The Poetry of Adam Mickiewicz

The Poetry of Adam Mickiewicz

The Poetry of Adam Mickiewicz

The Poetry of Adam Mickiewicz

Excerpt

The aim of the present book is to introduce to the Englishspeaking reader the great Polish poet Adam Mickiewicz (1798-1855).The book deals with Mickiewicz's poetry, and with poetry only. Itgives a certain modicum of biographical and background information, but onlyas much as is necessary for an understanding of Mickiewicz's poetry.Mickiewicz's prose writings, his Parisian lectures, political andliterary articles, and religious allocutions are beyond the scope of the book. Asingle exception was made for the Books of the Polish Nation and of thePolish Pilgrimage, which occupies a special, borderline position: it is apolitical tract, but at the same time, thanks to its Biblical prose and thepoet's method of presenting his teaching under the guise of parables, it is awork of verbal art, and, as such, not only can, but should be included in abook dealing with Mickiewicz's poetry.

Since the book is destined for readers not familiar withPolish literature, I considered it necessary to include a certain amount ofelementary in formation, such as summaries of plots. For the same reasonthe historical position of Mickiewicz's poetry in the framework of thehistory of Polish literature is dealt with only briefly.

I felt especially handicapped in my work by the lack of adequate English translations of Mickiewicz's poems. As a matter offact, the only translation of Mickiewicz's major works which can beconsidered as satisfactory (and only insofar as a prose translation of apoetic work can be adequate) is the translation of Pan Tadeusz by thelate G. R. Noyes. Except for this translation and the translation of the Booksby Noyes, all the English translations from Mickiewicz give a veryinadequate idea of his poetry. In all fairness, however, it should be madeclear that Mickiewicz is a poet extremely difficult to render into aforeign language. The deceptive ease and fluency of his poetic diction, itsdirectness and economy of means make the task well nigh as difficult as thetranslation of Racine's tragedies.

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