Adam Mickiewicz Quotes & Poems

Adam Mickiewicz Quote: Today is the hour of destiny..

Today is the hour of destiny.

Adam Mickiewicz (The Great Improvisation)

No frogs croak as divinely as Polish ones do

Adam Mickiewicz (Pan Tadeusz, 1834)

The nectar of life is sweet only when shared with others.

Adam Mickiewicz (Ode to Youth, 1820)

Whoever comes to me, will be free and equal, because I am FREEDOM.

Adam Mickiewicz (The Books and the Pilgrimage of the Polish Nation, 1833)

Don’t you know that the heart can burn what the mind cannot break?

Adam Mickiewicz (The Great Improvisation)

So listen to them, heed them: Who never touch the earth, can never be in heaven.

Adam Mickiewicz (Dziady, 1823)

We'd better send
For God. He will remember and tell us all.

Adam Mickiewicz (Dziady)

Lithuania, my country! You are as good health;
How much one should prize you, he only can tell, Who has lost you...

Adam Mickiewicz (Pan Tadeusz, 1834)

Adam Mickiewicz Quote: I have thrown off my body Spirit, I put on wings!.

I have thrown off my body,
Spirit, I put on wings!

Adam Mickiewicz (The Great Improvisation)

I, too, was there indeed, drank the wine and the mead,
What I saw and heard wrote here for all you to read.

Adam Mickiewicz (Pan Tadeusz, 1834)

My heart stopped, my breast frozen, my lips and eyes barred. Still in the world, but not of the world. Here, yet already departed.

Adam Mickiewicz (Dziady, 1823)

Dearest love, let me die with you,
In the deep earth lie with you,
For this world is dark and dreary,
I am lonely and weary!

Adam Mickiewicz (The Romantic)

The plenitude of power and happiness
I feel in this solitary night,
As I sing alone within myself,
As I sing for myself alone.

Adam Mickiewicz (The Great Improvisation)

The spirit of hope gives him life
As a star offers its rays.
Dead, he returns to the country of his youth
searching for his love's face.

Adam Mickiewicz (Dziady)

In spring's own country, where the gardens blow,
You faded, tender rose! For hours now past,
Like butterflies departing, on you're cast
The worms of memories to work you woe.

Adam Mickiewicz (The Grave of the Countess Potock)

Adam Mickiewicz Quote: You know the dead truths, not the living, the world of things, not the world of loving....

You know the dead truths, not the living,
The world of things, not the world of loving.
Where does any miracle start?
Cold eye, look in your heart!'

Adam Mickiewicz (The Romantic)

Soar high above us all
And with the sun's eye
Penetrate the vastness of mankind
From end to end!
For you the nectar of life

Tastes sweet only
When shared with others.

Adam Mickiewicz (Ode to Youth, 1820)

My songs, ye do not need men's eyes, men's ears ! Flow in the deep places of my soul, shine on her heights, even as subterranean streams, as stars beyond the skies ! '"Oh, God, oh, Nature, hearken unto me ! My music and my song are worthy of you : I am the master ! I, the master, stretch forth my hands, I stretch them even to the skies, and I lay my hands upon the stars, as on the crystal wheels of an harmonica. Now fast, now slow, as my soul wills, I turn the stars. I weave them into rainbows, harmonies. I feel immortality! I create immortality!

Adam Mickiewicz (The Great Improvisation)

These castles heaped in shattered piles once graced
And guarded you, Crimea, thankless land!
Today like giant skulls set high they stand
And shelter reptiles, or men more debased.
Upon that tower a coat of arms is traced,
And letters, some dead hero's name, whose hand
Scourged armies. Now he sleeps forgotten and
The grapevine holds him, like a worm, embraced.
Here Greeks have chiseled Attic ornament,
Italians cast the Mongols into chains
And pilgrims chanted slowly, Mecca bent:
Today the black-winged vulture only reigns
As in a city, dead and pestilent,
Where mourning banners flutter to the plains.

Adam Mickiewicz (The Ruins Of The Castle At Balaklava)

Look, the abyss, the downward sky, the sea!
Bird-mountain, shot with thunder, furls below
feathers and wings, in curve beyond rainbow,
snow-sails and mast, immobile, vast, free;
and cloudlike over spacious limbo, covers
wide azure - oh, island-hemisphere in flight,
darkens a half-world with its own sad night.
Look, on its forehead ribbon flames and hovers!
Lightning! But stop here. At our feet, abysses,
ravines, thresholds we must at gallop span.
I leap; stand ready with whip and spur; stare
past rock escarpment where I vanish. This is
your sign: If white panache gleams, I am there;
if not, there is no path beyond for man.

