Stanisław Barańczak

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Stanisław Barańczak
Anna and Stanislaw Baranczak by Kubik 05061995.jpg
Stanisław Barańczak with his wife Anna in 1995
Born (1946-11-13)November 13, 1946
Poznań, Poland
Died December 26, 2014(2014-12-26) (aged 68)
Newtonville, Massachusetts, USA
Spouse Anna Brylka
Children Michael
Relatives Małgorzata Musierowicz (sister)

Stanisław Barańczak (November 13, 1946 – December 26, 2014) was a poet, literary critic, scholar, editor, translator and lecturer.[1] He is perhaps most well known for his English-to-Polish translations of the dramas of William Shakespeare and of the poetry of E.E. Cummings, Elizabeth Bishop, Emily Dickinson, Wystan Hugh Auden, Seamus Heaney, Thomas Hardy, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Thomas Stearns Eliot, John Keats, Robert Frost, Edward Lear and others.

Personal life[edit]

Born in Poznań, Poland on November 13, 1946, Barańczak was raised by his mother, a dentist.[2][1] He was the brother of the novelist Małgorzata Musierowicz.[3] He studied philology at Poznań's Adam Mickiewicz University, where he obtained an M.A. and Ph.D.[2] In 1968, he married Anna Brylka, with whom he had two children, Michael and Anna.[2][3]


Barańczak became a lecturer at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań. He broke into print as a poet and critic in 1965. Barańczak was on the staff of the Poznań magazine Nurt from 1967-1971. After the political events of June 1976, he became a co-founder of the Workers' Defence Committee (KOR) and of the clandestine quarterly Zapis. In 1981, the year Poland declared martial law, he left the country and accepted a three-year contract to work as a lecturer at Harvard University.[4] He stayed at Harvard for almost two decades, leaving in 1999 due to complications with Parkinson's disease.[1] He was a co-founder of the Paris Zeszyty Literackie in 1983, and a regular contributor to the periodical Teksty Drugie. He also served as editor of The Polish Review from 1986 to 1990.

Barańczak was a leading poet in the "New Wave" and one of the outstanding Polish writers to begin his career in the communist period, combining literary work with scholarship and politics. He was the most prominent translator in recent years of English poetry into Polish and of Polish poetry into English. He received the PEN Translation Prize with Clare Cavanagh in 1996. His book, Surgical Precision (Chirurgiczna precyzja), won the 1999 Nike Award.

His Polish is permeated with the language of the poets he feels closest to - Emily Dickinson, John Donne and Robert Frost - and whose work he has made popular in Poland. Barańczak's own poetry is dominated by three concerns: the ethical, the political, and the literary. His language is extraordinarily supple. His choice of subjects testifies to his community engagement; his language is always amazingly fluent. It may seem paradoxical that Baranczak began as a poetic critic of language and the social order but has achieved his greatest success as a late-20th-century Parnassist, a virtuoso of poetic form.

Some of his poems were set to music by Jan Krzysztof Kelus.


Stanisław Barańczak died at the age of 68 after "a long debilitating disease" in Newtonville, Massachusetts on December 26, 2014.[4][3][2][5] He was buried at Mount Auburn Cemetery.[6]


Each year below links to its corresponding "[year] in poetry" article:


  • 1968, Korekta twarzy ("Facial Corrections"), Poznan: Wydawnictwo Poznanskie[7]
  • 1968, Dziennik poranny ("Morning Journal"), Poznan: Wydawnictwo Poznanskie[7]
  • 1970, Jednym tchem ("Without Stopping for Breath"), Warsaw: Orientacja[7]
  • 1977, Ja wiem, że to niesłuszne ("I Know It's Not Right"), Paris: Instytut Literacki[7]
  • 1978, Sztuczne oddychanie ("Artificial Respiration"), London: Aneks[7]
  • 1980, Tryptyk z betonu, zmęczenia i śniegu ("Triptych with Concrete, Fatigue and Snow"), Kraków: KOS[7]
  • 1986, Atlantyda i inne wiersze z lat 1981-85 ("Atlantis and Other Poems"), London: Puls[7]
  • 1988, Widokówka z tego świata ("A Postcard from the Other World"), Paris: Zeszyty Literackie[7]
  • 1990, 159 wierszy 1968-88 ("159 Poems"), Kraków: Znak[7]
  • 1994, Podróż zimowa ("Journey in Winter"), Poznan: a5[7]
  • 1997, Zimy i podroże ("Winter and Journeys"), Kraków: WL[7]
  • 1998, Chirurgiczna precyzja ("Surgical Precision"), Kraków: a5[7]
  • 2006, Wiersze zebrane, Kraków: a5, 2006[7]

