The New International Encyclopædia/Kochanowski, Jan

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The New International Encyclopædia
Kochanowski, Jan
Edition of 1905. See also Jan Kochanowski on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

KOCHANOWSKI, kṓ'Kȧ-nŏv'skĭ, Jan (1530-84). A Polish poet. He was born on the family estate, Sycyna, in the Government of Radom, in 1544 he entered the University of Cracow, and in 1552 he continued his studies at the University of Padua. He traveled for some time in Italy, and in 1553 he went to Paris, where he met Ronsard, who encouraged him to write in verse, in which art he soon became famous. On his return home he was appointed Royal Secretary at the Court of King Sigismund Augustus. Soon afterwards he was presented with two benefices. In 1568, however, he retired to his estate, Czarnylas, where he devoted himself to writing poetry, taking at the same time keen interest in all political changes of his country. He later refused the post of poet laureate at the Court of King Stephen Báthory. Kochanowski is the most important Polish poet of his century. He wrote in Polish and Latin. In the former the most famous of his works are the Treny (Cracow, 1580); elegies on the death of his daughter Ursula, which are considered masterpieces in form and style; the drama Odprawa poslow grekich (“The Dispatch of the Greek Ambassadors,” 1578), in commemoration of the marriage of Zamojski with the Princess Báthory; and Proporzec albo hold pruski (“Homage to the Prussian Banner”); and the satire Zgoda (1564). In his Fraszki (“Epigrams”), miscellaneous poems and anecdotes (3 vols., 1584), he appears at his best. His translation of the Psalms (1579), stamped with vividness and simplicity, is considered the best in existence. In the Latin language he wrote Lyricorum Libellus (1580); Elegiarum Libri Quatuor (1584); and many occasional poems which have been translated into Polish by Brodzinski in 1829, and by Syrokomla in 1851. Kochanowski welded the classical and Polish elements, and largely contributed to the development and refinement of his native language. His writings were for the first time published collectively at Cracow in 1584-90; but the last and best edition, the so-called jubilee publication, appeared in Warsaw (1884). Many of his poems were also translated into German by H. Nitschmann (1875). For biographies of Kochanowski consult: Von Przyborowski (Posen, 1857); also Löwenfeld, Jan Kochanowski und seine lateinischen Dichtungen (Posen, 1878).