Poland Literature Part I

By | January 20, 2022

Latin and Polish, and indeed, in its origins, more Latin than Polish, is the literary culture of the Piasti and Jagellonids in Poland. Then, at the time of King Báthory and the Wasa, Latin, despite its greater diffusion, slowly gave way to Polish: in the first half of the century. XVII shines once again with vivid light even in poetry, but it stiffens and becomes poorer and poorer in the versifications of an occasional or scholastic nature; it still triumphs in political, historical, moralizing and theological treatises, but it stands less and less in comparison with the Polish of which, however, in the meantime it has mottled the vocabulary with its own elements and made the syntactic and stylistic structure more solemn, more elegant and in part even more expressive. This bilinguality reflects,szlachtaPolish: her almost constant attachment to the Roman Church (but even the “dissidents” do not always disdain Latin) and her even more constant aspiration to feel close to the nobility of ancient Rome, of which she increasingly imitates, or believes she to imitate, the republican institutions. In the period of its greatest splendor, Latin is therefore not a mere artifice, or only a means of making oneself understood beyond the national borders, but it is a spontaneous and adequate means of expression, because it corresponds to a given state of culture, to a given conception of life. The peaceful parallelism, the reciprocal integration of the two languages ​​should also be noted; for a long time they moved in pairs to the conquest of social, political and spiritual ideals; in practical purposes they are usually distinct, but it is rare animosity of the vernacular against Latin, and even rarer still, after the end of the Middle Ages, its contempt for the national language. The gradual affirmation of the two languages ​​and the definitive decay of Latin in the second half of the century. XVIII are completed without jolts or collisions; and this singular union, beyond the Carpathians, of Latin with a Slavic language imprint of itself, even when it ceases to exist, the literary culture of a nation that is certainly, among the non-Latin, the most Latin.

According to ASK4BEAUTY, in the long period of the late and modest beginnings of literary culture – the delay and poverty are due not so much to isolation as to the specific social structure of medieval Poland, not very favorable to the development of literature – Latin dominates exclusively or predominates. But it is a dominance that from a literary point of view only bears grim fruits. Represented above all by the clergy – and the clergy, in turn, are largely foreigners – literary culture only very partially reflects the needs and aspirations of the nation which in the political field, albeit only in spurts, had already shown great energy and awareness of their goals. The horizon and the aspirations of literature are necessarily circumscribed, and it almost exclusively serves religious and chronicle needs.Annales sanctae Crucis vetusti, Annales capituli cracoviensis, Annales lubinenses – of the Benedictine convent of Lubin in Greater Poland), chronicles (Chronicon Galli Anonymi – the author is certainly a foreigner, but its provenance is not yet ascertained; the chronicle, written between 1112 and 1113, it is superficial in the story of the origins of the Polish state, detailed in the narration of the events of the reign of Boleslao Boccatorta -; the Chronicleby the Polish Magister Vincentius, called Kadłubek, conducted until 1202 and written with great stylistic ambition) and lives of saints (several by St. Adalbert, two by St. Stanislaus). But at the end of the century. XIII probably dates back (very recent research, however, reconnects it to the primordi of Polish Christianization) also the first lines of the beautiful canto alla Bogurodzica dziewica, Bogiem s ł awiena Maryja(“Virgin Mother of God, Mary glorified by God”), which later became “carmen patrium”, sung by the Polish nobility while in Grunwald they moved to the assault against the Teutonic Knights. This is the first Polish poetic document. That it has been completely isolated appears unlikely, and indeed indirect evidence excludes it for the following century, but for now nothing authorizes us to support it with reconstructed and backdated folk songs. So much so that even in the century. XIV literature in Poland is, with a few variations and extensions, but a direct continuation of the little that the previous two centuries offer us. So: more chronicles – to be noted is the Chronicon Polonorum by Johannis (Janko), from Czarnków, written in the second half of the century. XIV,Life of Saint Blaise in Polish), collections of sermons (some of which in Polish: thus the sermons of the Holy Cross, Kazania Ś wi ę tokrzyskie, from the beginning of the 14th century, and the sermons of Gniezno, Kazania Gni ę ź nie ń skie, from the end of the century), finally the Psalterium Florianense, Psalterz Florja ń ski (so called from the convent of St. Florian of Upper Austria, where the codex was found until recently), which is the first extensive document in Polish language.

Poland Literature 1