MICKIEWICZ ADAM Polish poet, born near Nowogrodek, in the Russian government of Minsk, where his father, who belonged to the lesser nobility, had a small property. The poet was educated at the Vilna university; but, becoming involved in political troubles as a member of a secret patriotic student society, he was imprisoned for a time by the Russian Government and afterwards ordered to live in Russia. He had already published two small volumes of miscellaneous poetry at Vilna, and at St. Petersburg he was a great favourite in society. In 1825 he visited the Crimea, which inspired a collection of sonnets.
In 1828 appeared his Konrad Wallenrod, a narrative poem describing the battles of knights of the Teutonic order with the heathen Lithuanians. Here, under a thin veil, Mickiewicz represented the sanguinary passages of arms and burning hatred which had characterized the long feuds of the Russians and Poles. The object of the poem, although evident to many, escaped the Russian censors, and it was suffered to appear. It is a romance in the Byronic vein and contains two beautiful lyrics. Af ter a five years' exile in Russia the poet obtained leave to travel abroad ; and he never saw his native country again. Visiting parts of Ger many and Italy, he paid his homage to old Goethe at Weimar, and was received very cordially. It was on these wanderings of his that Mickiewicz wrote the greatest scenes of his fantastic drama Dziady (Forefathers' Eve), the subject of which is the half pagan religious commemoration of their ancestors practised among the peasantry of the Slavonic nations. Interwoven with this sub ject from folk-lore, there is, in the earlier portion of the poem (the so-called "Fourth Part") dramatic account of an unhappy early love affair of the poet's, and, in the later and more important portion, called the "Third Part," a picture of his own and his Vilna fellow-students' sufferings in the Russian prison, and a powerful poetic statement of the workings of his genius while a mystical religious philosophy was being produced in his mind by the influence of personal and national suffering.
Mickiewicz' acknowledged masterpiece is his epic poem Pan Tadeusz, published in 1834. Its scene is laid in Lithuania on the eve of Napoleon's expedition into Russia in 1812, and its subject is a family feud among the country gentry, happily terminated by a wedding. In this epic idyll, Mickiewicz gives us a picture of the homes of the olden-time Polish nobility and gentry, with their somewhat boisterous but very genuine hospitality, their meals and manners and pastimes, and their readiness for patriotic sacri fice in the service of their country. Turning to the land of his childhood with the loving eyes of an exile, he gives us delightful descriptions of Lithuanian skies and forests : through the medium of his poetry, the modest landscape of the Lithuanian country-side has become dear and familiar to every Pole, and to many readers outside Poland.
In 1832 Mickiewicz left Rome for Paris, where most of his later life was spent in poverty and unhappiness. He had married a Polish lady, Celina Szymanowska, who became insane. In 1838 39, he occupied the chair of Latin Literature in the University of Lausanne, Switzerland. In 1840 he became professor of Slavonic
languages and literature in the College de France. His last lecture was given on May 28, 1844. He had fallen under the influence of a mystic named Towianski. His lectures became a medley of re ligion and politics, and thus brought him under the censure of the Government. A selection from his lectures contains some good sound criticism ; the philological part is necessarily defective, but the poet shows much intuitive insight into the history and mentality of the Slavonic races, especially of Poland and Russia. In his later years, Mickiewicz endeavoured to turn from poetry to active work for the cause of his country's deliverance. In 1848, he attempted to form a Polish volunteer legion in Italy, but the attempt came to nothing. In 1849 he founded a radical French newspaper, La Tribune des peuples, but it only existed a year. His last composition was a Latin ode in honour of Napoleon III. On the outbreak of the Crimean War he was sent to Constantinople to assist in raising a regiment of Poles to take service against the Russians. He died suddenly there in 1855, and his body was re moved to France. In 1890 his remains were disinterred and buried in the cathedral of Cracow, the Westminster Abbey of Poland.
Mickiewicz is one of the greatest among Slavonic poets. He is one of the best products of the so-called romantic school in Polish literature. While that literature was cribbed and confined by 18th century classicism, the country was full of legends and picturesque stories which only awaited the coming poet to put them into shape. Hence the great popularity among his country men of his ballads each of them being connected with some na tional tradition. Besides Konrad Wallenrod and Pan Tadeusz, attention may be called to his early poem Grazyna, which de scribes the adventures of a Lithuanian chief tainess against the Teutonic knights. A fine vigorous Oriental piece is Farys. Very good, too, are the odes to Youth and to the historian Lelewel ; the former did much to stimulate the efforts of the Poles to shake off their Russian conquerors. It is enough to say of Mickiewicz that he has obtained the proud position of the representative poet of his country; her customs, her superstitions, her history, her struggles are reflected in his works. He is the great voice of Po land appealing to the nations in her agony.
BIBLIOGRAPHY.-The poet's life has been written, and his corre spondence edited, by his son, Ladislas Mickiewicz (4 vols., Poznan, 189o-1895, French Life in i vol., Paris, 1888). The standard modern Polish work on Mickiewicz is that of Professor J. Kallenbach (Adam Mickiewicz, 2 vols., 4th edition, LwOw, Ossolineum, 1925). In English, see Adam Mickiewicz, the National Poet of Poland, by Miss Monica M. Gardner (London, Dent, 1912). Translations into English of Konrad Wallenrod and Pan Tadeusz were made by M. H. Dziewicki and Miss Biggs (1881-85), and more recently, by Professor G. R. Noyes in California and his students (Pan Tadeusz, 1917 ; Konrad Wallenrod and other Writings, 1925, University of California Press; Forefathers' Eve, prologue and scenes 1-5 of Part Third, 1926, London, Eyre and Spottiswoode). (R. DY.)