Light verse:

  • 1991, Biografioly: poczet 56 jednostek sławnych, sławetnych i osławionych ("Biographies of 56 Celebrated, Famous or Notorious Individuals"), Poznan: a5[7]
  • 1991, Zwierzęca zajadłość: z zapisków zniechęconego zoologa ("Animal Ferocity: From the Notes of a Discouraged Zoologist"), Poznan: a5[7]
  • 1995, Słoń, trąba i ojczyzna ("The Elephant, the Trunk, and the Polish Question"), Kraków: Znak[7]
  • Pegaz zdębiał. Poezja nonsensu a życie codzienne: Wprowadzenie w prywatną teorię gatunków (Pegasus fell dumb. Nonsense poetry and everyday life: introduction to a private theory of genres), Puls, London 1995.

Literary criticism:

  • 1973, Ironia i harmonia ("Irony and Harmony"), Warsaw: Czytelnik[7]
  • 1974, Język poetycki Mirona Białoszewskiego ("Miron Bialoszewski's Poetic Language"), Wrocław: Ossolineum[7]
  • 1979, Etyka i poetyka ("Ethics and Poetics"), Paris: Instytut Literacki[7]
  • 1981, Książki najgorsze 1975-1980 ("The Worst Books"), Kraków: KOS[7]
  • 1984, Uciekinier z utopii. O poezji Zbigniewa Herberta ("Fugitive from Utopia: On the Poetry of Zbigniew Herbert"), London: Polonia[7]
  • 1990, Tablica z Macondo. Osiemnaście prób wytłumaczenia, po co i dlaczego się pisze ("A License Plate from Macondo: Eighteen Attempts at Explaining Why One Writes"), London: Aneks[7]
  • 1992, Ocalone w tłumaczeniu. Szkice o warsztacie tłumaczenia poezji ("Saved in Translation: Sketches on the Craft of Translating Poetry"), Poznan: a5[7]
  • 1996, Poezja i duch uogólnienia. Wybór esejów 1970-1995 ("Poetry and the Spirit of Generalization: Selected Essays"), Kraków: Znak[7]

Translations into Polish:

Translations into English (anthologies):

Translations into German (anthologies):

    • 1997: Panorama der Polnischen literatur des 20 Jahrhunderts, Zürich: Ammann
    • 1997: Polnische Lyrik Aus 100 Jahren, Gifkendorf: Merlin


  1. ^ a b c Merrigan, Tara (October 2, 2012). "Even When No One is Looking". The Harvard Crimson. Retrieved October 3, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d Weber, Bruce (January 3, 2015). "Stanislaw Baranczak, 68, Polish Underground Poet, Dies". The New York Times. 
  3. ^ a b c Marquard, Bryan (December 31, 2014). "Stanislaw Baranczak, 68; poet left Poland to teach at Harvard". Boston Globe. 
  4. ^ a b Scislowska, Monika (December 27, 2014). "Polish poet, translator Stanislaw Baranczak dies". Associated Press. 
  5. ^ Szczęsna, Joanna (January 3, 2015). "Barańczak: Wchodziliśmy w drogę odpryskom świata". Gazeta Wyborcza (in Polish). 
  6. ^ "Poet and dissident Baranczak laid to rest in Boston". Polskie Radio. January 4, 2015. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x "Rymkiewicz Jaroslaw Marek. Bibliography: Poetry" (in Polish). Institute Ksiazki website. Retrieved February 24, 2010. 

External links[edit]