Polish Poetry of World War II (Part 2)
Krzysztof Kamil Baczýnski
Baczýnski (1921-1944) was a poet, a lover, a bad student at an excellent gymnasium, an incredible artist, and a patriotic fighter. He died during World War II while fighting to save his country.
Born in Warsaw on January 22, 1921 to a literary critic and the sister of a well-known philosopher, Baczýnski was an only child. He was born and raised in an independent Poland, one that did not know foreign rule.
He dreamed of becoming a graphic artist yet wrote poetry from a young age. After his first poem was published when he was fifteen years old, the cruelties of war that he so perfectly captured made him the poet of fighting Warsaw; his poems often appeared in underground press under his alias, Jan Bugaj.
A physically small and excitable man, he stayed youthful throughout his short life. He fell in love with a woman he called Basia, to whom many of his poems are dedicated, and married her.
Poland was sieged, and the darkness of Nazism fell across Warsaw. Krzysztof joined the Polish Scouting Attack Groups in 1943 and was promptly assigned an active post.
His talent reached its peak quickly in that small amount of time before he was killed in action during the first few days of the Polish Uprising. His wife died shortly after, never knowing of her husband’s death. Those battles in August of 1944 became known as the most heroic of the Polish upsurges, and Baczýnski was considered terribly heroic, as well.
While his death came far too quickly, his work reached a fascinating level of maturity in the short amount of time that he had to develop it. He is widely revered in Poland as a patriotic, heroic writer of World War II.
Baczýnski wrote beautifully, mastering his language and his audience despite his bad studentship at gymnasium.
His poetry is considered extraordinarily prophetic, almost as if he predicted his own death and the fall of Warsaw. He combined his love of his country with his love of his wife, paying careful attention to his interest in death and predestination.
He often wrote of the importance of the soul over the importance of the body, believing that this way he would be best able to serve and possibly die for his country.
His poetry was written freely with wide variations in structure. Many of his poems had rhyming lines or lines that ended in imperfect rhymes, but few followed any strict rhyme scheme. His themes are all indirectly related to the different types of love, and mostly directly related to his fascination with life’s meaning as seen from the eyes of death.
Here is a link to some of his poetry, translated into English:
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