Adam Mickiewicz (Mount Kikineis)

Within their silent perfect glass
The mirror waters, vast and clear,
Reflect the silhouette of rocks,
Dark faces brooding on the shore.

Within their silent, perfect glass
The mirror waters show the sky;
Clouds skim across the mirror's face,
And dim its surface as they die.

Within their silent, perfect glass
The mirror waters image storm;
They glow with lightning, but the blast
Of thunder do not mar their calm.

Those mirror waters, as before,
Still lie in silence, vast and clear.

The mirror me, I mirror them,
As true a glass as they I am:
And as I turn away I leave
The images that gave them form.

Dark rocks must menace from the shore,
And thunderheads grow large with rain;
Lightning must flash above the lake,
And I must mirror and pass on,
Onward and onward without end.

(KONRAD, in prison, speaks after a long silence):
[...] You, poets, I trample you underfoot,
All of you, sages and prophets,
Whom the world has idolized!
Were you to return among your spiritual children,
Hear the praises and applause of centuries,
Feel yourselves worthy,
And know the daily magic of your fame –
Not all this glory and all these crowns,
Garnered from all the generations of all the years,
Would ever bring you
The plenitude of power and happiness
I feel in this solitary night,
As I sing alone within myself,
As I sing for myself alone.

Yes! I have the power to think and to feel
Never have I felt as I feel at this moment –
Today is my zenith, today is my crisis,
Today I shall know if I am the highest of all, or only a presumptuous man.

Today is the hour of destiny,
Today I shall strain every muscle of my spirit –
It is the hour of Samson,
When, a prisoner and blind, he pondered at the foot of the pillar.
I have thrown off my body,
Spirit, I put on wings!
Yes, I shall fly, fly out of the sphere of the planets and stars,
Till I come to the borderline that separates Nature and God.
I have them, I have them – those two wings!
They will suffice: I shall spread them from sunrise to sunset,
I shall rise on the rays of my feelings – I shall reach you!

I shall look into your innermost feelings.
To you, God, whom they say feel in heaven,
I have come, I have come: see what power is mine,
How high my wings rise!
But I am a man, and my body is there on the earth,
There I have loved, my heart has remained in my country.

But my love on the earth did not rest
On one human being alone,
Like a bug on a rose,
On one family, one century alone,
I love a whole Nation! And I have embraced
All its generations, past and to come;
I pressed it to my breast
Like a friend, a lover, a husband, a father;
I want to raise it up, make it happy,
I would make it the wonder of the world!
I lack the means and have come here to wrest them from you.
I come here armed with all the power of my reason,
That reason which wrested your lightning from heaven,
Explored the motions of the planets and opened the deeps of the sea –
More than all that – I have the power that comes not from man,
The power of the feelings that seethe like a volcano within me.
Only smoking in words now and then.

Give me dominion over souls! I despise this dead structure
Called the world, so endlessly praised by the rabble,
And whether I can destroy it by my words
I have yet to discover.
But I feel if I screwed up my will
And let it suddenly burst,
I could put out a thousand stars, light up a thousand more –
For I am immortal! In the sphere of creation
There are other immortals – but none I have met are superior.
You are supreme in high heaven, and I, who have sought you up here,
Am supreme in the valley of earth among men of feeling.
Never yet have I met you. I sense that you are;
Let me meet you, make me feel your transcendence! –

I come seeking power; give me power, or show me the way! –
I’ve been told there were prophets who ruled over souls;
I believe it. What they have done I also can do.
I would have power equal to yours,
As you govern souls, so would I govern them.
(Long silence).
(With irony):
You are silent! You are silent! No matter. I know you;
I know what you are, I know how you exercise your power. –
Whoever named you Love was a liar;
You are Wisdom, no more.
Men penetrate your ways through the mind, not the heart;
Through the mind, not the heart, they will master your weapons –
Only he who has delved into books,
Into metals, numbers and corpses,
Only he can succeed
In securing some part of your power.
He will understand poisons, gunpowder and steam,
He will understand smoke and lightning and thunder,
He will find all the tricks of the law
Against the wise and the ignorant.
You have delivered the world over to the mind
And left the heart in penance forever,
You have given me the shortest life,
You have given me the strongest feelings. –

Now my soul is incarnate in my country,
My body has swallowed her soul,
And I and my country are one.
Million is my name, for I love
And I suffer for millions.
I look at my unfortunate fatherland
As a son at his father on the wrack,
And I feel all the pain of my people
Like a mother the child in her womb.
I suffer, I rage – while You, happy and wise,
You still govern,
Still judge,
And never are wrong, so they say!

