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Herbert and Miłosz
An Essential Dispute

Marek Troszyński

in memory of Krzysztof Zaleski

The dispute between Herbert and Miłosz may be interpreted against the background of one of the major personal disputes in Polish cultural history: the legendary antagonism between Mickiewicz and Słowacki. The polemics between the bards, irrespective of emigrant gossip or scholarly folklore, had a permanent axis, with regard to which the two developed fundamentallyy different attitudes. The touchstone was their view of the chivalric idea. For Słowacki, it was the universal symbol of humanity, whereas Mickiewicz betrayed that idea in Konrad Wallenrod and caricatured it in Pan Tadeusz. A shade of that old dispute emerges in the polemics between Herbert and Miłosz: Herbert’s view is close to Słowacki’s apotheosis of the princes of Polish historical memory: the knight Zawisza the Black and the priest Father Marek.

On the surface, the matter seems simple. There were two poets, both from the Eastern borderlands of the old Rzeczpospolita—one from Lithuania, the other from Ukraine. The latter’s mother was of Armenian descent. Although the age difference between the two was no more than a decade, history turned it into a generation gap. Both spent important years of their lives in Paris. On one occasion they had a famous argument at a crowded party that was differently recounted and interpreted by various sources—besides, the company was believed to be well in their cups. The younger one wrote a vitriolic poem against his older colleague. Although he was younger, he passed away first. They both lived in an epoch replete with events essential to Poland, but they perceived them in different ways.

Czesław Miłosz and Zbigniew Herbert. Adam Mickiewicz and Juliusz Słowacki. Both duos match the above description in every respect, the biographical facts being authentic even if selected with an intentional bias. Such a coincidence of views and fortunes must evoke anxiety and reflection, even though the lifetimes in question are separated by a hundred years and by cosmic earthquakes in the Polish homeland. One could focus on the no-less-important differences in these relationships, but it seems more worth while to explore the convergences. Indeed, much evidence can be produced to support the view that these are not mere accidents: they are successive manifestations of a paradigm that, through cyclic reenactments, displays its essential significance for Poland. It is a key element of Polish cultural identity.

Hidden in their polemics and attired in a uniform of an insurgent cadet or a colourful uhlan, the medieval idea of chivalry became the focus of Miłosz’s and Herbert’s views on the most important things in life expressed by each of them through different means.

Anna Czabanowska Wróbel quotes Adam Zagajewski’s formula: “In his volume of essays titled Obrona żarliwości [In Defense of Passion]. . . he argued, having generally Miłosz and Herbert in mind, that contemporary Polish poets stood on the shoulders of Giants.”[1] Miłosz and Herbert, perceived as the giants—a bedrock—by the New Wave [Nowa Fala] poets, were also aware of the generational relay and invoked their great predecessors. Ostentatiously and repeatedly Miłosz stressed his respect for Mickiewicz while simultaneously emphasizing his strong abomination toward Mickiewicz’s adversary Juliusz Słowacki, whereas Herbert chose Słowacki to be his master and patron.

What I have left out in this collection of surprising coincidences—apart from the parenthetical reference to their altercation during the “alcoholic” feasts—is the fundamental antagonism between the two bards. In the case of Słowacki and Mickiewicz, the conflict could fill a monograph: multi-layered, extensive, exhaustive, triggered by personal misunderstandings and differences in poetic artistry, as well as by their attitude toward the present and toward the history of Polish emigration. The seed of discord, brought over from their Vilnius (Wilno) times, was first activated by Mickiewicz in his famous saying about a beautiful church without God inside. The dislike shown by the “Great First” lasted throughout Słowacki’s lifetime (or perhaps even longer) with fluctuating intensity, and a few temporary thaws as well, and had a significant influence on Słowacki’s work and on crystallizing his view of the world. On the other hand, the disagreements between Herbert and Miłosz were vigorously pursued and utilized in public by sensation-seeking journalists immediately after they emerged. In contrast to that and perhaps unexpectedly, literary scholars took the opposite stand, as they pointed out similarities rather than differences and argued for “an extraliterary nature of the alleged essential differences.”[2]. In a reconnaissance ventured across the  Herbert/Miłosz relations, peppered by a great deal of reservations and objections, the research focuses on the allegedly predominant areas of shared attitudes, values, concepts, and so on. The conflict is shifted into a taboo area, and talking about it becomes not so much politically incorrect as certainly not very welcome.[3]

Disputes and conflicts—as points of tension and intersecting and clashing ideas—are not only more attractive for researchers than a catalogue of “confirmed similarities,” but they can also lead us to problems crucial for the culture they represent. Such is the dispute between Mickiewicz and Krasiński which Maria Janion refers to in an interview in Tygodnik Powszechny: “It is not limited to the period of Romanticism, it engages the entire 19th and 20th century, it is an unalienable part of the modern Polish cultural paradigm”[4] In Herbert’s and Miłosz’s case, the dispute took place beyond an open forum, in a private space, and is known only from letters published after much delay.

