Monday, December 15, 2008

Mister Thaddeus - or the Last Foray in Lithuania

I must admit, I read (i.e. listened to...) Adam's Mickiewicz "Pan Tadeusz" almost accidentally. I wanted to check how works, and I bought the poem. By and large, this is the most famous Polish epic poem. It is also one of the longest and almost the last real epic poem of the world. Composed in twelve books, it describes the events situated in Lithuanian village, than under the Russian command that happened in just few days of 1811 and one day of 1812.

I did not expect, that the reading of "Pan Tadeusz", the obligatory reading in all Polish schools, will bring so many warm feelings and tears to me...

First of all it refers to the most beautiful, yet tragically ended part of Polish history - i.e. its two hundreds of years long union with Lithuania - called Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The union, the unusual construction as for late medieval Europe, was an example of very advanced political system, having no precedence in the Europe of that times.
"Our state is a republic under the presidency of the King" or "Rex regnat et non gubernat" ("The King reigns but does not govern") were typical descriptions of its status. The country had a real parliament and in 1791 adopted the first European national constitution - with only one predecessor - that of United States....

It was also a country of amazing tolerance to people of all ethnicities, religions and political views.
Poles, Lithuanians, Jews and many other people living in peace as one nation.
"Pan Tadeusz" refers to it, telling, among others, the story of old Jew, Jankiel, who being trully religious Jew, was also a great Polish patriot...

The poem starts with words:

O Lithuania, my country,
thou Art like good health;
I never knew till now How precious,
till I lost thee.

There are English translations of it: by Marcel Weyland and Leonard Kress.

There was also the movie by Andrzej Wajda.

It's pity nations forget about their great past ...
Today, we often wittness almost total ignorance of that great past among many Poles....

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