Samuel Twardowski

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Church Assumption of Mary in Lutynia, Poland
Plaque in Church Assumption of Mary in Lutynia, Poland

Samuel Twardowski (before 1600 – 1661) was a Polish poet, diarist, and essayist who gained popularity in 17th century Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, called by his contemporaries 'Polish Virgil.[1]

Life and works[edit]

He was a member of Polish nobility (szlachta), born in Lutynia in Wielkopolska. He was educated in Jesuit school in Kalisz. He took part in the 1621 battle of Chocim. Twardowski was one of the less wealthy nobles and earned his living as a retainer at magnates' courts of various reacher families (such as Zbarascy, Wiśniowieccy, Leszczyńscy). During The Deluge, at first he supported the Swedes, but later joined the Polish king Jan Kazimierz Vasa.

He served as a secretary of Krzysztof Zbaraski on a diplomatic mission to Ottoman Empire in 1622-1623. During that time he authored a diary describing the journey in verse: Przewazna legacja J.O. Ksiazecia Krzysztofa Zbaraskiego (“The Important Mission of His Grace Duke Krzysztof Zbaraski”, published in 1633).

He also wrote about other historical events; that became a recognizable theme in his works. His most famous and respected work was Wojna domowa z Kozaki i Tatary, Moskwa, potya Szwedami i z-Wegry (“A Civil War with the Cossacks and Tatars, Muscovy, and then with the Swedes and Hungarians, published in 1681 in Kalisz). Wojna domowa is a narrative poem, whose style was inspired by classical and Renaissance authors. It is an account of the Zaporozhian Cossacks' revolt, the Chmielnicki Uprising. That revolt was one of the largest, and the Cossacks under the leadership of Bohdan Khmelnytsky struggled against the Polish-Lithuanian nobility who controlled the regions of modern Ukraine in the mid-17th century. The revolt shook the entire Poland-Lithuania. Twardowski gives first hand accounts of the 1649 siege of Zbaraż and the 1651 battle of Berestechko. His work is was considered one of the most authoritative histories of the period.[2]

His other historical works included the Książę Wiśniowiecki Janusz ("Prince Janusz Wiśniowiecki", published in 1648), poem Satyr na twarz Rzeczypospolitej ("Satire on the face of Rzeczpospolita", 1640), another epic poem Władysław IV ("Władysław IV Vasa", published in 1649) and Wojna domowa ("Civil war").

Twardowski also wrote Baroque pastoral romances, in which he employed the technique of Spanish verse narratives. Those poems include as Nadobna Paskwalina (“Fair Pasqualina”,published in 1655) and mythological themes, in Dafnis w drzewo bobkowe przemieniela sie (“Daphne Transformed into a Laurel Tree”, published in 1638).

Four of his poems were translated into English by Michael J. Mikoś and issued in Polish Baroque and Enlightenment Literature: An Anthology. Ed. Michael J. Mikoś. Columbus, Ohio/Bloomington, Indiana: Slavica Publishers. 1996.

References[edit]