Regardless of the air of scholarly folklore and mutual campaign fueling the actual and alleged antagonisms between the bards (Słowacki and Mickiewicz), our respect for them and their work should be based on an assumption that there was more to this dispute than an inveterate animosity. It should be presumed that the conflict also marks an axis of the Polish argument about the principle of the society’s identity. Has our generation faced a repetition of that argument? Did the contemporary poets follow the declared paths of tradition set by the predecessors they invoke—did Miłosz follow Mickiewicz and Herbert Słowacki? What is the deep ideological nature of that Romantic argument, and can reminiscences thereof be traced in the contemporary poets’ dispute? And finally: can the core and the weight of that argument influence the reception of the contemporary poets’ antagonism or fuel it today?

Let us start with an excursion into the diverse and multi-layered antagonism between the Romantic bards. It would be impossible to grasp all the phenomena under this name—Manfred Kridl’s prewar study of the issue filled the entire monograph.[5] This essay focuses on its “anthropological” dimension, in order to emphasize the point that became the main criterion and signal for both poets: their reception of the chivalric tradition. Their atttitude toward chivalry is the touchstone of their views. Rooted in Antiquity and subsequently Christianized, this tradition, treated ironically or gravely, is present particularly at times when a military act becomes a challenge for the generation—as in both epochs under consideration.

Słowacki’s polemics with Mickiewicz started with Kordian and continued with Beniowski. It had to do with the former’s vigorous objection to Mickiewicz’s Machiavellian argument that encouraged the vanquished and the weaker to use deceit and treason as their weapons. Mickiewicz did not reveal the origin of his motto in Konrad Wallenrod;[6] scholars discovered it later. Słowacki strongly objected to propagandizing such a motto. A word had the power of bringing people to action—it indeed became flesh when Wallenrod became embodied in the assault on the Belweder Palace in 1830. The poet’s genius should have predicted the effect of following Kordian’s tragic example that produced one hundred thousand traitors out of just one.

For Słowacki a knight was an emblem of humanity at its best; he depicted the greatness of this vocation under the patronage of Archangel Michael. The image of a knight was recalled by Słowacki on many occasions, for instance in Kordian in the vision of Grzegorz, an old servant and Napoleonic veteran, who saw the figure of a knight standing on top of a pyramid. For Słowacki betraying the idea of chivalry was a sacrilege. He was always interested in relentless characters who would not surrender until the bitter end, until kenosis, until annihilation. Such was Mother Makryna (as a literary character, not the actual historical impostor); such was the Constant Prince from Calderon’s drama translated by Słowacki; such were Father Marek, Zawisza the Black, General Sowiński, and many others. In his later years Słowacki gave poetic expression to the identity of a knight in the following sentence: “The spirit of life is a proud knight,/And its sight is directed upwards.”[7] As a counterpoint to this ideal, Słowacki depicted the figure of a colourful uhlan who charges on with his pointed lance and a banner flapping in the wind—a caricature and negation of chivalry. Disrespect for the idea of chivalry was what Słowacki later believed to be the major flaw in (the otherwise so much praised) Pan Tadeusz where, he wrote,“The duel is ridiculed and a [drunken] brawl is exalted.”[8] Słowacki derided fake knights and colourful uhlans, but did not allow any derision toward or humiliation of the idea of knighthood. He foresaw the danger of challenging the fundamentals—and whenever he saw the threat of such a challenge coming, he reacted with a firm non possum!

Słowacki’s interpretation of his adversary’s works, in which he exposed the latter’s negative and deconstructive attitude toward chivalry, is convincing and justified. Although Mickiewicz did not intend to poke fun at that ideal in his writings, it cannot be denied that he often presented chivalry in an unfavorable light and was more interested in deviations and instances of departure from the rules than in the core of the rules. He referred to the examples of knightly insubordination and its tragic personal consequences lightly; asa reader Słowacki interpreted and correctly predicted the long-term significance and effect of Mickiewicz’s trivialization of chivalry.

