One of the positive literary by-products of this political exile can be found in the letters that Suowacki wrote to his mother during a period of nearly two decades. Now regarded as masterworks of Polish Romantic prose, they also contain instructive comments pertaining to the poet’s works in progress. Achievements Juliusz Suowacki, like Adam Mickiewicz, is honored in his homeland not only for his literary genius but also for his lifelong dedication to the cause of freedom. In 1927, the newly independent Polish state arranged for his remains to be transported from a cemetery in Paris back to Poland for interment in the royal crypt of the Wawel Castle in Kraków, amid the tombs of Poland’s kings and national heroes. Suowacki’s sarcophagus is to be found alongside that of Mickiewicz, the man whom he had always regarded as his archrival for the title of national wieszcz (bard). Although Mickiewicz is universally regarded as Poland’s greatest poet, Suowacki, especially in his later works, transcended the limits of Romanticism and developed poetic techniques that anticipated those used by the French Symbolists and the English Pre-Raphaelites. Because he was a herald of future artistic trends, Suowacki became the guiding star for those Polish poets who were adherents of a neo-Romantic literary movement known as Muoda Polska (Young Poland), a group of writers who came of age around 1890. For them, his work was a source of inspiration for both theme and technique. Oddly enough, very few of Suowacki’s lyric poems were published in his lifetime. It was only from 1866 onward, when Antoni Malecki began to bring out an edition of the poet’s collected works that incorporated many unpublished manuscripts, that the reading public in Poland became aware of Suowacki’s lyric as well as epic and dramatic genius. By virtue of his accomplishments in all three genres, he is now ranked second only to Mickiewicz in the pantheon of Polish poets. If Mickiewicz may be said to be the Lord Byron of Polish literature, then Suowacki must surely be its Percy Bysshe Shelley. Biography Juliusz Suowacki left his homeland in 1831 when he was only twenty-two years old and was destined to spend the rest of his life in exile. Up to that year, he had lived in three Polish cities. He was born in the town of Krzemieniec on September 4, 1809 (August 23, Old Style). Located in the province of Volhynia, Krzemieniec was an important cultural center in eastern Poland at the time of Suowacki’s birth because, in 1805, a prestigious lyceum had been established there. The poet’s father, Euzebiusz Suowacki, taught literature and rhetoric at the lyceum, and his mother, Salomea né Januszewska, was a highly cultivated woman of sentimental temperament. Both parents were passionately devoted to their only child. When Suowacki was a few years old, the family moved to the city of 226

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Wilno so that his father could assume a professorship at the university there. The elder Suowacki died suddenly in 1814, and three years later, the boy’s mother married August Bécu, a medical professor at the University of Wilno, who was himself a widower and the father of two young daughters. Suowacki, somewhat frail in health and the only male child in the new household, led a pampered life and was strongly encouraged to pursue his musical and literary interests. In 1824, however, this sheltered life came to an abrupt end when Bécu was struck by lightning and killed. Suowacki’s mother decided to return to Krzemieniec, leaving her son in Wilno, where he could train for a career in law at the university. Suowacki completed the prescribed course of studies in three short years and, at the young age of nineteen, became an employee of the ministry of finance in Warsaw, capital of the Russian-dominated kingdom of Poland. Suowacki frequently attended the theater in Warsaw and soon completed two plays that he planned to publish in an edition of his works to date. Before arrangements for the printing of this two-volume set could be completed, an armed insurrection against the country’s Russian overlords broke out in November, 1830. Although Suowacki had been largely apolitical up to that time, he immediately embraced the insurrection’s cause as his own and composed an ode to freedom in its honor. Because of his delicate physical constitution, he was unfit for military service; he did, however, place himself at the disposal of the Polish revolutionary government and was eventually sent on a diplomatic mission to London during the summer of 1831. While in London, he mixed business with pleasure and managed to see Edmund Kean in a performance of Shakespeare’s Richard III. After several weeks in London, Suowacki moved to Paris. By this time, it was clear that the November Insurrection was doomed to defeat, and he made no attempt to return to Warsaw. After the Poles capitulated to the Russians in September, 1831, Suowacki decided to settle in Paris, where he was soon joined by many of his compatriots. In a move that has come to be called the Great Migration, some ten thousand Poles left their homeland for sanctuary in the West and gathered in cities such as Paris, London, Geneva, and Rome. Unlike most of the other émigrés who left Poland to escape Russian retribution, Suowacki always had sufficient funds to meet his living expenses, for his father had established an annuity for him. Moreover, he invested these modest sums wisely in stocks, and thus he acquired the wherewithal to pursue his literary ambitions free from any financial restrictions. Suowacki made his belated literary début in Paris by publishing at his own expense the two-volume set of his works to date which he had planned to publish in Warsaw before the insurrection. He then anxiously awaited his compatriots’ reaction. One of the few people interested enough to read his works was Mickiewicz, slightly more than ten years Suowacki’s senior and already regarded as the foremost Polish poet of his generation. Since Suowacki’s verse was at this time almost wholly devoid of any political or religious ideology, Mickiewicz dismissed these volumes as being “a church without a God inside.” In view of the indifference shown toward his work, Suowacki decided to 227

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leave for Switzerland toward the end of 1832 and spent the next three years there writing zealously. During the winter of 1836, Suowacki left Switzerland to join relatives from Poland on a grand tour of Italy. While in Rome, he met a Polish poet a few years his junior, Zygmunt Krasi½ski; it was Krasi½ski who first recognized Suowacki’s literary genius. Much encouraged, Suowacki then decided to accompany two compatriots on a trip to Greece and the Near East. After his return to Europe ten months later, he remained in Florence for a year and a half before rejoining the émigré community in Paris in December, 1838. Once back in Paris, Suowacki gradually gained recognition for his literary endeavors and also became a key figure in the political debates concerning the future of Poland. In 1846, amid all this activity, Suowacki discovered that he had contracted tuberculosis. Despite this affliction, he rushed off to the aid of his countrymen when an insurrection broke out in Prussian Poland in 1848. This revolt proved to be short-lived, but he did manage to arrange a meeting with his mother in the Silesian city of Breslau. The encounter was a sad one, for both realized that his days were numbered. Returning to Paris, he worked feverishly in an unsuccessful attempt to complete the epic poem Król-Duch (king-spirit). Death overtook him on April 3, 1849. Oddly enough, his compatriot Frédéric Chopin was to die in Paris a few months later from the identical malady and at exactly the same age. Analysis Juliusz Suowacki’s life was destined to unfold amid the political turmoil that arose as a result of the partitioning of Poland by Russia, Prussia, and Austria during the closing decades of the eighteenth century. The annexation of Polish territory by its more powerful neighbors occurred in three stages. The first partition took place in 1772; the second, in 1793; and the third, in 1795. Each of the three cities in which Suowacki spent his youth—Krzemieniec, Wilno, and Warsaw—came under Russian occupation in 1795. Thus, the restoration of Poland’s independence was the central concern of Suowacki’s life and work. His fellow poets Mickiewicz and Krasi½ski were similarly preoccupied with their country’s fate, but Suowacki differed from them on a great many social and political issues. One crucial difference pertains to the status of the Polish nobility (szlachta) and its role in Poland’s future national life. Up to the time of the partitions of Poland in the eighteenth century, all political power was vested in the nobility, and the masses were completely disenfranchised. The Polish nobility, otherwise known as the gentry, was a relatively large class constituting approximately 10 percent of the population. They regarded themselves as the “nation” (naród) and felt that they had a moral right to exploit the “people” (lud). Although Suowacki himself was technically a member of the gentry, he held a highly critical attitude toward this social class. While both Mickiewicz and Krasi½ski wanted the gentry to dominate the political and cultural life of a reconstituted Polish state, Suowacki advocated a social revolution that would give 228

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the people a greater stake in the cause of national liberation. It was thus in the people that he soght to find Poland’s “angelic soul.” Suowacki’s distrust of the political ambitions of the gentry, moreover, led him to take an extremely pessimistic view of the prospects for restoring Poland’s independence in the immediate future. Mickiewicz believed that the task would be accomplished by his generation of Polish émigrés. Indeed, in Mickiewicz’s messianic vision, the émigrés were depicted as destined to be the saviors not only of Poland itself but also of the entire world. In response to such notions, Suowacki composed Anhelli, an epic that deals with a group of Polish exiles who are annihilated in the frozen wastelands of Siberia. It is clear that Suowacki, at least on a symbolic level, meant to equate the fate of these exiles with that of their counterparts in Western Europe. Since Poland did not regain its nationhood until after World War I, Suowacki’s position has been vindicated by the judgment of history. By the fall of 1831, following the failure of the November Insurrection of 1830, Suowacki had already settled down in Paris with numerous other Polish refugees, including Mickiewicz and Chopin. In 1832, at his own cost, Suowacki published a twovolume set of his works to date, issued under the title Poezye (poems), the second volume of which consisted of the two plays that he had written in Warsaw, Mindowe Król Litewski (pb. 1829) and Mary Stuart. Among the narrative poems in the first volume were several juvenile verse tales of an exotic character enveloped in an atmosphere of Romantic pessimism reminiscent of Lord Byron. These works also reveal the strong influence of Mic kiewicz’s Ballady i romanse (1822; ballads and romances), the publication of which assured the triumph of the Romantic movement in Poland. ?mija Among these verse tales in which Suowacki’s pessimistic frame of mind manifested itself are ?mija (the viper) and Arab. The plot of ?mija combines Turkish and Cossack milieus. The protagonist is a young Turk who is the son of a powerful pasha. The pasha is overthrown and imprisoned by an ambitious rival, and at the same time, the son’s bride is abducted and placed in the culprit’s own harem. The young Turk, obsessed by a desire for revenge, runs off and seeks refuge with the Cossacks. He adopts the name ?mija and eventually becomes a hetman. Returning to his homeland at the head of a Cossack army, he succeeds in subduing the opposing forces but dies during individual combat with his archenemy. The work is meant to dramatize the plight of an individual who is compelled by cruel circumstance to abandon his whole way of life, to fight unequal battles with utmost courage, and still to lose in the end despite all his great sacrifices. Arab Similarly bleak in outlook is Arab, a tale with an Islamic setting in which the central character is unable to tolerate the existence of human happiness. He therefore feels 229

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obliged to inflict injury on happy people whenever he encounters such individuals. On one occasion, for example, the Arab meets a man who is the only survivor of a caravan that was attacked by a band of robbers. Among the victims of the attack were the sons of the survivor, and he is so filled with remorse over his loss that he wishes to join his offspring in death. The Arab, true to his nature, prevents the bereaved father from embracing death and thereby forces him to continue living a life of unremitting sorrow. Suowacki never truly clarifies the motivation of this self-appointed tormentor, but the poem may be a reflection of the author’s conviction that the reasons for humanity’s terrestrial misfortunes are fundamentally inexplicable. Lambro, powsta« ca grecki Before leaving Paris for Switzerland at the end of 1832, Suowacki made arrangements for the printing of another volume of poetry; this third volume duly appeared in the following year, when Suowacki was residing in the outskirts of Geneva. One of the two major poems included in this volume, Lambro, powsta½ca grecki (Lambro, Greek insurgent), is a verse tale that describes a Greek hero’s fight against the Turks for the sake of his homeland’s independence. Lambro, after leading his countrymen in many a valiant battle, becomes disillusioned with the shortcomings of his Greek contemporaries and decides to retreat to the mountains to purge himself from petty thoughts through contact with the grandeur of nature. Instead of experiencing spiritual rejuvenation, however, Lambro finds that life in isolation merely increases his own moral vulnerability, and he soon dies under the euphoric effects of hashish. Thus, in the end, both the leader and the rank and file are found to be wanting in moral strength. It is quite apparent that Suowacki was criticizing his fellow Poles, rather than the Greeks. Here, the diffuse psychological pessimism of his earlier works acquired a concrete political focus: a somber assessment of the prospects for achieving the restoration of Polish liberty in the near future. Godzinna mykli Godzinna mykli (hour of thought), the other major poem in Suowacki’s third volume, may be characterized as an elegiac autobiographical sketch in verse form. Set in Wilno and its environs, the poem depicts the trials and tribulations of an adolescent poet who is coming of age. The poem’s sketchy plot reflects Suowacki’s relationship with two people: Ludwik Szpicnagel, his first close friend, and Ludwika Kniadecka, his first (unrequited) love. Both were a few years his senior and had fathers who were professors at the university. Szpicnagel, despite the promise of a brilliant academic future, committed suicide for unknown reasons, while Kniadecka, already in love with a Russian officer, proved unresponsive to Suowacki’s courtship. The poet’s despair and melancholy are, for the most part, poured into a classical mold, but from time to time, Suowacki’s style reverts to the sensuous diction characteristic of the Baroque era. With this work, Suowacki may be said to have hit his stride as a poet of genius. 230

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In Switzerland Suowacki lived in Switzerland for three years—at first in a suburb of Geneva, later near Lausanne. During this period, he wrote five full-length dramas, including the masterworks Kordian and Balladyna. He did, however, interrupt his literary activity occasionally to visit the salon of Mrs. Wodzi½ska in Geneva to pay court to the Polish aristocrat’s eldest daughter. This enchantress, named Maria, enjoyed a degree of celebrity herself, since it was common knowledge that Chopin was madly in love with her. On one occasion, Suowacki went on a long excursion into the Alps with Maria and other members of her family, and this experience inspired him to write the love idyll titled In Switzerland, a work begun during his Swiss sojourn and later completed in Italy. Set amid the scenic splendor of the Alpine countryside, the idyll consists of a number of episodes in the life of a pair of lovers. The reader is told of their meeting, their marriage, the premature death of the bride, and the young man’s subsequent departure from Switzerland. Except for a hermit who marries them, there are no other characters in the poem but the young lovers themselves, and even they are never identified by name . The young woman is generally said to be modeled after Maria Wodzi½ska, but it is difficult to regard the lovers as full-blooded people, for neither their speech nor their movements are precisely defined. The same lack of definition pertains to the Alpine countryside itself, which appears as though recollected in a dream. In short, the idyll is a poem of great delicacy in which shifting moods are mirrored in a landscape of the mind. Suowacki’s In Switzerland has often been likened to Shelley’s Epipsychidion (1821) in terms of musical texture, and it is difficult to imagine how either work could be successfully translated into another tongue. WacUaw and The Father of the Plague-Stricken The publication of In Switzerland was deferred until 1839, at which time it appeared in the volume titled Trzy poemata (three poems) along with the narrative verse tales Wacuaw and The Father of the Plague-Stricken. Conceived as a sequel to Antoni Malczewski’s highly acclaimed epic poem Maria (1825), Wacuaw is set in the Ukraine and delineates the treasonous activities and dreadful death of a powerful landowning magnate. It is generally considered to be the weakest of Suowacki’s mature works. The Father of the Plague-Stricken, on the other hand, is one of his most popular narrative poems. During his visit to Egypt, Suowacki was quarantined for two weeks in a desert oasis, where a doctor told him a story about an Arab who, while in quarantine for a threemonth period, lost his wife and all seven of their children. In his poem, Suowacki casts the father in the role of narrator and has him relate the circumstances accompanying each individual death. After his release from quarantine, the emotionally devastated father can find no further joy in life and simply wanders aimlessly. As time passes, however, the father gradually becomes reconciled to his fate, and he tells his tale with a certain degree of philosophical detachment. Many critics see the influence of Dante at 231

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work in this poem, directing attention to the parallels between Suowacki’s theme and the situation described in the thirty-third canto of Date’s Inferno (from La divina commedia, c. 1320; The Divine Comedy, 1802), in which Count Ugolino relates how he was compelled to watch his four sons die slowly from starvation. Poema Piasta Dantyszka herbu Leliwa o piekle (Piast Dantyszek’s poem on Hell), Suowacki’s subsequent attempt to imitate Dante more overtly, is far less successful, little more than a coarse political satire directed at contemporary Russian and Polish political figures, including Czar Nicholas himself. Podró/ na wschód and Anhelli The pair of works titled Podró/ na wschód (1836; journey to the East) and Anhelli were the chief literary by-products of Suowacki’s ten-month trip to Greece and the Near East during the years 1836 and 1837. Composed in sestinas, Podró/ na wschód is a loosely structured travel diary that records Suowacki’s voyage from Naples to Greece as well as his subsequent wanderings in that country. The narrative is, however, interrupted frequently by digressions in which the poet expatiates on various topics of personal concern. Some of Podró/ na wschód was written while traveling, and other parts were composed later, in Italy and France. Published posthumously, it is an unfinished work. In 1840, however, Suowacki published the eighth canto independently, under the title Agamemnon’s Grave. Here the poet meditates at a grotto that was then believed to be the burial chamber of Agamemnon. Suowacki recalls the legendary heroism of the ancient Greeks and bemoans the defects in both his own character and that of his countrymen. With a fury reminiscent of the invective that Dante directs at Florence in his Inferno, Suowacki angrily denounces the Polish gentry and attributes Poland’s extinction as a nation to its self-indulgent behavior. He then predicts that Poland will not be restored to independence until there is a transformation in the national psyche, and he appeals for the liberation of its angelic soul, still imprisoned within a hardened skull. Departing from Greece, Suowacki continued to Egypt and then to Palestine. While in Jerusalem, he prayed all night in the church containing Christ’s tomb and ordered a Mass to be said for Poland. Suowacki next visited Lebanon, where he decided to spend a few weeks in contemplation at a local monastery to work on the first draft of Anhelli. Written in poetic prose with biblical affinities, it describes the plight of Polish deportees in the frozen wastelands of Siberia during the years following the failure of the November Insurrection. Like the Polish émigrés who settled in Western Europe, the exiles depicted in Anhelli begin to quarrel among themselves and soon divide into three main political factions—those of the gentry, the democrats, and the religionists. On one occasion, to determine which of these parties has the blessing of God, the exiles decide to crucify a representative from each of the three competing ideologies in the belief that the individual who survives the longest will thereby demonstrate the rightness of the cause that he champions. This trial-by-ordeal miscarries, however, and the bickering 232

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continues. The one pure soul among the exiles is a youth known as Anhelli (a name which, incidentally, sounds very much like the Polish word for angel). This angelic soul is singled out by a Siberian shaman who initiates him into the mysteries of the occult. Late in the story, Anhelli is visited by two angels, who inform him that all his fellow exiles have perished and that the darkness of winter is about to descend on his homeland for eternity. He immediately offers his own life as a sacrifice, in the hope that Poland will be resurrected at some future date. The Lord deigns to accept his sacrifice but makes no commitment concerning Poland’s final fate. Before Anhelli’s corpse is cold, however, a mysterious knight on a fiery steed appears and sounds a call to arms. Thus, the reader concludes that Anhelli’s sacrifice of the heart has not been in vain, and that the resurrection of Poland will someday come to pass. Beniowski Up to the time of the publication of the first five cantos of Beniowski, a mock-heroic epic composed in ottava rima, the Polish émigré community paid scant attention to any of Suowacki’s writings. With the appearance of Beniowski in 1841, however, Suowacki achieved not only personal fame but also a degree of notoriety. Popular response to Beniowski centered on the satirical attacks against well-known persons, periodicals, and political factions that were made within its pages. To create a vehicle that would accommodate such freewheeling criticism of his countrymen and their follies, Suowacki decided to pattern his poem after Lord Byron’s Don Juan (1819-1824, 1826). Thus, he was able to insert materials unrelated to the formal narrative. Because of the frequently scandalous character of these digressions, the reader soon becomes more interested in Suowacki’s personal views on sundry topics than in the actual adventures of the epic’s eponymous hero. At the conclusion of the fifth canto, for example, Suowacki stages an inspired “gigantomachy” in which Mickiewicz is cast as Hector, a symbol of Poland’s past, and he himself is depicted as Achilles, a herald of his country’s future. Even though he defeats Mickiewicz in this poetic duel, he is magnanimous in victory, according his beaten rival an honored place on the heavenly scroll where the names of great poets are inscribed. The main character in this epic is a historical personage, Maurycy Beniowski, a man of mixed Polish and Hungarian ancestry and a former officer in the Austrian army. In the 1760’s, Beniowski decided to go to the Polish Ukraine to join members of the gentry class in an armed insurrection against the Russian-dominated Polish government. The Russians intervened, and Beniowski was arrested and exiled to the island of Kamchatka. He escaped to Japan and, after a brief stay in France, went to Madagascar, declaring himself to be the island’s king. He died while leading the natives in a revolt against the French. Suowacki, however, departs from the historical facts and transforms Beniowski into a young Polish nobleman who, after losing his estate, joins the anti-Russian conspiracy. He is then sent to the Crimean peninsula on a diplomatic mission for the 233

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conspirators. Despite many perilous adventures, Beniowski manages to return to Poland at the head of a regiment of Tartar cavalry. A romantic interlude in which Beniowski falls in love with the daughter of a comrade-in-arms completes the plot of Suowacki’s epic. Suowacki probably intended to add further cantos, but he apparently lost interest in continuing the epic once he had been converted to Andrzej Towia½ski’s mystical theological doctrines. Genezis z ducha On July 12, 1842, Towia½ski, a religious mystic from Wilno, had a long talk with Suowacki and succeeded in converting him to his doctrine. Towia½ski had been in Paris since September, 1841, and had already converted Mickiewicz to his inner circle. His teachings emphasized the central importance of the Hebrew, French, and Polish peoples in God’s scheme for establishing the kingdom of heaven on Earth as well as the crucial role to be played by great individuals in furthering the historical manifestation of the Divine Will. Even though Suowacki broke with his spiritual mentor over a political question in November, 1843, he never abandoned the basic tenets of Towia½ski’s religious credo. Using these precepts as a point of departure, Suowacki went on to develop a highly original philosophy of his own, set forth in Genezis z ducha (genesis from the spirit) and Król-Duch. Both of these works are based on Suowacki’s belief in the supremacy of spirit over matter. In the prose poem Genezis z ducha Suowacki presents his readers with a vision of cosmic evolution that has strong affinities with the theories propounded in the twentieth century by the French Jesuit Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. Written at Pornic on the Atlantic coast, it opens with a meditation on the ocean, the cradle of life. Inspired by its protean form and erratic sound, the poet proceeds to explore the mysteries of evolution from inorganic matter to humanity itself. All existing forms, he argues, are progressive manifestations of spiritual forces that pervade the universe. This evolutionary process, moreover, will not be complete until humankind assimilates the spiritual force of Christ’s nature. To reach this goal, people need leaders, for whom Suowacki invents the term “king-spirits.” At times, whole nations may perform the function that he attributes to the “king-spirits,” and Suowacki asserts that Poland, purified by its sufferings, has assumed this role. Król-Duch The manifestation of the spirit on the historical level is examined in Król-Duch, an epic poem written in ottava rima and divided into segments called “rhapsodies.” Here, Suowacki employs the concept of metempsychosis that is derived from the tenth book of Plato’s Politeia (fourth century b.c.e.; Republic, 1701), in which the Orphic doctrine of reincarnation is propounded in the section titled “The Myth of Er.” In Suowacki’s vision, a Greek warrior named Er embraces the idea of Poland while awaiting his next re234

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incarnation, and upon rebirth he assumes the identity of Popiel, the legendary Polish king of prehistory. This semimythical figure is reputed to have been a cruel tyrant, but Suowacki assigns him the task of hardening the minds and bodies of his placid Slavic subjects in order to prepare them to do battle with the German marauders, who threaten the Polish nation with extinction. The series of reincarnations continues, the king-spirit passing on from Popiel to Mieszko, the king who brought Poland into the comity of Christian nations in 966. Other reincarnations follow, carrying on the historical mission of Poland. The figures that Suowacki selects to embody the king-spirit were well known to Polish readers, and this work may be read as a historical romance if one chooses to do so—just as one may appreciate Dante’s The Divine Comedy without subscribing to his theological presuppositions. Król-Duch is, in fact, the closest counterpart to The Divine Comedy in Polish literature, and many regard it as Suowacki’s finest work, despite the fact that he was only able to give final form to the first of the five rhapsodies that constitute its text. Lyric poems Suowacki’s lyric poetry makes up a relatively small part of his total work. He wrote approximately 130 lyric poems, of which only thirteen appeared in print during his lifetime. A large number of the unpublished poems remain unfinished, but some are highly polished, and it is difficult to understand why he made no attempt to publish them. Suowacki’s language is highly creative, owing its unconventional character to his preference for unusual words, neologisms, uncommon rhymes, and metrical virtuosity. His work in this genre, moreover, covers a wide range of themes, Perhaps the weakest are those that treat love, for it is always thwarted love, not its triumph, that interests the poet. More varied are those poems dealing with friendship, such as the ones written for Szpicnagel and Krasi½ski, as well as those pertaining to historical figures and contemporaries in the émigré community. There are, strangely enough, two poems addressed to Suowacki’s mother. Patriotic revolutionary themes first make their appearance in connection with the November Insurrection and become an inexhaustible source of poetic inspiration from then on. After the summer of 1842, when Suowacki became a convert to Towia½ski’s messianic doctrines, his lyric poems undergo a marked change in tone. The pessimism recedes and is replaced by a mood of mystical exaltation. With a newly found faith in his mission and in himself, Suowacki enters into a close communion with God—viewing God as his ally in the cause of Poland and expressing gratitude for his own transformation into “a vessel of grace.” There are, it is interesting to note, four poems in which Suowacki expresses resentment toward the papacy for its failure to support Poland’s struggle for freedom. In an untitled poem on this theme composed in 1848, Suowacki actually makes a prophecy to the effect that a Slavic pope will someday occupy the chair of Saint Peter.

