Esperanto
Author: David Poulson


Grabowski - the Father of Esperanto Poetry

Author: David Poulson
Published on:October 2, 1998

If you have read previous articles in this series you will know that the first publication describing La Internacia Lingvo of Dr. Esperanto appeared in the autumn of 1887. After copies had been distributed of both the Russian and the Polish language versions, Ludovic and Klara must have spent an anxious time waiting to see what the response would be. After the expense and effort of obtaining censorship approval to print and publish this small booklet, would it all be for nothing? Would the world simply ignore its existence.?

Imagine yourself how Zamenhof must have felt when, very soon after the publication of La Unua Libro, he received an unexpected visit from a chemical engineer named Antoni Grabowski who greeted him in fluent Esperanto. As far as we know, this was the first conversation to take place in Esperanto and it marked not only the first proof that the language was acceptable to others, but also the beginning of a true friendship which lasted until Zamenhof's death. So important was the contribution of Grabowski to the development of Esperanto literature - and especially poetry - that I will be dealing with it in both this and the next topic article.

Grabowski was a remarkable man. As well as being an engineer and a poet, he was a polyglot who was reputed to speak about 30 languages. He was born in 1857, so was 30 years of age when he met Zamenhof for the first time. He died of a heart attack, while looking at a display of Esperanto books in a shop window, in 1921.

For many years Grabowski was president of the Polish Esperanto Society and from 1908 he was a member of the Academy of Esperanto. But his main value to Esperanto was not the contribution he made to the organised movement in Poland, which ended with his death, but the seminal translations which he made, the benefits of which are still with us.

A short list of the most important works will give some idea of his achievement.

Year of Publication........Title........Original author

1888..........La Neg^a Blovado..........Pushkin
1898..........La Gefratoj..........Goethe
1891..........Nova Jaro..........Prus
1891..........Janko Muzikanto..........Sienkiewicz
1893.......... La Liro de la Esperantistoj..........(an anthology of Esperanto poetry which, Grabowski edited. Many of the poems in La Fundamenta Krestomatio first appeared in this anthology).
1909..........Consilium Facultatis.........Fredo
1909..........Nova Antologio.........(a new anthology of translations from various writers).
1912..........Mazepa..........Slowacki
1912..........Halka..........Wolski-Moniuszko
1913..........El Parnaso de popoloj ..........(a collection of original poems and translations)
1913..........Pekoj de l'infaneco..........Prus
1913..........S^i la Tria..........Sienkiewicz
1918..........Sinjoro Tadeo Mickiewicz
1921..........Elektitaj Versaj^oj ..........(a collection of verse translations)
1921..........Postrikolto ..........(another collection of translated poems)

(Next week: more about these translations; where to find works by Grabowski in Esperanto on the Web;information about the Grabowski Foundation.)

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