Disrespect for the idea of chivalry was what Słowacki later believed to be the major flaw in (the otherwise so much praised) Pan Tadeusz where, he wrote,“The duel is ridiculed and a [drunken] brawl is exalted.”

In a complicated body of relations between Miłosz and Herbert, personal matters intermingle with poetic work. I take it for granted that the stream of reasons and beliefs cherished by the narrator, the “lyrical I” of a literary work, is rooted in the author’s personal canon of values and beliefs. What I suggest here is confronting the contemporary poets’ views on the matter that set them at a fundamental variance. Hidden in the shade of their key polemics and attired in a uniform of an insurgent cadet or a colourful uhlan, the medieval idea of chivalry became the focus of both poets’ views on the most important things in life expressed by each of them through different means. The feudal origins of chivalry (chivalry precedes the birth of the national states) suggests the universal nature of knighthood as a model of virtue in Christian Europe. In the Romantic period that universal aspect was not lost or appropriated solely for the sake of national mythologies. It often survived in its original meaning. In many cases, however, it was ridiculed, as in Mickiewicz.

Miłosz’s attitude toward that Romantic ambivalence concerning chivalry seems to derive from his routine dislike of this tradition. In spite of the broad span of Miłosz’s views—indeed, “Miłosz’s entire work develops in self-contradictions” [9]—in this regard we face an amazing consistency. For Miłosz a knight is an anachronism—on one occasion he even speaks of “atavism.” Chivalric literature such as The Song of Roland is anachronistic because “no one will read The Song of Roland unless forced to do so in school. This work belongs to a tradition that has already been assimilated in culture, and young people imbibe it by osmosis, so to speak.”[10] Let us listen to these words: starzyzna obumarłej formacji zasymilowana we fragmentach [the dead tradition partly assimilated]. In Mickiewicz’s Konrad Wallenrod, Romantic irony makes the knight’s faithfulness a dubious issue. In his history of Polish literature, Miłosz describes the poem in terms of “the call of the wild,” that being his description of an overwhelming power, always victorious in confrontation with any cultural background. Konrad Wallenrod “behaves like the christened and tamed Indians who turn against their masters when they hear ‘their blood calling.’ ” [11]

A coincidence, or perhaps this Mickiewicz-related provenance, is observed by Włodzimierz Bolecki with regard to the idea of ketman: “It might be intriguing to compare Miłosz’s ketman [in The Captive Mind] with Wallenrodism. Were these two sets of attitudes related? Ketman was rooted in a lie, in ‘complete cynicism’[12], and it permitted nihilism. With regard to ketman, Miłosz wrote in The Captive Mind: ‘Man is empty inside. . . man is a function of social forces.’ At the same time, Miłosz wrote that ‘ketman consists in creating oneself against something else.’ But was it possible to ‘create oneself’ and come to fulfillment in this situation? Was not the price for practicing ketman higher than the effects of this self-realization? After all, as we learned from Mickiewicz, Wallenrodism ultimately means self-destruction.”[13] At this point it is worth remembering that according to Miłosz, the Jesuit reservatio mentalis (mentioned in his comments about his complicated relationship with the communist authorities) is a spiritual legacy of Machiavelli, and so is the motto Mickiewicz chose to precede his poem about Wallenrod.

Miłosz’s depiction of the idea of chivalry is striking—always and only in the distorting mirror of historical concretization selected in a biased and one-sided manner: “The story of the Christian mission was in fact the story of murder, rape, and banditism, while the black cross remained for a long time a symbol of destruction more thorough than the plague,” Miłosz opines in Native Realm.[14] In Słowacki’s works, where a knight is always a universal  model of humanity, a parallel caricature and an image of a pseudo-knight (a colourful uhlan, a half-knight) also appears. In Miłosz’s world, however, the “real” knight is absent; there is only the caricatured uhlan referred to in Traktat poetycki:

And the poet hated the uhlan
More than the bohème once hated the bourgeois.
[The poet] mocked the flag and despised the colors.[15]