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Critical Survey of Poetry In the midst of dissension the Lord God suddenly rings an enormous bell. Behold! He throws open his earthly throne to a pope from Slavic realms. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . We need strength so as to rejuvenate this lordly world of ours: A Slavic pope, a brother to humankind, comes to aid us in this task. Look and see how he anoints our bodies with the balms of the world, While a celestial choir of angels bedecks his throne with resplendent flowers.

This poem is among the last that Suowacki wrote, and nowhere does he demonstrate the vatic powers of a national bard more fully. When the announcement “Habemus Papam!” was made on October 16, 1978, the world learned to its astonishment that the papal designate was a cardinal from Kraków named Karol Wojtyua. A fruitful insight into the nature of Suowacki’s approach to poetry is contained in an article titled “A Few Words About Juliusz Suowacki,” written by his friend Krasi½ski. Here, Krasi½ski compares Suowacki with Mickiewiez and contends that the former’s poetic style is “centrifugal” while the latter’s is “centripetal.” In place of the concreteness and tangibility that characterizes Mickiewicz’s work, Suowacki’s poetry manifests a dispersing tendency that is cosmic in its range. In Mickiewicz, moreover, one senses a poet who is exercising strict control over his language, while Suowacki appears at times to be engaged in a form of automatic writing. His imagery, as a consequence, is frequently diffuse and indistinct in a way that is reminiscent of the aesthetic qualities embodied in the paintings of the nineteenth century English artist J. M. W. Turner. Like Turner, Suowacki has a profound interest in color, and his poetry therefore shares many of the coloristic attributes of that written in Poland during the Baroque period . Musicality is, by the same token, another feature of Suowacki’s verse that sets it apart from the more natural speech intonations to be found in that of Mickiewicz. Because of such significant stylistic differences, the poetical works of Suowacki and Mickiewicz are best viewed as complementary. It is, therefore, highly appropriate that the mortal remains of Suowacki and Mickiewicz now rest side by side in the royal crypt of the Wawel Castle in Kraków. They are, it should be noted, the only poets who have been accorded the signal honor of interment at the site of this Polish equivalent to Westminster Abbey. Other major works plays: Maria Stuart, pb. 1832 (Mary Stuart, 1937); Mindowe Król Litewski, pb. 1832 (wr. 1829); Kordian, pb. 1834; Balladyna, pb. 1839 (wr. 1834; English transla236

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tion, 1960); Lilla Weneda, pb. 1840; Mazepa, pb. 1840 (Mazeppa, 1930); Ksiádz Marek, pb. 1843; Agezylausz, pb. 1844; K siá/ò n iezuomny, pb. 1844; Sen srebrny Salomei, pb. 1844; Beatrix Cenci, pb. 1866 (wr. 1839); Fantazy, pb. 1866 (wr. 1841; English translation, 1977); Horszty½ski, pb. 1866 (wr. 1835); Zuota czaszka, pb. 1866 (wr. 1842); Zawisza Czarny, pb. 1889 (wr. 1844); Samuel Z borowski, pr. 1911 (wr. 1845). nonfiction: Podró/ na wschód, 1836. miscellaneous: Dziela wszystkie, 1952-1960 (complete works, including Podróz na Wschód, wr. 1836; Juliusz Kleiner, editor); Poland’s Angry Romantic: Two Poems and a Play, 2009 (includes Balladina, Agamemnon’s Tomb, and Beniowski). Bibliography Cochran, Peter. Introduction to Poland’s Angry Romantic: Two Poems and a Play, by Juliusz Suowacki. Edited and translated by Peter Cochran et al. Newcastle, England: Cambridge Scholars, 2009. An informative introduction that provides biographical background and critical analysis. Dernauowicz, Maria. Juliusz Suowacki. Warsaw: Interpress, 1987. A short biographical study of the poet’s life and work. Includes an index. González, Fernando Presa. “Polish Literature in the Great Emigration of 1830: Adam Mickiewicz, Juliusz Suowacki, and Zygmunt Krasi½ski.” In Literature in Exile of East and Central Europe, edited by Agnieszka Gutthy. New York: Peter Lang, 2009. Takes up the topic of the Great Emigration and Suowacki, focusing on his writings. Kridl, Manfred. The Lyric Poems of Julius Suowacki. The Hague, the Netherlands: Mouton, 1958. A critical assessment of the poetic works of Suowacki. Includes bibliographic references. Krzy/anowski, Julian. A History of Polish Literature. Warsaw: PWN-Polish Scientific, 1978. A study of Polish literature that includes coverage of Suowacki. Bibliography and index. Miuosz, Czesuaw. The History of Polish Literature. 2d ed. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983. A scholarly study of Polish literature that includes a discussion of the role of Suowacki. Bibliography and index. Treugutt, Stefan. Juliusz Suowacki: Romantic Poet. War saw: Polonia, 1959. A critical analysis of Suowacki’s poetic works. Victor Anthony Rudowski

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LUCIEN STRYK Born: Kolo, Poland; April 7, 1924 Principal poetry Taproot, 1953 The Trespasser, 1956 Notes for a Guidebook, 1965 The Pit, and Other Poems, 1969 Awakening, 1973 Selected Poems, 1976 Collected Poems, 1953-1983, 1984 Bells of Lombardy, 1986 Of Pen and Ink and Paper Scraps, 1989 Where We Are: Selected Poems and Zen Translations, 1997 And Still Birds Sing: New and Collected Poems, 1998 Other literary forms Although Lucien Stryk (strihk) is known for his significant work as a poet—A. Poulin, Jr., included Stryk’s work in several editions of the influential anthology Contemporary American Poetry—Stryk has also made innumerable contributions in his work as a translator, editor, and commentator on the importance of Zen philosophy and the art created by those who follow such a philosophy. As a translator, Stryk worked diligently, along with his frequent collaborator Takashi Ikemoto, to shed light on the work of important Zen masters such as Shinkichi Takahashi, Issa, and Matsuo Bashf. Some of his most significant work as a translator is found in Zen: Poems, Prayers, Sermons, Anecdotes, Interviews (1965); Afterimages: Zen Poems of Shinkichi Takahashi (1970); Zen Poetry: Let the Spring Breeze Enter (1977); Traveler, My Name: Haiku of Basho (1985); Triumph of the Sparrow: Zen Poems of Shinkichi Takahashi (1986); and The Dumpling Field: Haiku of Issa (1991). As a Zen Buddhist commentator and practitioner as well as cultural historian, Stryk has created work that has proved to be vitally important in opening up a space first for the study of Zen and later for its celebration. Work relating to Zen Buddhist thought and art may be found in such volumes as World of Buddha: An Introduction to Buddhist Literature (1968) and Encounter with Zen: Writings on Poetry and Zen (1981). In his role as editor, Stryk is best known for his celebration of place, specifically the Midwest, in two collections that highlighted the work of emerging and established poets. Heartland: Poets of the Midwest (1967) and Heartland II: Poets of the Midwest (1975) continue to define the study of poetry in this region. Stryk also edited The Gift of Great Poetry (1992), demonstrating his range both as a poet and as a teacher. 238

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Achievements Although Lucien Stryk has not won many major awards, he has received numerous grants, including a National Endowment for the Arts Poetry Fellowship, a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship, a Ford Foundation Fellowship, a Fulbright grant and lectureship, and a National Institute of Arts and Letters award. For his work as a translator, Stryk received the Islands and Continents Translation Award for The Penguin Book of Zen Poetry (1977). Biography Lucien Stryk was born in Kolo, Poland, to Emil Stryk and Celia (Meinstein) Stryk in early April of 1924. His family moved to the United States in 1928, settling in Chicago and narrowly escaping the horrors that would ravage Poland during the 1930’s and 1940’s. Although Stryk and his family were spared what undoubtedly would have been an appalling and inevitable march toward death, they still felt the aftermath of the events as members of their extended family remained in Poland, only to meet their untimely deaths at the hands of Nazis. During the turbulence of the Depression and World War II, Stryk came of age on the South Side of Chicago. Many poems, including “A Sheaf for Chicago” (from Notes for a Guidebook) and “White City” (from Awakening), chronicle Stryk’s everyday life as a boy growing up in an urban landscape that was teeming with immigrants and the sons and daughters of immigrants. Although many reviewers of Stryk’s poetry note the influence of his study of Zen thought—a clear and strong force throughout his poems and translations—too few mention the impact of Stryk’s early years as the son of outsiders. As is common with young children and teenagers, the idea that one might be different from a given peer group presents a dilemma that at the time seems staggering, yet that may later offer a better vantage for the creation of art. In “White City,” Stryk describes the act of climbing on an abandoned roller-coaster track as other children hurl stones at him. “This was no/ King-of-the-Mountain game,” he tells us. Indeed, such a gauntlet presented the very pressures of life and death, of acceptance or rejection based on the foolish dares of those who are members of groups we wish to join. Having to stand at the margins of his community, however, established a perspective for Stryk that leads to many of the quiet, modest, yet profoundly truthful insights that he reaches in the writing of poems later in his career. This sense of difference—a sense of belonging to more than just an American community—manifests itself in Stryk’s work in a variety of ways: in his connection to Zen teachings and his translations of Zen texts and poems, in his Polish heritage and the many cities in Europe and Asia that he has lived in or visited, in his understanding of place—moving from the particular to the universal, and in his celebration of the many years he lived in a small, rural midwestern town. Soon after graduation from high school, Stryk served with the U.S. Army artillery in the South Pacific from 1943 to 1945. At the end of World War II, Stryk returned to the 239

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United States and enrolled in the English program at Indiana University, where he received his B.A. in 1948. While studying at Indiana University, Stryk wrote an essay, “The American Scene Versus the International Scene,” that establishes a part of the philosophical framework that would continue to support the more universal vision of his poetry throughout his career. In this essay—first published in Folio, the Indiana University undergraduate review, in 1947—Stryk explains that the isolationist thought he sees in so much American literature, with the exception of that of Ernest Hemingway, “who identifies himself with the universal man,” is harmful and ill advised. Stryk asserts, “The nationalism and regionalism—devotion to regional interests—that so obviously manifest themselves in our literature, art, and science can, with the social implications which follow, prove to be a detriment to international progress.” What Stryk calls for is an embrace of the variegated and multifaceted collage that comprises the landscape of the United States. “Men of all creeds, national origins, and races—white, black, brown, yellow, and many intermediate hues—speaking in thousands of languages, strange dialects, esoteric idioms, and fantastic variations of American English,” he contends, “are the mighty laboring forces that create the tremendous wealth, power, and grandeur that is the United States of America.” Following his own call for a more cosmopolitan embrace of the world and its riches, in 1948, Stryk studied literature and philosophy at the Sorbonne in Paris, France, under the auspices of the University of Maryland program. During his stay in Paris, Stryk engaged with philosophy under Gaston Bachelard and was particularly attracted to phenomenology. In Paris, he also encountered other artists and intellectuals such as James Baldwin, Roger Blin, and the French Resistance fighter Jean-Paul Baudot, who appears in Stryk’s poem “Letter to Jean-Paul Baudot, at Christmas” (from Awakening). In 1950, he received a Master of Foreign Study degree from the University of Maryland and then traveled to England to study comparative literature at Queen Mary College, University of London. In 1951, he met and married Helen Esterman, a native Londoner, and in that year, the couple bore their first child, a son named Dan. The young family continued to reside in London from 1952 to 1954. In 1953, Stryk’s first book of poems, Taproot, was published by Fantasy Press. In January of 1955, he returned to the United States with his family to study writing at the University of Iowa. In 1956, Stryk graduated with the Master of Fine Arts from Iowa and had his second collection of poetry, The Trespasser, published by Fantasy Press. Stryk again left the United States from 1956 to 1958 to go to Niigata University in Japan, where he held a lectureship. During this period he became involved with the study of Zen Buddhism after meeting a Zen priest who happened to be a potter. In Encounter with Zen, Stryk explains that his visit with the priest “left an extraordinary impression. Home again, sipping tea from the superb bowl he made for me . . . I began making plans. Soon I was inquiring seriously into Zen. . . . I visited temples and monasteries, meeting masters and priests throughout the country and, most important of all, began to meditate.” 240

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This initial encounter with Zen thought and practice has continued to color and inform not only Stryk’s poems but also his way of life. Following this revelatory two-year period, in 1958, Stryk accepted an appointment at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb as an assistant professor of English, teaching poetry, poetry writing, and Asian literature. His daughter Lydia was born the same year. He retired in 1991, and he and his wife moved to a suburb of Chicago in 2000. Analysis Lucien Stryk’s devotion to place grows naturally out of his dedication to Zen principles, and as he suggests in the introduction to his second edited collection of midwestern poetry, Heartland II, if one is to find peace as a poet or philosopher or human, then one must, as the Zen master Qingyuan explains, see “mountains as mountains, waters as waters.” For Stryk then, there can be no richer place on earth than the Midwest for the creation of poetry. There, he finds the vast sprawl of cities connected by rail and commerce; the dark, furrowed fields undulating with growth to the farthest horizon; and towns rising up out of nowhere, their quiet streets offering passage into what is most human and telling about the human condition. As an editor of two landmark collections of midwestern poetry—Heartland and Heartland II—and as the author of such poems as “Farmer” and “Scarecrow” (both from Taproot), “Return to DeKalb” (from The Pit, and Other Poems), and “Fishing with My Daughter in Miller’s Meadow” (from Awakening), Stryk searches the midwestern landscape, not for spectacle but for daily life. It is in daily living that Stryk moves, capturing in minimalist lines the wonder of a father holding his daughter’s hand, walking through a meadow filled with fresh manure and grazing horses, or, in “Farmer,” magnifying the farmer’s eyes that are “bound tight as wheat, packed/ hard as dirt.” Stryk, in an essay titled “Making Poems,” which is collected in Encounter with Zen, explains that the writing of poetry demands that one engage in “pure seeing,” and from such seeing, he creates a poetry of simple midwestern images that illustrate clearly the beauty, diversity, and breadth of life in the heartland. And Still Birds Sing Although all the works included in And Still Birds Sing are not set exclusively in the Midwest, the vision of life found in this collection is shaped by Stryk’s long life as a resident of the Midwest. He explains in the introduction to Heartland II: As one who has worked for a number of years, in Asia and the United States on the translation and interpretation of Zen poetry, I am sometimes asked why in the face of such “exotic” pursuits I have an interest in the poetry of my region—or, worse, why my own poetry is set for the most part in small-town Illinois. To one involved in the study of a philosophy like Zen, the answer to such questions is not difficult: one writes of one’s place because it is in every sense as wonderful as any other, whatever its topography and weathers, and because one cannot hope to discover oneself elsewhere.

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The discovery of self is at the root of Stryk’s poetry. Time and again the poet enters a moment, seemingly mundane in nature, and discovers how he is connected to all life. The search for self—an act of enlightenment—should not be misconstrued as indulgent or selfish in Stryk’s poems, however. Far from indulging himself, Stryk’s poetry exudes a humility born out of a desire to understand how people are all connected to one another, how any suffering or any joy people encounter must be seen as a shared suffering or joy—not as something that can be hoarded or cloistered away from the rest of the world. A fine example of such a moment occurs in “What Is Moving” (from Afterimages). Here the poet watches the sky above the water, but finds no birds flying there. As he munches a sweet potato, he asks, “Do I still live?” The recognition that he does indeed still live comes to him in his understanding of how he relates to others: “The same thing/ Runs through both of us,” he declares. “My thought moves the world:/ I move, it moves.” Similarly, in “Words” (from Afterimages), the poet explains that he does not “take” the words of another, that he cannot possess the other as he or she speaks. Instead, he acknowledges how such words connect the speaker and the listener: “I listen/ To what makes you talk—/ Whatever that is—/ And me listen.” People’s shared humanity compels them, Stryk suggests, to listen and to speak of the space they all must share as they live in this place and in this time. Awakening In an interview, Stryk speaks about the “curiosity and hunger . . . that will take a man very far across the earth looking for things.” He contends that “This excitement about reality is part and parcel of the making of poems.” Such an attitude about discovery— the act of coming into contact with places and people and animals and plants never before encountered—is the other powerful force, the other theme that drives Stryk’s work. The path to such encounters, for Stryk, can be found only if one is aware or awake, however. In the title poem of Awakening, the poet discovers and celebrates the act of wakefulness—the key to enlightenment within Zen thought. As he gathers shells with his daughter, he considers how perception shapes the universe: “I take them from her,/ make, at her command,/ the universe. Hands clasped,/ making the limits of/ a world, we watch till sundown/ planets whirling in the sand.” Unlike some of his contemporaries, Stryk does not struggle with the idea of “limits”—nor does he fear the darkness of people’s finite existence. Rather, he concludes “Awakening” with the image of the darkness that “takes” the trees outside his home one by one into the night and proclaims that “At this hour I am always happy,/ ready to be taken myself,/ fully aware.” Perhaps this is what distinguishes Stryk’s vision and the poems that are created out of that vision: an acceptance of self and world that finds its root in a person who has made peace with the human condition.

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Other major works nonfiction: Encounter with Zen: Writings on Poetry and Zen, 1981. translations: Zen: Poems, Prayers, Sermons, Anecdotes, Interviews, 1965 (with Takashi Ikemoto); Afterimages: Zen Poems of Shinkichi Takahashi, 1970 (with Ikemoto); The Crane’s Bill: Zen Poems of China and Japan, 1973; The Penguin Book of Zen Poetry, 1977 (with Ikemoto); Zen Poetry: Let the Spring Breeze Enter, 1977 (with Ikemoto); On Love and Barley: Haiku of Basho, 1985; Traveler, My Name: Haiku of Basho, 1985; Triumph of the Sparrow: Zen Poems of Shinkichi Takahashi, 1986 (with Ikemoto); The Dumpling Field: Haiku of Issa, 1991; Cage of Fireflies: Modern Japanese Haiku, 1993. edited texts: Heartland: Poets of the Midwest, 1967; World of Buddha: An Introduction to Buddhist Literature, 1968; Heartland II: Poets of the Midwest, 1975; The Gift of Great Poetry, 1992; The Acorn Book of Contemporary Haiku, 2000 (with Kevin Bailey). Bibliography Abbot, Craig S., ed. “Lucien Stryk: A Bibliography.” Analytical and Enumerative Bibliography 5, nos. 3/4(1991). A comprehensive bibliography. Abbot includes sections that chronicle Stryk’s career as a poet, reviewer, and critic. Krapf, Norbert. “Discovering Lucien Stryk’s Heartland.” Eclectic Literary Forum 5, no. 4 (Winter, 1995): 50-52. A close look at Stryk as an editor, particularly of Heartland, and his relevance to the Midwest. Porterfield, Susan. “Portrait of a Poet as a Young Man: Lucien Stryk.” Midwestern Miscellany 22 (1994): 36-45. An examination of Stryk as a young adult, with emphasis on his Midwest upbringing. _______, ed. Zen, Poetry, the Art of Lucien Stryk. Athens, Ga.: Swallow Press and Ohio University Press, 1993. An extensive collection of essays by Stryk on the making of poems and the study of poetry, Zen Buddhist thought, and the act of translation. It also includes two interviews with Stryk and four critical essays originally published in academic journals. The volume concludes with a selection of Stryk’s poetry. Stryk, Lucien. “‘Wherever I Am’: An Interview with Lucien Stryk.” Interview by T. F. Davis. Interdisciplinary Literary Studies 6, no. 5 (2005): 102-116. Stryk discusses Zen Buddhism and its influence on his writings in this interview. Todd F. Davis

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ANNA SWIR Born: Warsaw, Poland; February 7, 1909 Died: Kraków, Poland; September 30, 1984 Also known as: Anna Kwir Principal poetry Wiersze i proza, 1936 Liryki zebrane, 1958 Cudowna broda szacha, 1959 Z dawnej Polski, 1963 Czarne suowa, 1967 Wiatr, 1970 Jestem baba, 1972 (I’m the Old Woman, 1985) Poezje wybrane, 1973 Budowauam barykadò, 1974 (Building the Barricade, 1979) Szczò liwa jak psi ogon, 1978 Wybór wierszy, 1980 Kláski opowiekci, 1982 Happy as a Dog’s Tail, 1985 Radok6 i cierpienie: Utwory wybrane, 1985 Fat Like the Sun, 1986 Talking to My Body, 1996 Poezja, 1997 Mówiò do swego ciaua, 2002 (Talking to My Body, 1996) Other literary forms Though Anna Swir (sfihr) began writing and publishing poetry in the 1930’s, she was known principally as the author of children’s stories and plays until later in her career. Not until decades after World War II was Swir able to develop the spare, economical style that characterizes her mature work and has drawn so many admirers. Although Swir did not write literary criticism, her translator and fellow poet Czesuaw Miuosz, in the introduction to Talking to My Body, quotes several of Swir’s memorable aphorisms about writing, including “the poet should be as sensitive as an aching tooth.” Achievements The bilingual edition of Anna Swir’s Building the Barricade, with translations by Magnus Jan Kry½ski and Robert A. Maguire, won the Polish Authors’ Association’s ZAiKS Prize in 1979. Though Swir’s work was not always well received in her native 244

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Poland because of her feminism and her uneasy relationship with Catholicism, her reputation has improved greatly, partially because of the support of Miuosz, who wrote an appreciative monograph on her work in 1996. In the West, she has achieved a rare degree of recognition and popularity. Her poems have been received with high enthusiasm since English translations of her books began appearing in the late 1970’s and 1980’s and after Miuosz chose twelve of her poems for inclusion in A Book of Luminous Things: An International Anthology of Poetry (1996). Biography Anna Swir was born Anna Kwirszczy½ska in Warsaw, Poland, on February 7, 1909. The daughter of an impoverished painter and a local beauty, Anna grew up in her father’s studio and struggled to help support her family by looking for jobs while she was still young. While working her way through college, she studied medieval Polish literature. She drew from this tradition and her interest in visual art as she wrote her first poems, which were published in the 1930’s. Miuosz describes these impersonal verses as “sophisticated miniatures” and writes that “the form of the miniature was to return later, while the reticence about her personal life was to disappear.” Swir became a member of the Resistance after the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939, working as a waitress under the occupation while writing for underground journals and participating in clandestine poetry readings. In August and September of 1944, during the Warsaw Uprising, she served as a military nurse, treating soldiers at a provisional military hospital. At one point, she expected to be executed for her Resistance activities, as she recounts in “Waiting to Be Shot” (from Building the Barricade). In 1970, with the publication of Wiatr (wind), Swir reached her mature style. Having reached her sixties, she was able to write the direct, unadorned poetry of physical experience that characterizes her best work. I’m the Old Woman continued her development as a feminist poet through sharply recollected vignettes of women’s experiences. The publication of Building the Barricade in 1974, thirty years after the events of the uprising, suggests how much internal deliberation was required to create the deceptively simple and straightforward narratives dramatizing the tragedy of the destruction of her city. In 1984, Miuosz, who was in the process of translating a book-length selection of Swir’s poems, wrote to the poet to inform her of the project. Though she told him that she was pleased that he was translating her poetry, she did not disclose that she was in the final throes of the cancer from which she would die in a matter of weeks. Over the following years, her reputation as a poet would grow with the posthumous publication of Radok6 i cierpienie (suffering and joy), a loving tribute to her relationship with her parents, and an expanding series of translations and criticism.

