Najpiękniejszy poeta / The Most Beautiful Poet

tuwim (1)

This special entry is for my international readers 🙂

I’ ve promised to write about Julian Tuwim on the occasion of his tribute year.  Tuwim published his first poem,  Plea (Prośba) ,  a  hundred years ago in  the „Kurier Warszawski” newspaper.  Eventually, Tuwim became one of the most renowned Polish writers, deeply rooted in Poland and its literary tradition. In addition to many volumes of poetry he also wrote for children. His brilliant and funny poem The Locomotive (Lokomotywa) shaped the language and imagination of many generations of Polish youngsters.

Tuwim’s poetry is famous for its incredibly rich, flexible, beautiful and elegant language which, at times, does not shy from biting or coarse expressions.

Watch and hear below:

I have the honour to present this Tuwim’s poem in an excellent and charming translation, as well as performance, by  Marcel Weyland, an outstanding writer and translator.

Just a moment, please! First, kindly read Tuwim’s short bio:

J U L I A N  T U W I M

Born: September 13, 1894, Łódź, Poland, into a middle-class family

Died: December 27, 1953 (aged 59), Zakopane, Poland

Occupation: Poet

Nationality: Polish

Ethnicity: Jewish

Literary movement: Skamander

Notable award: Golden Laurel of the Polish Academy of Literature (1935)

Parents: Izydor and Adela (nee Krukowski, shot by German Nazis in Otwock’s Gettho in 1942)

Spouse: Stefania Tuwim nee Marchew (since 1919)

Children: Ewa Tuwim-Woźniak

Relatives: Irena Tuwim (sister, a poet herself); Kazimierz Krukowski (cousin, a Polish-Jewish cabaret performer and writer);  great pianist Arthur Rubinstein; Adam Czerniaków,  a Polish-Jewish engineer and senator, who committed a suicide in the Warsaw Ghetto, uncle by marriage.

Most important life events:

Studies  (law and philosophy at the Warsaw University.) Co-funding  the literary group „Skamander” and the „Picador” cabaret. Writing for and acting as artistic director of several other cabarets. Emigration, at the beginning of WWII, to France, Brazil and finally the USA. Return to Poland in 1946, where his more modest creativity contrasted with his extensive prewar writing and performing.

Attention: behold,  The Locomotive!


Last but not least: why did I name Tuwim The Most Beautiful Poet?

Maria Kuncewiczowa (1895-1989), a writer, explains this well :

Tuwim with his gorgeous mole on his cheek . Apparently this mole gave him an inferiority complex. Hard to believe. I doubt that he would have been more beautiful without the mole, since he was so attractive with it. I imagined that  the Persian poet Hafiz looked just like him and I was surprised not to see  Tuwim walk  a gazelle on a silver chain through the city streets.

Bibliografia / Bibliography

Chosen texts:

. Czyhanie na Boga (Lurking for God, 1918)

. Sokrates tańczący (Dancing Socrates, 1920)

. Siódma jesień (The Seventh Autumn, 1921)

. Wierszy tom czwarty (Poems, Volume Four, 1923)

. Murzynek Bambo (Bambo the little Negro, 1923)

. Czary i czarty polskie (Sorcery and Deuces of Poland, 1924)

. Wypisy czarnoksięskie (The Reader of Sorcery, 1924)

. A to pan zna? (And do you know it?, 1925)

. Czarna msza (Black Mass, 1925)

. Tysiąc dziwów prawdziwych (A Thousand Real Curiosities, 1925)

. Słowa we krwi (Words in Blood, 1926)

. Tajemnice amuletów i talizmanów (The Secrets of Amulets and Talismans, 1926)

. Polityczna szopka cyrulika warszawskiego (The Political Puppet Theatre of a Warsaw Barber, 1927)

. Rzecz czarnoleska (A Tale of Czarnolas, 1929)

. Jeździec miedziany (The Bronze Horseman, 1932)

. Biblia cygańska i inne wiersze (Gypsy Bible and Other Poems, 1932)

. Jarmark rymów (Rhyme Market, 1934)

. Polski słownik pijacki i antologia bachiczna (The Polish Drunkard’s Dictionary and the Bacchic Anthology, 1935)

. Treść gorejąca (Burning Content, 1936)

. Bal w Operze ( Ball at the Opera,1936, published 1946)

. Kwiaty polskie (Polish Flowers,1940-1946, published 1949)

. Pegaz dęba, czyli panoptikum poetyckie (Pegasus Rearing, or a Poetic Panopticum, 1950)

. W oparach absurdu (In the Fumes of Absurdity, 1958)

12 Komentarzy

Filed under Arcydzieło literackie / The Masterpiece in Literature, Historia Polski / History of Poland, Poetry / Poezja, Poezja / Poetry, Rocznice/ Anniversaries

12 responses to “Najpiękniejszy poeta / The Most Beautiful Poet

  1. „Stoi na stacji lokomotywa… a tyle pokolen sie na niej wychowalo…

  2. I am so lucky that I found your blog! You have introduced me to another poet…

    • WM

      Good morning, Rebecca! The pleasure is all mine. I am happy to have readers like you interested in Polish culture. When I begun to write blog in English, I thought I would never do it. Thank you for being here, friend. My story about Tuwim is much longer. I have just undertaken a literary project about his life. I have to decide on what form is the most proper: a book, a short film or a short theatre play. Best wishes to you, Rebecca.

  3. ciao! this post grows me. in any form, that you extend this man’s life, will be enriching. language does connect us.

  4. I was pulled in by the word ‚beautiful’ and really this poet’s history is quite enriching. Please are there gatherings where people in Poland get to hear readings from works of these poets?

    • WM

      I can say: „All Poland reads to kids Tuwim’s poems!” It concers many generations. Every child knows Julian Tuwim and remembers Tuwim’s words. His text for adult readers are not so popular.

  5. What an adorable children’s poem. Reminds me of Dr. Seuss, and also the little book The Little Engine That Could. 🙂 Love this post! I’m going to have to start looking for videos to go with my posts. They add so much! So much work for you, Wanda. 🙂 I’m wondering how the translation came out so rhyming? Whoever translates it is very talented as well.

    • WM

      The translator, Mr. Marcel Weyland, born in Poland, now living in Australia, is almost genius! To translate Tuwim’s and Mickiewicz’s texts is almost imposible without being „lost in translation”. Mr. Weyland gives most accurate translations!


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