Monday, June 8, 2015

Cyprian Kamil Norwid

Cyprian Kamil Norwid (1821—1883) is a Polish painter and poet. He grew up in Warsaw, but lived for many years in various cities including Berlin, Brussels, Rome, Paris, and even briefly in New York. In 1854 he settled permanently in Paris. His first published poem was, ironically, entitled "My Last Sonnet". Norwid wrote extensively about the philosophic, political, artistic and social issues of his day. The only book of his to appear in his lifetime was Poezje (Poems) published in Liepzig in 1863. By 1880 Norwid was becoming a recluse, partly due to poverty and his advancing deafness.

Although unnoticed in his lifetime the work of Cyprian Kamil Norwid was later discovered by the poet Zenon Przesmycki, who published Norwid's work in the journal Chimera between 1901 and 1907, and also published several volumes of Norwid's writing.

The Past

The past, death and pain are not acts of God,
But of law-breaking man,
Who therefore lives in dread
And sensing evil, wants oblivion!

But is he not like a child in a dray
Crying, "Oh, look, the oak's
Disappearing in the wood…",
While the oak's still and the child's borne away?

The past is now — though somewhat far:
Behind the dray a village barn,
And not something somewhere
Never seen by man!…

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection, Conspiracy of Light: Poems Inspired by the Legacy of C.S. Lewis, is available from Wipf & Stock as is his earlier award-winning collection, Poiema.