Had it not been for Miłosz’s irrational allergies, prejudices, and resentment of which he ostentatiously boasted, he might have found more inspiration in Słowacki’s work and thought. He might also have realized with astonishment that Słowacki was not entirely absent in his work. There are many indications that Miłosz was subconsciously influenced by Słowacki’s themes, and therefore cautiously kept them out of view—indeed, both “Lechites” (a derogatory term to describe Poles) and the argument on “dual background” come directly from Lilla Weneda.[16]

For Miłosz, the meaning of knightly conduct is reduced to a universal apotheosis of bloodshed. This is how he read the poems of a young German poet whom he met in Paris before the war: “Guenther, a young Nazi, recited his poems that sounded like the clamor of swords. He was glorifying the knightly epoch, sacrifice, and blood.”[17] Even earlier, during his university years, he discerned elements of knightly conduct in the code of student fraternities. He was irritated by their “style of cockfight and military honor.”[18] Here the “cockfight” does not seem to equal the “call of the wild”—that overwhelming, irresistible urge that Mickiewicz assigned to Wallenrod. After all, a rival association of which Miłosz himself was a member, Akademicki Klub Włóczęgów (University Vagabonds’ Club), defined itself through opposition to these fraternity codes. Its members “conducted an ironic war with student corporations that felt helpless in being attacked by people who did not believe in duels or in matters of honor.”[19] Yet as psychologists have pointed out, defining oneself in opposition to something usually means being influenced by that something.

The years of German (and, in the East, Soviet) occupation became a test: fidelity to ideals suddenly became something more than a schoolboy fashion. Miłosz stresses the popularity of Joseph Conrad in wartime Warsaw; however, he does not share or yield to this fascination. When referring to the views of [Marxist] Tadeusz Kroński, who “regarded as a constitutive trait of the Fascist view of the world . . . an absolutization of values, regardless of whether what was glorified was raison d’état, fatherland, or nation,”[20] Miłosz seems to focus on Kroński’s conceptual system, which he finds most acceptable. Yet Miłosz’s views, often seemingly translucent, are a complex system of various superstitions dressed up in rational rhetoric rather than a clear presentation of a lucid philosophical system.[21] In one of Miłosz’s letters to Thomas Merton a Wallenrodean motif appears, and it is presented as a chain of logical implications: “The inevitability of Russian victory, Caesar’s rule over the entire world, and the only thing left to us: deceiving the Caesar.”[22]

Irrespective of the trap of Miłosz’s contradictory views and arbitrary statements, his views of chivalry are in fact fairly perceptible, unambiguous, and surprisingly consistent. They imply an impossibility of win-win settlements in the real world, they contradict the evangelical principle But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil (Matthew 5:37). Miłosz reverses this principle completely when he writes: “Every alleged recitation of ‘bare facts’ is in fact a political decision. These diabolical categories of ‘yes’ and ‘no’ may work in small personal circles, but in a larger context they are crushed into powder” [23] [Italics mine, MT]. For Miłosz, the necessity to polarize and to make clear choices is a fiendish thing. Presented in a biased and trivialized manner, the principle of chivalry is thus completely annihilated since there is no reason to make a final choice of a set of values and to serve them faithfully.

In contrast, Herbert has no anti-Romantic phobias and he reads the language of tradition in a different way. He also consistently regarded Słowacki as his patron. This choice is not tantamount to cultivation of animosity against Słowacki’s great opponent Mickiewicz—on the contrary, Herbert speaks highly of the latter’s work as well. Nevertheless, he finds his spiritual provenience predominantly in Słowacki. Herbert’s temperament makes him willing to make unequivocal judgments about others’ art or poetry. Józef Maria Ruszar notes: “One is amazed at the temperature of Zbigniew Herbert’s relation to both his own and others‘ work, to art and poetry. Vehement rejection or ecstatic ruptures, ‘humble admiration’ or ‘deep resentment,’ ‘humble tribute’ or sarcasm—these extreme attitudes are frequently adopted by the author of Rovigo.”[24] In a volume of studies under the characteristic title Dialog i spór. Zbigniew Herbert a inni poeci i eseiści [Dialogue and Dispute: Zbigniew Herbert versus other Poets and Essayists], one chapter, with nearly superstitious caution, deals with the literary dimension of the dispute between Herbert and Miłosz. However, the volume does not deal with authors of the past beyond Norwid, nor was there any room made for Herbert’s dialogue with Słowacki, so full of reverence and acceptance.

