Monday, November 14, 2011

Jachowicz, Poet of Poland, Poet of Children


The sun went down, with it one more day has passed away;--
The church-bell heralded its death through the twilight grey;
Tomorrow, at the same time and hour, with bell-tones clear,
     Another day shall disappear:
     And after that a third, and so
     Our whole life day by day shall go
An old man thought, --up and down he paced with feeble tread.
What does the old man mutter? the thoughtless children said.

The Old Man

Gaily with your pastimes you amuse yourselves today,
But your life is fleeting imperceptibly away.
See you the sunset, children fair?
Only look! see over there:
The clouds with red and gold inwrought,--
Their play a moment was forgot.
And while they looked with earnestness
The old man spoke of sinfulness
Repentance and a saving grace,
How swiftly day to day gives place;
And of the vanities of earth,
They understood not then its worth.
In riper years alone their might
The sunset shone upon their sight.
They thought of what the old man said many years ago,
And finer feelings filled their hearts all with a holy glow.
The world's snares deceived them no more,
Love of wealth and glory was o'er;
Flown away as if with the wind,
And if for earthly joys they pined
The old man's sunset crossed their mind.

-- by Stanisław Jachowicz (1796-1857)

I've chosen this poem for the Great Genealogy Poetry Challenge because the author, Stanisław Jachowicz, was born and spent his early years in the same section of Poland (Galicia) where many of my ancestors lived. I feel a tie with him.

Jachowicz is best known and revered for his poetry for children. "His fables and proverbs can be found in almost every house in Poland." The heroes of his stories and poems were not animals or trees but children. There is much wisdom to be found in his words, as is evident in the poem above.

Stanisław Jachowicz
Born: April 17, 1796 in Dzikow, Poland.
Died: December 24, 1857 in Warsaw, Poland.

Sunset by Stanisław Jachowicz. From Poets and Poetry of Poland by Paul Soboleski. Knight and Leonard Printers, 1881.