Classic
Modern Classics
Karol Wojtyła
Literary and Theatrical Works. Volume I: Juvenilia

The early literary works of Pope John Paul II – a valuable testimony to the transformations occurring in him during this period of his life

XIV

Host of the seas immense! O tender Pelican!

Swell, O wheat-thick era, to mercy-days of bread –

Such a soul is needed, who’ll take the cruse in hand

To sate with Christ’s Flesh and Blood those who would be fed.

 

Such a soul is needed, who’ll set some ardent brands

At the feet of crucifixes black, their ghast torture

To reach for, that Love there, with wide-spread nail-pierced hands

World-absolving, loosing fardels of misfortune –

 

And reaching for hearts so wretched, the most brittle;

The glow of that Heart pierced, to those hearts to display,

In both of those hearts a bonfire to enkindle

 

With an ever fiercer, human yearning to pray;

Each man, now’s the time!, now’s the era to be spurred

To seek the Spirit, longing, brothered in the Word.

 

 

PSALM

 

Lord, David I, Isaiah’s son

Of Piast I am the scion,

Thou burnst Thy mark upon my heart

My ear follows Thy rhyme.

 

Thou’st clad with spring, with yearning spring

My flesh, my strength of withers;

May autumn, when it swells, not burst

The strings of my yearning zither.

 

David am I, a shepherd lad,

I sing in begging strain

That Thou have mercy upon Piast

And let us reap the grain.

 

And should the hulk Goliath rear

My youth to break with pride,

May Sion and Moriah plead,

Lord – stand Thou at my side!

 

(thus the matins song)

of David – the Shepherd

 

Excerpts from David’s Psalter (The Book of the Slavs), translated by Charles S. Kraszewski

 

 

(Before the entry of the Prologus

the gates of the theatrum spread open wide

and there you see:

merely steps, arrayed in one tier

a backdrop of three open walls

divided by a colonnade

of double columns, simple rows.)

 

PROLOGUS

There was a man in the land of Hus, whose name

was Job, and he walked in righteousness before

both God and man

– and the Lord gave him seven sons

and daughters three

– and multiplied his earthly goods:

seven thousand sheep and camels three,

five times one hundred oxen yoked

– and so too did He fill his house

with servants numerous.

 

(…)

 

  1. Swag art thou for the ravens black.
  2. Upon thy brow sift ash in sorrow.
  3. For now a terror grips us fast
  4. We must undo thy gall and grief.
  5. Kindle a fire unto the Lord

Bewail thy sins.

 

(The chorus disperses on all sides

and Job remains there all alone

beside the slab of sacrifice.

Job gets up slowly, shuffles close

and tosses myrrh upon the ash.

The embers flame, the myrrh ignites

and flame and incense climb aloft.

In clouds of incense Job takes voice:)

 

JOB

Blessed forever be Thy Name.

Thou hast given,

Thou takest away.

Thine is the Will and Thine the Power.

Just as it has seemed good to Thee

thus has it come to be –

Thou hast given,

Thou takest away –

Blessed forever be Thy Name.

What is a man before Thee, Lord?

Though he have wealth and dowry,

though he be worthy in his soul,

what is a man before Thee, Lord?

A leaf chivvied by the fall wind,

a blade of grass bent by the gale.

– I thought myself a wealthy man.

I thought me worthy in Thine eyes

and I am naked – naked now –

naked I left my mother’s womb

and I am naked now –

– what of goods?

– what of sons?

Thou tramplest them, for Thine the right;

Thou seizest them, for Thine the right,

and that I naked be,

and that a wretch I be,

exposed to misery

– What is righteousness before Thee?

– What is humanity to Thee? –

Behold – the spirits to Sheol

descend, and what remains of them?

Blessed forever be Thy name.

Thou hast given

Thou takest away –

And I am righteous? – What of that?

 

Excerpt from Job, translated by Charles S. Kraszewski

Classic
Modern Classics
Karol Wojtyła
Literary and Theatrical Works. Volume I: Juvenilia

The early literary works of Pope John Paul II – a valuable testimony to the transformations occurring in him during this period of his life

Publisher: Znak Publishers, Kraków 2019
Translation rights: Wydawnictwo Św. Stanisława BM, redakcja@stanislawbm.pl

This hefty volume consists of Karol Wojtyła’s juvenilia; that is, texts that he wrote between 1938-1946, while he was, respectively, a student of Polish Philology at the Jagiellonian University, a labourer, and a seminarian at the archdiocesan seminary in Kraków. Poetry predominates. Above all, we have the future pope’s first collection of verse entitled David’s Psalter (The Book of the Slavs), a collection of seventeen sonnets and several longer lyrics. Besides this, his Autumn Poetry and the mature Song of the Hidden God are included among the verse selections. As far as a worldview is concerned, the above-mentioned texts are syncretistic, bringing together as they do traditions classical, Slavic (pre-Christian), and Catholic. One senses in them the influence of Renaissance literature, as well as that of the periods of Romanticism, and that version of early twentieth-century Modernism known as Young Poland.

The volume in hand includes dramatic works as well. There is Job, written at the outbreak of the Second World War, and the later Our God’s Friend (the precursor of the play better known as Our God’s Brother). The first two dramatic works form an artistic commentary on the tragic events of the first phase of the war, yet they are set in the past – the Biblical era, and Poland of the early seventeenth century.

The prose section is very interesting indeed. Here, for the first time, the fragment known as ‘I am still at the same shoreline’ has been published. This is a prose work built up from essayistic and fictional elements, which was discovered by chance during research at the Metropolitan Curial Archives of the Kraków archdiocese. Wojtyła’s letters to his acquaintances from Wadowice have special weight as documents descriptive of the author’s philosophical, aesthetic and meta-literary opinions during the period in which they were written.

Among the addressees are the sculptor and painter Wincenty Bałys and Mieczysław Kotlarczyk – Wojtyła’s older friend and theatrical mentor, who was to found the Rhapsodic Theatre. The letters to Kotlarczyk constitute, especially, a fragmentary quasi-manifesto as far as literature is concerned, and give voice to the author’s Weltanschauung. In them, Wojtyła displays a critical attitude toward current events, contemporary cultural and political realities, while also exhibiting strong prophetic tendencies and neo-messianistic elements.

Krszysztof Dybciak, translated by Charles S. Kraszewski

Publisher: Znak Publishers, Kraków 2019
Translation rights: Wydawnictwo Św. Stanisława BM, redakcja@stanislawbm.pl

Selected samples

<
>
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
To the top

© 2019 The Polish Book Institute