Cyprian Norwid

Cyprian Kamil Norwid, a.k.a. Cyprian Konstanty Norwid (Polish pronunciation: [ˈt͡sɨprjan ˈnɔrvid]; 24 September 1821 – 23 May 1883), was a nationally esteemed Polish poet, dramatist, painter, and sculptor. He was born in the Masovian village of Laskowo-Głuchy near Warsaw. One of his maternal ancestors was the Polish King John III Sobieski.[1]

Norwid is regarded as one of the second generation of romantics. He wrote many well-known poems including Fortepian Szopena ("Chopin's Piano"), Moja piosnka [II] ("My Song [II]") and Bema pamięci żałobny-rapsod (A Funeral Rhapsody in Memory of General Bem). Norwid led a tragic and often poverty-stricken life (once he had to live in a cemetery crypt). He experienced increasing health problems, unrequited love, harsh critical reviews, and increasing social isolation. He lived abroad most of his life, especially in London and, in Paris where he died.

Norwid's original and non-conformist style was not appreciated in his lifetime and partially due to this fact, he was excluded from high society. His work was only rediscovered and appreciated by the Young Poland art movement of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. He is now considered one of the four most important Polish Romantic poets. Other literary historians, however, consider this an oversimplification, and regard his style to be more characteristic of classicism and parnassianism.

Cyprian Norwid
Cyprian Norwid

Autograf Norwida
BornCyprian Konstanty Norwid
24 September 1821
Laskowo-Głuchy near Warsaw, Congress Poland
Died23 May 1883 (aged 61)
Paris, France
OccupationPoet, Essayist
GenreRomanticism, Parnassism
Notable worksVade-mecum
Czarne kwiaty. Białe kwiaty


Krakowskie Przedmiescie 5, Warsaw, Poland
South annex of Czapski Palace (Krakowskie Przedmieście 5, Warsaw), where Chopin lived to 1830. In 1837–39 Norwid studied painting here. Later he penned "Chopin's Piano", about Russian troops' 1863 defenestration of the piano.

Born into a family bearing the Topór coat of arms, Cyprian Norwid and his brother Ludwik were orphaned early. For most of their childhood, they were educated at Warsaw schools. In 1830 Norwid interrupted his schooling (not having completed the fifth grade) and entered a private school of painting. His incomplete formal education forced him to become an autodidact.

His first foray into the literary sphere occurred in the periodical Piśmiennictwo Krajowe, which published his first poem, "Mój ostatni sonet" ("My Last Sonnet"), in issue 8, 1840.


Rekopis chopin
Manuscript of "Chopin's Piano"

In 1842 Norwid went to Dresden, ostensibly to gain instruction in sculpture. He later also visited Venice and Florence. After he settled in Rome in 1844, his fiancée Kamila broke off their engagement. Later he met Maria Kalergis, née Nesselrode, who became his "lost love", even as his health deteriorated. The poet then travelled to Berlin, where he participated in university lectures and meetings with local Polonia. It was a time when Norwid made many new social, artistic and political contacts. After being arrested and forced to leave Prussia in 1846, Norwid went to Brussels. During the European Revolutions of 1848, he stayed in Rome, where he met fellow Polish intellectuals Adam Mickiewicz and Zygmunt Krasiński.

During 1849–1852, Norwid lived in Paris, where he met fellow Poles Frédéric Chopin and Juliusz Słowacki, as well as Russians Ivan Turgenev and Alexander Herzen. Financial hardship, unrequited love, political misunderstandings, and a negative critical reception of his works put Norwid in a dire situation. He lived in poverty and suffered from progressive blindness and deafness, but still managed to publish his work in the Parisian publication Goniec polski.


Norwid decided to emigrate to the United States of America on 29 September 1852 under the protection of Wladyslaw Zamoyski. He arrived aboard the Margaret Evans in New York City on 12 February 1853, and during the spring, obtained a well-paying job at a graphics firm. By autumn, he had learned about the outbreak of the Crimean War. This made him consider a return to Europe, and he wrote to Mickiewicz and Herzen, asking for their assistance.


Szyndler Cyprian Kamil Norwid
Norwid in 1882, by
Pantaleon Szyndler

During April 1854, Norwid returned to Europe with Prince Marcel Lubomirski. He lived in London and earned enough money through artistic endeavours to be finally able to return to Paris. With his artistic work revived, Norwid was able to publish several works. He took a very keen interest in the outbreak of the January Uprising in 1863. Although he could not participate personally due to his poor health, Norwid hoped to personally influence the outcome of the event.

