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On Cyprian Norwid. Studies and Essays

Vol. 1: Syntheses

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Edited By Agata Brajerska-Mazur and Edyta Chlebowska

The book is the first volume of an extensive four-volume monograph devoted to the work of Cyprian Norwid (1821–1883), one of the most outstanding Polish authors. The impact of Norwid’s oeuvre does not fade, as he addresses fundamental and timeless issues, such as the moral and spiritual condition of man or his place in the world and history and seeks to answer universal questions. The book contains an extensive selection of contributions which represent different approaches to the poet’s work. They cover various areas of research, including interpretation, thematology, genology, and editing.

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Leading Motifs in Norwid’s Poetry

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Abstract: The author emphasizes the importance of historical themes in Norwid’s work, expressed both in the significant number of works devoted to great contemporary and outstanding figures in the past and civilizational changes as well as in the ability to picture the cultural backdrop and render historical atmosphere. At the same time, he draws attention to the poet’s predilection for embedding modest figures, minor events and objects with important meanings, which makes it possible to call Norwid a “poet of history” as well as a “poet of atoms.” It is between the atom and the cosmos, which mark the boundaries of Norwid’s work, where the main field of his poetic attention extends: the kingdom of man.

Keywords: Cyprian Norwid, poetry, motif, history, humanism

I

Arguably, one can sense the whirlwind of history pervading the entire poetry of Cyprian Kamil Norwid. Besides the word truth, history itself – including related concepts – is one of the most frequently recurring motifs in his work; indeed, these are poetically the most highly charged. Anyone familiar with Norwid’s oeuvre will readily recall lines such as: “Z wysokości dziejów patrzę/Na rzecz ludzką” [“From the vantage point of history I observe human affairs”] (“To rzecz ludzka,” PWsz I, 63 [“It is a Human Matter”]), “Dzieje – jak szczenna na zlężeniu lwica” [“History like a pregnant lioness in labour”] (“Do władcy Rzymu” [“To the Ruler of Rome”]), “Czujesz dzieje, jak idą, niby stary na wieży zegar...

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