Classic
Modern Classics
Poetry
Jerzy Liebert
Collected Poems

Liebert’s legacy reflects the dilemmas of a generation which was to create Poland anew

To a Poet

 

What are they to the heavens and void dark, mad

Our hells familiar, absolute, over which

We stretch half-yellowed skies with a lute pitch

In order to cast them longingly after earth – so sad?

 

Oh, what is this love, the heart on an endless beat,

Gales and storms, wise retreats, doubts and defeats,

Compared to mighty gales sent by the highest seat,

And quiet and humble ’neath angels’ feet?

 

From the world’s bottom we scoop up words

Wisdom, feeding hearts with supercilious despair –

And if our words count only here, not there,

If our talk is to the heavens something unheard?

 

Oh, now poet inspired! Neath a statue gleaming

Bent double and beating those strings with all might!

Your lute silver, black, so much alike the night,

When you lay it down, exhausted, pray as if dreaming!

 

 

Painful Inspiration

 

In among my sinful acts as among sleepy grasses

Your stream floats, Lord

Moving my lands, cracking open mountain passes

Hard, massless,

Allow this stream and mead and milk

To climb up aboard

For human kind, for their love, its ilk

I pray, dear Lord.

Classic
Modern Classics
Poetry
Jerzy Liebert
Collected Poems

Liebert’s legacy reflects the dilemmas of a generation which was to create Poland anew

Publisher: Państwowy Instytut Wydawniczy, Warszawa 2018
Translation rights: In the public domain. Rights to further elaboration (including the afterword) must be obtained from the publisher: e.szwagrzyk@piw.pl
Foreign language translations: Belarus, Czech Republic, Germany, Italy (in anthologies)

Jerzy Liebert (1904-1931) was a Polish poet whose work covers the experience of the transcendent. It is  vigorous in its descriptions of reality. Before his untimely death from tuberculosis, Liebert revealed himself to be a talented translator of Alexander Alexandrovich Blok, and a fan of Sergei Yesenin. As a poet, he  followed in the literary footsteps of the likes of Jan Kochanowski, and Cyprian Norwid, was associated with the Skamander poetic group, and a keen reader of John Henry Newman, Stanisław Brzozowski, Thomas Mann and Joseph Conrad.

His life story reflects the complex fates of the Polish nation; his legacy – the dilemmas of a generation which was to create Poland anew, having brought it back into existence in 1918, only to meet with the challenges freedom presents us with. This young generation was faced with a situation radically different from the four previous generations of their countrymen, who were forced to live under foreign oppression. Liebert showed his fellow poets a path which led them to the most difficult existential and metaphysical questions.

Liebert’s poetry celebrates language as a communicative device, necessary for expression, but also as a meeting place, a phenomenon of ineffable, spiritual and restricted coexistence. The spiritual dimensions found in these poems provoke the contemporary reader with their dynamism and dramatic nature, their condensation of meanings and tensions.

Liebert’s poetry features angels who are not the winged creatures of Christian iconography, but a completely new quality, a relational drama, a concretisation of extreme situations. Everyday objects are participants in the process of transience. Paradoxically, the experience of the passage of time does not answer any questions about the meaning of existence, but leads instead to acceptance of the process of things passing on, revealing itself as meaning in itself. Formal rigorism brought to absolute perfection endows this poetry with lightness and musicality, something recognised by Karol Szymanowski, the Polish composer who, between 1930-1933, wrote a two-part cantata entitled Litany To The Virgin Mary op.59 in which he set Liebert’s poetry to music. It was this cantata he once referred to as his ‘deepest, most condensed piece’.

In 2008, Sir Simon Rattle recorded this work with the City of Birmingham Orchestra, which went on to win the prestigious Gramophone Classical Music Awards.

