Mikolaj Sep Szarzynski
Biography of Mikolaj Sep Szarzynski
Mikolaj Sep Szarzynski (1550-1581) was a Polish religious poet remembered for writing metaphysical sonnets with inverted word orders.
A forerunner of Baroque poetry, he wrote predominantly religious poetry akin to that of the English Metaphysical poets. In this period satire and pastoral were the most popular forms.
Szarzynski was a full-fledged baroque poet avant la lettre. His only collection, Rytmy albo wiersze polskie (Polish Rhythms or Verses; publicated posthumously in 1601), has been rediscovered only in recent decades, after centuries of oblivion.
Szarzynski did not write much, but what he wrote reveals an extraordinary personality, a profoundly metaphysical poet. In particular, a handful of his religious sonnets, in which tortuous syntax, violent enjambment, and oxymoronic imagery portray a mind torn asunder by spiritual torment, bear comparison with the best of John Donne or George Herbert.
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Mikolaj Sep Szarzynski Poems
Epitaph To Rome
If midst Rome you wish to see Rome, pilgrim, Tho in Rome naught of Rome might you see, Behold the walls' ring, the theatres, temples And ruptured pillars, to rubble all turned,
Peace is happiness, but war is our plight Under the heavens. He -- prince of the night, Severe captain-- and the World's vanity Work for our corruption diligently.
Sonnet Iii (To The Virgin Mary)
Unequalled Virgin, the second ornament Of the human race, whose dignity has not diminished Her humility, nor has humility lessened her generosity of heart, O rare Mother of her own Creator!
In shame is man conceived, through pain is born, And brief the time upon this earth he goes In life inconstant, full of fears and woes. He dies, a shadow by the sun forlorn.
To Thee, eternal Defender of all creation, I call, frail, commiserate, nowhere secure. Keep me in close watch, and in my each anxiety, Hasten to bring aid to my wretched soul.
Have mercy on me, my Lord, For a foe treds o'er me and strives Mindfully that time and again I be wearied by all adversity.
Dear people, swelled in fool's wisdom And clinging to error so fanciful, To the skies, adorned in hosts of fair stars, Look up - and make bright your dimlit minds!
Tomicki, if they'd not chide him Who lights a praising lamp to Light Praised, sacred and boundless Itself, Whence every light's glow doth stem,
'Tis hard to love not, whilst to love Be sad joy, if by lust misled, Thoughts too sweetly gaze on things That perforce must change and decay.
Alas, hardpressed the whirling orbs And swift Titan hie fleeting hours, And cleave delights with woe avid Death might - fast on us, she strides!
She's mistress of all: Rule of this earth To her is entrusted; Fortune she's called.
Downcast midst vile sins, From my innermost heart I cry out, God unbounded! Hear the mournful plaints
Why flatter thyself, Tyrant, In ways great in evil? The Lord's goodness ceases not Keeping watch on the pious.
Our almighty Lord, eternal, unfathomed, To Thee Cherubin proclaim "Holy, holy, holy!" To Thee too, Seraph, true love's pure brand; A fiery firmament tho marks Thy glory's stead.
Epitaph To Rome
If midst Rome you wish to see Rome, pilgrim,
Tho in Rome naught of Rome might you see,
Behold the walls' ring, the theatres, temples
And ruptured pillars, to rubble all turned,
Rome be these! Mark how the corpse of a city
So strong still past fortune's pomp exudes;
Subduing a world, herself the city subdued
Lest yet more to subdue might there be.
Today in broken Rome, Rome unbroken