Romanticism in Poland  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Romanticism in Poland was a period in the evolution of Polish arts and culture that began with the publication of Adam Mickiewicz's first poems in 1822 and ended with the suppression of the January 1863 Uprising in 1864. The latter event ushered in a new era in Polish culture: "Positivism."

Polish Romanticism, unlike Romanticism elsewhere in Europe, was not largely limited to literary and artistic concerns. Due to peculiar Polish historic experiences, notably the partitions of Poland, it was also an idealistic, political and philosophical movement that expressed the ideas and way of life of a large portion of the Polish people.

Polish Romanticism falls into two distinct periods: 1820-1832, and 1832-1864. In the first period, Polish Romantics were heavily influenced by other European Romantics. Their art featured emotionalism and irrationality, fantasy and imagination, personality cults, folklore and country life, and the propagation of ideals of freedom. The most famous writers of the period were Adam Mickiewicz, Seweryn Goszczyński, Tomasz Zan and Maurycy Mochnacki.

In the second period, many of the Polish Romantics worked abroad, often — due to their subversive ideas — banished from Poland by the occupying powers. Their work increasingly became dominated by nationalist ideals and the struggle to regain their country's independence. Elements of mysticism became more prominent. There developed the idea of the poeta-wieszcz. The wieszcz (bard) functioned as spiritual leader to the nation fighting for its independence. The most notable artist so recognized was Adam Mickiewicz. His famous verse epic Pan Tadeusz describes his love for the land and people of his native country:

"O Lithuania, my country, thou
Art like good health; I never knew till now
How precious, till I lost thee. Now I see
Thy beauty whole, because I yearn for thee."
(Opening of Pan Tadeusz, in the classic Kenneth R. Mackenzie translation)

Other notable Polish Romantic writers active abroad included Juliusz Słowacki, Zygmunt Krasiński and Cyprian Kamil Norwid.

A number of Romantic writers, on the other hand, remained active in divided and occupied Poland: Józef Ignacy Kraszewski, Wincenty Pol, Władysław Syrokomla, Narcyza Żmichowska.

Romantic ideas informed not only literature but also painting and music. Polish Romantic painting is exemplified in the work of Piotr Michałowski. Powerful influences were exerted on the development of Polish Romantic arts by the music of Frédéric Chopin and Stanisław Moniuszko.

One of Polish Romanticism's unique qualities was its reliance on Polish history. By and large, Polish Romanticism, reviving the old Sarmatism traditions of Polish nobility (szlachta) is indebted to Polish history in ways not observable in other European countries, where the contrast between past glory and present misery was not that pronounced, or did not exist at all.

Polish Romantic writers and poets included:

Other important figures of Poland's Romantic era included:

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Romanticism in Poland" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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