Zygmunt Krasinski

Portrait of Zygmunt Krasinski

Zygmunt Krasinski: (1812-1859) was a Polish poet and one of that country’s three great bards.  He was born in Paris, France on 19th February 1812 and died there on 23rd February 1859 aged 47.

Major Works

Nie-Boska Komedia”  (The Undivine Comedy) (1835)   
“Irydion” (1836) 
“Przedswit” (The Moment Before Dawn) (1843)
“Psalmy Przyszlosci” (Psalms of the Future) (1845)

Biography Timeline

Napoleon Stanisław Adam Ludwik Zygmunt Krasiński was born on 19th February 1812 in Paris, France. His father was Count Wincenty Krasinski, a Brigadier-General in the first Polish Light Cavalry Regiment of the French Imperial Guard. His mother was the Polish-Lithuanian Princess Maria Urszula Radziwiłł. Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte attended his christening and he spends his early years in Chantilly.

1814: his parents move to Warsaw, then ruled by Frederick Augustus the First of Saxony and a client state of France. He was educated by private tutors employed by his father. 

1822: On 12th April his mother dies of tuberculosis and he becomes extremely close to his father.

1826: In September he attends the Warsaw Lyceum School which Frederic Chopin had just left.

1827: He leaves school and moves on to the Royal University of Warsaw to study law and administration.

1829: On 9th March, at the urging of his father, he doesn’t attend the funeral of Marshall Piotr Bielinski who is seen as a national hero. On 14th he is publicly criticised by Leon Lubienski, another student, for this act and a bitter argument ensues for which Krasiński is expelled from the university. In May he travels with his father to Vienna and in October he leaves for Geneva to continue his studies, arriving there in November. In Geneva he has an active social life and befriends the English writer Henry Reeve who is there to study philosophy and literature and writes Romantic poetry.

1830: He falls in love with for Henrietta Willan, the daughter of a wealthy English merchant at the beginning of the year. On 11th August he meets the polish poet Adam Mickiewicz and the two become friends and travel together to the Alps. In November he leaves Geneva and travels to Milan, Florence and Rome in Italy. In Rome he hears of the Polish Uprising against the Russian Empire and decides to head back to Poland but his father warns him against it, as he is now a Russian General, and he returns to Geneva. At the time he is finishing his historical novel “Adaj-Han” which tells the story of Tsaritsa Marina Mniszech. The work is heavily influenced by Walter Scott and Lord Byron.

1832: In May he sets out for Poland and visits several cities in Italy including Venice where he seeks treatment for a disease of the eye. He then moves on to Vienna and arrives in Warsaw in August. He reunites with his father and the two travel to St Petersburg where they have an audience with the Russian Tsar Nicholas the First in October. His father has hopes his son will take up a diplomatic career with the Russians but he is not keen.

1833: He leaves Saint Petersburg and returns to Italy where he stays until April 1834. He begins writing his most famous work “Nie-Boska Komedia” (The Undivine Comedy) during the summer which discusses class struggles.

1834: He writes “Irydion” which also explores the class struggle and the fall of the nobility. In Rome he falls in love with the married woman Joanna Bobrowa.

1835: The Undivine Comedy”, like most of his works, is published anonymously so as not to sully his father’s reputation with the Russian authorities and also allows him to travel freely in Europe. (which led to him being known as the Anonymous Poet of Poland). He leaves Florence in June and meets Bobrowa in Kissingen and then travels with her to Ischl and Trieste.

1836: He reaches Vienna with Bobrowa in January. “Irydion” is published which is the story of a Greek seeking vengeance in Ancient Rome. In May he meets and befriends the Polish Poet Juliusz Slowacki and he meets his father again during the summer in Grafenberg (now Chechia). In November he returns to Vienna where he stays until June 1837. 

1838: His health is continuing to decline which prevents him from traveling until May when he again sets of for Poland to the family estate. In September he travels with his father to Italy and meets Juliusz Słowacki once more in Rome. He begins a romance with Countess Delfina Potocka (a friend of Frederic Chopin).

1839: He meets Potocka in Switzerland and they travel together with him writing poems and other works dedicated to her. He also meets his father in Dresden.

1840: His father arranges a marriage for him with Countess Eliza Branicka which takes place on 26th July in Dresden. The couple go on to have four children.

1843: He writes his best-known poem, “Przedswit” (The Moment Before Dawn). It describes the partitions of Poland as a sacrifice for the sins of the entire world but predicts Poland’s resurrection and is extremely popular with his compatriots. 

1845: He publishes “Psalmy Przyszlosci” (Psalms of the Future).

1848: In January he meets the struggling Polish poet Cyprian Norwid in Rome and gives him money. He also meets Mickiewicz again and endorses Prince Adam Jerzy Czartoryski, the leader of the Polish Government in exile. He is critical, however, of the revolutions happening elsewhere in Europe known as the Spring of Nations.

1850: His health continues to worsen but doesn’t stop him travelling.

1856: He attends the funeral of Adam Mickiewicz in Paris, who has died in exile.

1857: An avid letter writer, he writes to many leaders in Europe including the Emperor Napoleon the Third of France (whom he has an audience with) to gain support of the Polish cause. His father dies on 24th November delivering him a severe blow.

Zygmunt Krasiński died on 23rd February 1859 in Paris, France. He was buried in the family crypt at Opinogóra, Poland.

Further Information

List of works by Krasiński.

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