Herbert’s in-depth reception of Słowacki’s works is almost metaphysical: it is based on a feeling of their mutual relation to the Caucasus Mountains. Herbert cherished the memory of his Armenian grandmother, Maria née Bałaban. He emphasized that “Juliusz Słowacki, too, came from the remotest borderland, Armenia, through his mother’s mother.”[25] Even within the changed vocabulary of the contemporary poetic lyrics, there are traces of assimilation of Słowacki’s works in Herbert. Substantial fragments of Słowacki’s works were stored in Herbert’s conscious and unconscious memory. Delighted with the ease of Słowacki’s rhyme, Herbert recalls a stanza from Beniowski in which the author resists an apology for deceit that is implied in Mickiewicz’s poem:

The Wallenrodism [which Mickiewicz depicted]
Did a great deal of good—indeed!
It ushered in a method in betrayal
And created a hundred thousand traitors out of the first one.[26]

Out of the entire poem, which abounds in digressions and sparks with innovative rhymes and rhythms, Herbert invokes just these four lines. He must have memorized them not only because of their accessibility, but also because they were an essential memento.

The origin of the chivalric motif in Herbert’s works goes back to pre-Christian times. He mentions not only Hector and Achilles, but also Gilgamesh. He is not afraid of being declared anachronistic or ludicrous; on the contrary, he accepts the price of remaining true to his convictions because “during the time of terror, each moral gesture seems incredibly ridiculous. Onto the stage of a modern drama steps out a chap in full armor. A vehement gale of laughter. Even now, when we all agree that one should have opted for truth and freedom in those times of terror, our declarations sound somewhat uneasy. Yet there was not, and there is not, any other way.”[27] The fact that Herbert transcended the fear of being ridiculed is also shown by the “flagship” character of his poetry, called Mr. Cogito. In the poem “About Mr. Cogito’s two legs” [O dwu nogach Pana Cogito], Mr. Cogito’s eponymous legs are ill-matched—one belongs to Sancho Panza, while the other “resembles a wandering knight’s.” In some contemporary interpretations of Don Quixote, these two characters are seen as the manifestations of the two sides of one personality.[28] In the first volume of Cervantes’s novel Sancho Panza is spurred on by his master’s imagination, whereas in the second volume, as the leader’s enthusiasm subsides, Sancho takes over the latter’s role and encourages him to search for new victories. By combining the aspects of both characters, Mr. Cogito experiences humanity in its fullness; however, the consequence of the incommensurability of the two legs is that he “walks across the world staggering slightly.”

Miłosz’s skeptical assessment of representatives of the “heroic” war generation (the so-called “generation of Columbuses”) is unacceptable to Herbert. He extricates them from Miłosz’s tight cage of antinationalist frenzy which he believes is an incorrect place for them, because “their souls desired life, adventure, God, and truth.”[29] Despite Słowacki’s “anachronistic” interpretations of Polish Romanticism,[30] Herbert intuitively follows the great formula of his master who set a clear hierarchy of values. Thus Herbert states that “we could not serve an army, or even a Poland, in which there would be no truth and no God.”[31] Such is their shared axiology. What matters is the truth and its Guarantor, transcendent and independent of human whims. The chivalric code is its function, and only for this reason is it so important to Herbert. It is a historical quintessence of Christian and Mediterranean tradition, both intellectual and moral. Once adopted, this axiom makes the playing of games pitiful; it removes the gradability of choices. In contrast, Miłosz considers the necessity of choices to be a devil’s machine. Herbert says, “For me, the choice is the first decisive step, the first ‘no,’ what follows is the consequences.”[32]

On a number of occasions, Herbert refers to the legend of General Sowiński as presented in Słowacki’s poem “Sowiński on the Ramparts of Wola.” He recalls “a small episode in this wartime massacre, an image. General Sowiński leaning against the altar, and standing on his wooden leg:”

In the old church in Wola district
There was only one man left:
The man with the wooden leg, General Sowiński.

Of the entire collection of “constant princes,” Herbert selects that old and crippled general, perhaps in order to show that what chivalry stands for is not the cocky and physically fit phalanx youth, but an old man whose body may be disabled but whose spirit is strong.

