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Sonnets from the Crimea   By: (1798-1855)

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Sonnets from the Crimea

By Adam Mickiewicz

Translated by Edna Worthley Underwood

MCMXVII

Paul Elder and Company, Publisher San Francisco

Copyright, 1917, by Paul Elder and Company San Francisco

CONTENTS

Adam Mickiewicz A biographical sketch by Edna Worthley Underwood The Ackerman Steppe Becalmed Mountains from the Keslov Steppe Baktschi Serai Baktschi Serai by Night The Grave of Countess Potocka The Graves of the Harem Baydary Alushta by Day Alushta by Night Tschatir Dagh (Mirza) Tschatir Dagh (The Pilgrim) The Pass Across the Abyss in the Tschufut Kale (Mirza) The Ruins of Balaclava On Juda's Cliff

ADAM MICKIEWICZ A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

ADAM MICKIEWICZ

(1798 1855)

The last of the eighteenth century was an important period for Russia and Poland, not only politically, but in letters and art. It marked the birth of statesmen, patriots, poets and writers. It was into a Poland of great names and greater activities that Adam Mickiewicz was born in 1798, as son of an impoverished family of the old nobility. Three years before, the third and last partition of his native land had taken place, and the signed documents had been hastened to Petersburg to make more triumphant the birthday of the Great Catherine.

Just a few years before this (1792), Kosciusko had courageously led his forty five thousand valiant Poles in their brave defiance of an overwhelming number of Cossacks and Russians. History had recorded the bloody Turkish wars, the Pugatshev rebellion, the uprising of the Zaporogian Cossacks and the Polish confederations. And with the nineteenth century came the Napoleonic wars with the dramatic entry of Napoleon into Russia, and a new and different mental life began to dawn over Europe.

Mickiewicz was born in Novogrodek in Lithuania. This was the birthplace of Count Henry Rzewuski, who wrote the delightful memories of the Polish eighteenth century, under the title of "The Memories of Pan Severin Soplica,"[] and who declared he considered it an honor to be born a "schlazig" (noble) of Lithuania, and of Novogrodek. He went to a government school in Minsk, and later attended the University of Vilna, which city in his day was a place of Jesuit faith, gloomy convents and echoing bells. All about him epoch making events for Slav lands were taking place. It was a resounding, inspired age for his race, and he grew up to take a fitting place in that age and to be called "the immortal hero of Polish poetry." Poland just then was the battle ground not only for the armies of Europe, but for the diplomats. It was a place for statesmen to win their spurs. If accredited to Petersburg or Warsaw, and successful, they were believed to be equal to any diplomatic emergency. Eloquence, inspiration, and patriotic fervor must have cradled his childhood.

[Footnote : The full title of the book is: Memories of Pan Severin Soplica, Cupbearer of Parnau, by Count Henry Rzewuski.]

At the time of the birth of Mickiewicz, Russia was bringing to a close a prodigious period of development in almost every field of human activity. It was really the birth throe of a nation that was to move powerfully, and to dominate partially the new age. And the splendid and never again to be equalled pageant of the life of Catherine the Great, with its wild dreams of world dominance and of the glorious revival of perished Greece, had just been unrolled for the amazement of Europe. What dramatic and enchanting memories the names of her followers call up: the Orlows, Potemkin, Panin, Poniatowski, Bestushew Rjumin, Princess Daschkov, Razumowski.

In France, too, the same preceding period had been brilliant. It had been the France of Voltaire, the Encyclopedists, and a most resplendent and luxurious monarch. England had known her greatest orators and prime ministers. It had been the Prussia of Frederick the Great; the Dresden of August the Strong; the Austria of Joseph the Second... Continue reading book >>




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