Pan Tadeusz Poem: Five things you need to know about this epic Polish masterpiece

From Chris Riotta, published at Fri Jun 28 2019

Google has released its latest Doodle commemorating the work of Adam Mickiewicz, a Polish poet and political activist.

Mickiewicz, whose work includes ballads and romances displaying a deep connection to his political beliefs, has had his most famous poem honoured for users across the UK, Iceland, Poland, Belarus and Lithuania on Friday.

Google described the poem, titled Pan Tadeusz as a “12-part saga” that ”captures the spirit of Poland at a time when much of its territory was partitioned between Russia, Prussia, and Austria.”

The poem is taught in many Polish schools and is “often considered one of the last great epic poems in European literature.”

Here are five interesting facts about the historic Polish poet:

He’s one of Poland’s most prominent writers

Mr Mickiwiecz is regarded as holding a central position in Polish literature and is also weel-regarded in Lithuania and Belarus.

Zima Miejska, his first poem, was published in 1818, a year before he graduated from his studies in classical literature at a university.

Pan Tadeusz captured the essence of Poland

According to Brittanica, the historic poem “describes the life of the Polish gentry in the early 19th century through a fictional account of the feud between two families of Polish nobles.”

“The poem conveys perfectly the ethos of an archaic society in which the ideals of chivalry are still alive and shows the effect of the Napoleonic myth on the minds of Poles for whom the French emperor and the Polish troops under his command represented the only hope for liberation from Russian rule,” Brittanica continues.

In celebrating the legendary poem, Google said “the narrative focuses on a feud between two prominent families, complicated by the love between Tadeusz and a daughter of the rival family named Zosia. A revolt against the local Russian garrison brings the families together, inspired by a shared passion to restore Poland to its former glory: ‘When talk was to raise Poland again from this rubble.’”

Mickiewicz was also a political activist

The poet joined the Philomats’ Society while studying at university, and reportedly expressed a passion for liberal reformist ideologies.

Mr Mickiwicz was later arrested by the czar’s secret police and charged with unlawful Polish nationalist activities.

His work would later reflect a more emboldened sense of Polish identity, including his 1828 Konrad Wallenrod, a long narrative poem about a commander raised as a Lithuanian pagan who later converted to Christianity.

He was ultimately remembered by filmmaker Andrzej Wajda in his 1999 film about the poet’s most famous work, Pan Tadeusz.

He never actually visited Warsaw

Unlike other notable Polish national heroes, the Encyclopedia of World Biography notes Mr Mickiwics “never set foot in the Polish capital of Warsaw or in most other parts of the modern-day country of Poland.”

Instead, he was born in a region ruled by Russia and, despite being considered a Polish nationalist, is believed to have actually expressed regional sentiments in his powerful poems like Pan Tadeusz.

He managed to leave Russia on the basis of poor health in 1829 though he missed the chance to participate in the Polish insurrection nearly two years later.

His poems are filled with vivid, romantic imagery

Mickiewicz is attributed with quotes known around the world, including “The nectar of life sweet only when shared with others.”

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“Mickiewicz writes with great feeling,” Google said in its statement, “expressing his love and longing for all aspects of Polish life from the landscape (‘These fields, painted with various grain, gilded with wheat, silvered with rye’), to the food (‘mere words cannot tell of its wondrous taste, colour and marvellous smell’), to even the wildlife (‘No frogs croak as divinely as Polish ones do’).