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My personal list of famous Poles Posted by on Nov 14, 2016 in Culture, Famous people

All countries can boast that they are renowned for having famous people either born, or raised in their country. In Poland, this is not boasting – it is a fact of life. Poland is considered the birthplace and home for some of the most famous people. None of the people mentioned below were born famous. Each person had to distinguish themselves amongst their peers, amongst their competition, and amongst the world in general. While there are significantly more famous people, the following are some people that the world may or may not be familiar with. All of them are close to my heart for different reasons.

Probably the most famous Pole ever, Pope John Paul II was born Karol Józef Wojtyła in the small town of Wadowice in Poland. By being elected pope by the Catholic Church in 1978, he became the first non-Italian pope in 455 years. This pope modernised the papacy and spread his reach internationally through massive gatherings of Catholics and frequent consultations with heads of state. I actually had a privilege to meet Him in person and speak to him for a moment…And even thought it was only a moment, it really felt magical.

pope

This is me in Rome, when I was a teenager. Few words and his magical touch meant a lot to me:)

I love classical music and Chopin is my favorite! Fryderyk Chopin, the most significant representative of the Romantic period, is said to be called ” The Mozart of Romanticism “- a genius of harmony and simplicity. Hailed in his homeland as a child prodigy, who would sit and play on his piano first thing after getting out of the bed in the morning, started performing in public as a teenage boy. Later in his life, he contributed enormously ” to the establishment of a Polish national style in music, and exerted a great influence on the development of European piano music” (Poland Eyewitness Travel; 2001,2007). Although he was born in Żelazowa Wola, Poland, he was also among those who emigrated to a foreign country due to political situation, which in his case was Paris, France where he made a career as a performer, teacher and composer. During his short but prolific life, he composed a large number of polonaises, mazurkas, etudes, preludes and many more. He died young, at the age of 39, from tuberculosis. To honor his dying wish, his heart was brought back to his homeland – Poland where it lays in one of the churches in Warsaw.

I love reading! Polish poetry always had a special place in my heart – I love to read it to my two daughters! Contemporary poetry has a special place in Polish literature. One of the most recently acclaimed writers is Wisława Szymborska– a great poet, essayist and translator. Long cherished by the Polish nation, she achieved international recognition after becoming the 1996 laureate of the Nobel Prize in Literature. Often described as a modest and shy figure, she obviously reflects her personality in her works, making them sensual and intellectual, tender, feminine and human. She is also known for employing literary devices such as irony, contradiction, paradox, which transport her creativity into a different dimension. She is believed to turn everything into golden poetry. Among her great collections we can find: “Koniec i Początek”, “Ludzie na moście”, “Poezje wybrane” and many more. After her distinction “for poetry that with ironic precision allows the historical and biological context to come to light in fragments of human reality”, Czesław Miłosz ( her Polish literary contemporary ) said: “The high ranking of Polish poetry has been confirmed.”

There are many more famous Poles, however these 3 are ones I think about the most! The word famous is often used lightly, however, when applying that term to the people mentioned above, it seems inappropriate because they have done so much more. They have left their imprint on Poland, and on the world. Unlike each of them, their work and their legacy will not meet an untimely death. Their contributions will live on well into the future, and will continued to be used and studied by students, teachers, and the world in general.

 

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About the Author: Kasia

My name is Kasia Scontsas. I grew near Lublin, Poland and moved to Warsaw to study International Business. I have passion for languages: any languages! Currently I live in New Hampshire. I enjoy skiing, kayaking, biking and paddle boarding. My husband speaks a little Polish, but our daughters are fluent in it! I wanted to make sure that they can communicate with their Polish relatives in our native language. Teaching them Polish since they were born was the best thing I could have given them! I have been writing about learning Polish language and culture for Transparent Language’s Polish Blog since 2010.