Herbert’s views in this respect are consistent and free of the “leaps of dialectal thinking.” “Yea” is “yea” and “nay” is “nay”—an attitude ridiculed by Miłosz as “one order of steak.”[33] An attentive reading of the texts of both poets clearly shows how polarized their outlooks really were. The division is apparent in poetic practice and in statements of personal belief. Critic Jan Tomkowski stated that “to separate [Miłosz’s and Herbert’s] private views from their world views is an extremely difficult matter.”[34]. Despite many attempts to trivialize and hide the disputes, the grand disagreement between the two poets is worth bringing to light. What separates them is their divergent attitudes toward the most important element of tradition. As Tomkowski argues, “The polemics and quarrels of outstanding writers can always teach us important things.”[35] The polemics of these two outstanding personalities, supported by their biographies and the books they wrote, are more authentic than the disputes and conflicts that are merely ideological clashes in which personalities remain uninvolved. Hence Słowacki and Mickiewicz; hence Herbert and Miłosz. Their lives and works are inextricably connected. They bequeathed to us their struggles with everyday life and also a whiff of metaphysics— the enchanted Herbert telling an emotion-filled story of Słowacki walking down the streets of Paris with a red rose, and Miłosz leaning over to put a red rose on Herbert’s coffin. ◊


1. Anna Czabanowska-Wróbel, “Piękno i groza zawsze razem. Poetycki dialog Zbigniewa Herberta i Adama Zagajewskiego,” Dialog i spór. Zbigniew Herbert a inni poeci i eseiści. Materiały z Warsztatów Herbertowskich w Oborach (Wiosna 2006), edited by Józef Maria Ruszar (Lublin: Gaudium, 2006, p. 263; Adam Zagajewski, Obrona żarliwości (Kraków, 2002), p. 182.

2. Zofia Zarębianka, “Spór o wartości? Herbert i Miłosz,” op. cit., p. 109.

3. It was not a taboo subject but a field of inspiring exploration for Professor Jan Tomkowski, whose study Herbert kontra Miłosz I quoted in this paper. The same author stresses the importance of the dispute in the compendium Literatura polska (Warsaw: PIW, 2004), p. 319, in a chapter titled Herbert kontra Miłosz in which we read, for instance, that “in the latest volume Rovigo we find a poem titled “Chodasiewicz,” an ironic portrait of Czesław Miłosz and allusions to his poem “Buried in their Forefathers” and also to “Wolves.” Thus we have (finally!) a summit polemics, a duel of the greatest authorities of the present-day poetry. . . Both writers have their fanatic supporters. The dispute goes on.”

4. The interview with Maria Janion, published in 1998 in Tygodnik Powszechny, is quoted by Jerzy Fieko in his article “Spór między Mickiewiczem a Krasińskim o miejsce Žydów wśród Polaków.” Pamiętnik Literacki, vol. XCIX/2 (2008), 5–23.

5. Manfred Kridl, Antagonizm wieszczów.

6. The title page shows a sentence in Italian, with no reference to author, location, or translation:

Dovete adunque sapere, come sono due generazioni da combatter. . . bisogna essere volpe e leone. Adam Mickiewicz, Konrad Wallenrod. Powieść historyczna z dziejów litewskich i pruskich, in Dzieła, vol. 2, edited by J. Krzyżanowski, p. 67. This is an abbreviated quotation from chapter XVIII of Machiavelli’s The Prince titled “To what extent should the prince keep his word.” Machiavelli, Książę. Rozważania nad pierwszym dziesięcioksięgiem «Historii Rzymu» Liwiusza, translated by W. Rzymowski i K. Žaboklicki (Warsaw: Werum, 2005), pp. 100–101.

7. Juliusz Słowacki, Samuel Zborowski, in Dzieła wszystkie, vol. 13, Part 1, edited by J. Kleiner (Wrocław: W. Florian, 1952–1975), p. 240. This is an original draft of the antistrophe (lines 437–462 of Act III) from the drama’s autograph, replaced within a later edition and placed in an album later stored in the Branicki Library in Sucha. The final version runs as follows: “The spirit of life is a proud angel/Whose sight is centered on the final prize.”

8. J. Słowacki, Raptularz 1843–1849, edited by Marek Troszyński (Warsaw: Topos, 1996), p. 143.

9. Elżbieta Kiślak, Walka Jakuba z aniołem. Czesław Miłosz wobec romantyczności (Warsaw: Prószyński i S-ka, 2000), p. 15. With unusual verbal precision, intellectual elegance, and great refinement, the author leads the reader through the intricacies of Miłosz’s dialectics of self-contradictions. She does not let herself get beguiled by the author’s declarations, and always checks the layer of intentions against the reliability of formulations. My paper owes a great deal to this extensive work on Miłosz’s skirmishes with Romanticism.

