The Laments of Kochanowski
Translated by Adam Czerniawski and with an introduction by Donald Davie
Studies In Comparative Literature 6
Legenda: Oxford, 2001
Renaissance artists and poets readily commemorated the lives of the great, but rarely mourned a child who could not even claim noble birth. Yet the sixteenth-century masterpiece Treny stems from the Polish poet Jan Kochanowski’s intense grief over the death of his little daughter Orszula, ‘a delightful, radiant, extraordinary child’, who died before she was three. The laments stand as Kochanowski’s crowning achievement, and the first Polish work to equal the great poems of western Europe. In a cycle by turn reflective, despairing, and finally hesitantly accepting, a father evokes the unfulfilled promise of a life tragically cut short. The work’s disarming simplicity and enduring passion, supported by an intellectually impressive structure, are fully realized in translation by Adam Czerniawski, the distinguished contemporary Polish poet. The English translation is accompanied by the original Polish text, edited by Renaissance scholar Piotr Wilczek, and with a foreword by Donald Davie. This important edition will prove of value to scholars and teachers of Slavonic literature, and to all lovers of poetry.