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Analysis In the introduction to one of Anna Swir’s poems in A Book of Luminous Things, Miuosz notes that her work can be seen as an extension of a classic trope in poetry, the conversation between the body and the soul. This motif, seen in such poems as Andrew Marvell’s “A Dialogue Between the Soul and the Body,” is recast for a world that has seen such calamities as the emptying of the Warsaw ghetto and the annihilation of the city. Swir’s presentation of the motif is not a dialogue between equals that attempts to arrive at a satisfying metaphysical conclusion. Rather, her world is one in which nothing beyond the physical can be imagined, in which bodies are prey to malice or injury, sickness, and age. The remarkable aspect of the poems is that while they are almost entirely body-driven, they are not simply written from the perspective of the body, but from a separate vantage that can see, critique, and lament the shortcomings of a physical existence and celebrate the pure joys of bodily delight and ecstasy. It is this consciousness that comments on the life of the body, while realizing that nothing can be experienced or accomplished beyond it. In the introduction to Talking to My Body, Miuosz posits that “her poetry is about not being identical with one’s body, about sharing its joys and pains and still rebelling against its laws.” It is perhaps fitting that a poetry that centers on the body should be written in such an unadorned, naked style. All artifice, including figurative and self-consciously poetic language, has seemingly been stripped from the finished poems, which appear to be transparent accounts of mundane yet universal moments in human lives. The artistry of the poems lies in the immediacy of the accounts, as the reader responds to the perfectly chosen, evocative scenes produced with conversational language. The repetition of phrases and events through both poem and collection allows for a subtle building of emphasis and intensity, which is all the more remarkable when the reader considers how artless it appears. Building the Barricade Building the Barricade, a narrative of the Warsaw Uprising, gains its intensity from the directness of its presentation. The poems, which describe the futile effort of the city’s inhabitants to fight off the overwhelming manpower and firepower of the Nazi army, are presented from the perspective of the resistance, “the tavern-keeper, the jeweler’s mistress, the barber,/ all of us cowards” (“Building the Barricade”). While the poems are divided between those with a first-person speaker and those written from a more reportorial stance, all share the same immediacy, as those in the city are moved by the immense stress of the conflict to seek basic human consolations together. In certain of the poems, the speaker is a nurse in a military hospital, attempting to comfort dying soldiers. In “When a Soldier Is Dying,” the nurse repeats to a wounded youth the calming words, “you will live, my beautiful,/ my brave boy.” The poem ends as the soldier smiles and begins to close his eyes, not knowing “. . . that such words/ are said to a soldier/ only when he is dying.” 246

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Happy as a Dog’s Tail Happy as a Dog’s Tail consists primarily of love poems; this is most clearly the work that Miuosz defined as somatic poetry, though it differs from most poetry of the sort in that it is not confessional in its representation of physical moments. “A Woman Talks to Her Thigh” consists of a dialogue between the body and the self. The poem begins, “It is only thanks to your good looks/ I can take part/ in the rites of love” and ends with praise for the thigh and its “. . . clear, smooth charm/ of an amoral little animal.” The separation between the consciousness of the speaker and her body, however, can become isolating; when the needs of the body are satisfied, the self’s sensations of alienation can be heightened. In “What Is a Pineal Gland,” a woman looks at her sleeping lover with the familiar query, “Do you belong to me?” Her immediate answer, however, is atypical and extreme: “I myself do not belong to you.” Dividing herself from her body, the speaker first moves internally, examining the lungs and viscera, and contemplating the work about which “I know so little.” The self, realizing its essential division from the solid and stable body, then rises above the scene: “It’s cold here./ Homeless, I tremble looking/ at our two bodies/ warm and quiet.” Talking to My Body Talking to My Body is largely a reissue of the work Miuosz and Leonard Nathan produced for Happy as a Dog’s Tail and was released in a Polish edition in 2002. It begins with a new suite of translations from Swir’s posthumous collection, Radok6 i cierpienie. These tender poems speak lovingly and directly of Swir’s relationship with her parents, the painter father whose works are largely unknown to the art world, but who retains his artistic integrity, and her mother, who continually makes sacrifices in her attempt to create domestic stability. Although Swir repeatedly refers to her father as a “madman” and her parents’ marriage as a curse, the collection is a celebration of her childhood and their mutual emotional reliance. Despite their poverty, it is clear that the family feels that their artistic commitment confers a degree of social status; in “Soup for the Poor,” in which Swir describes her mother standing in a soup kitchen line, she writes that “Mother was afraid/ that the janitor’s wife would see her./ Mother after all was/ the wife of an artist.” While autobiographical, the selections build into something of a Künstlerroman, the story of a young artist’s coming of age, as Swir dramatizes the preserving power of art, as well as its liabilities and shortcomings. This aspect of the collection is perhaps best articulated in the masterpiece in miniature, “I Wash the Shirt.” The poem narrates the moment after her father’s death when Swir washes his shirt for the final time, eliminating the sweat that was uniquely his: “From among all the bodies in the world,/ animal, human,/ only one exuded that sweat.” As she destroys the bodily connection with her father, she notes, “Now/ only paintings survive him/ which smell of oils.” The great pathos of that final sentiment is the same contradiction that runs through her poetry and lends it so much of its human power: Although it is the potential permanence of art that 247

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transmits Swir’s voice to readers, her poems continue to assert that artistry fails in significance when compared with the body, even with all its inadequacies and complications. Other major work play: Teatr poetycki, pb. 1984. Bibliography Carpenter, John R. “Three Polish Poets, Two Nobel Prizes.” Kenyon Review 20, no. 1 (1998): 148-156. Compares Talking to My Body with translations of the verses of two other Polish poets, Facing the River: New Poems (1995), by Czesuaw Miuosz, and Sounds, Feelings, Thoughts: Seventy Poems by Wisuawa Szymborska (1981). Hacht, Anne-Marie, ed. Poetry for Students. Vol. 21. Detroit: Thomson/Gale, 2005. Contains an analysis of Swir’s “Maternity,” as well as context and criticism. Jason, Philip K., ed. Masterplots II: Poetry Series. Rev. ed. Pasadena, Calif.: Salem Press, 2002. Contains an in-depth analysis of the poem “I Wash the Shirt.” Levine, Madeline. Review of Happy as a Dog’s Tail, by Anna Swir. Partisan Review 57, no. 1 (1990): 145-150. Places Swir in context by discussing other contemporary Polish poets, including Miuosz and Adam Zagajewski, while commenting on questions of feminism and the mediation of the body in her work. Miuosz, Czesuaw. “A Body of Work.” Threepenny Review 6 (1985): 4-5. This short biography touches on some thematic considerations of Swir’s work and discloses Miuosz’s rationale in deciding to translate Swir’s poetry. An adapted version of this essay was reprinted as the introduction to Happy as a Dog’s Tail, and was rewritten and used as the introduction of Talking to My Body. Miuosz, Czesuaw, and Leonard Nathan. “A Dialogue on the Poetry of Anna Swir.” Trafika 2 (1994): 193-200. Two of Swir’s translators discuss the poems, including issues regarding the poet’s conception of the body, her dissimilarity to other international poets, and her reception in the United States. An expanded version of this conversation was included as the afterword to Happy as a Dog’s Tail and a slightly edited version as the afterword to Talking to My Body. Todd Samuelson

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WISUAWA SZYMBORSKA Born: Bnin (now part of Kórnick), Poland; July 2, 1923 Principal poetry Dlatego /yjemy, 1952 Pytania zadawane sobie, 1954 Wouanie do Yeti, 1957 Sól, 1962 Sto pociech, 1967 Poezje, 1970 Wszelki wypadek, 1972 Wielka liczba, 1976 Sounds, Feelings, Thoughts: Seventy Poems by Wisuawa Szymborska, 1981 Ludzie na mokcie, 1986 (People on a Bridge, 1990) Poems, 1989 Koniec i poczátek, 1993 View with a Grain of Sand: Selected Poems, 1995 Widok z ziarnkiem piasku, 1996 Nic dwa razy: Wybór wierszy = Nothing Twice: Selected Poems, 1997 Poems: New and Collected, 1957-1997, 2000 Miracle Fair: Selected Poems of Wisuawa Szymborska, 2001 Monolog psa zaplátanego w dzieje, 2002 (Monologue of a Dog: New Poems, 2006) Wiersze, 1946-1996, 2006 Zmysu udziauu: Wybór wierszy, 2006 Here: New Poems, 2010 Other literary forms Wisuawa Szymborska (shihm-BAWR-skuh) is primarily a poet, but she also published several collections of short articles written during her career as a columnist at the weekly ?ycie Literackie from 1968 to 1981. Lektury nadobowiázkowe (1973; nonrequired reading) is a collection of witty, short essays inspired by a vast and eclectic selection of books ranging from the classics of literature to cooking and gardening manuals. Szymborska began publishing Lektury nadobowiázkowe in the daily Gazeta Wyborcza in the mid-1990’s. In ?ycie Literackie, Szymborska also hosted (anonymously) a column for aspiring writers. Her witty responses to hopeful writers have been collected in the volume Poczta literacka (literary mail, 2000).

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Achievements Wisuawa Szymborska is known as the first lady of Polish poetry. Her poetry is elegant, witty, and delightfully intelligent. Szymborska is that rare phenomenon: a poet of universal appeal. Her poems—beloved by both demanding intellectuals and high school students— introduced humor, irony, and wit into the dreary reality of Communist Poland. Her work, however, is by no means of merely local consequence. Szymborska’s poetry has been translated into nearly all European languages, as well as into Hebrew, Chinese, Japanese, and Hindu. Szymborska received numerous literary awards, including the City of Kraków Award, the Polish Pen Club Award, the Solidarnok6 Award, the Jurzykowski Foundation Award, the Kallenbach Foundation Award, the Goethe and Herder Prizes, and the Nobel Prize in Literature for 1996. Szymborska is also known for her superb translations of French poetry, especially of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Biography Wisuawa Szymborska was born in Bnin (now Kórnick), a small town situated near Pozna½ in the western part of Poland. When she was eight years old, her family moved to Kraków, the city that the poet made her home for life. There, Szymborska went to a prestigious school for girls, run by nuns of the Saint Ursula order. Her education was interrupted by the outbreak of World War II; she had to continue her schooling at clandestine classes, whereby she received her high school diploma. After the war, Szymborska studied sociology and Polish philology at the Jagiellonian University, but neither of those fields held enough interest for the young poet. She left the university in 1948 and embarked on a number of proofreading and editorial jobs. In 1953-1981, Szymborska worked for the weekly ?ycie Literackie, where she was responsible for two extremely popular columns: Poczta literacka, featuring responses to aspiring writers and Lektury nadobowiázkowe, a series of playful commentaries on all sorts of reading matter. In the early 1950’s, Szymborska became a member of Polska Zjednoczona Partia Robotnicza (PZPR), the official party of the Communist regime. She gave up her membership in 1966, disillusioned by the party’s policies—a decision requiring considerable courage in the political climate of the time. Szymborska became part of the Kraków underground literary movement and cooperated with the monthly Pismo. She was one of the founding members of Stowarzyszenie Pisarzy Polskich (Polish Writers’ Association), created in 1988 and legalized the following year. After she left ?ycie Literackie, Szymborska refused to form permanent professional ties with any institution. The poet became known for her reclusive ways; she shunned publicity, rarely appeared in the media, and would speak about herself only with the greatest reluctance. She very seldom left Kraków. When she received the Nobel Prize in Literature, she reacted with joy but also apprehension; she knew that this international 250

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honor would interfere with her fundamentally private lifestyle. Szymborska has been known to write about four or five poems intended for publication per year—a slow pace fully rewarded by the quality of her poetry. The author of limericks, she has also created collages, which she produced out of newspaper scraps and mailed to her friends in the form of postcards. These pieces, reminiscent of Surrealist and Dada games, combine elements of the quotidian to give them unexpected (and often ironic) meanings—a method characteristic also of Szymborska’s poetic technique. Analysis The two key qualities of Wisuawa Szymborska’s poetry are curiosity and a sense of wonder. She has the ability to look at things as if seeing them for the first time. In her curious eyes, nothing is ordinary; everything is part of the ongoing “miracle fair.” Her poetry forces the reader to abandon schematic thinking and to distrust received wisdom. On the level of language, this distrust is expressed through a constant play with fixed phrases and clichés. Both language and thought are turned upside down, revealing new and surprising meanings. Such poetry is very humorous, but it also conveys a sense of profound philosophical discomfort, prompting the reader to probe deeper and to adapt new perspectives. Szymborska’s poems skillfully combine seriousness and play, seemingly opposite categories that, in the eyes of the poet, are of equal value. Dlatego /yjemy The earliest poems of Szymborska, published in newspapers in the years following World War II, dealt with experiences common to the poet’s generation: the trauma of the war, the dead child-soldiers of the Warsaw Uprising, and the hope for a new, peaceful future. These poems were not included in Szymborska’s first two collections, Dlatego /yjemy (this is why we live) and Pytania zadawane sobie (the questions we ask ourselves). By the 1950’s, the political climate in Poland had changed considerably; poetry was to become an extension of state propaganda and a reinforcement of the official ideology. For a time, Szymborska naïvely subscribed to this agenda. Her first two collections give testimony to her youthful political beliefs. Later, the poet would disown her early work; however, the brief period of idealism and the subsequent disillusionment taught her to distrust totalizing ideologies of any kind. Although the primary theme of Szymborska’s earliest collections was the building of the perfect socialist state, some poems dealt with nonpolitical subjects such as love, intimacy, and relationships between people. Stylistically, these early poems bettered typical products of socialist propaganda and contained a promise of Szymborska’s later achievements. Nevertheless, most critics (as well as the poet herself) prefer to begin discussions of Szymborska’s oeuvre with her third collection.

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WoUanie do Yeti Wouanie do Yeti (calling out to Yeti) marks a turning point in the work of Szymborska and is considered her true literary debut. The poet cuts away from the earlier political creed; her former assurance is replaced by a profound distrust. This change of heart is expressed in the poem “Rehabilitacja” (“Rehabilitation”) in which the speaker refers to her deluded head as “Poor Yorick. “ By 1957, Szymborska had become a poet of doubtful inquiry and profound uncertainty. Wouanie do Yeti introduces a number of themes and devices that would become permanent features of Szym borska’s poetics. The poem “Dwie malpy Brueghla” (“Brueghel’s Two Monkeys”) exemplifies both the poet’s characteristic use of the anecdote and her growing interest in looking at the human world from a nonhuman perspective. The speaker in the poem is taking a final exam in “the History of Mankind” while the two monkeys look on: One monkey stares and listens with mocking disdain, The other seems to be dreaming away— But when it’s clear I don’t know what to say He prompts me with a gentle Clinking of his chain.

Similarly, the poem “Z nieodbytej wyprawy w Himalaje” (“Notes from a Nonexistent Himalayan Expedition”) portrays the achievements of humankind, as presented to a nonhuman listener. Characteristically, Szymborska creates a hypothetical, alternative world, thus making possible her imaginative investigations. These poems mark the beginning of Szymborska’s poetic anthropology: her study of the condition of human beings in the world, as observed and analyzed from various unexpected perspectives. Wouanie do Yeti reveals another seminal feature of Szymborska’s poetics: her skillful use of irony as a cognitive and poetic category. Sól The publication of Sól (salt) in 1962 was pronounced a major literary event. This collection gives a taste of Szymborska’s mature style, with its brilliant paradoxes , its skillful intertextuality and allusions, and its mastery of puns, antitheses, and metonymy. The poet also develops her characteristic art of phraseological collage, playing with readers’ linguistic expectations, as in the lines: “Oh, not to be a boxer but a poet,/ one sentenced to hard shelleying for life,” or “written on waters of Babel.” Sól contains a number of very private, intimate poems, which is quite unusual in Szymborska’s work. An important theme is communication between two people, or, rather, the impossibility or breakdown of communication, as in the poem “Wie/a Babel” (“The Tower of Babel”). While this poem explores the failure of a dialogue between a man and a woman, the poem “Rozmowa z kamieniem” (“Conversation with a 252

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Stone”) reveals the futility of human attempts at communicating with nature. The speaker “knocks at the stone’s front door,” but the stone remains inscrutable: . . . You may get to know me, but you’ll never know me through. My whole surface is turned toward you, all my insides turned away. . . .

Another important theme developed in Sól is the dichotomy of nature and culture, biology and art. This problem appears in poems such as “Woda” (“Water”), “Muzeum” (“Museum”), and “Kobiety Rubensa” (“Rubens Women”), a playful poetic parody of the Baroque style: Daughters of the Baroque. Dough thickens in troughs, baths steam, wines blush . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . O pumpkin plump!

The Baroque giantesses’ “skinny sisters woke up earlier,/ before dawn broke” and “went single file/ along the canvas’s unpainted side.” This image reveals other key features of Szymborska’s poetic imagination: her incessant search for the other side of the picture, her defense of those excluded and pushed to the margins, and her love of exceptions. Sto pociech In “Mozaika bizantyjska” (“A Byzantine Mosaic”), from the next collection, Sto pociech (no end of fun), the Baroque situation is reversed—here slenderness is the norm, and everyone is offended by the sight of a fat baby. Sto pociech explores a number of other cultural myths, ancient and modern. This collection also shows Szymborska’s fascination with discourses of biological sciences in general and the theory of evolution in particular. This fascination is linked to the poet’s desire to extend the language of poetry to include discursive modes commonly labeled as nonpoetic. Another major theme in Sto pociech is time, and art’s ability to suspend it. While “Pejza/” (“Landscape”) deals with the art of painting, “Radok6 pisania” (“The Joy of Writing”) is a hymn to “The joy of writing./ The power of preserving./ Revenge of a mortal hand.” Wszelki wypadek Szymborska’s sixth collection, Wszelki wypadek (could have), confirms her reputation as a philosophical poet. Critics point out her affinities with existentialism, Positivism, and, most important, the French Enlightenment. Moreover, Szymborska’s poetry has strong links with the rhetorical tradition. Many of her poems are structured around questions, dialogues, or theses with supporting examples. Moreover, in a typical rhetor253

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ical approach, the poet strives to make even the most difficult problems appear accessible: “Don’t bear me ill will, speech, that I borrow weighty words,/ then labor heavily so that they may seem light.” The title poem of the 1972 collection, “Wszelki wypadek,” (“Could Have”), introduces the weighty theme of necessity and coincidence: “It could have happened./ It had to happen.” Similarly, “Pod jedna gwiazdka” (“Under One Small Star”) begins: “My apologies to chance for calling it necessity./ My apologies to necessity if I’m mistaken, after all.” Wszelki wypadek confirms Szymborska’s distrust of fundamentalism. The poet presents the world as relative. She speaks to the reader from shifting and surprising perspectives. “Wra/enia z teatru” (“Theater Impressions”) describes her favorite act of a tragedy—the sixth, after the curtain has fallen. In “Prospect” (“Advertisement”), the speaker is a tranquilizer: Sell me your soul. There’s no other buyer likely to turn up. There’s no other devil left.