In 1866, the poet finished his work on Vade-Mecum, a vast anthology of verse. However, despite his greatest efforts and formidable contacts, it was unable to be published. This included Prince Władysław Czartoryski failing to grant the poet the loan he had promised.

In subsequent years, Norwid lived in extreme poverty and suffered from tuberculosis. His cousin, Michał Kleczkowski, later relocated Norwid to the St. Casimir's Institute nursing home on the outskirts of Paris. During the last months of his life, Norwid was weak and bed-ridden; he frequently wept and refused to speak with anyone. He died in the morning of 23 May 1883.


Norwid, Paris, 1861

Literary historians view Norwid's work as being too far ahead of its time to be appreciated,[2] possessing elements of romanticism, classicism and parnassianism. Following his death, many of Norwid's works were forgotten; it was not until the Young Poland period that his finesse and style was appreciated. At that time, his work was discovered and popularised by Zenon Przesmycki, a Polish poet and literary critic who was a member of the Polish Academy of Literature. Some eventually concluded that during his life, Norwid had been rejected by his contemporaries so that he could be understood by the next generation of "late grandsons."[3]

Opinion is divided however, as to whether he was a true Romanticist artist – or if he was artistically ahead of his time. Norwid's "Collected Works" (Dzieła Zebrane) were published in 1968 by Juliusz Wiktor Gomulicki, a Norwid biographer and commentator. The full iconic collection of the artist's work was released during the period 1971–76 as Pisma Wszystkie ("Collected Works"). Comprising 11 volumes, it includes all of Norwid's poetry as well as his letters and reproductions of his artwork.

On 24 September 2001, 118 years after his death in France, an urn containing soil from the collective grave where Norwid had been buried in Paris' Montmorency cemetery, was enshrined in the "Crypts of the Bards" at Wawel Cathedral. There, Norwid's remains were placed next to those of fellow Polish poets Adam Mickiewicz and Juliusz Słowacki. The cathedral's Zygmunt Bell, heard only when events of great national and religious significance occur, resounded loudly to mark the poet's return to his homeland. During a special Thanksgiving Mass held at the cathedral, the Archbishop of Kraków, a cardinal Franciszek Macharski said that 74 years after the remains of Juliusz Slowacki were brought in, again the doors of the crypt of bards have opened "to receive the great poet, Cyprian Norwid, into Wawel's royal cathedral, for he was the equal of kings".[4]

In 1966, the Polish Scouts in Chicago acquired a 240-acre parcel of property in the northwoods of Wisconsin, 20 miles west of Crivitz, Wisconsin and named it Camp Norwid in his honor. The camp is private property, and has been a forging place for generations of youth of Polish heritage from the Chicago and Milwaukee areas and from across the United States.


Norwid's most extensive work, Vade mecum, written between 1858 and 1865, was first published a century after his death. Some of Norwid's works have been translated into English by the American, Walter Whipple:

In English

In Polish

In Bengali

  • Poems of Cyprian Norwid (কামিল নরভিদের কবিতা) translated into Bengali language by Annonto Uzzul.[5]


  • Jarzębowski, Józef. Norwid i Zmartwychstańcy. London: Veritas, 1960. ("Norwid and The Resurrectionists")
  • Kalergis, Maria. Listy do Adama Potockiego (Letters to Adam Potocki), edited by Halina Kenarowa, translated from the French by Halina Kenarowa and Róża Drojecka, Warsaw, 1986.

See also


  1. ^ Król, Marcin. Konserwatyści a niepodległość. Warszawa 1985, p. 160.
  2. ^ Jauss, Hans Robert. Preface to the German translation of Vade Mecum, München: Fink, 1981
  3. ^ Wilson, Joshua (30 May 2012). "Flames of Goodness". The New Republic. Retrieved 30 May 2012.
  4. ^ Cyprian Nowid's remains symbolically repatriated – 2001, available at: Archived 2006-09-02 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^

External links

1883 in literature

This article presents lists of the literary events and publications in 1883.

A Funeral Rhapsody in Memory of General Bem

"A Funeral Rhapsody in Memory of General Bem" (in Polish Bema pamięci żałobny rapsod) is a poem by Polish poet Cyprian Norwid, a descendant of the Polish king John III Sobieski. It is an elegy for a famous Polish commander, Józef Bem, who was a hero of three nations, Polish, Hungarian and Turkish. It was written in 1851. The poem is a description of an imaginary funeral. It is described as a funeral of a medieval knight or Slavic warrior, encased in armour, with his horse and a falcon, accompanied by groups of boys and girls. The poem is especially interesting because of its form. It was written in rhymed hexameter. All the lines are made up of fifteen (7+8) syllables according to the pattern ' x ' x x ' x || ' x x ' x x ' x.The rhapsody opens with a Latin citation of Hannibal Barca:

iusiurandum patri datum usque ad hanc diem ita servavi

(The oath given to father I have kept even unto this day)

Norwid's poem was often used and performed by Zbigniew Herbert and was translated into English by Adam Czerniawski.

