Jan Kochanowski (1530-1584) was the most eminent Renaissance poet on a European scale.
He was a poet, citizen, humanist, courtier, parish priest, landowner and, above all, a man who breathed the full life of the Polish and European Renaissance.
Every Pole learned his trifles and Threns at school.
This kind of poetic genius surfacedfor the first time in Polish literature and remained unique until the time of Romanticism.
As a descendant of the middle-class nobility from a large family, he relied on magnate and princely sponsors.
He studied in Krakow, Königsberg and Padua, and after returning to Poland he settled in Czarnolas (near Radom, central Poland) for many years, and it was there, under his favourite linden tree, that his most outstanding works were created.
Kochanowski had 5 daughters and one son who was born after his death.
His outstanding Threns came into being after the death of his beloved 2,5 year old daughter Urszula, who not only was his the most loved child, but also, as some claimed, inherited her talent from her father.
Travelling, sensitivity, interests and activity developed unique personality traits in him. His earthly life gave birth to a poet of the Polish countryside.
Krakow and Italy and the royal court shaped the humanist in him. It is not known whether the humanism of the Italian Renaissance, or more of a contact with the Polish countryside, created in it a conviction about the spiritual similarity of all people: from peasants to magnates.
According to the principle of “homo sum”, all the problems of the times were expressed in Kochanowski's work: from philosophical reflection on the human fate, through political and social issues, images of court and land life, to a feast anecdote.
Jan Kochanowski began writing in Italy, using Latin: it was then that he created odeas, songs, elegies and epigramas. However, most of Kochanowski's works were written in Polish. This was his personal choice, in line with the Renaissance trend of creating in national languages.
At the same time, it was a step that caused a qualitative transformation of the Polish language in only 30 years.
Kochanowski's and thereafter Polish is different from the previous one. There has never been such a language revolution in Polish history.
Kochanowski was aware of his role in literature. He was aware of the role of the poet: he was the first to formulate the ethos of a creator whose talent is a gift from God, a privilege, a duty and suffering. He expressed it in one of his poems: faith in the immortality of one's own poetry, the sense of a unique mission, the awareness of greatness that obliges to the world, but also brings loneliness.
If you want to go to a place that has inspired the poetry genius for many years, visit Czarnolas. Unfortunately, there is no more famous linden tree, there is a monument to Kochanowski in this place, but there are not many tourists, and a walk in the picturesque park around the manor house is conducive to reflections.
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