Wielka liczba Szymborska’s next collection, Wielka liczba, which opens with the title poem, “Wielka liczba” (“A Large Number”), and closes with “Liczba pi” (“Pi”), juxtaposes the amazing vastness and multiplicity of the world against the limitations of human perception and cognition. The world evokes a childish delight but also despair: There are “four billion people on this earth” but the poet’s imagination is still “bad with large numbers/ . . . still taken by particularity.” Faced with excess, the poet defends the particular. Confronted with the cosmos, she rehabilitates the quotidian: for example, the soup “without ulterior motives” described in the warmly ironic portrait of her sister, or the “silver bowl” that might have caused the biblical Lot’s wife to look back, against the angel’s orders. As always, Szymborska is fascinated with particularities and complexities, with human imperfections. People on a Bridge In People on a Bridge, Szymborska addresses political questions for the first time since Wouanie do Yeti. The problems of human history and civilization appear next to the themes of chance, necessity, abstraction, and particularity continued from the preceding collections. “Our twentieth century was going to improve on the others” begins “Schylek wieku” (“The Century’s Decline”), while “Dzieci epoki” (“Children of Our Age”) warns: “We are children of our age,/ it’s a political age.” Here, Szymborska’s irony is at its most poignant and subtle. This collection also marks the beginning of the 254

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poet’s effort to deal with death: “There’s no life/ that couldn’t be immortal/ if only for a moment.” Koniec i pocz tek Koniec i poczátek (the end and the beginning) contains a number of very private poems, many elegiac in tone, dealing with memory and loss. In “Kot w pustym mieszkaniu” (“Cat in an Empty Apartment”), the death of a human being is shown from the perspective of a cat. “Nic darowane” (“Nothing’s a Gift”) reminds the reader that: “Nothing’s a gift, it’s all on loan” and “I’ll have to pay for myself/ with my self.” In “Mo/e by6 bez tytuuu” (“No Title Required”), the poet poses the metaphysical questions: what is important and what is not? How can we be certain? In comparison with Szymborska’s earlier work, the poems in this collection are more direct, less dependent on masks and role-playing. However, the poet retains her propensity for unusual perspectives. In “Wielkie to szczòkcie” (“We’re Extremely Fortunate”), she claims: “We’re extremely fortunate/ not to know precisely/ the kind of world we live in.” Such knowledge would require adopting a cosmic point of view, from which “the counting of weekdays” would seem “a senseless activity,” and “the sign ‘No Walking On The Grass’/ a symptom of lunacy.” There is irony here, but also a great tenderness toward the counting of days and the grass—a human quotidian. Poems: New and Collected, 1957-1997 Poems: New and Collected, 1957-1997 contains nearly all of Szymborska’s poems that had appeared in book form, from Wouanie do Yeti to Koniec i poczátek, with a suite of new poems. The masterful translations were executed by Stanisuaw Bara½czak, a Polish poet of the younger Generation of ‘ 68 who is considered one of the most linguistically gifted poets and one of the most fluent and prolific translators of his time, and by Clare Cavanagh, an exceptional critic and Bara½czak’s longtime collaborator. Their work is confident and colloquial, but attuned to the source’s playful elaborations, containing the “. . . ill-timed tails, horns sprouted out of spite,/ illegitimate beaks, this morphogenetic potpourri, those/ finned or furry frills and furbelows . . .” of the poems’ menagerie. The poems, when viewed as a body, show Szymborska to be a champion of individuality and imagination. The impersonal provinces of science and art are transformed into conjectural scenarios that feel lived and human. For example, the simple observation of the lifelike qualities of a classical painting becomes the monologue “Landscape,” which begins, “In the old master’s landscape,/ the trees have roots beneath the oil paint.” Szymborska is not merely content to use poetry’s transformative power to create reality out of artifice, but also drawn to the life intimated in the painting; the speaker of the poem is a woman portrayed as a small part of the landscape. The historical limitations of her experience lend the poem its authenticity: “I know the world six miles around./ I know the herbs and spells for every pain.// I’ve never seen my children’s father naked.” 255

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The poem ends by drifting toward the “unpainted” life that continues beyond the limits of the artistry: “The cat hops on a bench,/ the sun gleams on a pewter jug.” The premise of “Discovery” is, once again, presented in its first lines: “I believe in the great discovery./ I believe in the man who will make the discovery./ I believe in the fear of the man who will make the discovery.” The anaphora opening the poem, with the phrase “I believe” beginning its first three lines, suggests that the poem may be a credo or article of faith. The structure of the lines, however, with each successive line building on the previous, seems more characteristic of a nursery rhyme. This undercutting of supposed belief initiates the irony of the poem. The poem itemizes the manner in which the discovery goes unreported, its notes and instruments destroyed. However, even though the poet continues to underscore her assurance that the decision to turn away from the never-explained breakthrough could be made for the betterment of humanity, even at personal sacrifice— “I believe in the refusal to take part./ I believe in the ruined career.”—the poem ends with the deflating line, “My faith is strong, blind, and without foundation.” Miracle Fair Miracle Fair is a selection of Szymborska’s work translated by Joanna Trzeciak, a Ph.D. student at the University of Chicago who has had great success in placing her translations in many of the highest-profile literary magazines in the United States. Perhaps out of a desire to avoid competition with Bara½czak and Cavanagh’s monumental project, Trzeciak has not arranged Szymborska’s poems chronologically by book, but rather has divided them into six general themes, which she has titled with quotations from the poems, such as “. . . the unthinkable is thinkable . . .” or “. . . of human kind for now. . . .” This collection covers the full range of Szymborska’s poetry, presenting poems that had never before been published in English, including a sampling of the poet’s early work, as well as occasional poems and pieces. Each theme is introduced with one of Szymborska’s collages, providing a spark of visual wit that acts as an analogue to the verbal tonalities of the poems. Though critics have commented on Szymborska’s consistency of quality and method throughout her volumes, one effect of Trzeciak’s thematic organization is to emphasize the ways in which certain themes have played through her work, providing a larger web of meaning. For example, the poems in the section “. . . too much has happened that was not supposed to happen . . .” all concern the problems of politics and the brutality of war, with poems such as “Torture” and “Starvation Camp at Jasuo.” Unsurprisingly, these poems tend to begin with a compellingly presented supposition, which is then complicated over the course of the poem’s meditations; frequently, they show the poet expressing one of her supreme values, human empathy. “The End and the Beginning,” the title poem from the 1993 collection Koniec i poczátek, begins with the provocative assertion, “After every war/ someone has to clean up./ Things won’t/ straighten themselves up, after all.” Initially, the tone seems to mini256

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mize the human cost of war, and the reader may object to the matter-of-fact manner that suggests that the aftermath of a battle is no different from the domestic labors of a weekend cleaning: “Someone has to get mired/ in scum and ashes,/ sofa springs,/ splintered glass,/ and bloody rags.” However, among the laborers, while there are many who recall the circumstances of the destruction (“Someone, broom in hand,/ still recalls the way it was”), others are losing interest. Finally, “In the grass that has overgrown/ causes and effects,/ someone must be stretched out/ blade of grass in his mouth/ gazing at the clouds.” The triumph of ordinary life, with the escape offered by the natural world and the imaginative suggestion of the clouds, continues despite the privations of history. Nevertheless, one teasing conundrum that remains suggested by the poem’s title, in the temporal reversal of beginning and end, is whether the end of the war is leading to the beginning of peace and life, or to the beginning of forgetfulness that will lead, inexorably, to another war. Other major works nonfiction: Lektury nadobowiázkowe, 1973; Nonrequired Reading: Prose Pieces, 2002. translations: Poezje wybrane, 1964 (of Charles Baudelaire); Poezje, 1977 (of Alfred de Musset). miscellaneous: Poczta literacka, 2000. Bibliography Aaron, Jonathan. “In the Absence of Witnesses: The Poetry of Wisuawa Szymborska.” Parnassus: Poetry in Review 11, no. 2 (1981/1982): 254-264. An insightful overview of the major themes in Szymborska’s poetry based on the 1981 Englishlanguage collections of her poems. Anders, Jaroslaw. Between Fire and Sleep: Essays on Modern Polish Poetry and Prose. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2009. Contains an essay in which Anders examines the poetry of Szym borska. Cavanagh, Clare. “Poetry and Ideology: The Example of Wisuawa Szymborska.” Literary Imagination 2, no. 1 (1999): 174-190. An analysis of Szymborska’s poetry written by its American translator. Cavanagh emphasizes the dialogical character of Szymborska’s work, as well as its affinities with poststructuralist thought. Constantakis, Sara, ed. Poetry for Students. Vol. 31. Detroit: Thomson/Gale Group, 2010. Contains an analysis of Szymborska’s “Some People like Poetry.” Czerniawski, Adam, ed. The Mature Laurel: Essays on Modern Polish Poetry. Chester Springs, Pa.: Dufour, 1991. A collection of essays dealing with twentieth century Polish poets. Two important articles on Szymborska appear in the collection: Adam Czerniawski, “Poets and Painters,” and Edward Rogerson, “Anti-Romanticism: Distance.” 257

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Krynski, Magnus J., and Robert A. Maguire. Introduction to Sounds, Feelings, Thoughts: Seventy Poems by Wisuawa Szymborska. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1981. This good English-language collection of Szymborska’s poetry contains an excellent introduction discussing the poet and her work. Legezynska, Anna. Wisuawa Szymborska. Pozna½, Poland: Rebis, 1996. This extremely helpful work contains Szymborska’s biography and a careful analysis of each poetry collection. In Polish. Miuosz, Czesuaw. Introduction to Miracle Fair. New York: Norton, 2001. A compelling introduction by Szymborska’s fellow poet and Nobel Prize winner. This appreciation of Szymborska’s work emphasizes the poet’s probing of consciousness, but also her ability to bring joy to the reader, despite the grimness of her poetry. Milne, Ira Mark, ed. Poetry for Students. Vol. 27. Detroit: Thomson/Gale Group, 2008. Contains an analysis of Szymborska’s “Conversation with a Stone.” Serafin, Steven, ed. Twentieth-Century Eastern European Writers: Third Series. Vol. 232 in Dictionary of Literary Biography. Detroit: Gale Group, 2001. Contains a brief essay on Szymborska examining her life and works. Magdalena Máczy½ska Updated by Todd Samuelson

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TRISTAN TZARA Sami Rosenstock Born: Moinelti, Romania; April 4, 1896 Died: Paris, France; December 24, 1963 Principal poetry La Première Aventure céleste de Monsieur Antipyrine, 1916 Vingt-cinq Poèmes, 1918 Cinéma calendrier du coeur abstrait, 1920 De nos oiseaux, 1923 Indicateur des chemins de coeur, 1928 L’Arbre des voyageurs, 1930 L’Homme approximatif, 1931 (Approximate Man, and Other Writings, 1973) Où boivent les loups, 1932 L’Antitête, 1933 Primele Poème, 1934 (English translation, 1976) Grains et issues, 1935 La Deuxième Aventure céleste de Monsieur Antipyrine, 1938 (wr. 1917) Midis gagnés, 1939 Une Route seul soleil, 1944 Entre-temps, 1946 Le Signe de vie, 1946 Terre sur terre, 1946 Morceaux choisis, 1947 Phases, 1949 Sans coup férir, 1949 De mémoire d’homme, 1950 Parler seul, 1950 Le Poids du monde, 1951 La Première main, 1952 La Face intérieure, 1953 À haute flamme, 1955 La Bonne heure, 1955 Miennes, 1955 Le Temps naissant, 1955 Le Fruit permis, 1956 (wr. 1946) Frère bois, 1957 La Rose et le chien, 1958 259

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De la coupe aux lèvres, 1961 Juste présent, 1961 Selected Poems, 1975 Other literary forms Although the largest part of the work of Tristan Tzara (TSAH-rah) consists of a vast body of poetry—filling more than thirty volumes—he did experiment with drama, publishing three plays during his lifetime: Le Coeur à gaz (pb. 1946; The Gas Heart, 1964), Mouchoir de nuages (pb. 1924; Handkerchief of Clouds, 1972), and La Fuite (pb. 1947; the flight). His important polemical writings appeared in two collections: Sept Manifestes Dada (1924; Seven Dada Manifestos, 1977) and Le Surréalisme et l’après-guerre (1947; Surrealism and the postwar period). Much of Tzara’s critical and occasional writing, which is substantial in volume, remains unpublished, including book-length works on François Rabelais and François Villon, while the published portion includes Lampisteries (1963; English translation, 1977), Picasso et la poésie (1953; Picasso and poetry), L’Art Océanien (1951; the art of Oceania), and L’Égypte face à face (1954). Achievements Tristan Tzara’s importance as a literary figure of international reputation rests primarily on his relationship to the Dada movement. Of all the avant-garde movements that challenged the traditional foundations of artistic value and judgment at the beginning of the present century, Dada was, by consensus, the most radical and disturbing. In retrospect, the Dada aesthetic, which was first formed and expressed in Zurich about 1916, seems to have been a fairly direct response to World War I; the Dadaists themselves suggest as much in many of their works during this period. The harsh, confrontational nature of Dada is notorious, and Tzara was one of the most provocative of all the Dadaists. In his 1930 essay, “Memoirs of Dadaism,” Tzara describes one of his own contributions to the first Dada soiree in Paris, on January 23, 1920, in which he read a newspaper while a bell rang. This attitude of deliberate confrontation with the conventional, rational expectations of the audience—to which the Dadaists juxtaposed their illogical, satirical productions—is defended by Tzara in his most famous polemical work, “Manifeste Dada 1918” (”Dada Manifesto 1918”), in which he asserts the meaninglessness of Dada and its refusal to offer a road to truth. To escape the machinery of human rationality, the Dadaists substituted a faith in spontaneity, incorporating the incongruous and accidental into their works. Even the name by which the Dadaists called themselves was chosen rather arbitrarily. According to most accounts (although this report is subject to intense difference of opinion among Dadaists), it was Tzara himself who chose the word dada, in February of 1916, by opening a French dictionary to a randomly selected entry. Tzara’s achievements are not limited solely to his leadership in the Dada movement . 260

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Until recently , Tzara’s later work—which is more optimistic in tone and more controlled in technique—has been overshadowed by his more violent and sensational work from the Dada period. It is now becoming apparent to many readers and critics that the Surrealist phase of Tzara’s work, the little-known work of his post-Surrealist phase , and his early pre-Dada work in Romanian, are equally important in considering his contribution to modern literature. In the 1970’s and 1980’s, largely through the work of editors and translators such as Mary Ann Caws, Henrí Behar, and Sasa Pan1, this work became more readily available. Biography Tristan Tzara, whose real name was Sami Rosenstock, was born on April 4, 1896, in Moinelti, a small town in the province of B1c1u, in northeastern Romania. His parents were Jewish, his father a prosperous merchant. Tzara first attended school in Moinelti, where Romanian was spoken, but later, when he was sent to Bucharest for his secondary education, he attended schools where instruction was also given in French. In addition to languages, Tzara studied mathematics and music. Following his graduation in 1913, he attended the University of Bucharest for a year, taking courses in mathematics and philosophy. It was during this adolescent period, between 1911 and 1915, that all Tzara’s Romanian poems were written. His first published poems appeared in 1912 in Simbolul, a short-lived Symbolist review that he helped to edit. These first four poems were signed with the pseudonym S. Samyro. The subsequent poems in Romanian that Tzara published during this period were often signed simply “Tristan” or “Tzara,” and it was not until near the end of this period, in 1915, that the first Romanian poem signed “Tristan Tzara” appeared. In the fall of 1915, Tzara went to Zurich, in neutral Switzerland, where he became involved with a group of writers and artists—including Hugo Ball, Richard Huelsenbeck, Marcel Janco, and Hans Arp—who were in the process of forming an artistic movement soon to be called Dada. This period, between Tzara’s arrival in Zurich in the fall of 1915 and February of 1916, was the germinating period of the Dada movement. The Dadaists’ first public announcement of the birth of a new movement in the arts took place at the Cabaret Voltaire on the evening of February 5, 1916—the occasion of the first of many such Dada soirees. These entertainments included presentations such as “simultaneous poems,” which confronted the audience with a chaotic barrage of words made incomprehensible by the din; recitations of “pure sound-poems,” often made up of African-sounding nonsense syllables and recited by a chorus of masked dancers; satirical plays that accused and insulted the audience; and, always, the ceaseless manifestos promoting the Dada revolt against conformity. Tzara’s work during this period was written almost entirely in French, and from this time on he used that language exclusively for his literary productions. 261

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As the activities of the Zurich Dadaists gradually attracted notice in other countries, especially Germany and France, Tzara’s own fame as an artist spread to an increasingly larger audience. The spread of Dada’s fame from Zurich to other centers of avant-garde activity in Europe was aided by the journal Dada, edited by Tzara and featuring many of his most provocative works. Although this journal lasted only through five issues, it did draw the attention of Guillaume Apollinaire in Paris, and through him the devoted admiration of André Breton, who was later to be one of the leaders of the Surrealist movement. At Breton’s urging, Tzara left Zurich shortly after the Armistice was declared, arriving in Paris in December of 1919. For a short period between January of 1920, when the first public Dada performance in Paris was held, and May of 1921, when Breton broke his association with Tzara to assume the leadership of the developing Surrealist movement, Breton and Tzara organized an increasingly outrageous series of activities that frequently resulted in public spectacles. Following Breton’s break with the Dada group, Tzara continued to stage public performances in Paris for a time, collaborating with those who remained loyal to the Dada revolt. By July of 1923, however, when the performance of his play The Gas Heart was disrupted by a Surrealist counter demonstration, even Tzara regretfully admitted that Dada was effectively dead, a victim of its own destructive impulses. Tzara gave up the Dada ideal reluctantly and continued to oppose the Surrealists until 1929, when he joined the Paris Surrealist group, accepting Breton’s leadership. Tzara’s resumption of activities with Breton’s group was also accompanied by an increasing move toward political engagement. The same year that he joined the Surrealists, Tzara visited the Soviet Union, and the following year, in 1930, the Surrealists indicated their dedication to the Communist International by changing the name of their own journal, La Révolution surréaliste, to Le Surréalisme au service de la révolution. For Tzara, this political commitment seemed to be a natural outgrowth of his initial revolt, for, as he wrote later in Le Surréalisme et l’aprèsguerre: “Dada was born . . . from the deep feeling that man . . . must affirm his supremacy over notions emptied of all human substance, over dead objects and ill-gotten gains.” In 1935, Tzara broke with the Surrealists to devote himself entirely to the work of the Communist Party, which he officially joined at this time. From 1935 to 1937, he was involved in assisting the Republican forces in the Spanish Civil War, salvaging art treasures and serving on the Committee for the Defense of Culture. This political engagement continued during World War II, with Tzara serving in the French Resistance, all the time continuing to publish his work, despite widespread censorship, under the pseudonym T. Tristan. In 1946 and 1947, he delivered the lectures that make up Le Surréalisme et l’après-guerre, in which he made his controversial assessment of Surrealism’s failure to influence Europe effectively between the wars. In 1955, Tzara published À haute flamme (at full flame), a long poetic reminiscence in which he reviewed the stages of his lifelong revolt and reaffirmed his revolutionary aesthetic. Tzara contin262

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ued to affirm the authenticity of his position until his death in Paris at the age of sixtyseven, a victim of lung cancer. Analysis Whatever else Tristan Tzara was—Dada instigator and polemicist, marginal Surrealist, Communist activist, or Romanian expatriate—his great skill as a poet is abundantly apparent. At his death, Tzara left behind a vast body of poems, extremely diverse in style, content, and tone. Important features of his work are his innovations in poetic technique and his development of a highly unified system of symbolic imagery. The first of these features includes the use of pure sound elements, descriptive ideophones, expressive typography, enjambment that creates complex syntactic ambiguities, and multiple viewpoints resulting in a confusing confluence of speaking voices. The second important feature includes such elements as Tzara’s use of recurring verbal motifs and refrains, ironic juxtapositions, and recurring image clusters. Tzara’s earliest period extends from 1911 to 1915 and includes all the poetry he wrote in his native Romanian. Until recently, little attention has been given to Tzara’s Romanian poetry. Several Romanian critics have noted the decisive but unacknowledged influence on Tzara of the Romanian poet Urmuz (1883-1923), virtually unknown in the West, who anticipated the strategies of Dada and Surrealism. Much of Tzara’s early work, however, is relatively traditional in technique, although it must be remembered that this period represents his poetic apprenticeship and that the poems were written when he was between the ages of fifteen and nineteen. The poetry of this period often displays a curiously ambivalent tone, mixing a detached ironic perspective—which is sometimes gently sarcastic and at other times bitterly resentful—with an uncritically sentimental nostalgia for the past. In some of the poems, one of these two moods dominates, as in Tzara’s bitterly ironic treatment of war’s destructive effect on the innocence of youth in “The Storm and the Deserter’s Song” and “Song of War,” or the romantic lyricism of such highly sentimental idylls on nature as “Elegy for the Coming of Winter” and “Evening Comes.” Primele Poème The most successful poems of this period—later collected as Primele Poème—are those which mix nostalgia with irony, encompassing both attitudes within a single poem. The best example of this type of poem is “Sunday,” whose conventional images of leisurely activities that occupy the inhabitants of a town on the Sabbath are contrasted with the bitter reflections of the alienated poet-speaker who observes the scene. The scene seems idyllic enough at first, presenting images of domestic tranquillity. Then the reflecting consciousness of the alienated speaker intrudes, introducing images that contrast darkly with and shatter the apparently false impression he himself has just created. Into the scene of comfortable regularity, three new and disturbing elements appear: the 263

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inescapable presence of death in wartime, the helplessness of parents to protect their children from danger, and the futility of art stagnated by Decadence. Vingt-cinq Poèmes This mixture of sentimental lyricism with ironic detachment is developed to an even greater degree in Tzara’s first collection of poems in French, Vingt-cinq Poèmes (twenty-five poems), a collection that, although published after he had already arrived in Zurich, still resembles in technique and content the early Romanian poems. In “Petite Ville en Sibérie” (“Little Town in Siberia”), there are a number of new elements, the most important of which are Tzara’s use of typography for expressive purposes, the complex syntactic ambiguity created by enjambment, the rich confluence of narrative voices, and the appearance of images employing illogical juxtapositions of objects and qualities: a blue light which flattens us together on the ceiling it’s as always comrade like a label of infernal doors pasted on a medicine bottle it’s the calm house tremble my friend

This disorienting confluence of voices is deliberate, and it evokes in the reader a futile desire to resolve the collage (based on the random conjunction of several separate discourses) into a meaningful and purposeful poetic statement. De nos oiseaux In Tzara’s second period—extending from 1916 until 1924—he produced the Dadaist works which brought him international fame. To the collage technique developed in Vingt-cinq Poèmes, the poems that make up De nos oiseaux (of our birds)—the major collection from this period—introduce several innovations, including pure sound elements such as African- sounding nonsense words, repeated phrases, descriptive ideophones, use of multiple typefaces, and catalogs of discrete, separable images piled one upon the other. Tzara’s collage technique has become more radical in these poems, for instead of simply using the juxtaposition of speaking voices for creating ironic detachment, in the Dada poems the narrative itself breaks down entirely into a chaotic barrage of discontinuous fragments that often seem to lack any discursive sense. These features are readily apparent in “La Mort de Guillaume Apollinaire” (“The Death of Guillaume Apollinaire”) and “Les Saltimbanques” (“The Circus Performers”), two of the best poems from De nos oiseaux. “The Death of Guillaume Apollinaire” In his Dadaist elegy for Apollinaire, Tzara begins with a series of propositions that not only establish the resigned mood of the speaker but also express the feeling of disor264

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der created in the reader by the poem itself. A simple admission of man’s inability to comprehend his situation in the world is followed by a series of images that seem designed to convey the disparity the speaker senses between a world which is unresponsive to human needs (the unfortunate death of Apollinaire at such an early age is no doubt one aspect of this) and a world in which he could feel comfortable (and presumably learn to accept the death of his beloved friend): if snow fell upward if the sun rose in our houses in the middle of the night just to keep us warm and the trees hung upsidedown with their crowns . . . if birds came down to us to find reflections of themselves in those peaceful lakes lying just above our heads THEN WE MIGHT UNDERSTAND that death could be a beautiful long voyage and a permanent vacation from flesh from structures systems and skeletons

The images of this poem constitute a particularly good illustration of Tzara’s developing symbolic system. Although the images of snow falling upward, the sun rising at night, trees hanging upside down, and birds coming to earth at first appear unrelated to one another, they are actually related in two ways. First, Tzara is describing processes within the totality of nature which give evidence that “nature is organized in its totality.” Humanity’s sorrow over the inescapable cycles of life and death, of joy and suffering, is caused by a failure to understand that humans, too, are a part of this totality. Second, Tzara’s images suggest that if one’s perspective could only be reversed, one would see the reality of things properly. This method of presenting arguments in nondiscursive, imagistic terms was one of Tzara’s primary poetic accomplishments, and the uses to which he put it in this elegy for Apollinaire were later expanded and developed in the epic scope of his masterpiece, Approximate Man, and Other Writings. “The Circus Performers” “The Circus Performers” illustrates Tzara’s increasing use of pure sound elements in his work. The images of this poem attempt to capture the exciting rhythms of the circus performance that Tzara is describing. In the opening vignette of the poem, in what seems at first an illogical sequence of statements, Tzara merges the expanding and contracting rhythm of the verses with his characteristic use of imagery to convey thought in analogical, nondiscursive terms. Describing a ventriloquist’s act, Tzara uses an image that links “brains,” “balloons,” and “words.” In this image, “brains” seems to be a metonymic substitution for ideas or thoughts—that which is expressed by “words.” 265