10. Czesław Miłosz, Prywatne obowiązki (Olsztyn: Pojezierze, 1990) p. 97.

11. Ibid., p. 63.

12. Miłosz, Zniewolony umysł. Lekcja literatury z Czesławem Miłoszem i Włodzimierzem Boleckim (Kraków: WL, 2000). W. Bolecki’s Afterword, p. 276.

13. Ibid., p. 63.

14. Miłosz, Rodzinna Europa (in Dzieła zebrane) (Kraków: WL, 2001) p. 19.

15. Miłosz, Traktat poetycki, in Wiersze, vol. 2 (Kraków, WL, 1994), p. 41.

16. This suggestion is implicit in E. Kiślak, op. cit., and it was verbalized by Adam Pawłowicz whom she quotes: “Miłosz wybrał sobie twórcę Dziadów za duchowego ojca. Jest to w moim przekonaniu pewna przewrotność ze strony Miłosza, bo wydawałoby się, |e wszelkie szanse na patrona powinien mie w stosunku do autora Rodzinnej Europy przede wszystkim Słowacki, zwa|ywszy na fobię Miłosza wobec myślenia nacjonalistycznego czy endeckiego (a można było przecież wpisywać Mickiewicza w taki właśnie kontekst). Autor Pana Tadeusza mógłby by patronem chorej polskości. Tymczasem Miłosz tak Mickiewicza nie czyta. Dlaczego Słowacki mógłby by patronem Miłosza? Właśnie ze względu na ironiczny stosunek do wspólnoty narodu.” (“Miłosz chose the author of Forefathers’ Eve as his spiritual father. I believe this to be somehow perfidious of him, as we might think that Słowacki should have become the patron of the author of Native Realm, given Miłosz’s phobia against nationalist or ‘Endecja-like’ thinking (a context in which Mickiewicz indeed might be read). The author of Pan Tadeusz might be a patron of neurotic Polishness. But this is not the way Miłosz reads Mickiewicz. Why might Słowacki have been Miłosz’s patron? Precisely because of his [Słowacki’s] ironic attitude toward the national community.”

17. A voice in a discussion published as “Ślad śladu” in Balsam i trucizna. 13 tekstów o Mickiewiczu (Gdańsk, 1993), p. 214.

18. Miłosz, Rodzinna Europa, p. 204.

19. Ibid., p. 115.

20. Ibid., p. 127.

21. Kiślak, op. cit., p. 81.

22. Thomas Merton and Czesław Miłosz, Listy [Letters], translated by Maria Tarnowska (Kraków: Znak, 1991), p. 47.

23. Miłosz, Rodzinna Europa, p. 138.

24. J. M. Rusznar, “Słowo od redaktora,” in Dialog i spór, p. 13.

25. Zbigniew Herbert, Węzeł gordyjski oraz inne pisma rozproszone 1948–1998, edited by Paweł Kądziela (Warsaw: Biblioteka Więzi, vol. 137). This quote is from a text delivered by Herbert in the National Theater in Warsaw on May 25, 1998, p. 95.

26. Herbert, “Poeci i Rymarze,” in Węzeł gordyjski, p. 373. This is a quotation from Słowacki’s “Song Two” in Dzieła wszystkie vol. V, p. 79, slightly paraphrased. In Słowacki, the first line is “Walenrodyczność czyli Walenrodyzm.”

27. Jacek Trznadel, Hańba domowa, 2nd edition. (Warsaw, 1997), p. 217.

28. “Oto więc mamy naszych dwóch bohaterów: ich cienie się zlewają i zachodzą na siebie, tworząc specyficzna jedność. Z którą musimy się pogodzić,” writes Nabokov in Lectures on Don Quixote, translated by J. Kozak (Warsaw: MUZA SA, 2001), p. 54.

29. Herbert, Węzeł gordyjski, p. 98.

30. Słowacki, Raptularz 1843–1849.

31. Trznadel, p. 213.

32. Herbert, Węzeł gordyjski, pp. 95–96.

33. Miłosz, Rok myśliwego (Paris: Institut Litteraire, 1990), p. 83.

34. J. Tomkowski, “Herbert kontra Miłosz,” in Dwadzieścia lat z literatur 1977–1996 (Warsaw: PIW, 1998), p. 63.

35. Ibid.

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