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White Magic and Other Poems

Krzysztof Kamil Baczynski

Translated from the Polish with an Introduction by Bill Johnston

A Bilingual Edition

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Krzysztof Kamil Baczynski
White Magic and Other Poems
Series No.: 138
ISBN: 1-931243-81-6, Pages: 192
Polish Literature, Poetry

Recognized by the Poles as one of the greatest Polish poets of the 20th century, Krzysztof Kamil Baczynski was born in Warsaw in 1921. He began writing poetry at an early age, and graduated from the elite Stefan Batory Grammar School in Warsaw just a few months before war broke out and Poland was occupied by the Nazis. In the early war years Baczynski wrote copiously and studied Polish literature in the underground university, where he met Barbara Drapczynska, whom he married in 1942. The beautiful love poems he wrote to Barbara make up an important part of his writings.

In 1943 he joined the Armia Krajowa (Home Army) of the Polish resistance. Despite ill health, he remained in the front lines. In August 1944, Baczynski was involved in the fighting surround the Warsaw uprising, and on August 4th was killed in action. A few days later his wife, without knowing of her husband's death, also was killed.

The poet's mother preserved his manuscripts, and in 1961 they were published for the first time, expanding the legend of Baczynski, who is now recognized as the greatest poet of his generation.

The noted Polish translator Bill Johnston has selected and translated a collection of poems in this volume that help to reveal to the English language reader the importance of this poet.

Book Review(s)

AMERICAN POET, no. 31 (Fall 2006)

by Journal Editor(s)

The Polish poet Krzysztof Kamil Baczyński died young. Still, by the age of twenty-four, he produced over one thousand pages of poetry. This new selection, containing forty-five poems, chronicles the brief, poetic life of a poet greatly involved in the Polish resistance to Germany throughout World War II. Riddled with images of struggle and oppression, Baczyński’s poems propel the poetry of witness into cavernous meditations on history, time, and catastrophism: “The night rains on the windows, gathering power; / Blinded like me, the wind kneels at our home. / Who stole form us this carefree time of ours. Though Baczyński mainly wrote in free verse, translator Bill Johnston tries to remain true to the poet’s innovative half rhyme and surrealistic imagery, making Baczyński’s American debut a stimulating one.

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