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Here the brains themselves are inflating and deflating, as are the balloons. What is the unstated analogical relation between the two? These words are treated like the words and thoughts of comic-strip characters—where words are enclosed in the “balloons” that represent mental space in newspaper cartoons. To help the reader more easily identify the analogy, Tzara has included an explanatory aside, enclosed in parentheses. A second example of Tzara’s use of sound in this poem is the presence of “ideophones”— words that imitate the sounds of the actions they describe. Pure sound images devoid of abstract meaning are scattered throughout the poem. Approximate Man, and Other Writings By all standards of judgment, Approximate Man, and Other Writings, a long epic in nineteen sections, is Tzara’s greatest poem. It was Tzara’s most sustained effort, its composition and extensive revisions occupying the poet between 1925 and 1931, the year that the final version appeared. Another important characteristic of the work is its epic scope, for Approximate Man, and Other Writings was Tzara’s attempt to discover the causes of modern humanity’s spiritual malaise, drawing on all the technical resources he had developed up to the time of its composition. The most important feature of the poem, however, is its systematic presentation of Tzara’s revolutionary ideology, which had begun to reflect, in a guarded form, the utopian vision of Surrealism. Approximate Man, and Other Writings is about the intrusion of disorder into modern life, and it focuses on the effects of this disorder on the individual. Throughout the poem, Tzara makes it clear that what he is describing is a general disorder or sickness, not a personal crisis. This is one of the key ideas that is constantly repeated in the form of a refrain: “approximate man like me like you reader and like the others/ heap of noisy flesh and echoes of conscience/ complete in the only element of choice your name.” The most important aspect of the poem’s theme is Tzara’s diagnosis of the causes of this debilitating universal sickness, since this indicates in a striking way his newly found attitude of commitment. The first cause of humanity’s sickness is the very condition of being “approximate.” Uncertain, changeable, or lacking commitment to any cause that might improve the world in which he lives, Approximate Man wanders aimlessly. For Tzara, the lost key for curing the sickness is commitment, as Tzara himself declared his commitment to the work of the Communist Party in 1935, shortly after the completion of this poem. Humanity’s sickness arises not only from inauthentic relationships with others but also from an exploitative attitude toward nature—an attitude encouraged by the development of modern technology. In Tzara’s view, this modern belief in humanity’s preeminent importance in the universe is a mistaken one, as is evident in “The Death of Guillaume Apollinaire,” and such vanity contributes to the spiritual sickness of humankind. Tzara finds a third cause of humanity’s spiritual sickness in humans’ increasing reli266

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ance on the products of their own alienated consciousness, especially reason and language. In Approximate Man, and Other Writings, Tzara’s efforts to describe this solipsistic entrapment of humans by their own systems gives rise to many striking images, as in the following passages: “vapor on the cold glass you block your own image from your/ sight/ tall and insignificant among the glazed frost jewels/ of the landscape” and “I think of the warmth spun by the word/ around its center the dream called ourselves.” These images argue that human reason is like a mirror in which the reflection is clouded by the observer’s physical presence, and that human language is like a silken cocoon that insulates people from the external world of reality. Both reason and language, originally created to assist humans, have become debased, and to attain a more accurate picture of the world, humans must learn to rely on instinct and imagination. These three ideas, which find their fullest expression in Approximate Man, and Other Writings, form the basis of Tzara’s mature poetic vision and constitute the most sustained expression of his critique of the modern sensibility. Other major works plays: Mouchoir de nuages, pb. 1924 (Handkerchief of Clouds, 1972); Le Coeur à gaz, pb. 1946 (wr. 1921; The Gas Heart, 1964); La Fuite, pb. 1947. nonfiction: Sept Manifestes Dada, 1924 (wr. 1917-1918; Seven Dada Manifestos, 1977); Le Surréalisme et l’après-guerre, 1947; L’Art Océanien, 1951; Picasso et la poésie, 1953; L’Égypte face à face, 1954; Lampisteries, 1963 (English translation, 1977). miscellaneous: Œuvres complètes, 1975-1991 (6 volumes). Bibliography Browning, Gordon Frederick. Tristan Tzara: The Genesis of the Dada Poem: Or, From Dada to Aa. Stuttgart, Germany: Akademischer Verlag Heinz, 1979. A critical study of Tzara’s Dada poems. Includes bibliographical references. Caws, Mary Ann. Introduction to Approximate Man, and Other Writings, by Tristan Tzara. Translated by Mary Ann Caws. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1973. This book is an excellent selection of English translations of Tzara’s poetry, and the introduction provides a helpful guide to each phase of his work. ________, ed. Surrealist Painters and Poets: An Anthology. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2001. Contains translations of several prose pieces by Tzara as well as works by many of his contemporaries, providing an overview of the context in which he operated. Includes many illustrations. Forcer, Stephen. Modernist Song: The Poetry of Tristan Tzara. Leeds, England: Legenda, 2006. Traces Tzara’s development and changing poetry from his early works to publications in the 1950’s. Marcus, Greil. Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the Twentieth Century. 1989. 20th 267

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anniversary ed. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press, 2009. A highly original and accessible study of nihilistic movements in art, music, and literature, from Dada to punk rock. Tzara is only one of many figures discussed here, but this book deserves mention because of its broad historical scope and excellent analysis of the relationship between popular culture and the avant-garde. Motherwell, Robert, and Jack D. Flam, eds. The Dada Painters and Poets: An Anthology. 2d ed. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1989. A collection of Dada documents including journals, reviews, and manifestos that hold valuable biographical and historical details of the life and work of Tzara. Peterson, Elmer. Tristan Tzara: Dada and Surrational Theorist. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1971. A study of Tzara’s aesthetics. Includes bibliographical references. Richter, Hans. Dada: Art and Anti-Art. New York: Thames & Hudson, 1997. Through selections from key manifestos and other documents of the time, Richter records Dada’s history, from its beginnings in wartime Zurich to its collapse in the Paris of the 1920’s. Sandqvist, Tom. Dada East: The Romanians of Cabaret Voltaire. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2006. Looks at Dadaism in Romania, where Tzara was born. Steven E. Colburn

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MIHÁLY VÖRÖSMARTY Born: Kápolnásnyék, Hungary; December 1, 1800 Died: Pest, Hungary; November 19, 1855 Principal poetry Zalán futása, 1825 Minden munkái, 1864 (12 volumes) Összes munkái, 1884-1885 (8 volumes) Összes m±vei, 1960-1979 (18 volumes) Other literary forms Although best known for his lyric and epic poetry, which constitutes six of the eighteen volumes of the critical edition of his works published in 1979, Mihály Vörösmarty (VUH-ruhsh-mor-tee) was also an important dramatist during the formative years of the Hungarian theater. His Romantic historical dramas are seldom performed today, but they still present enjoyable reading for students of the period. On the other hand, his Csongor és Tünde (pr. 1830; Csongor and Tünde), a fairy play having strong philosophical overtones and bearing the influence of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (pr. c. 1595-1596), is regularly staged and has been translated into several languages. In order to nurture the fledgling Hungarian National Theater, Vörösmarty ably translated the classics: His Hungarian renderings of Shakespeare’s King Lear (pr. c. 1605-1606) in 1856 and Julius Caesar (pr. c. 1599-1600) in 1848 are unsurpassed to this day. Through his theoretical and critical writings, Vörösmarty was influential in defining the aesthetic issues of his times and in encouraging the emerging trends of Romanticism and populism. As an editor or associate of several of the period’s most important journals, he introduced and encouraged the talents of young artists, including the twentyone-year-old Sándor Pet¹fi, thus greatly enriching the literature of Hungary. He also authored and compiled a number of dictionaries, grammars, and handbooks for the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. His extensive correspondence provides invaluable documentation of the period’s political and cultural life. Achievements Born into what is considered one of the most exciting and eventful periods in the political and cultural development of Hungary, Mihály Vörösmarty made a significant contribution to nearly every aspect of his nation’s intellectual life. Vörösmarty began his literary career fully committed to classical ideals, and he never lost his admiration 269

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for the craftsmanship of the Greek and Latin poets, but he soon fell under the influence of the prevailing literary trend, Romanticism. Calls for national revival were sounding all over the Continent, and in Hungary such calls were perhaps louder and more impatient than elsewhere. Vörösmarty became one of the most enthusiastic and effective of the reformers, and he served their cause with his literary as well as his political activities. Two specific characteristics of his oeuvre distinguish him from his contemporaries: As a descendant of the nobility, he remained bewildered and somewhat repulsed by the idea of mass movements. This background made him a reluctant and pessimistic advocate of radical democratic transformation and somewhat colored the sincerity of his social proclamations. However, he was able to progress beyond the limitations of his nationalistic contemporaries at a surprisingly young age, and by the 1830’s, he was able to view the fate of Hungary in a more inclusive context. In his best philosophical poems (few of which have been translated into English), he speaks with total conviction and determination about the future of humankind. Vörösmarty’s mature poetry is remarkably free of the feelings of inferiority and ethnocentricity that had often characterized the works of earlier Hungarian poets. Biography As the oldest of nine children in a noble but impoverished Roman Catholic family in western Hungary, Mihály Vörösmarty could obtain a higher education only with the help of wealthy patrons. After attending the gymnasium at Székesfehérvár and Pest, and losing his father when he was seventeen, he had to accept the post of private tutor with the aristocratic Perczel family. At the same time, he continued his studies toward a law degree. These years of servitude and the hopeless love he felt for his employer’s daughter left marks of sensitivity, wariness, and pessimism on his character. In 1823, Vörösmarty obtained a position as a law clerk while maintaining his post with the Perczel family. He had been writing poetry and drama since he was fifteen, and the lively company of his peers contributed to the further development of his talent, making him conscious of the importance of patriotic literature. During this time, he also made contact with the restless noblemen of the countryside who were conducting a determined campaign of resistance in the face of the absolutist Viennese government. Under their influence, Vörösmarty wrote the first of his anti-Habsburg poems and a number of expressive, complex historical dramas. The memory of unhappy love and the realization of limitations placed on him by a rigidly structured society continued to haunt him, and in 1826, he left the Perczel household. His goal to “become an independent man and a writer” was instrumental in his decision to settle in Buda, which was emerging as the cultural center of Hungary. Faced with squalor and the indifference of the reading public, he was on the verge of giving up his literary activities and setting up a law practice when he was offered the editorship of the Tudományos Gyüjtemény, one of 270

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the most prestigious journals in Hungary. He edited this publication and its supplement, the Koszorú, from 1828 to 1832. While this provided him with a steady income, the drudgery of the work and disheartening political developments occurring at the time made his voice somber and pessimistic. During the early years of the 1830’s, the Reform movement gained new momentum, and the cultural life of Hungary was also invigorated by the publication of Aurora, the first genuine literary monthly, edited by József Bajza, Ferenc Toldy, and Vörösmarty. The poet’s financial situation had improved. His works were regularly published, he won several literary prizes, and in 1830, he became an elected (and paid) member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. He contributed significantly to the linguistic, orthographic, and lexicographic publications of the academy, was instrumental in the democratization of its bylaws, and remained active in public life, largely through the journals Athenaeum and Figyelmez¹, which became the arbiters of Hungarian cultural and literary affairs. His cautious stand on political reforms notwithstanding, he attracted the suspicion of the Habsburg police. When the first permanent Hungarian theatrical company became active in Buda in 1833, there was an urgent need for original Hungarian dramas. Vörösmarty enthusiastically supported this company and contributed five successful plays in as many years. His activities as a dramatist and critic were instrumental in the development of the Hungarian theater. In 1836, Vörösmarty and a small circle of intellectuals founded the Kisfaludy Társaság, named after the recently deceased Károly Kisfaludy, the first professional writer-poet of Hungary, who had played a significant role in making the twin communities of Buda and Pest, the cultural center of the country. The 1830’s witnessed the full development of political lyricism in Vörösmarty’s work. Among other writings, he produced more than 150 incisive epigrams which demonstrated his commitment to a course of sensible reforms and revealed his acute sensitivity to the public and aesthetic issues of the times. The 1840’s were the most eventful years in Vörösmarty’s life. In 1842, to the consternation of his friends, he married the eighteen-year-old Laura Csajághy. Theirs was a successful and happy marriage, and they had four children. The livelier political atmosphere and the liberalizing tendencies of the decade encouraged and motivated him, while the impending specter of a revolution occasionally filled him with doubt and foreboding. Lajos Kossuth, Ferenc Deák, and Miklós Wesselényi, the leaders of the Hungarian independence struggle, were among his friends, and he was elected president of the National Circle, one of the centers of political activity. His participation in aesthetic debates was reduced somewhat, but his prestige and influence enabled him to help the younger generation of poets and writers to gain recognition; for example, he was first to publish the works of the young Pet¹fi, the foremost Hungarian lyric poet. After the revolution of March 15, 1848, Vörösmarty took an active part in political 271

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activities, wholeheartedly supporting the policies of Kossuth. He obtained a seat in the Chamber of Deputies, and later, during the months of armed struggle, was appointed judge by the independent Hungarian government. Hungary’s defeat in the War of Independence crushed Vörösmarty; after several months in hiding, he reported to the imperial authorities, who, after an investigation, cleared him in 1850. Disappointed and disillusioned, Vörösmarty concentrated on providing a livelihood for his family. Since he was only marginally successful as a landowner, he was often forced to accept the charity of his supporters. Finding himself unable to resume fully his literary activities, he produced only a few bitter, tragically prophetic laments and elegies and turned more and more to alcohol for consolation. In 1855, his deteriorating health forced him to move to Pest, where he died two days after his arrival. The Habsburg authorities took every measure to quell any popular outpouring of sympathy; in spite of this, Vörösmarty’s funeral turned into the first mass demonstration against Austrian rule since 1849. His friends, through private correspondence, were able to collect a sizable amount to provide for the widow and children of the poet. Analysis Mihály Vörösmarty experimented with versification as a teenager, and he was amazed and overjoyed when he discovered that the Hungarian language was readily adaptable to the requirements of metrical poetry. Because the early decades of the nineteenth century were considered the golden age of literary classicism in Hungary, and because Vörösmarty’s education at the gymnasium was also heavily classical, it is not surprising that he produced a great number of odes, epigrams, and other verse forms patterned after the poets of antiquity. The other important influence in his early youth was an all-pervasive patriotism, which obliged him to produce a number of historical epics. In these, he demonstrated a naïve view of Hungarian nobility and its relationship to the king, attributing any conflicts between the two to personal rivalries and the divisive intrigue of (usually foreign) courtiers. Zalán futása The work that stands out among his early creations and that made him a nationally known poet was Zalán futása (the flight of Zalán), a heroic epic in ten cantos, completed in 1825. Vörösmarty successfully combined the treatment of a major Hungarian literary motif with the use of polished classical hexameters, while putting into practice his conviction that the depiction of epochal events from the nation’s history was an excellent way to reawaken a national consciousness in nineteenth century Hungarians. He also revived the genre of the heroic epic in Hungarian literature, paralleling the activities of Miklós Zrínyi (1620-1664). Vörösmarty’s work is a patriotic epic, notwithstanding its many interpolated lyrics, which relate episodes of love, fulfilled or unrequited—recounting how the chieftain Árpád and his Hungarians (Magyars) achieved victory in 272

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896 over the Slavic settlers of the Danubian basin. Medieval chronicles discovered in the eighteenth century provided much of Vörösmarty’s source material; he also drew on the Ossianic ballads and nationalistic literature of the time. For nineteenth century Hungarians, Zalán futása derived its significance from an insistent tone that ran throughout its descriptions of battle scenes, war councils, and military preparations. Vörösmarty urged his generation of “indolent, soft, and lethargic” Hungarians to emulate Árpád and his heroic warriors. The epic is not, however, a call to arms, but rather a summons to patriotism. Indeed, what makes it enjoyable reading today is that its message, although outdated, is expressed not in strident, ethnocentric proclamations, but in a personal, elegiac voice, gently chiding rather than criticizing the weak descendants of mighty forefathers. Vörösmarty’s deeply felt convictions are given full expression through the magic of language (a reformed and rejuvenated Hungarian) and style (a seductively personal blend of classical forms and pre-Romantic turns). Even in this, his best-known epic creation, Vörösmarty was essentially a lyric rather than an epic poet. The classical influence always remained discernible in Vörösmarty’s works: He continued to reject the effusive rhetoric of fashionable poetry, to defend pure sentiment from the inroads of mere sentimentality, and to seek an ultimate rationale behind humankind’s existence and the course of human history. At the same time, he could not resist Romanticism, especially since it emphasized the role of the individual, the power of the supernatural, and the incomprehensible and erratic nature of human events—traits that made Romanticism especially attractive to Hungarians. Even in his early works, Vörösmarty had exhibited an exalted manner of expression and an unusual breadth of vision; these are elements of his natural pre-Romantic disposition. In Zalán futása, however, he reveals even more of his Romanticism, in the frequency of intimate episodes, the role of Titans and fairies, and the depiction of earthy love affairs, while in form, structure, and the presentation of his central characters, he strictly conforms to classical requirements. Use of folk traditions Around the end of the 1820’s, the liberal intelligentsia of Hungary began to turn toward the commoners in their search for allies against Habsburg oppression. The clearest thinkers among them also realized that the cultural regeneration of the country could not be accomplished without the adoption and utilization of folk traditions, especially folk literature. The wave of literary populism, so eloquently promoted by Johann G. Herder and the Grimm brothers in Germany, made rapid gains in Hungary. From the first decades of the nineteenth century, the poets made it one of their goals to be able to write in the manner of folk songs or, indeed, to write “folk songs.” Vörösmarty’s works in this genre resembled the genuine article more closely than did those of his contemporaries. He was intimately familiar with life in rural Hungary and was able to use the expressions 273

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of the villagers with ease. His folk songs include didactic lyrics placed in the mouths of his populist heroes, as well as lyrical passages that express his own feelings. An excellent example of the latter is “Haj, száj, szem” (“Hair, Lips, Eyes”), a flirty outpouring of infatuation that imaginatively mirrors the sentiments expressed in one of the popular songs of the time. In adapting the direct and unaffected voice of the Hungarian people to formal literature, Vörösmarty was the direct forerunner of the most brilliant Hungarian populist poet, Pet¹fi. Csongor és Tünde Csongor és Tünde, a fairy play in five acts, completed in 1830, profited greatly from Vörösmarty’s use of populist elements. It tells the story of two lovers who, after becoming separated, overcome a number of earthly and mythical temptations and obstacles in order to be reunited. Beyond this, however, the play is a dramatic tale with philosophical and allegorical overtones. Csongor seeks not only his own happiness but the fulfillment of humankind as well. The setting of his sojourn is the entire earth; the three wanderers whom he meets represent the worst of negative human traits, while the monologue of Night reveals the course of human history. The story has a moral: Greed, conquest, and the desire for abstract knowledge do not necessarily bring happiness; on the contrary, they can be destructive. Vörösmarty based Csongor és Tünde on a sixteenth century epic, the Story of Prince Argirus, which had survived as cheap popular entertainment. Nevertheless, the play has remained enjoyable and worthy of the stage. This may be because it presents a romantic panorama of the world, with everyday figures, conspiracy, jealousy, evil, and the drunkenness of lust. It is presented in harmonic unity and speaks in a popular, expressive language. The formal elements of classicism are present: The humorous passages are set in rhymed or unrhymed trochaic tetrameters, while the words of wisdom are spoken in iambic pentameters and hexameters. At the same time, Vörösmarty made judicious use of folkloric elements by introducing witches, fairies, trees with golden apples, the realms of Dawn and Night, and even the sons of the Devil fighting over their inheritance. The two heroes have their earthly counterparts in their escorts, whose realism provides a sober counterpoint to the idealism of Csongor. Somber outlook Crises and disillusionments were not infrequent in Vörösmarty’s life. For more than ten years, he carried the memory of a youthful love doomed to failure by the values of a society based on titles and wealth. The poet never became a revolutionary, but his belief in rational, deliberate progress under the leadership of his class, the liberal nobility, was severely shaken. Much of his pessimism and sense of inferiority resulted from this early failure. Although he later successfully courted and married a woman twenty-four years his junior, dark thoughts and doubts continued to surface in his poems. Vörösmarty was 274

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also sensitive to the events of public life, which are reflected in the violently alternating emotions of his poems. He glowed with energy and optimism when the dynamism of the political scene and the liberalization of public discussions seemed to justify his faith in progress. At other times, such as when the assembly of Hungarian noblemen had disbanded without solving the problems entrusted to their care or when the cause of Polish independence was dealt a serious blow by the Austrian-inspired Galician peasant rebellion, his outlook became somber, and he wrote dark poems about the hopelessness of the human condition. “Az emberek” (“Mankind”) posits malevolent intellect and the misguided anger of the masses as the two greatest obstacles to the fulfillment of humanity’s dreams. “The Summons” In 1836, Vörösmarty wrote his best-known political poem, “Szózat” (“The Summons”). It appeared at a time when the outcome of the sharpening struggle between Vienna and the Hungarian reformers was undecided and when the Habsburg counteroffensive against the Hungarian independence movement was discouraging many of the more cautious liberals. Vörösmarty wrote what could be considered an affirmation of faith in the future of Hungary, but his scope was no longer narrowly nationalistic. With an enlarged and refined historical consciousness, he placed the fate of his country in the context of world history. The best and most promising characters of Hungary’s history are invoked and made part of the new Hungarian course of action, in which the possibility of compromise is not mentioned. This is not a call to the weak, shiftless descendants of long-dead heroes; in the meticulously rhymed lines of this Romantic ode, which became the second national anthem of Hungary, the historical consciousness of a small but unbroken nation is proclaimed before the world. Sociopolitical content Throughout the 1830’s, the voice of Vörösmarty’s lyricism steadily grew stronger, though at the expense of his epic output. In more than a hundred epigrams, he demonstrated that there was no aspect of national life that escaped his attention. After 1835, he turned to the women of Hungary, a hitherto largely ignored segment of the population, and encouraged them to become active participants in the nation’s cultural life. In the 1840’s, the course of political events accelerated, adding new depth to the social content of Vörösmarty’s poems. Inexperienced Hungarian leaders were thwarted by indecisiveness and internal squabbles. Vörösmarty seldom participated in these destructive recriminations , but his poems reveal the acute struggle raging within him. “Gutenberg Albumba” (“For the Gutenberg Album”) greets the decade on an accusatory note; according to Vörösmarty, the world is not deserving of the great heritage of Johann Gutenberg, inventor of the printing press. In “Liszt Ferenchez” (“To Ferenc Liszt “), he continues to broaden his concept of progress, striking the tones of a proud 275