Speak now, if it’s true what I learned in the cradle,
What with filial faith I believed,
That you love; if true that you cherished the world you created,
And feel for your creatures a fatherly love,
If a feeling heart too was enclosed in the ark
With the animals you saved from the Deluge,
Or if that heart is not merely a monster,
Born by chance and dead before its time,
If the millions of wretches who cry “Help!”
Only attract your attention as equations to solve,
If love is of some use in the universe,
Or only an error on your part –

Demon Voices
Eagle into hydra!
I’ll tear out its eyes.
To battle!
Smoke! Fire!
Roaring and thunder!

Angel Voices
Out of the bright sun,
Lost comet!
Where will your flight end?
Without end,
Without end..

You are silent! Yet I’ve laid bare the depths of my heart,
I implore you: give me power; only a part,
A part of that power that pride has won on the earth.
With that particle only, what happiness I could create!
You are silent! – You refuse it to the heart, then give it to the reason.
You can see I am first among men, among angels,
That I know you better that your archangels know you;
I deserve that you cede me the half of your power –
Am I right... You are silent...But I do not lie.
You are silent. You trust in the strength of your arm!
Don’t you know that the heart can burn what the mind cannot break?
Look into this furnace, my heart:
I compress it, make it burn the more fiercely,
I force it into the iron band of my will,
Like a ball in the deadly cannon.

Demon Voices
Fire! Fire!

Angel Voices
Pity! Mercy!

Speak! For I shall fire on this Nature of yours;
And if I cannot reduce it to rubble,
At least I shall shake the foundations of your dominion;
For I shall send forth a voice to the confines of creation,
A voice that will echo from generation to generation,
I shall shout that you are not the father of the world but...

Voice of the Devil:
The Tsar!

Father Peter (prays, lying in the form of a cross)
Lord, what am I before thy countenance?
Dust and naught.
But when I have confessed my nothingness to thee,
I, dust, may yet hold converse with my Lord.
(He beholds a vision)
A tyrant hath arisen, Herod! – Lord, the youth of Poland
Is all delivered into Herod’s hands.
What do I see? Long snowy ways, with many crossroads,
White roads that stretch through wastes too distant to descry!
All running to the north, that far, far country,
As rivers flow;
On, on they stream, and one leads straight to iron portals,
That other, like a stream that vanishes beneath the ground,
Drops into unseen caverns, lost to view;
And this one finds its outlet in the sea.
Over the roads they fly, a mass of wagons

Like clouds driven onward by the winds.
All to the north they go. O Lord,
They are our children, and is such their fate,
Exile, great Lord?
Dost thou destroy them all, so young, so young?
And wilt thou wipe our race out utterly?
But see – a child escapes, grows up – he is our savior,
The restorer of our land!
Born of a foreign mother, in his veins
The blood of ancient warriors – and his name
Shall be forty and four.

O Lord, wilt thou not deign to speed his coming,
My people to console?
Nay, they must suffer to the end – I see a rabble:
Tyrants and murderers run and catch at him –
I see my nation bound, all Europe drags him on
And mocks at him:
“To the judgment hall!” – The multitude leads in the guiltless man.
Mouths, without hearts or hands, are judges here,
And all shout, “Gaul! – Let Gaul be judge!”
Gaul found no fault in him – and washed his hands;
And yet the kings shout, “judge him! Punish him!
His blood shall be on us and on our children;
Crucify Mary’s son and lose Barabbas!
He scorneth Cæsar’s crown: crucify him,
Or we will say, thou art not Cæsar’s friend.”
And Gaul delivered him unto the people –
They led him forth – and then this innocent head
Grew bloodstained from the mocking crown of thorns;
They raised him up in sight of all the world –
The people thronged to see – and Gaul cried out,
“Behold the free and independent nation!”

I see the cross. – O Lord, how long, how long
Must he still bear it? Lord, be merciful!
Strengthen thy servant lest he fall and die!
The cross has arms that shadow all of Europe,
Made of three withered peoples, like dead trees.