Anna Szczepan-Wojnarska, translated by Marek Kazmierski

Publisher: Państwowy Instytut Wydawniczy, Warszawa 2018
Translation rights: In the public domain. Rights to further elaboration (including the afterword) must be obtained from the publisher: e.szwagrzyk@piw.pl
Foreign language translations: Belarus, Czech Republic, Germany, Italy (in anthologies)

Selected samples

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Łukasz Orbitowski
Orbitowski
Małgorzata Rejmer
Rejmer
Rafał Wojasiński
Olanda
Wojciech Kudyba
Kudyba
Włodzimierz Bolecki
Bolecki
Jerzy Liebert
Liebert
Wojciech Zembaty
Zembaty
Wojciech Chmielarz
Chmielarz
Bogdan Musiał
Musiał
Joanna Siedlecka
Siedlecka
Krzysztof Tyszka-Drozdowski
Drozdowski
Jarosław Marek Rymkiewicz
Marek Bieńczyk
Bienczyk
Leszek Elektorowicz
Elektorowicz
Adrian Sinkowski
Sinkowski
Szymon Babuchowski
Babuchowski
Lech Majewski
Majewski
Weronika Murek
Murek
Agnieszka Świętek
Swietek
Stanisław Szukalski
Barbara Klicka
Klicka
Anna Kamińska

She climbed her first peaks in a headscarf at a time when women in the mountains were treated by climbers as an additional backpack. It was with her that female alpinism began! She gained recognition in a spectacular way. The path was considered a crossing for madmen. Especially since the tragic accident in 1929, preserved … Continue reading “Halina”

Wojciech Chmielarz

First, Marysia, a student of an exclusive private school in Warsaw’s Mokotów district, dies under the wheels of a train. Her teacher, Elżbieta, tries to find out what really happened. She starts a private investigation only soon to perish herself. But her body disappears, and the only people who have seen anything are Gniewomir, a … Continue reading “Wound”

Anna Kańtoch

A young girl, Regina Wieczorek, was found dead on the beach. She was nineteen years old and had no enemies. Fortunately, the culprit was quickly found. At least, that’s what the militia think. Meanwhile, one day in November, Jan Kowalski appears at the police station. He claims to have killed not only Regina but also … Continue reading “Penance”

Marek Krajewski

The year is 1922. A dangerous time of breakthrough. In the Eastern Borderlands of the Republic of Poland, Bolshevik gangs sow terror, leaving behind the corpses of men and disgraced women. A ruthless secret intelligence race takes place between the Lviv-Warsaw-Free City of Gdańsk line. Lviv investigator Edward Popielski, called Łysy (“Hairless”), receives an offer … Continue reading “A Girl with Four Fingers”

Ks. Tomasz Stępień

This question is closely related to the next one, namely: if any goal exists, does life lead us to that goal in an orderly manner? In other words, is everything that happens to us just a set of chaotic events that, combined together, do not form a whole? To understand how the concept of providence … Continue reading “Order and Love”

Jakub Małecki
Szczepan Twardoch
Wiesław Helak
Maria Wilczek-Krupa
Anna Kańtoch
Rafał Kosik
Paweł Sołtys
Dorota Masłowska
Wiesław Myśliwski
Martyna Bunda
Olga Tokarczuk
Various authors
Mariola Kruszewska
Waldemar Bawołek
Marek Oleksicki, Tobiasz Piątkowski
Wojciech Tomczyk
Urszula Zajączkowska
Marzanna Bogumiła Kielar
Ks. Robert Skrzypczak
Bronisław Wildstein
Anna Bikont
Magdalena Grzebałkowska
Wojciech Orliński
Klementyna Suchanow
Andrzej Franaszek
Natalia Budzyńska
Marian Sworzeń
Aleksandra Wójcik, Maciej Zdziarski
Józef Łobodowski

The work of Józef Łobodowski (1909-1988) – a remarkable poet, prose writer, and translator, who spent most of his life in exile – is slowly being revived in Poland. Łobodowski’s brilliant three- volume novel, composed on an epic scale, concerns the fate of families and orphans unmoored by the Bolshevik Revolution and civil war and … Continue reading “Ukrainian Trilogy: Thickets, The Settlement, The Way Back”

Piotr Zaremba
Wacław Holewiński
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