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citizen of the world. His 1843 poem “Honszeretet” (“Patriotism”) proposes the elimination of noble privileges and the cultivation of a strong bourgeoisie, with special stress on the full political and social equality of the common people. “Gondolatok a könyvtárban” (“Thoughts in the Library”) recapitulates Vörösmarty’s ideas and states his political creed. It may also be considered the greatest document of the struggle with conscience experienced by nearly all nineteenth century Hungarian liberals. The poem starts with a passionate accusation aimed at humanity, pointing to a “horrible lesson”: While millions are born into misery, only a few thousand enjoy the good life. Vörösmarty asks: “Where is the happiness of the majority?” In answer, the poet advocates the universal solidarity of humankind and continuous striving for a better future. Poet of national tragedy The bloodless and relatively nonviolent revolution of 1848 filled Vörösmarty with hope for the future; he greeted the freedom of the press, the institution of an accountable national government, and the abolition of serfdom with joyous and inspiring poems. As the reactionary circles of Austria planned to take stern measures against the Hungarian reformers, the poet began to have forebodings of tragedy and advised against rash, immoderate action. The counsel of confident Hungarian radicals, however, prevailed; there was a desperate armed struggle between the imperial forces and the small army of independent Hungary. By the autumn of 1849, the Hungarians were defeated, with the help of sizable Russian forces, and the worst forebodings of Vörösmarty were realized. Because he had actively supported the cause of “rebels,” Vörösmarty was forced into hiding to avoid the vengeance of the imperial military authorities. By 1850, he thought it advisable to turn himself in to the authorities, who dismissed his case after a brief investigation. The man was free, but the poet was fatally wounded, not only by the military defeat and the subsequent humiliation of his nation, but also by the loss of his friends (some of whom died on the battlefield, some of whom were imprisoned, and some of whom chose exile) and by the shattering of his hopes and beliefs. In the sterile atmosphere of absolutist control, there was hardly a trace left of Hungarian cultural life: Publications ceased, institutions were disbanded, and even the reading public lost its disposition to support Hungarian literature. Vörösmarty encountered serious problems supporting his family, and his literary activities suffered. Vörösmarty became “the poet of national tragedy,” reduced to expressions of hopelessness and grief over the fate of a nation that was being destroyed in full view of an “uncaring, indifferent world.” The obsessive power of this erstwhile lyric voice, however, reached new heights in “A vén cigány” (“The Old Gypsy”); completed about a year before the poet’s death, it became one of Vörösmarty’s most-recited poems. It was befitting that Vörösmarty chose the figure of an aged musician-entertainer to symbolize the fate of the Hungarian poet of the times. The poet looks toward the future of human276

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kind even while examining its present predicament and arrives at a mood of faint hopefulness only after having traversed the whirlpools of despair. In the process, the language and the association of the images have become almost demented, and the poet expresses with near-biblical intensity his exaltation and pain. Hope is not dead; in his swan song, the fatally broken poet calls for a “cleansing storm” to bring a better world and a genuine occasion for universal rejoicing. Other major works plays: Csongor és Tünde, pr. 1830; A kincskeresök, pr. 1833; Vérnász, pb. 1833; A fátyol titkai, pr. 1834; Arpád ébredése, pr. 1837; Marót Ban, pb. 1838; Julius Caesar, pr. 1848 (translation of William Shakespeare’s play); Lear király, pr. 1856 (translation of Shakespeare’s play). Bibliography Basa, Eniko Molnár, ed. Hungarian Literature. New York: Griffon House, 1993. A historical and critical analysis of Hungarian literature. Includes bibliographic references. Provides context for understanding Vörösmarty. Czigány, Lóránt, ed. The Oxford History of Hungarian Literature from the Earliest Times to the Present. Rev. ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 1986. Overview of Hungarian literature sheds light on Vörösmarty and Hungarian poetry. Jones, David Mervyn. Five Hungarian Writers. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press, 1966. Jones looks extensively at five prominent writers, including Vörösmarty, and their works’ significance both within and outside Hungarian literature. Makkai, Adam, ed. In Quest of the “Miracle Stag”: The Poetry of Hungary. Rev. ed. Chicago: Atlantis-Centaur, 2000. This anthology of Hungarian poetry contains a short biography of Vörösmarty and a number of his selected poems in translation. Mark, Thomas R. “The First Hungarian Translation of Shakespeare’s Complete Works.” Shakespeare Quarterly 16, no. 1 (Winter, 1965): 105-115. To fill what they saw as a void in Hungarian literature, Hungarian writers, including Vörösmarty, began translating William Shakespeare’s plays into the Hungarian language. Mark discusses a variety of results, such as the thirteen plays somewhat unsuccessfully translated by an eighteen-year-old woman, and Vörösmarty’s eloquent translation of Julius Caesar and King Lear. Murray, John Christopher, ed. Encyclopedia of the Romantic Era, 1760-1850. Vol. 2. New York: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2004. Contains a short analysis of Zalán futása. András Boros-Kazai

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ADAM WA?YK Born: Warsaw, Poland; November 17, 1905 Died: Warsaw, Poland; August 13, 1982 Principal poetry Semafory, 1924 Oczy i usta, 1926 Wiersze zebrane, 1934 Serce granatu, 1943 Wiersze wybrane, 1947 Nowy wybór wierszy, 1950 Widzialem Kraine Krodka, 1953 Wiersze, 1940-1953, 1953 Poemat dla doroslych i inne wiersze, 1956 Wiersze i poematy, 1957 Piosenka na rok 1949, 1959 Labirynt, 1961 Wagon, 1963 Wybór poezji, 1967 Zdarzenia, 1977 Wiersze wybrane, 1978 Other literary forms A cursory glance at the output of Adam Wa/yk (VAH-zeek) would suggest that he was a versatile writer who practiced all principal literary forms and pursued various interests. All his major works, however, refer in one way or another to his poetry, his poetic program, or his biography as a poet. Among his novels, for example, the most important one, Epizod (1961), is an autobiographical account of his participation in Polish avant-garde movements before World War II. His insightful essays, which cover a wide range of problems from Polish versification through the history of Romanticism to French Surrealism, seem to have one common denominator: They are various versions of Wa/yk’s continuous quest for his own poetic roots. His plays are a somewhat irrelevant part of his output. He attached greater importance to his numerous translations of poetry from French, Russian, and Latin into Polish, and indeed he ranks among the most outstanding Polish representatives of the art of translation. The broad scope of his interests in this field (at various times, he translated such disparate poets as Alexander Pushkin, Arthur Rimbaud, Aleksandr Blok, Guillaume Apollinaire, Max Jacob, Vladimir Mayakovsky, Paul Éluard, and Horace) reflects his constant search for a tradition and his changing conception of the role of poetry. 278

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Achievements Adam Wa/yk’s literary career falls very distinctly into three phases, which stand in sharp contrast as far as both their specific character and their later appreciation are concerned. His first two collections were acclaimed and still are regarded as highly original contributions to Polish avant-garde poetry of the 1920’s. After those promising beginnings, Wa/yk lapsed into silence as a poet, to resurface only in the 1940’s. His volume Serce granatu opened the second phase of his career, during which he appeared to be one of the staunchest promoters and supporters of Socialist Realism in poetry. This period, undoubtedly Wa/yk’s worst, came to an abrupt end in 1955 with the publication of his famous “Poemat dla dorosuych” (“Poem for Adults”), a harbinger of the antidogmatist renewal of Polish culture in the mid-1950’s. “Poem for Adults” remains Wa/yk’s best-known work, although it has been artistically surpassed by his later work. It is the last phase of his development that has come to be viewed as the most valuable. In his poems published in the 1960’s and 1970’s, Wa/yk in a certain sense returned to his poetic beginnings, but he also enriched his cubist method with a new significance resulting from his reflection on twentieth century history. His poetry can by no means be considered a relic of the past; on the contrary, its impact on contemporary Polish literature is increasingly appreciated. Biography Adam Wa/yk was born into a middle-class family of Jewish descent. After having been graduated from a Warsaw high school in 1924, he began to study mathematics at Warsaw University but soon found himself engrossed in the vigorous literary life of the 1920’s. He made his literary debut very early by publishing a poem in the monthly Skamander in 1922. He entered into closer contact, however, not with the influential and popular poetic group called Skamander but with its opponents, who formed various avant-garde groups. Wa/yk associated first with the Futurists (he was a coeditor of their publication, Almanach Nowej Sztuki) and later with the so-called Kraków Vanguard. His own position within those groups remained rather individual, however, and not fully consistent with their programs. In his two books of poems published in 1924 and 1926, he appeared as a Polish adherent to French cubism and Surrealism. In the 1930’s, he stopped writing poetry altogether and shifted to fiction, the most interesting example of which was his autobiographical novel Mity rodzinne (1938). The outbreak of World War II prompted a dramatic change both in Wa/yk’s life and in his art. In September, 1939, he arrived with other refugees at the city of Lvov, which soon fell prey to the Soviet invasion. Wa/yk joined those Polish intellectuals who decided to collaborate with Soviet authorities. In the early 1940’s, he lived in Saratov and Kuibyshev, where he was made an officer in the Polish army formed under Soviet auspices. In this capacity, he was in charge of cultural activities of the army, controlling its theater’s repertory and its radio programs as well as writing popular military songs. In 279

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1944, he returned to Poland with the rank of captain, with the Soviet-controlled Kokciuszko Division. In Stalinist Poland, Wa/yk was entrusted with various official functions: Among others, he served as secretary general of the Polish Writers’ Union; worked as an editor of the chief organ of Socialist Realism, the weekly Ku/nica; and between 1950 and 1954 served as editor in chief of the monthly Twórczok6. In 1953, he was awarded a State Literary Prize for his poetry and translations. On August 19, 1955, the weekly Nowa Kultura published Wa/yk’s long “Poem for Adults,” which immediately became the object of perhaps the fiercest political controversy in postwar Polish literature. Praised by advocates of the political and ideological “thaw,” the poem provoked, on the other hand, violent accusations from the Communist Party hard-liners and a number of officially sponsored public protests and condemnations; the editor in chief of Nowa Kultura lost his position in the wake of the Communist Party’s outrage. The poem, however, gained enormous popularity; it was under its influence that the new wave of “settling accounts” with Stalinist ideology soon emerged to dominate Polish literary life for the next several years. The last decades of the poet’s life were spent mostly in Warsaw, where in the 1960’s and 1970’s Wa/yk wrote and published numerous collections of poems, essays, and poetic translations as well as his only postwar novel, Epizod. His gradual withdrawal from public life was counterpoised by his growing recognition as a writer. Analysis In Adam Wa/yk’s poetic career, there were two dramatic turnabouts, the first of which can be described as vehement acceptance of the doctrine of Socialist Realism and the other as its equally vehement rejection. Thus, the middle segment of his work forms a strictly demarcated enclave that does not seem to have anything in common either with Wa/yk’s avant-garde beginnings or with his last phase. There is an apparent discontinuity, then, and only a closer look allows the reader to discern a hidden logic in Wa/yk’s development. As a young poet, Wa/yk was obsessed with one of the central problems of twentieth century psychology: the problem of the discontinuity of perception. Under the influence of the art and poetry of the French cubists, he discovered that the overall perception of an object is, in fact, twofold: The final impression of a whole is preceded by the act of perceiving its separate elements. Accordingly, his early poetry focused on that first stage of the act of perception by showing the world as a mosaic of stray fragments of everyday reality, put together by the means of syntactic juxtaposition. Such a perception of reality as a discrete sequence of its elements was a major source of lyrical illumination. It was, however, a source of growing doubt and increasing anxiety as well. Discontinuity meant also disorder, lack of hierarchy, and the absence of any system of values. It is deeply significant that the young Wa/yk was not able to identify fully either with the 280

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Futurists (whose anarchism he repudiated) or with the Kraków Vanguard (whose program of constructivism he considered naïve and overly optimistic). The twentieth century seemed to have brought liberation from oppressive rationalism, but what in the 1920’s had appeared as a refreshing sense of freedom was, in the 1930’s, already acquiring a threatening suggestion of chaos. Therefore, in Wa/yk’s prewar poetry the technique of loose juxtapositions paradoxically coincides with an explicit craving for some undefined “order” that only the future might bring. In the 1930’s, apparently unable to reconcile those two opposite tendencies, he discarded poetry altogether. It was only Wa/yk’s acceptance of Communist ideology that, a decade later, allowed him to resume writing poetry. Communism offered him a new, seemingly consistent and comprehensive vision of his dreamed-of “order.” He could not, however, return to his previous stylistic manner: The new belief could be expressed only by the means of utterly regular, classical forms. Such a marriage of Communism and classicism was, incidentally, not quite unprecedented in Polish poetry, to mention only the work of Lucjan Szenwald. Wa/yk pushed that tendency to its extremes: He not only, to use the words of Mayakovsky, “stepped on the throat of his song,” but also assumed, as it were, a totally new artistic identity. The former avant-garde experimenter changed into a classicist; the turbulent youth became a poet official and member of the establishment; the cubist turned into a Socialist Realist. In the 1940’s and early 1950’s, Wa/yk’s painstaking efforts to create his own version of Stalinist classicism yielded, however, rather uneven results. A few of the poems written in that period achieve an uneasy marriage of stylistic allusions to Horace with propaganda slogans, but the majority of them appear today as embarrassing examples of downright didacticism and blatant whitewash, made even worse by Wa/yk’s propensity for using journalistic clichés and monotonous rhythms. “Poem for Adults” The literary audience of the 1950’s, which knew Wa/yk as an official poet of Stalinism and a relentless exterminator of “bourgeois” tendencies in Polish culture, was, therefore, completely astounded by the 1955 publication of his “Poem for Adults.” In this long poetic manifesto, Wa/yk not only returned to his prewar methods of discontinuous presentation, juxtaposition, and free verse, but also gave vent to his bitter political disillusionment and moral perplexity. Instead of prophesying the rosy future, he again—as in his early phase—focused his attention on particulars of everyday reality. This time, however, such a perspective led to more disquieting conclusions: The scrupulous, unflinching observation of reality was used not for its own sake but to confront the empty promises and hypocritical slogans of official ideology. To twenty-first century readers, “Poem for Adults” seems to be slightly naïve and content with half measures. Its speaker still sincerely believes in the mirages of Communist ideology; it is not ideology but reality that does not measure up to lofty principles. Accordingly, he resents not his own short-sightedness but some mysterious ma281

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nipulators who duped him and his generation. The poem stopped halfway, then, but it nevertheless had a galvanizing impact on Polish literature. In Wa/yk’s own career, it also marked the beginning of his return to his previous artistic integrity. Return to cubist roots This return was particularly noticeable in the 1960’s and 1970’s, when Wa/yk’s poetry underwent a remarkable evolution while remaining faithful to his philosophical and psychological obsessions. The problem of discontinuity of perception acquired new significance, set against the background of twentieth century history and the poet’s own experiences. Wa/yk’s most ambitious poems from that period can be interpreted as attempts to reconstruct the effort of human consciousness, memory, and logic, trying to put reality in order despite its apparently chaotic character. The long poem Labirynt, for example, is a paradoxical attempt to revive the old genre of the descriptive poem in order to prove its futility; seemingly a quasi-epic story taking place in a middle-class milieu in prewar Poland, it is actually a poem about the shortcomings of human memory, which can visualize the past only as a “labyrinth that leads no one knows where.” In another long poem, Wagon, the speaker’s observation post is a train compartment; his indiscriminate registration of juxtaposed objects, minute facts, and the travelers’ insignificant behavior proves to be another fruitless effort of the human mind faced with the chaos of external reality. In poems such as these, and particularly in his 1977 volume, Zdarzenia, Wa/yk’s evident return to his cubist beginnings has, however, some new implications. The familiar method of juxtaposition of images serves more complex purposes. The world smashed into pieces is no longer a source of innocent illumination, nor is it a reason for yearning for some “order” imposed by history. On the contrary, the world’s disarray appears to be an irreversible process started by the twentieth century disintegration of stable systems of values. Although Wa/yk in his final phase was far from moralizing, his poetry can be read as an indirect comment on the immorality of the present epoch. Other major works long fiction: Czuowiek w burym ubraniu, 1930; Latarnie kwieca w Karpowie, 1933; Mity rodzinne, 1938; Epizod, 1961. nonfiction: W strone humanizmu, 1949; Mickiewicz i wersyfikacja narodowa, 1951; Przemiany Slowackiego, 1955; Esej o wierszu, 1964; Od Rimbauda do Éluarda, 1964; Kwestia gustu, 1966; Surrealizm, 1973; Gra i dokwiadczenie, 1974; Dziwna historia awangardy, 1976; Cudowny kantorek, 1980. Bibliography Gillon, Adam, and Ludwik Krzyzanowski, eds. Introduction to Modern Polish Literature. Rev. ed. New York: Hippocrene Books, 1982. An anthology of translations of Polish literature with some commentary. Contains works by Wa/yk. 282

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Miuosz, Czesuaw. The History of Polish Literature. 2d ed. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983. A critical study of the history of Polish literature that provides information on Wa/yk as well as a historical and cultural background to his works. Includes bibliographical references. Sandauer, Artur. On the Situation of the Polish Writer of Jewish Descent in the Twentieth Century: It Is Not I Who Should Have Written this Study—. Jerusalem: Hebrew University Magnes Press, 2005. Examines Jewish writers in Poland in the twentieth century, including Wa/yk and his problematic relationship with the Communists. Segel, Harold B. The Columbia Literary History of Eastern Europe Since 1945. New York: Columbia University Press, 2008. Discusses Wa/yk briefly in a chapter on Communism and its effect on writing in Eastern Europe. Provides perspective and background to understanding Wa/yk. Shore, Marci. Caviar and Ashes: A Warsaw Generation’s Life and Death in Marxism, 1918-1968. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2006. Examines how the avant-garde of the 1920’s in Poland became Communists and then fell away from Marxism. Wa/yk’s role is discussed. Stanisuaw Bara½czak

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ADAM ZAGAJEWSKI Born: Lwów, Poland (now in Ukraine); April 21, 1945 Principal poetry Komunikat, 1972 Sklepy miòsne, 1975 List, 1978 Oda do wielokci, 1983 Jechai do Lwówa, 1985 Tremor: Selected Poems in English, 1985 Puótno, 1990 (Canvas, 1991) Dzikie czereknie: Wybór wierszy, 1992 Ziemia Ognista, 1994 Mysticism for Beginners, 1997 Trzej Aniouowie = Three Angels, 1997 (bilingual selection) Pó.ne Kwiòta, 1998 Pragnienie, 1999 Without End: New and Selected Poems, 2002 Powrót, 2003 Anteny, 2005 Eternal Enemies, 2008 Other literary forms Although poetry constitutes the most important part of the oeuvre of Adam Zagajewski (zah-gah-YEW-skee), he also has written three novels: Cieupo zimno (1975; it’s cold, it’s warm), Das absolute Gehör (1982; absolute pitch), and Cienka kreska (1983; thin line). Zagajewski’s fiction, patterned on the traditional bildungsroman, is an ironic reworking of this nineteenth century genre. Zagajewski also published a number of important essays and essay collections. His Kwiat nie przedstawiony (1974; the world not represented), coauthored by Julian Kornhauser, played a seminal role in shaping the literary consciousness of the decade. Drugi Oddech (1978; second wind) and Solidarnok6 i samotnok6 (1986; Solidarity, Solitude: Essays, 1990), continue probing the question of literature’s ethical and social responsibility. Dwa miasta (1991; Two Cities: On Exile, History, and the Imagination, 1995) and W cudzym piòknie (1998; Another Beauty, 2000) explore the richness and variety of Europe, as found in the author’s memories, readings, and travels. Zagajewski is also the author of Polen: Staat im Schatten der Sowjetunion (1981; Poland: a state in the shackles of the Soviet Union), an analysis of the Polish state under Soviet rule. 284

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Achievements The literary debut of Adam Zagajewski took place in a country oppressed by Soviet domination. This historical circumstance led the poet and other writers of his generation (known as the Generation of ‘68, or the New Wave) to take upon themselves the duty of opposing both political oppression and the conformist attitudes found among Polish intellectuals, thus turning around the Communist slogan, “Writers are the conscience of the nation.” Although in his later writings Zagajewski abandoned the earlier political agenda, his poetry never ceased to defend the human right to individual perception and sensitivity. Zagajewski’s poems have been translated into English, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, and Swedish. Zagajewski received a number of prestigious fellowships and awards, including the Jurzykowski Foundation Award, a fellowship from the Berliner Kunstlerprogram, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Prix de la Liberté, the International Vilenica Award, the Kurt Tucholsky Prize, the Tranströmer Prize, and the Neustadt Prize. His Without End was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award. Biography Adam Zagajewski was born in Lwów in 1945 to a family of Polish intelligentsia. When he was four months old, his family was forced to abandon the city of his birth and to move westward, reflecting the newly reshuffled Polish borders. The Zagajewskis settled in the Silesian town of Gliwice, where Adam spent his childhood and adolescence. Throughout these early years, his family kept alive the memory of their hometown: “I spent my childhood in an ugly industrial city; I was brought there when I was barely four months old, and then for many years afterward I was told about an extraordinarily beautiful city that my family had to leave.” Nevertheless, Zagajewski’s sensitivity allowed him to find enchantment even in the unattractive town of his youth. At the age of eighteen, Zagajewski left Gliwice to pursue a university education in the historic town of Kraków. After receiving degrees in philosophy and psychology at the Jagiellonian University, he worked as an assistant professor at the Akademia Górniczo-Hutnicza (University of Mining and Metallurgy). It was during this period that he became the cofounder of the poetic group Teraz (Now) as well as the coauthor of its literary program. The poets of Teraz emphasized the social importance of poetry and its role in reclaiming a language devalued by the rhetorical manipulations of a bureaucratic, totalitarian state. In 1972, Zagajewski became one of the editors of Student. He was also involved in editorial work at such prestigious literary journals as Odra and Znak. After signing a letter of protest concerning amendments to the Polish constitution in 1976, Zagajewski suffered the fate of many Polish writers of the time: The government placed a ban on his publications, effectively ending the official circulation of his works. In 1979, Zagajewski won a scholarship from the Berlin Kunstlerprogram and went 285

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to Berlin. After a brief return to Poland, he emigrated to Paris in 1982. Unlike many Polish artists, Zagajewski chose to leave his homeland for personal, not political, reasons. In Paris, he became involved in editing Zeszyty Literackie (literary review), a seminal émigré literary journal. In 1989, Zagajewski began teaching creative writing at the University of Houston, Texas, spending four months there out of each year. He has also taught at Chicago University. Having moved from Lwów to Gliwice to Kraków to Berlin to Paris to Houston, then to Kraków again in 2002, in the course of his life Zagajewski became a wanderer and a citizen of the world. The poet described his own cosmopolitan status: I am now like a passenger of a small submarine, which has not one, but four periscopes. The first, and major, one points to my native tradition. The second opens up toward the literature of Germany, its poetry, its—onetime—desire of the infinite. The third—toward the landscape of French culture, with its penetrating intelligence and Jansenist morality. The fourth—toward [William] Shakespeare, [John] Keats and Robert Lowell, the literature of the concrete, of passion and conversation.