August Cieszkowski

Count August Dołęga Cieszkowski (; 12 September 1814 – 12 March 1894) was a Polish philosopher, economist and social and political activist. His Hegelian philosophy influenced the young Karl Marx and action theorists.

Christophe Jeżewski

Christophe Jezewski, in Polish Krzysztof Andrzej Jeżewski (born 24 April 1939) is a poet, musicologist, essayist and translator of Polish descent who has been living in France since 1970.

Cyprian Norwid Theatre

The Cyprian Norwid Theatre in Jelenia Góra (Polish: Teatr im. Cypriana Kamila Norwida w Jeleniej Górze) is a Polish dramatic theatre founded in 1945. The Norwid Theatre in Jelenia Góra has two stages: Main Stage (540 seats) and Studio Stage (100 seats). The theatre is named after Cyprian Norwid.

Polish actress and stage director Alina Obidniak was intendant of Norwid Theatre in years 1973-1988 and in 2000. Obidniak invited many renowned theatre directors to Jelenia Góra, including Krystian Lupa, Mikołaj Grabowski, Henryk Tomaszewski, Adam Hanuszkiewicz, Maja Kleczewska and Jean-Marie Pradier. She travelled with theatre ensamble to East Germany, Hungary, Italy, Venezuela, Colombia, Panama and Costa Rica.

Czapski Palace

The Czapski Palace (Polish: Pałac Czapskich, IPA: [ˈpawat͡s ˈt͡ʂapskʲix]), also called the Krasiński, Sieniawski or Raczyński Palace, is a substantial palace in the center of Warsaw, at 5 Krakowskie Przedmieście. It is considered one of the most distinguished examples of rococo architecture in Poland's capital.

The building, just across the street from the University of Warsaw, has been home to famous persons including artist Zygmunt Vogel, composer Frédéric Chopin, and poets Zygmunt Krasiński and Cyprian Norwid.

The palace now houses the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts.

High School No. 1, Bydgoszcz

High School no. 1 "Cyprian Norwid" in Bydgoszcz, is a Polish high school in Bydgoszcz, located at Freedom Square 9. Currently, the director of the school is Mariola Mańkowska.

High School No. 6, Bydgoszcz

High School N°6 is a Polish high school in Bydgoszcz, located at Staszica Street 4. The institution is in the vicinity of Ignacy Jan Paderewski Pomeranian Philharmonic building, Bydgoszcz Music Academy - "Feliks Nowowiejski" and the Bydgoszcz Music Schools. No far from High School N°6 stand St. Vincent de Paul Basilica and Cyprian Norwid High School N°1. The building is registered on the Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship Heritage List.

Current director is Mrs dr Wiesława Burlińska.

Ignacy Fik

Ignacy Fik (4 April 1904 – 26 November 1942) was a Polish poet, essayist, literary critic and political activist. He was the father of the theatre historian Marta Fik.

Born in Przeciszów, he attended high school in Wadowice and then studied Polish literature at Jagiellonian University and Jan Kazimierz University. Imprisoned for several months in 1925 for his political activities, he worked mostly as a teacher, while contributing literary criticism to leftist magazines such as Nasz Wyraz and Sygnały.

He was the author of several books of poetry, including Kłamstwa lustra (1931) and Plakaty na murze (1936), of essays such as "Uwagi nad językiem Cypriana Norwida" ("Notes on the language of Cyprian Norwid", 1930), and of the critical survey Dwadzieścia lat literatury polskiej ("Twenty years of Polish literature", 1939). His outlook was Marxist and in the essay "Literatura choromaniaków" (1935) he condemned the work of Bruno Schulz and Witold Gombrowicz as degenerate.

Upon the German invasion he founded the Communist group "R" (Rewolucja) with his wife Helena Moskwianka and edited underground magazines. He was arrested by the Gestapo in October 1942, and shot in a mass execution at Kraków.

Juliusz Osterwa

Juliusz Osterwa, born Julian Andrzej Maluszek (Kraków, 23 June 1885 – 10 May 1947, Warsaw), was a renowned Polish actor, theatre director and art theoretician active in the interwar period. He was the founder of Theatre Reduta, the first experimental stage in Warsaw following Poland's return to independence at the end of World War One. Osterwa began his Warsaw career at the age of 33 by staging the works of Poland's revolutionary dramatists including Juliusz Słowacki, Stanisław Wyspiański, Stefan Żeromski, Jerzy Szaniawski, Kazimierz Przerwa-Tetmajer, and Cyprian Norwid. This team was commonly known as the actor's commune, resembling an ascetic monastery devoted to spiritual practice.

