Władysław Syrokomla by Adam Szemesz
|Born||Ludwik Władysław Franciszek Kondratowicz
September 29, 1823
|Died||September 15, 1862
|Resting place||Rasos Cemetery, Vilnius|
|Pen name||Władysław Syrokomla|
Syrokomla was born September 29, 1823 in the village of Smolków, Belarus, at that time suppressed by Imperial Russia (now Smolhov, Minsk Voblast, Belarus), to an impoverished noble family. His parents were Aleksander Kajetan Kondratowicz (d. 1858) and Wiktoria (née Złotkowska). His uncle was Hilary Kondratowicz (1790–1823), a Polish teacher of maths in gymnasium in Vilnius, who published some articles in Wiadomości Brukowe. A year after his birth his parents moved to another village (Jaśkowicze). In 1833 he entered the Dominican school in Nesvizh (Nieśwież). He had to give up his studies due to financial problems. In 1837 he began work in a Marchaczewszczyzna folwark. Between 1841 and 1844, he worked as a clerk in the Radziwiłł family land manager's office. On April 16, 1844 in Niaśviž he married Paulina Mitraszewska, with whom he had four children; three of them would die in the same year (1852).
In 1844 he published the first of his poems – Pocztylion – under the pen-name Władysław Syrokomla, coined after his family's coat of arms. The same year he also rented the small village of Załucze. In 1853, after the death of three of his children, he sold it or gave his manor to his parents, and settled in Vilnius itself. After a few months he rented the village of Bareikiškės, near Vilnius. He became one of the editors (1861–1862) of the Kurier Wileński, the largest and most prestigious Polish-language daily newspaper published in the Vilnius area. In 1858 he visited Kraków, and some time later he visited Warsaw. For taking part in an anti-tsarist demonstration in 1861 in Warsaw he was arrested by the Okhrana and then sentenced to home arrest in his manor in Bareikiškės. He died on September 15, 1862 and was buried in the Rasos Cemetery in Vilnius.
Throughout his life, Syrokomla would remain impoverished; Czesław Miłosz wrote that he was "forever struggling against his lack of education and his poverty". Despite that, Syrokomla had many influential and even wealthy friends; his manor was visited by count Eustachy Tyszkiewicz, Stanisław Moniuszko, Ignacy Chodźko, Mikołaj Malinowski, Antoni Pietkiewicz and others.
Syrkomla was influenced by Adam Mickiewicz. In his prose he supported the liberation of peasants and secession of the lands of former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth from Imperial Russia, which had annexed portions of the Commonwealth, including its Lithuanian areas, during its late 18th-century partitions.
Among the most notable of Syrokomla's works are translations of various Russian, French, Ukrainian, German and Latin poets, including works by Goethe, Heine, Lermontov, Shevchenko, Nekrasov, Béranger and others. His translations are considered a "great service" for Polish language. Syrokomla also produced a number of works about Lithuania's rustic nature, people and customs. The vast majority of his works were written in the Polish language, however, he also wrote several poems in Belorussian. During his lifetime, his works were translated into several languages, including Lithuanian. The composer Tchaikovsky adapted one of his works expressing a sympathetic view of the then-unliberated peasants – The Coral Beads – into a song. He also wrote of the Karaite community in Lithuania and its mosques and of a Jewish bookseller in Vilnius.
- Translations of Polish-Latin poets of Sigismund's age like Maciej Kazimierz Sarbiewski (Przekłady poetów polsko-łacińskich epoki zygmuntowskiej m.in. Macieja Kazimierza Sarbiewskiego)
- Chats and rhymes elusive (Gawędy i rymy ulotne) (1853)
- Born Jan Dęboróg (Urodzony Jan Dęboróg)
- Poetries of the last hour (Poezje ostatniej godziny)
- Liberation of peasants (Wyzwolenie włościan)
- Margier. A poem from Lithuania's history (Margier. Poemat z dziejów Litwy) (1855)
- Good Thursday (Wielki Czwartek) (1856)
- Janko the Cemetery-man (Janko Cmentarnik) (1857)
- Kasper Kaliński (1858)
- A house in the forest (Chatka w lesie) (1855–1856)
- Hrabia na Wątorach (1856)
- The magnates and the orphan (Możnowładcy i sierota) (1859)
- Politicians from the countryside (Wiejscy politycy) (1858)
- A journey of a familiar man through his familiar land (Podróż swojaka po swojszczyźnie)
- The history of literature in Poland (Dzieje literatury w Polsce)
During Syrokomla's burial ceremony, Lithuanian poet Edvardas Jokūbas Daukša (Jakub Dakusza) emphasized that while Syrokomla was influenced by Polish culture, he was a Lithuanian poet, closest to Lithuania after Adam Mickiewicz. His birthplace was located within the former Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and he referred to himself as a Lithuanian when expressing own regional identity. Teofil Lenartowicz wrote a memorial poem on his death referring to him as a "lirnik Litewski" (Lithuanian lyricist). While majority of sources refer to him as a "Polish poet", his legacy is best understood in the context of the multicultural Polish-Lithuanian identity. His works were often translated into Lithuanian and Belarusian languages.
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- Encyclopaedia Britannica, Volume 18. 1973. p. 163. ISBN 0852291736.
...Ludwik Kondratowicz (pseudonym, Wladyslaw Syrokomla; 1823-62), a Lithuanian who described episodes from rural...
- Jurgela, Constantine Rudyard (1973). History of the Lithuanian nation. p. 499.
...Syrokomla (Ludwik Kondratowicz), a noted Lithuanian poet who wrote in Polish, complained of his inability to understand his fellow countrymen speaking the ancestral language...
- Leipziger Beiträge zur jüdischen Geschichte und Kultur. 2003. p. 85. ISBN 3598247508.
...Wladyslaw Syrokomla (a penname of the Polish-Lithuanian poet and translator Ludwik Kondratowicz, 1823-1862)...
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- (Lithuanian) Birutė LISAUSKAITĖ, Vladislovas Sirokomlė (1823 – 1862 m.) at the Wayback Machine (archived October 23, 2007). 2007
- Richard D. Sylvester (January 2004). Tchaikovsky's complete songs: a companion with texts and translations. Indiana University Press. p. 157. ISBN 978-0-253-21676-2. Retrieved April 5, 2011.
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- Peter J. Potichnyj; Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies; McMaster University. Interdepartmental Committee on Communist and East European Affairs (1980). Poland and Ukraine, past and present. CIUS Press. p. 117. ISBN 978-0-920862-07-0. Retrieved March 28, 2011.
- Narcyza Żmichowska (1894). Kwiaty rodzinne. Nakład G. Gebethnera i spółki. p. 249. Retrieved October 8, 2011.
- Kiśliak, Elżbieta. "Władysław Syrokomla". Polski Słownik Biograficzny 46. Polska Akademia Nauk & Polska Akademia Umiejętności. p. 307.
- (Polish) O szkole > Historia, Szkoła średnia im. Władysława Syrokomli w Wilnie / Vilniaus Vladislavo Sirokomlės vidurinė mokykla
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- (Polish) Patron szkoły (biography at the Vilnius High School dedicated to him)
- (Polish) Irena Kardasz, Patron szkoły (biography at the Michałowo Elementary School dedicated to him, with a chronological table of his life)
- (Polish) Józefa Drozdowska, Władysław Syrokomla (krótka bibliografia) (Short bio, also contains a list of further bibliographical sources)