Analysis Critics frequently divide the poetry of Adam Zagajewski into two major periods: one “political,” focused on the problems of the human community, the other “philosophical,” concerned with the individual. The poet’s first three collections, published during the 1970’s, followed the poetic program of the Generation of ‘68, with its emphasis on the social responsibilities of the artist in a totalitarian state. Beginning with the fourth collection, Oda do wielokci (ode to plurality), published after his emigration to Paris, Zagajewski turned to a poetry of philosophical reflection, rich in complex metaphors and sophisticated symbolism. A number of his contemporaries had commented on the poet’s passage from one period to the other. However, it is also important to emphasize the continuity of themes and methods in Zagajewski’s work. Even in the most political poems, he deals with the oppression of the individual. Even the most private lyrical reflections are situated within the broader context of European, or world, culture. Komunikat, Sklepy mi sne, and List When Zagajewski and other poets of his generation, such as Stanisuaw Bara½czak, Julian Kornhauser, Ryszard Krynicki, and Ewa Lipska, set out to wage poetic war on the Communist state, they focused their efforts on laying bare the “falsified language” of state propaganda and bureaucracy. The newspeak favored by the government and disseminated by the mass media had become, according to the young poets, a tool of totalitarian oppression. Rather than representing reality, such language falsified it. In contrast, the poetry of the Generation of ‘68 was to be plain, clear, and direct. It aimed at a sincere realism, a reclamation of the concrete. This goal is illustrated in Zagajewski’s poem “Sklepy Miòsne” (meat shops). The poem describes the change from the older, 286

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straightforward term “butcher,” to the new, sanitized “meat shop,” a name that conceals rather than reveals the true nature of the establishment. Another feature of Generation of ‘68 poetry is an interest in the problems of its time, adequately reflected in the name of the poetic group Teraz (Now), of which Zagajewski was a cocreator. His early poetry collections, Komunikat (communiqué), Sklepy miòsne, and, to a lesser extent, List (a letter), realized the ideals of contemporaneity and simplicity. These poems spoke of Communist Poland in a language verging on the prosaic. They were characterized by a frequent use of the present tense (conveying a sense of immediacy), a scarcity of conjunctions and adverbs, and a disciplined syntax. Syntactic simplicity is particularly apparent in the first collection and gives way to slightly more sophisticated structures, such as inversion, in the later volumes. This simple, almost conversational form revealed a deep distrust of inflated or manipulative language. The goal of Zagajewski’s early poetry was to defend the individual against the obscure manipulations, linguistic and otherwise, of the regime. Like other members of his generation, Zagajewski strongly believed in the ethical dimension of a poetic calling. Oda do wielokci The title poem of Zagajewski’s fourth collection, Oda do wielokci, introduced a theme that would become central to the poet’s subsequent writing: a fascinated affirmation of the world’s multiplicity and richness: I don’t understand it all and I am even glad that the world like a restless ocean exceeds my ability to understand . . . You, singular soul, stand before This abundance. Two eyes, two hands, Ten inventive fingers, and Only one ego, the wedge of an orange, the youngest of sisters. . . .

While a number of poems in this 1982 collection still address painful political issues, such as “Petit,” “Zwyciòstwo” (victory), and “Ogie½” (fire), others point in a new direction. Tadeusz Nyczek, in 1988, described this ideological shift in Zagajewski’s writing as a turn from “no” to “yes,” from negation (negating the totalitarian state) to affirmation (affirming the world, its richness, and its sensual existence). With the expansion of themes came an expansion of form: The syntax became more intricate; the metaphors became increasingly sophisticated and abundant. Zagajewski’s later poetry is characterized by complex metaphorical structures of great intensity and beauty. Czesuaw Miuosz in 1985 described the artistic development of his fellow Pole and poet: “His poems have been acquiring a more and more sumptuous texture, and now he appears to me 287

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as a skillful weaver whose work is not unlike Gobelin tapestries where trees, flowers, and human figures coexist in the same pattern.” Jechai do Lwówa, Canvas, and Ziemia Ognista Jechai do Lwówa (to go to Lwów), Canvas, and Ziemia Ognista (Tierra del Fuego), the collections published from the mid-1980’s to the mid-1990’s, offer sophisticated meditations on the nature of memory, history, art, culture, and the spiritual quest of humankind at the end of the twentieth century. The poem “Jechai do Lwówa” (“To Go to Lwów”) is an imaginary journey to the place of the poet’s birth, conjuring up both the magic of the “lost” city, with its “white napkins and a bucket/ full of raspberries standing on the floor” and the ruthless political “scissors” that brought about destruction and exile. The poem “W obcych miastach” (in strange cities, from Canvas) captures the delight of journeys to unknown places: “In strange cities, there’s an unexpected joy/ the cool pleasure of a new regard.” Cities, visited in person or in the imagination, become an important theme in Zagajewski’s poetry. “Widok Krakowa” (the view of Kraków, from Jechai do Lwówa) is a tender and eclectic portrait of the former Polish capital. “Widok Delf” (the view of Delf) from the same collection honors both the place and its painter. These are poems deeply embedded in the European cultural tradition. Zagajewski pays poetic homage not only to Europe’s metropolises but also to its artists and thinkers. The poet invokes the composers Franz Schubert and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the painters Jan Vermeer and Rembrandt, the poet C. K. Norwid, the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, and many others. While delighting in the richness of art and culture, Zagajewski remains aware of the reverse side of civilization—wars, genocide, cruelty. His poems present a world in a state of paradox. An acute awareness of the paradoxical nature of reality is expressed in the poem “Lawa” (lava) from Canvas: And what if Heraclitus and Parmenides are both right and two worlds exist side by side, one serene, the other insane; one arrow thoughtlessly hurtles, another, indulgent, looks on; the selfsame wave moves and stands still. . . .

The proper response to a paradoxical reality is perhaps a stance of permanent inquiry, constant alertness and distrust. Such a mind-set has always been part of Zagajewski’s poetics. One of his preferred characters is the wanderer—homeless, always journeying toward a yet unknown goal. The collection Ziemia Ognista is dominated by traveling and homelessness, as in the poem “Szukaj” (search): 288

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I returned to the town where I was a child and a teenager and an old man of thirty. The town greeted me indifferently . . . Find another place. Search for it. Search for your true homeland.

Zagajewski’s mature poetry has become a poetry of spiritual inquiry. Agnostic and mystical, it seeks the “nameless, unseen, silent.” In “Gotyk” (“The Gothic,” from Jechai do Lwówa), the speaker asks: “Who am I here in this cool cathedral and who/ is speaking to me so obscurely?” Another poem from the same collection brings the lament: “So many errors, with an incorporeal/ ruler governing a tangible reality.” The title poem of Ziemia Ognista ends with the prayer: “Nameless, unseen, silent,/ save me from anesthesia,/take me to Tierra del Fuego. . . .” Pragnienie The contrast between the “anesthetized” late twentieth century with its bored, sate conformity, and the desire for a genuine spiritual experience is the theme of Pragnienie (desire). This fin de siècle collection opens with childhood memories and ends with a self-portrait of a mature artist, “between the computer, a pencil, and a typewriter,” living in “strange cities,” listening to “Bach, Mahler, Chopin, Shostakovich,” reading “poets, living and dead.” This artist is no longer young and knows it. His voice has grown quiet, reflective. At this stage of his life, he has many dead to mourn. The collection contains a number of elegies dedicated to other poets (Joseph Brodsky, Zbigniew Herbert) and artists (Krzysztof Kieklowski, Józef Czapski). The theme of death and loss pervades this nostalgic volume. Pragnienie is both a very private reflection on the poet’s life and, as Zagajewski’s former translator Renata Gorczy½ska has it, a report on the conditions of the human community at the end of the twentieth century. Zagajewski portrays a Western culture devoid of genuine spiritual values, atrophied, sedated, paralyzed with boredom. Always sensitive to the ethical role of literature, the poet has diagnosed a new threat to the human spirit: Like a totalitarian regime, mass culture blunts sensitivity and chokes metaphysical inquiry. Can poetry kindle a new flame? Awaken a new desire? These are the questions Zagajewski poses at the end of a troubled century. Other major works long fiction: Cieupo zimno, 1975; Das absolute Gehör, 1982; Cienka kreska, 1983. nonfiction: Kwiat nie przedstawiony, 1974 (with Julian Kornhauser); Drugi Oddech, 1978; Polen: Staat im Schatten der Sowjetunion, 1981; Solidarnok6 i samotnok6, 289

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1986 (Solidarity, Solitude: Essays, 1990); Dwa miasta, 1991 (Two Cities: On Exile, History, and the Imagination, 1995); W cudzym piòknie, 1998 (Another Beauty, 2000); Obrona /arliwokci, 2002 (A Defense of Ardor, 2004). translations: Kwiat i uczestnik, 1981 (of Raymond Aron); Religia, literatura, i komunizm: Dziennik emigranta, 1990 (of Mircea Eliade). edited text: Polish Writers on Writing, 2007. Bibliography Bie½kowsk i, Zbigniew. “The New Wave: A Non-Objective View.” In The Mature Laurel: Essays on Modern Polish Poetry, edited by Adam Czerniawski. Chester Springs, Pa.: Seren Books, Dufour Editions, 1991. A sensitive and balanced overview of New Wave (Generation of ‘68) poetry in the context of several earlier postwar poetic generations. Includes translations of poems by Zagajewski, Ewa Lipska, Julian Kornhauser, and Stanisuaw Bara½czak. Carpenter, Bogdana. “A Tribute to Adam Zagajewski.” World Literature Today 79, no. 2 (May-August, 2005): 14-16. A brief profile of Zagajewski on his winning of the Neustadt Prize. Describes the polarities in his life and writing. Corn, Alfred. “Poetry and Dialectic.” Review of Eternal Enemies. Hudson Review 61, no. 4 (Winter, 2009): 801-809. Corn uses the review as an opportunity to profile Zagajewski, discussing his life, his exile, his poetry, and the difficulty of translation. Karpowicz, Tymoteusz. “Naked Poetry: A Discourse About the Newest Polish Poetry.” Polish Review 1/2 (1976): 59-70. An insightful report on the state of Polish poetry, from the time Zagajewski was publishing his first collections. Written by a wellknown Polish poet. Shallcross, Bo/ena. “The Divining Moment: Adam Zagajewski’s Aesthetic Epiphany.” Slavic and East European Journal 44, no. 2 (2000): 234-252. An analysis of epiphany and its importance to the artistic sensitivity of Zagajewski; looks at Zagajewski’s responses to works of art, such as Jan Vermeer’s painting Girl Interrupted in Her Music and Carlos Saura’s film Flamenco. _______. Through the Poet’s Eye: The Travels of Zagajewski, Herbert, and Brodsky. Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 2002. This biographical work looks at the travels of Zagajewski, Zbigniew Herbert, and Joseph Brodsky. Examines the effect on their writings. Witkowski, Tadeusz. “The Poets of the New Wave in Exile.” Slavic and East European Journal 33, no. 2 (1989): 204-216. An account of the émigré works by poets once belonging to the New Wave; addresses the problem of poetry’s ethical responsibility and presents the poetic and ideological debate between Zagajewski and another poet of his generation, Ryszard Krynicki. Magdalena Máczy½ska

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CHECKLIST FOR EXPLICATING A POEM I. The Initial Readings A. Before reading the poem, the reader should: 1. Notice its form and length. 2. Consider the title, determining, if possible, whether it might function as an allusion, symbol, or poetic image. 3. Notice the date of composition or publication, and identify the general era of the poet. B. The poem should be read intuitively and emotionally and be allowed to “happen” as much as possible. C. In order to establish the rhythmic flow, the poem should be reread. A note should be made as to where the irregular spots (if any) are located. II. Explicating the Poem A. Dramatic situation. Studying the poem line by line helps the reader discover the dramatic situation. All elements of the dramatic situation are interrelated and should be viewed as reflecting and affecting one another. The dramatic situation serves a particular function in the poem, adding realism, surrealism, or absurdity; drawing attention to certain parts of the poem; and changing to reinforce other aspects of the poem. All points should be considered. The following questions are particularly helpful to ask in determining dramatic situation: 1. What, if any, is the narrative action in the poem? 2. How many personae appear in the poem? What part do they take in the action? 3. What is the relationship between characters? 4. What is the setting (time and location) of the poem? B. Point of view. An understanding of the poem’s point of view is a major step toward comprehending the poet’s intended meaning. The reader should ask: 1. Who is the speaker? Is he or she addressing someone else or the reader? 2. Is the narrator able to understand or see everything happening to him or her, or does the reader know things that the narrator does not? 3. Is the narrator reliable? 4. Do point of view and dramatic situation seem consistent? If not, the inconsistencies may provide clues to the poem’s meaning. 291

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C. Images and metaphors. Images and metaphors are often the most intricately crafted vehicles of the poem for relaying the poet’s message. Realizing that the images and metaphors work in harmony with the dramatic situation and point of view will help the reader to see the poem as a whole, rather than as disassociated elements. 1. The reader should identify the concrete images (that is, those that are formed from objects that can be touched, smelled, seen, felt, or tasted). Is the image projected by the poet consistent with the physical object? 2. If the image is abstract, or so different from natural imagery that it cannot be associated with a real object, then what are the properties of the image? 3. To what extent is the reader asked to form his or her own images? 4. Is any image repeated in the poem? If so, how has it been changed? Is there a controlling image? 5. Are any images compared to each other? Do they reinforce one another? 6. Is there any difference between the way the reader perceives the image and the way the narrator sees it? 7. What seems to be the narrator’s or persona’s attitude toward the image? D. Words. Every substantial word in a poem may have more than one intended meaning, as used by the author. Because of this, the reader should look up many of these words in the dictionary and: 1. Note all definitions that have the slightest connection with the poem. 2. Note any changes in syntactical patterns in the poem. 3. In particular, note those words that could possibly function as symbols or allusions, and refer to any appropriate sources for further information. E. Meter, rhyme, structure, and tone. In scanning the poem, all elements of prosody should be noted by the reader. These elements are often used by a poet to manipulate the reader’s emotions, and therefore they should be examined closely to arrive at the poet’s specific intention. 1. Does the basic meter follow a traditional pattern such as those found in nursery rhymes or folk songs? 2. Are there any variations in the base meter? Such changes or substitutions are important thematically and should be identified. 3. Are the rhyme schemes traditional or innovative, and what might their form mean to the poem? 4. What devices has the poet used to create sound patterns (such as assonance and alliteration)? 5. Is the stanza form a traditional or innovative one? 6. If the poem is composed of verse paragraphs rather than stanzas, how do they affect the progression of the poem? 292

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7. After examining the above elements, is the resultant tone of the poem casual or formal, pleasant, harsh, emotional, authoritative? F. Historical context. The reader should attempt to place the poem into historical context, checking on events at the time of composition. Archaic language, expressions, images, or symbols should also be looked up. G. Themes and motifs. By seeing the poem as a composite of emotion, intellect, craftsmanship, and tradition, the reader should be able to determine the themes and motifs (smaller recurring ideas) presented in the work. He or she should ask the following questions to help pinpoint these main ideas: 1. Is the poet trying to advocate social, moral, or religious change? 2. Does the poet seem sure of his or her position? 3. Does the poem appeal primarily to the emotions, to the intellect, or to both? 4. Is the poem relying on any particular devices for effect (such as imagery, allusion, paradox, hyperbole, or irony)?

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BIBLIOGRAPHY General reference sources Biographical sources Jackson, William T. H., ed. European Writers. 14 vols. New York: Scribner, 1983-1991. Kunitz, Stanley, and Vineta Colby, eds. European Authors, 1000-1900: A Biographical Dictionary of European Literature. New York: Wilson, 1967. Magill, Frank N., ed. Critical Survey of Poetry: Foreign Language Series. 5 vols. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Salem Press, 1984. _______. Critical Survey of Poetry: Supplement. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Salem Press, 1987. Serafin, Steven, ed. Encyclopedia of World Literature in the Twentieth Century. 3d ed. 4 vols. Detroit: St. James Press, 1999. _______. Twentieth-Century Eastern European Writers: First Series. Dictionary of Literary Biography 215. Detroit: Gale Group, 1999. _______. Twentieth-Century Eastern European Writers: Second Series. Dictionary of Literary Biography 220. Detroit: Gale Group, 2000. _______. Twentieth-Century Eastern European Writers: Third Series. Dictionary of Literary Biography 232. Detroit: Gale Group, 2001. Criticism Coleman, Arthur. A Checklist of Interpretation, 1940-1973, of Classical and Continental Epics and Metrical Romances. Vol. 2 in Epic and Romance Criticism. 2 vols. New York: Watermill, 1974. Jason, Philip K., ed. Masterplots II: Poetry Series, Revised Edition. 8 vols. Pasadena, Calif.: Salem Press, 2002. The Year’s Work in Modern Language Studies. London: Oxford University Press, 1931. Dictionaries, histories, and handbooks Auty, Robert, et al. Traditions of Heroic and Epic Poetry. 2 vols. Vol. 1, The Traditions; Vol. 2, Characteristics and Techniques. Publications of the Modern Humanities Research Association 9, 13. London: Modern Humanities Research Association, 1980, 1989. Bede, Jean-Albert, and William B. Edgerton, eds. Columbia Dictionary of Modern European Literature. 2d ed. New York: Columbia University Press, 1980. France, Peter, ed. The Oxford Guide to Literature in English Translation. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000. 294

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Henderson, Lesley, ed. Reference Guide to World Literature. 2d ed. 2 vols. New York: St. James Press, 1995. Oinas, Felix, ed. Heroic Epic and Saga: An Introduction to the World’s Great Folk Epics. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1978. Pynsent, Robert B., ed. Reader’s Encyclopedia of Eastern European Literature. New York: HarperCollins, 1993. Weber, Harry B., George Gutsche, and P. Rollberg, eds. The Modern Encyclopedia of East Slavic, Baltic, and Eurasian Literatures. 10 vols. Gulf Breeze, Fla.: Academic International Press, 1977. Index of primary works Hoffman, Herbert H. Hoffman’s Index to Poetry: European and Latin American Poetry in Anthologies. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1985. Poetics Gasparov, M. L. A History of European Versification. Translated by G. S. Smith and Marina Tarlinskaja. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996. Wimsatt, William K., ed. Versification: Major Language Types: Sixteen Essays. New York: Modern Language Association, 1972.

Eastern European Poetry Hungarian Poetry Gömöri, George, and George Szirtes, eds. The Colonnade of Teeth: Modern Hungarian Poetry. Chester Springs, Pa.: Dufour Editions, 1996. Kolumban, Nicholas, ed. and trans. Turmoil in Hungary: An Anthology of Twentieth Century Hungarian Poetry. St. Paul, Minn.: New Rivers Press, 1996. Makkai, Adam, ed. In Quest of the “Miracle Stag”: The Poetry of Hungary, an Anthology of Hungarian Poetry in English Translation from the Thirteenth Century to the Present. Foreword by Árpád Göncz. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1996. Suleiman, Susan Rubin, and Éva Forgács, eds. Contemporary Jewish Writing in Hungary: An Anthology. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2003. Szirtes, George, ed. Leopard V: An Island of Sound—Poetry and Fiction Before and Beyond the Iron Curtain. New York: Random House, 2004. Polish Poetry Bara½czak, Stanisuaw, and Clare Cavanagh, eds. and trans. Polish Poetry of the Last Two Decades of Communist Rule: Spoiling Cannibals’ Fun. Foreword by Helen Vendler. Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 1991. 295

Bibliography

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Carpenter, Bogdana, ed. Monumenta Polonica: The First Four Centuries of Polish Poetry, a Bilingual Anthology. Ann Arbor: Michigan Slavic Publications, 1989. Czerniawski, Adam, ed. The Mature Laurel: Essays on Modern Polish Poetry. Chester Springs, Pa.: Dufour Editions, 1991. Czerwinski, E. J., ed. Dictionary of Polish Literature. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1994. Grol, Regina, ed. Ambers Aglow: An Anthology of Contemporary Polish Women’s Poetry. Austin, Tex.: Host, 1996. Mengham, Rod, et al., trans. Altered State: The New Polish Poetry. Ottawa, Ont.: Arc, 2003. Miuosz, Czesuaw, ed. Postwar Polish Poetry: An Anthology. 3d ed. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983.

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GUIDE TO ONLINE RESOURCES Web Sites The following sites were visited by the editors of Salem Press in 2010. Because URLs frequently change, the accuracy of these addresses cannot be guaranteed; however, long-standing sites, such as those of colleges and universities, national organizations, and government agencies, generally maintain links when their sites are moved. LitWeb http://litweb.net LitWeb provides biographies of hundreds of world authors throughout history that can be accessed through an alphabetical listing. The pages about each writer contain a list of his or her works, suggestions for further reading, and illustrations. The site also offers information about past and present winners of major literary prizes. The Modern Word: Authors of the Libyrinth http://www.themodernword.com/authors.html The Modern Word site, although somewhat haphazard in its organization, provides a great deal of critical information about writers. The “Authors of the Libyrinth” page is very useful, linking author names to essays about them and other resources. The section of the page headed “The Scriptorium” presents “an index of pages featuring writers who have pushed the edges of their medium, combining literary talent with a sense of experimentation to produce some remarkable works of modern literature.” Poetry Foundation http://www.poetryfoundation.org The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine, is an independent literary organization. Its Web site offers links to essays; news; events; online poetry resources, such as blogs, organizations, publications, and references and research; a glossary of literary terms; and a Learning Lab that includes poem guides and essays on poetics. Poetry in Translation http://poetryintranslation.com This independent resource provides modern translations of classic texts by famous poets and also provides original poetry and critical works. Visitors can choose from several languages, including English, Spanish, Chinese, Russian, Italian, and Greek. Original text is available as well. Also includes links to further literary resources.

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Poetry International Web http://international.poetryinternationalweb.org Poetry International Web features information on poets from countries such as Indonesia, Zimbabwe, Iceland, India, Slovenia, Morocco, Albania, Afghanistan, Russia, and Brazil. The site offers news, essays, interviews and discussion, and hundreds of poems, both in their original languages and in English translation. Poet’s Corner http://theotherpages.org/poems The Poet’s Corner, one of the oldest text resources on the Web, provides access to about seven thousand works of poetry by several hundred different poets from around the world. Indexes are arranged and searchable by title, name of poet, or subject. The site also offers its own resources, including “Faces of the Poets”—a gallery of portraits—and “Lives of the Poets”—a growing collection of biographies. Western European Studies http://wess.lib.byu.edu The Western European Studies Section of the Association of College and Research Libraries maintains this collection of resources useful to students of Western European history and culture. It also is a good place to find information about non-Englishlanguage literature. The site includes separate pages about the literatures and languages of the Netherlands, France, Germany, Iberia, Italy, and Scandinavia, in which users can find links to electronic texts, association Web sites, journals, and other materials, the majority of which are written in the languages of the respective countries.