Maria Kalergis

Maria Ludwika Kalergis (-Muchanow), née Reichsgräfin von Nesselrode-Ereshoven; Warsaw, 7 August 1822 – 22 May 1874, Warsaw) was a countess, Polish pianist and patron of the arts.

National poet

A national poet or national bard is a poet held by tradition and popular acclaim to represent the identity, beliefs and principles of a particular national culture. The national poet as culture hero is a long-standing symbol, to be distinguished from successive holders of a bureaucratically-appointed poet-laureate office. The idea and honoring of national poets emerged primarily during Romanticism, as a figure that helped consolidation of the nation states, as it provided validation of their ethno-linguistic groups.Most national poets are historic figures, though a few contemporary writers working in relatively new or revived national literatures are also considered "national poets." Some nations may have more than one national poet; the idea of a single one is always a simplification. It has been argued that a national poet "must write poetry that closely identifies with the nation's cause – or is thought to do so", with an additional assumption being "that a national poet must write in a national language".The following is a list of nations, with their associated national poets. It is not a list of sovereign states or countries, though many of the nations listed may also be such. The terms "nation" (as cultural concept), "country" (as geographical concept) and "state" (as political concept) are not synonyms.

Nowa Huta

Nowa Huta (pronounced [ˈnɔva ˈxuta], literally The New Steel Mill) is the easternmost district of Kraków, Poland. With more than 200,000 inhabitants, it is one of the most populous areas of the city. Until 1990, the neighboring districts were considered expansions of the original Nowa Huta district, and were linked by the same tramway system. They are now separate districts of Kraków.

Nowa Huta is one of only two planned socialist realist settlements or districts ever built and "one of the most renowned examples of deliberate social engineering" in the entire world. Built as a utopian ideal city, its street hierarchy, layout and certain grandeur of buildings often resemble Paris or London. The high abundance of parks and green areas in Nowa Huta make it the greenest corner of Kraków.

Pantaleon Szyndler

Pantaleon Józef Szyndler or Szendler (26 July 1846, Lipie – 31 January 1905, Warsaw) was a Polish painter in the Academic style. He is primarily known for nudes, religious works and Orientalist paintings. Some of his canvases were inspired by Polish Romantic poetry and he was a close friend of Cyprian Norwid.

Paweł Olszewski

Paweł Bartosz Olszewski (born December 11, 1979 in Bydgoszcz, Poland) is a Polish economist and politician, Bydgoszcz City Councillor (2002–05), Member of Sejm (since 2005).

Polish poetry

Polish poetry has a centuries-old history, similar to the Polish literature.

Sapphic stanza in Polish poetry

The Sapphic stanza is the only stanzaic form adapted from Greek and Latin poetry to be used widely in Polish literature. It was introduced during the Renaissance, and since has been used frequently by many prominent poets. The importance of the Sapphic stanza for Polish literature lies not only in its frequent use, but also in the fact that it formed the basis of many new strophes, built up of hendecasyllables (11-syllable lines) and pentasyllables (5-syllable lines).

Three Bards

The Three Bards (Polish: trzej wieszcze, IPA: [ˈtʂɛj ˈvjɛʂt͡ʂɛ]) are the national poets of Polish Romantic literature. They lived and worked in exile during the partitions of Poland which ended the existence of the Polish sovereign state. Their tragic poetical plays and epic poetry written in the aftermath of the 1830 Uprising against the Russian rulership, revolved around the Polish struggle for independence from foreign powers.

Wieszcz means prophet or soothsayer in the Polish language. Therefore, the Three Bards were thought to not only voice Polish national sentiments but also to foresee the nation's future. Originally, the term Three Bards was used almost exclusively to denote Adam Mickiewicz (1798–1855), Juliusz Słowacki (1809–1849) and Zygmunt Krasiński (1812–1859).

In a rough classification of the members of this brilliant triad, Mickiewicz, the master of the epic and lyric, may be called the poet of the present; Krasiński, the prophet and seer, the poet through whom the future spoke; while Słowacki, the dramatist, was the panegyrist of the past.

Wiesław Adam Berger

Wiesław Adam Berger (6 June 1926 in Ostrava-Přívoz – 15 January 1998 in Ostrava) was a Polish writer connected with the Zaolzie region of Cieszyn Silesia.

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