Jan Kochanowski Songs

Jan Kochanowski Songs

Kochanowski wrote songs throughout his creative life and introduced this genre to Polish literature. 49 such works were collected in two books, published posthumously in Krakow in 1585-86 (some songs, for unknown reasons, the poet himself did not put it to print). The songs bring you love poems, convivial, patriotic, religious, reflective. They contain an almost complete picture of the man of the Polish Renaissance, a man at the same time extraordinary: the poet, humanisty, good citizen.

The pieces collected in the Songs volume were distinguished by an enormous stylistic and thematic variety. They were in a high style and written in colloquial language. They were about the things of God, the works of the Creator, moral issues, patriotic feelings, power problems, statehood, but also love, joy of life, social feast, they praised the country life of a landowner. Some of them were playful, other very serious – such as Lament after the devastation of Podolia by the Tatars. This variety of the poet's interests, the themes he undertakes is undoubtedly a signal of the Renaissance character of the song, their relationship with the spirit of the age.

Although there are no particulars in the songs, details from the writer's own life, however, they are clearly autobiographical in nature. This is the second important feature that allows talking about the Renaissance character of these poems. Kochanowski, which the writers of the Middle Ages did not do, he constantly emphasized his individuality, uniqueness, different from other people, he brought out and pointed readers his subjective "I". This became the basic philosophical and moral category of the entire collection. The author is proud of his work, talent, poetry has creative power, is something extraordinary – this conviction could not be drowned out by declarations of modesty.

The poet in Songs is someone special, possessing the power to create, which gives him the right to instruct, discipline others (regardless of their social position), which is perfectly seen in Song XIV from Book II, also included in the briefing of Greek envoys, in which the author reminds the rulers of their duties towards their subjects, country.

In individual songs by Jan Kochanowski, the poet remains not only an outstanding individual, that could even hang, talk about it, What's going to be, but also an ordinary person, who is no stranger to suffering, looking for a way in life, dilemmas, finally love. Such a hero wants and knows how to be happy, entertain – as in the feast Song of IX. Worth noticing, that in all the works composing the volume entitled Songs we will find calls to moderation, there are clear limits to play in them. At the same time, the protagonist of these works keeps his distance from politics, he appreciates the general reflection above, than involvement in specific matters.

In praise of the merry company, serenity, stoic dignity in overcoming adversity (Usually, it does not have a tragic dimension in the songs, final) returns in many lines. The joy of life is firmly based on stability, it is a display of wisdom, not recklessness, normal use. Hope should never be given up, give up being active in the world, creative attitude. Life must be interesting, it should become an aspiration to explore the world and a path to beauty (also inside), constant improvement of reason and consolidation of moral virtues. Life is joy, happiness, which trouble cannot obscure – this is the general message of the Song.

The name "song" was used to describe all literary works in the old Polish language, regardless of their species, kind. The same term was used to describe songs intended for singing and one of the genre varieties of lyricism. This is the third meaning, songs as pieces modeled on Carmino Horace, is used in relation to the interesting part of the output of Jan Kochanowski.

Our poetry owes the entire model of the poem to Kochanowski – Polish syllable.

Syllabic poem – based on the principles of a regular versification system called syllabism. Such a poem stands out: a constant number of syllables in each line, a middle note in lines longer than eight syllables, constant accent.

The syllabism was the first regular system of versification in Polish poetry (Jan Kochanowski introduced him to it) and functions in it until today.

A characteristic example of a syllabic poem written in twelve syllables is Pieśń XVI by Jan Kochanowski:

Who always has a naked sword hanging over their neck,
Spicy tables won't make him taste good,
Sweet singing won't help him;
Sleep in simpleton will also take the wrong message.

Kochanowski considered small pieces as songs, having a strophic structure and the broadest understood variety. The latter feature encompassed the subject matter (from philosophical works, auto-thematic, civil to moral, amorous), styles and tones (commendable, reprehensible, ridiculous etc.). Naturally, the poet also used various measures of the poem, punishment.

Among Kochanowski's songs are almost faithful translations of Horace, works that do not imitate the specific text of the Roman poet, but reflecting the spirit, the essence of his lyrics. Kochanowski took over the philosophical and moral content from Horace (stoic-epicurean), which he confronted with his own experiences, he replaced ancient realities with more general or even Polish equivalents. At the same time, he also referred to the Polish tradition, to a few folk lyrics, that is, songs intended for singing with the accompaniment of music. There are also other sources that inspired Kochanowski, np. writing love songs, he already used the patterns of modern lyricism, especially the poetry of Francesco Petrarch.