Electronic Databases Electronic databases usually do not have their own URLs. Instead, public, college, and university libraries subscribe to these databases, provide links to them on their Web sites, and make them available to library card holders or other specified patrons. Readers can visit library Web sites or ask reference librarians to check on availability. Canadian Literary Centre Produced by EBSCO, the Canadian Literary Centre database contains full-text content from ECW Press, a Toronto-based publisher, including the titles in the publisher’s Canadian fiction studies, Canadian biography, and Canadian writers and their works series; ECW’s Biographical Guide to Canadian Novelists; and George Woodcock’s Introduction to Canadian Fiction. Author biographies, essays and literary criticism, and book reviews are among the database’s offerings. 298

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Literary Reference Center EBSCO’s Literary Reference Center (LRC) is a comprehensive full-text database designed primarily to help high school and undergraduate students in English and the humanities with homework and research assignments about literature. The database contains massive amounts of information from reference works, books, literary journals, and other materials, including more than 31,000 plot summaries, synopses, and overviews of literary works; almost 100,000 essays and articles of literary criticism; about 140,000 author biographies; more than 605,000 book reviews; and more than 5,200 author interviews. It contains the entire contents of Salem Press’s MagillOnLiterature Plus. Users can retrieve information by browsing a list of authors’ names or titles of literary works; they can also use an advanced search engine to access information by numerous categories, including author name, gender, cultural identity, national identity, and the years in which he or she lived, or by literary title, character, locale, genre, and publication date. The Literary Reference Center also features a literaryhistorical time line, an encyclopedia of literature, and a glossary of literary terms. MagillOnLiterature Plus MagillOnLiterature Plus is a comprehensive, integrated literature database produced by Salem Press and available on the EBSCOhost platform. The database contains the full text of essays in Salem’s many literature-related reference works, including Masterplots, Cyclopedia of World Authors, Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Cyclopedia of Literary Places, Critical Survey of Poetry, Critical Survey of Long Fiction, Critical Survey of Short Fiction, World Philosophers and Their Works, Magill’s Literary Annual, and Magill’s Book Reviews. Among its contents are articles on more than 35,000 literary works and more than 8,500 poets, writers, dramatists, essayists, and philosophers; more than 1,000 images; and a glossary of more than 1,300 literary terms. The biographical essays include lists of authors’ works and secondary bibliographies, and hundreds of overview essays examine and discuss literary genres, time periods, and national literatures. Rebecca Kuzins Updated by Desiree Dreeuws

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GEOGRAPHICAL INDEX BUKOVINA Manger, Itzik, 124

LITHUANIA Miuosz, Czesuaw, 145

CANADA Layton, Irving, 105

POLAND Bara½czak, Stanisuaw, 66 Herbert, Zbigniew, 86 Mandelstam, Osip, 112 Mickiewicz, Adam, 134 Miuosz, Czesuaw, 145 Polish Poetry, 19 Ró/ewicz, Tadeusz, 206 Suonimski, Antoni, 218 Suowacki, Juliusz, 225 Stryk, Lucien, 238 Swir, Anna, 244 Szymborska, Wisuawa, 249 Wa/yk, Adam, 278 Zagajewski, Adam, 284

ENGLAND Manger, Itzik, 124 FRANCE Celan, Paul, 72 Mickiewicz, Adam, 134 Suowacki, Juliusz, 225 Tzara, Tristan, 259 Zagajewski, Adam, 284 GERMANY Rakosi, Carl, 197 GREAT BRITAIN Manger, Itzik, 124 HUNGARY Ady, Endre, 39 Arany, János, 48 Babits, Mihály, 59 Hungarian Poetry, 1 Illyés, Gyula, 97 Pet¹fi, Sándor, 170 Radnóti, Miklós, 189 Rakosi, Carl, 197 Vörösmarty, Mihály, 269 ISRAEL Manger, Itzik, 124 Pagis, Dan, 164

300

ROMANIA Ady, Endre, 39 Celan, Paul, 72 Codrescu, Andrei, 81 Layton, Irving, 105 Manger, Itzik, 124 Pagis, Dan, 164 Tzara, Tristan, 259 RUSSIA Mandelstam, Osip, 112 Mickiewicz, Adam, 134 UNITED STATES Codrescu, Andrei, 81 Manger, Itzik, 124 Miuosz, Czesuaw, 145 Rakosi, Carl, 197 Stryk, Lucien, 238

CATEGORY INDEX ACMEIST POETS Mandelstam, Osip, 112 AVANT-GARDE POETS Celan, Paul, 72 Herbert, Zbigniew, 86 Pagis, Dan, 164 Tzara, Tristan, 259 Wa/yk, Adam, 278 BALLADS Arany, János, 48 Manger, Itzik, 124 Suonimski, Antoni, 218 CLASSICISM Mickiewicz, Adam, 134 Vörösmarty, Mihály, 269 CUBISM Wa/yk, Adam, 278 DADAISM Illyés, Gyula, 97 Tzara, Tristan, 259 EKPHRASTIC POETRY Miuosz, Czesuaw, 145 EPICS Arany, János, 48 Illyés, Gyula, 97 Mickiewicz, Adam, 134 Pet¹fi, Sándor, 170 Suonimski, Antoni, 218 Suowacki, Juliusz, 225 Tzara, Tristan, 259 Vörösmarty, Mihály, 269 EXPERIMENTAL POETS Celan, Paul, 72

EXPRESSIONISM Celan, Paul, 72 GENERATION OF ’68 Bara½czak, Stanisuaw, 66 Zagajewski, Adam, 284 JEWISH CULTURE Celan, Paul, 72 Codrescu, Andrei, 81 Layton, Irving, 105 Mandelstam, Osip, 112 Manger, Itzik, 124 Pagis, Dan, 164 Rakosi, Carl, 197 Suonimski, Antoni, 218 Tzara, Tristan, 259 Wa/yk, Adam, 278 LOVE POETRY Ady, Endre, 39 Layton, Irving, 105 Pet¹fi, Sándor, 170 Radnóti, Miklós, 189 Swir, Anna, 244 LYRIC POETRY Ady, Endre, 39 Arany, János, 48 Babits, Mihály, 59 Celan, Paul, 72 Illyés, Gyula, 97 Mandelstam, Osip, 112 Manger, Itzik, 124 Mickiewicz, Adam, 134 Pet¹fi, Sándor, 170 Radnóti, Miklós, 189 Suowacki, Juliusz, 225 Vörösmarty, Mihály, 269

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Category Index MODERNISM Babits, Mihály, 59 Illyés, Gyula, 97 Radnóti, Miklós, 189 Rakosi, Carl, 197 Ró/ewicz, Tadeusz, 206 NARRATIVE POETRY Arany, János, 48 Mickiewicz, Adam, 134 Pet¹fi, Sándor, 170 Suowacki, Juliusz, 225 Tzara, Tristan, 259 NEO-ROMANTICISM Suonimski, Antoni, 218 OBJECTIVISM Rakosi, Carl, 197 PARNASSIANISM Suonimski, Antoni, 218 PETRARCHAN SONNETS Mickiewicz, Adam, 134 POLITICAL POETS Ady, Endre, 39 Bara½czak, Stanisuaw, 66 Codrescu, Andrei, 81 Herbert, Zbigniew, 86 Illyés, Gyula, 97 Layton, Irving, 105 Mickiewicz, Adam, 134 Miuosz, Czesuaw, 145 Suonimski, Antoni, 218 Suowacki, Juliusz, 225 Swir, Anna, 244 Szymborska, Wisuawa, 249 Vörösmarty, Mihály, 269 Wa/yk, Adam, 278 Zagajewski, Adam, 284

302

Critical Survey of Poetry POSTMODERNISM Herbert, Zbigniew, 86 Miuosz, Czesuaw, 145 Stryk, Lucien, 238 Szymborska, Wisuawa, 249 Tzara, Tristan, 259 PROSE POETRY Herbert, Zbigniew, 86 Suowacki, Juliusz, 225 RELIGIOUS POETRY Ady, Endre, 39 Manger, Itzik, 124 ROMANTICISM Arany, János, 48 Mickiewicz, Adam, 134 Vörösmarty, Mihály, 269 SOCIALIST REALISM Wa/yk, Adam, 278 SONNETS Mickiewicz, Adam, 134 Suonimski, Antoni, 218 SURREALIST POETS Celan, Paul, 72 Codrescu, Andrei, 81 Illyés, Gyula, 97 Tzara, Tristan, 259 VERSE DRAMATISTS Suowacki, Juliusz, 225 VISIONARY POETRY Layton, Irving, 105 WAR POETS Ady, Endre, 39 Pet¹fi, Sándor, 170 WOMEN POETS Swir, Anna, 244 Szymborska, Wisuawa, 249

SUBJECT INDEX A minden titkok verseib¹l. See Of All Mysteries Ady, Endre, 10, 39-47 “Man in Inhumanity,” 45 New Verses, 42 Of All Mysteries, 44 “Alpha” (Ró/ewicz), 214 Ancel, Paul. See Celan, Paul And Still Birds Sing (Stryk), 241 Anhelli (Suowacki), 232 Antschel, Paul. See Celan, Paul Apollinaire, Guillaume, 264 Approximate Man, and Other Writings (Tzara), 266 Arab (Suowacki), 229 Arany, János, 9, 48-58 “Az elveszett alkótmany,” 50 The Death of King Buda, 56 “Family Circle,” 53 “Midnight Duel,” 56 “Szondi’s Two Pages,” 54 Toldi, 51 “Török Bálint,” 54 “The Welsh Bards,” 55 Awakening (Stryk), 242 “Az elveszett alkótmany” (Arany), 50 Babits, Mihály, 11, 59-65 Jónás könyve, 64 Balassi, Bálint, 3 Balls for a One-Armed Juggler (Layton), 109 Bara½czak, Stanisuaw, 66-71 The Weight of the Body, 69 Baroque poetry, 3, 21 Beniowski (Suowacki), 233 “Bent Tree, The” (Manger), 131

Biernat of Lublin, 20 “Bolond Istók” (Pet¹fi), 183 “Brain” (Pagis), 167 Budowauam barykadò. See Building the Barricade Building the Barricade (Swir), 246 Canvas (Zagajewski), 288 Celan, Paul, 72-80 Mohn und Gedächtnis, 75 Die Niemandsrose, 78 Speech-Grille, 77 Von Schwelle zu Schwelle, 77 “Circus Performers, The” (Tzara), 265 Clouds (Pet¹fi), 178 Codrescu, Andrei, 81-85 The Forgiven Submarine, 83 Jealous Witness, 82 Collected Poems, 1931-1987, The (Miuosz), 158 Csokonai Vitéz, Mihály, 5 Csongor és Tünde (Vörösmarty), 274 Csoori, Sandor, 16 “Dalaim” (Pet¹fi), 181 De nos oiseaux (Tzara), 264 “Death of Guillaume Apollinaire, The” (Tzara), 264 Death of King Buda, The (Arany), 56 Decadent poets, 28 Dlatego /yjemy (Szymborska), 251 D¹lt vitorla (Illyés), 100 “Domination of Wallace Stevens” (Rakosi), 202 Dziady. See Forefathers’ Eve

303

Subject Index Egy mondat a zsarnokságról. See One Sentence on Tyranny “Eighth Eclogue” (Radnóti), 194 Elegy for the Departure, and Other Poems (Herbert), 94 Enlightenment, 4, 23 Epics, 26 “Experiment with a Rat, The” (Rakosi), 201 Facing the River (Miuosz), 158 “Falling” (Ró/ewicz), 212 “Family Circle” (Arany), 53 “Family Portrait, Three Generations” (Rakosi), 202 “Faris” (Mickiewicz), 140 Father of the Plague-Stricken, The (Suowacki), 231 Felhok. See Clouds Folk poetry, 8, 25 For My Brother Jesus (Layton), 109 “Forced March” (Radnóti), 194 Forefathers’ Eve, parts 2 and 4 (Mickiewicz), 138 Forefathers’ Eve, part 3 (Mickiewicz), 140 Forgiven Submarine, The (Codrescu), 83 Futurism, 30 Gdzie wschodzi suo½ce i kòdy zapada (Miuosz), 157 Generation of ‘68, 32 Genezis z ducha (Suowacki), 234 Glatter, Miklós. See Radnóti, Miklós Godzinna mykli (Suowacki), 230 Gra/yna (Mickiewicz), 138 Gucio zaczarowany (Miuosz), 156 Gyöngyösi, István, 3 Hammer of the Village, The (Pet¹fi), 177 “Happily Neighing, the Herds Graze” (Mandelstam), 116

304

Critical Survey of Poetry Happy as a Dog’s Tail (Swir), 247 “Harvests” (Pagis), 168 Helység-kalapácsa, A. See Hammer of the Village, The Herbert, Zbigniew, 86-96 Elegy for the Departure, and Other Poems, 94 Hermes, pies i gwiazda, 92 Mr. Cogito, 93 Napis, 93 Report from the Besieged City, and Other Poems, 93 Studium przedmiotu, 93 Hermes, pies i gwiazda (Herbert), 92 Homme approximatif, L’. See Approximate Man “Horseshoe Finder, The” (Mandelstam), 119 Hungarian poetry, 1-18 Hymns, 1 “I Am a Realist” (Ró/ewicz), 213 “I Cannot Know . . .” (Radnóti), 192 “I Screamed in the Night” (Ró/ewicz), 210 “I See the Mad” (Ró/ewicz), 209 Illyés, Gyula, 14, 97-104 D¹lt vitorla, 100 Kézfogások, 100 Nehéz föld, 100 One Sentence on Tyranny, 101 Sarjúrendek, 100 In Switzerland (Suowacki), 231 “Instructions for Crossing the Border” (Pagis), 168 Jealous Witness (Codrescu), 82 Jechai do Lwówa (Zagajewski), 288 Juhász, Gyula, 12 János the Hero (Pet¹fi), 177 Jónás könyve (Babits), 64 József, Attila, 13

Eastern European Poets Kamen. See Stone Kazinczy, Ferenc, 5 Kézfogások (Illyés), 100 Khumish Lider (Manger), 132 Kiss, József, 10 Kochanowski, Jan, 20 Kölcsey, Ferenc, 7 Komunikat (Zagajewski), 286 Koniec i poczátek (Szymborska), 255 Konrad Wallenrod (Mickiewicz), 139 Kosztolányi, Dezs¹, 11 Kraków Vanguard, 31 Krasicki, Ignacy, 23 Krasi½ski, Zygmunt, 27 Król-Duch (Suowacki), 234 Król Popiel i inne wiersze (Miuosz), 155 Lambro, powsta½ca grecki (Suowacki), 230 “Law” (Radnóti), 191 Layton, Irving, 105-111 Balls for a One-Armed Juggler, 109 For My Brother Jesus, 109 A Red Carpet for the Sun, 109 A Wild Peculiar Joy, 110 Lazarovitch, Irving Peter. See Layton, Irving Lazarovitch, Israel Pincu. See Layton, Irving “Leningrad” (Mandelstam), 120 Lekmian, Boueslaw, 29 “Levél Várady Antalhoz” (Pet¹fi), 181 “Like a Bull” (Radnóti), 192 List (Zagajewski), 286 “Little Duck Bathes, A” (Radnóti), 193 “Little Town in Siberia” (Tzara), 264 Ludzie na mokcie. See People on a Bridge “Man in Inhumanity” (Ady), 45 Mandelstam, Osip, 112-123 “Happily Neighing, the Herds Graze,” 116 “The Horseshoe Finder,” 119

Subject Index “Leningrad,” 120 Poems, 119 “Slate Ode,” 119 Stone, 116 Tristia, 117 Manger, Itzik, 124-133 “The Bent Tree,” 131 Khumish Lider, 132 Miasto bez imienia (Miuosz), 156 Mickiewicz, Adam, 25, 134-144 “Faris,” 140 Forefathers’ Eve, parts 2 and 4 , 138 Forefathers’ Eve, part 3, 140 Gra/yna, 138 Konrad Wallenrod, 139 Pan Tadeusz, 26, 141 Sonnets from the Crimea, 139 “Midnight Duel” (Arany), 56 Miuosz, Czesuaw, 145-163 The Collected Poems, 1931-1987, 158 Facing the River, 158 Gdzie wschodzi suo½ce i kòdy zapada, 157 Gucio zaczarowany, 156 Król Popiel i inne wiersze, 155 Miasto bez imienia, 156 Ocalenie, 154 Poemat o czasie zastyguym, 153 Second Space, 160 Selected Poems, 1931-2004, 160 Kwiatuo dzienne, 155 A Treatise on Poetry, 155 Trzy zimy, 154 “You Who Have Wronged,” 157 Miracle Fair (Szymborska), 256 Mohn und Gedächtnis (Celan), 75 Mówiò do swego ciaua. See Talking to My Body Mr. Cogito (Herbert), 93

305

Subject Index Napis (Herbert), 93 “Négy-ökrös szekér, A” (Pet¹fi), 179 Nehéz föld (Illyés), 100 “Nemzeti dal” (Pet¹fi), 185 New populists, Hungary, 14 New Verses (Ady), 42 Niemandsrose, Die (Celan), 78 Norwid, Kamil, 27 Ocalenie (Miuosz), 154 Oda do wielokci (Zagajewski), 287 Of All Mysteries (Ady), 44 Ojciec zad/umionych. See Father of the Plague-Stricken, The One Sentence on Tyranny (Illyés), 101 Pagis, Dan, 164-169 “Brain,” 167 “Harvests,” 168 “Instructions for Crossing the Border,” 168 Poems by Dan Pagis, 165 Points of Departure, 166 Pan Cogito. See Mr. Cogito Pan Tadeusz (Mickiewicz), 26, 141 Pannonius, Janus, 2 Parnassianism, 222 People on a Bridge (Szymborska), 254 Perlmutter, Andrei. See Codrescu, Andrei Pet¹fi, Sándor, 8, 170-188 “Bolond Istók,” 183 Clouds, 178 “Dalaim,” 181 The Hammer of the Village, 177 János the Hero, 177 “Levél Várady Antalhoz,” 181 “A Négy-ökrös szekér,” 179 “Nemzeti dal,” 185 “Reszket a bokor, mert,” 181 “Rózsabokor a domboldalon,” 183

306

Critical Survey of Poetry “Szeptember végen,” 182 “Szeretlek, kedvesem,” 183 “Tündérálom,” 179 Petri, György, 17 Puótno. See Canvas Podró/ na wschód (Suowacki), 232 “Poem for Adults” (Wa/yk), 281 Poemat o czasie zastyguym (Miuosz), 153 Poems (Mandelstam), 119 Poems: New and Collected, 1957-1997 (Szymborska), 255 Poems by Dan Pagis (Pagis), 165 Points of Departure (Pagis), 166 Polish poetry, 19-34 Political poetry, 26 Popiól i wiatr (Suonimski), 223 Pragnienie (Zagajewski), 289 Primele Poème (Tzara), 263 “Prodigal Son, The” (Ró/ewicz), 211 Radnóti, Miklós, 14, 189-196 “Eighth Eclogue,” 194 “Forced March,” 194 “I Cannot Know . . .,” 192 “Law,” 191 “Like a Bull,” 192 “A Little Duck Bathes,” 193 “Razglednicas,” 195 “Second Eclogue,” 193 “Song,” 193 “War Diary,” 192 Rakosi, Carl, 197-205 “Domination of Wallace Stevens,” 202 “The Experiment with a Rat,” 201 “Family Portrait, Three Generations,” 202 “A Retrospect,” 200 “The Review,” 203 “VI Dirge,” 203 Rawley, Callman. See Rakosi, Carl “Razglednicas” (Radnóti), 195

Eastern European Poets Recycling (Ró/ewicz), 215 Red Carpet for the Sun, A (Layton), 109 Rej, Mikolaj, 20 Religious poetry, 3, 19 “Remembrance from a Dream in 1963” (Ró/ewicz), 214 Renaissance, Hungarian, 2 Renaissance, Polish, 19 Report from the Besieged City, and Other Poems (Herbert), 93 “Reszket a bokor, mert” (Pet¹fi), 181 “Retrospect, A” (Rakosi), 200 Reviczky, Gyula, 10 “Review, The” (Rakosi), 203 Romanticism, 5, 24 Rosenstock. Sami. See Tzara, Tristan Ró/ewicz, Tadeusz, 206-217 “Alpha,” 214 “Falling,” 212 “I Am a Realist,” 213 “I Screamed in the Night,” 210 “I See the Mad,” 209 “The Prodigal Son,” 211 Recycling, 215 ”Remembrance from a Dream in 1963,” 214 “To the Heart,” 213 “Rózsabokor a domboldalon” (Pet¹fi), 183 Sarjúrendek (Illyés), 100 “Second Eclogue” (Radnóti), 193 Second Space (Miuosz), 160 Second Vanguard, 31 Selected Poems, 1931-2004 (Miuosz), 160 “VI Dirge” (Rakosi), 203 Skamander, 30 Sklepy miòsne (Zagajewski), 286 “Slate Ode” (Mandelstam), 119 Suonimski, Antoni, 218-224 Popiól i wiatr, 223

Subject Index Suowacki, Juliusz, 26, 225-237 Anhelli, 232 Arab, 229 Beniowski, 233 The Father of the Plague-Stricken, 231 Genezis z ducha, 234 Godzinna mykli, 230 In Switzerland, 231 Król-Duch, 234 Lambro, powsta½ca grecki, 230 Podró/ na wschód , 232 Wacuaw, 231 ?mija, 229 Socialist Realism, 15 Sól (Szymborska), 252 Sonety krymskie. See Sonnets from the Crimea “Song” (Radnóti), 193 Sonnets from the Crimea (Mickiewicz), 139 Speech-Grille (Celan), 77 Sprachgitter. See Speech-Grille Steiu, Andrei. See Codrescu, Andrei Stevens, Wallace, 202 Sto pociech (Szymborska), 253 Stone (Mandelstam), 116 Stryk, Lucien, 238-243 And Still Birds Sing, 241 Awakening, 242 Studium przedmiotu (Herbert), 93 “Summons, The” (Vörösmarty), 275 “Sunday” (Tzara), 263 Kwiatuo dzienne (Miuosz), 155 Swir, Anna, 244-248 Building the Barricade, 246 Happy as a Dog’s Tail, 247 Talking to My Body, 247 Syru6, J. See Milosz, Czeslaw Szabó, L¹rinc, 13 Szarzy½ski, Mikolaj Sep, 21 “Szeptember végen” (Pet¹fi), 182

307

Subject Index “Szeretlek, kedvesem” (Pet¹fi), 183 “Szondi’s Two Pages” (Arany), 54 Szymborska, Wisuawa, 32, 249-258 Dlatego /yjemy, 251 Koniec i poczátek, 255 Miracle Fair, 256 People on a Bridge, 254 Poems: New and Collected, 1957-1997, 255 Sto pociech, 253 Sól, 252 Wielka liczba, 254 Wouanie do Yeti, 252 Wszelki wypadek, 253 Talking to My Body (Swir), 247 “To the Heart” (Ró/ewicz), 213 Toldi (Arany), 51 “Török Bálint” (Alany), 54 Tóth, Árpád, 12 Traktat poetycki. See Treatise on Poetry, A Treatise on Poetry, A (Miuosz), 155 Trembecki, Stanisuaw, 24 Tristia (Mandelstam, 117 Trzy zimy (Miuosz), 154 “Tündérálom” (Pet¹fi), 179 Tzara, Tristan, 259-268 Approximate Man, and Other Writings, 266 “The Circus Performers,” 265 De nos oiseaux, 264 “The Death of Guillaume Apollinaire,” 264 “Little Town in Siberia,” 264 Primele Poème, 263 “Sunday,” 263 Vingt-cinq Poèmes, 264

308

Critical Survey of Poetry Új versek. See New Verses Vajda, János, 10 Vingt-cinq Poèmes (Tzara), 264 Von Schwelle zu Schwelle (Celan), 77 Vörösmarty, Mihály, 7, 269-277 Csongor és Tünde, 274 “The Summons,” 275 Zalán futása, 272 Wacuaw (Suowacki), 231 “War Diary” (Radnóti), 192 Wa/yk, Adam, 278-283 “Poem for Adults,” 281 Weight of the Body, The (Bara½czak), 69 “Welsh Bards, The” (Arany), 55 Wielka liczba (Szymborska), 254 Wild Peculiar Joy, A (Layton), 110 Wouanie do Yeti (Szymborska), 252 World War I, 63 Wszelki wypadek (Szymborska), 253 “You Who Have Wronged” (Miuosz), 157 Young Poland poetry, 28 Zagajewski, Adam, 284-290 Canvas, 288 Jechai do Lwówa, 288 Komunikat, 286 List, 286 Oda do wielokci, 287 Pragnienie, 289 Sklepy miòsne, 286 Ziemia Ognista, 288 Zalán futása (Vörösmarty), 272 Ziemia Ognista (Zagajewski), 288 ?mija (Suowacki), 229 Zrínyi, Miklós, 3