Language is often taken for granted, unduly blamed, and abused. In Ireland, writing up corpora of Irish English might enhance autonomy. Lexical work yet is not everything. In Poland, there are corpora for Polish, yet the Polish language needs to seek autonomy, still. The prospect looks discouragingly distant.
Prophetism is the most prominent drawback in the Polish literary culture. Julian Tuwim, Konstanty Ildefons Gałczynski, and Czesław Miłosz can be examples of authors mistreated by followers of mysticism as developed by Polish Romantics.
All the above poets wrote and published they did not want to be prophets. The visionary nimbus has always had disadvantages. One would need to use past tenses to speak about the future; own language skills, own language workshop, would become ascribed to some spiritual or angelic agency; finally, one would not be expected to write out own sober wit.
The nimbus was invented in the times when Poland was not on the map of the world and standards were hardly romantic. Juliusz Słowacki or Adam Mickiewicz wrote they wanted to draw attention to the country. It did not work. Napoleon’s army rolled through the Polish territory on its way to Moscow and back, doing nothing for Poland’s future. Słowacki, claiming guidance from angels, wrote dying of a lung disease, fever and narcotics having diminished his intellective capacities.
The country rose owing to traditions other than those of the Christ of Europe. After WWII, Communists yet picked the nimbus as a measure to control writers and pay peculiar non-compliments to Catholics who, for example, never acknowledged mesmerism ― justifiably, looking to linguistic and intellectual qualities of hypnotism. Alexander Kwaśniewski chose the mesmeric Słowacki for his poet-prophet and inspiration. I provide a sample of Słowacki’s style in Anhelli.
The Polish divide embraces bards as different form prophets. Modern literary criticism has Słowacki, Mickiewicz, and Krasiński for the Three Bards of Polish literature. Some argue that Norwid was the one to deserve the term instead of Krasiński. Still many ― me included ― would say that bards were poets like Shakespeare or the Polish John Kohanovsky, and the “prophets” actually instrumentalized language. The John of the Black Forest, translation of John Kohanovsky’s poetry with biographical notes about the true bard of Poland, is another project of mine.
On Doctor the Spaniard
Doctor our gentle slips away to slumber
Wishes he not to see us nor the supper
Leav’m alone, he’ll be in linens unwary
Here and us all, we get to make merry!
The meal’s over, the Spaniard we go find!
Bah, not without a pitcher, to my mind!
Let us in, doctor, esteemed our senor!
The doc ne’er let down, up has let the door.
One cup is no defeasance, God bless!
Would it be one only, the doctor says.
One into nine over time has turned,
And the doctor’s vision is giving in blurred.
Difficult with these gents, says he, principle mine.
Sober in the evening, I’ll be getting up drunk.
Kohanovsky happens to be quoted for a considerable change in style, owing to the personal misfortune the death of his little daughter was to him. The following dedication comes from the Lazarus print of the Threnodies in 1583, briefly before his death:
TO ORSULA KOCHANOWSKA, THE GRACEFUL, BLITHE, AND PRODIGIOUS CHILD WHO, VIRTUES ABUNDANT AND A RESOLUTION MAIDEN EMINENTLY ARISING HAVING SHOWN: SUDDENLY, IMPROVIDENTLY, IN YEARS PREMATURE, TO UNBEARABLE A WOE OF MOTHER AND FATHER HERS, DECEASED: JAN KOCHANOWSKI, THE UNFORTUNATE FATHER IN TEARS HAS WRITTEN, FOR HIS DARLING MAID.
YOU ARE NOT HERE, ORSULA MINE.
Threnody the First
Bewailing all and tears Heraclitean all,
And laments, and Simonidean moans,
All this world’s sorrows and all susurration,
And woes, and worries, and abnegation,
All ye, into home mine do now assort
My weep for my scion maiden fair do consort:
Impudent death has her from me becleft,
Impulsive, of all felicity he has me bereft.
As the beast to have descried a nesting hidden
Takes the nightingales faint, its gorge greedy
overbrimmed: the mother screams her chirp
Ill-fated, to hurtle at the slaughterer therewith,
In vain: the creature cruel is at her to tear
And she the feather hers may barely save.
It is vain to weep, I deem you people say,
What is not vain, in this world’s way?
All is vain: on the soft of the matter we seek to presage,
And it is burly: the error has been in the human age.
Knowen ye, which the better shall: anguishes to encastle
Or human mortality senselessly to wrestle.
Ruthless the empties you did to my home,
My dear Orsula, with this disappearing yours.
We are plenty, and there is as none:
So much taken with a baby soul one.
You said all and sang all
Your tiptoe every corner in the home
You allowed no worry to your mother,
Nor had nuisance of your father
With this or that one in a loving embrace,
The smile witty on your very face.
Now, all is silence: the home is empties profound,
There is no littlun play or laughter to resound,
Every corner is breathing a piercing sad
The heart is heedless, from comfort forbad.