1 Austria (in Old-Polish Rakusy).
Prussia (Borussia).
Now is my nation on the martyr’s throne.
He speaks and says, “I thirst,” and Rakus gives him
To drink of vinegar, and Borus gall,
While Mother Freedom stands below and weeps.
And now a soldier hired in Muscovy
Comes forward with his pike and pierces him
And from my guiltless nation blood has gushed.
What hast thou done, most stupid myrmidon,
Most heartless! Yet he only shall repent –
And God will pardon him his sins at last.

O my beloved! He droops his dying head
And now in a loud voice he calls, “My God,
My God, and why hast thou forsaken me?”
And he is dead.
(Choirs of angels are heard in the distance, singing the Easter hymn. Atthe end come the words, “Alleluia, alleluia.”)
My beloved hath risen,
And ascended into heaven.
His garment white as snow
Floats down below,
And wide unfurled
Wraps in its spreading raiment all the world
He hath gone up on high
Yet is not vanished from our sight.
And from his triple eye
Shines as from triple suns a radiant light,
And he displays his pierced hands to all.

Who is this man? He is the viceroy upon earth.
I knew him as a child. – But ah, since then
How have his soul and body blossomed forth!
An angel boy is leading him – the man of dread
Is blind – he hath a threefold countenance
And threefold brow. – And like a baldachin outspread,
The book of mysteries above his head

Veils him from nearer glance.
Three cities are his footstool – when he calls,
Three ends of earth must tremble. – Now there falls
A voice from heaven like thunder’ mutterings,
“Lo, this is Freedom’s viceroy visible
On earth to all!”
On glory he will build the Church’s vast expanse
He is exalted over men and kings.
Upon three crowns he stands, himself uncrowned:
His life – the toil of toils; his appellation –
Of nations, the one nation –
Of warrior blood, a foreign mother bore
The man; his name, that shall resound
For ages unto ages, shall be forty-four!
Glory! glory! glory!
(He falls asleep)

'Silly girl, listen!'
But she doesn't listen
While the village roofs glisten,
Bright in the sun.
'Silly girl, what do you do there,
As if there were someone to view there,
A face to gaze on and greet there,
A live form warmly to meet there,
When there is no one, none, do you hear?'
But she doesn't hear.

Like a dead stone
She stands there alone,
Staring ahead of her, peering around
For something that has to be found
Till, suddenly spying it,
She touches it, clutches it,
Laughing and crying.

Is it you, my Johnny, my true love, my dear?
I knew you would never forget me,
Even in death! Come with me, let me
Show you the way now!
Hold your breath, though,
And tiptoe lest stepmother hear!

What can she hear? They have made him
A grave, two years ago laid him
Away with the dead.
Save me, Mother of God! I'm afraid.
But why? Why should I flee you now?
What do I dread?
Not Johnny! My Johnny won't hurt me.
It is my Johnny! I see you now,
Your eyes, your white shirt.

But it's pale as linen you are,
Cold as winter you are!
Let my lips take the cold from you,
Kiss the chill o f the mould from you.

Dearest love, let me die with you,
In the deep earth lie with you,
For this world is dark and dreary,
I am lonely and weary!

Alone among the unkind ones
Who mock at my vision,
My tears their derision,
Seeing nothing, the blind ones!

Dear God! A cock is crowing,
Whitely glimmers the dawn.
Johnny! Where are you going?
Don't leave me! I am forlorn!

So, caressing, talking aloud to her
Lover, she stumbles and falls,
And her cry of anguish calls
A pitying crowd to her.

'Cross yourselves! It is, surely,
Her Johnny come back from the grave:
While he lived, he loved her entirely.
May God his soul now save!'

Hearing what they are saying,
I, too, start praying.

'The girl is out of her senses!'
Shouts a man with a learned air,
'My eye and my lenses
Know there's nothing there.

Ghosts are a myth
Of ale-wife and blacksmith.
Clodhoppers! This is treason
Against King Reason!'

'Yet the girl loves,' I reply diffidently,
'And the people believe reverently:
Faith and love are more discerning
Than lenses or learning.

You know the dead truths, not the living,
The world of things, not the world of loving.
Where does any miracle start?
Cold eye, look in your heart!'

Adam Mickiewicz Biography

Adam Mickiewicz portrait

Born: 1798
Died: 1855

Adam Mickiewicz was a Belarusian-Polish poet and writer. He is best known for being one of the foremost Slavic romantic poets of the 19th century. His most notable works are Dziady (Grandfathers) and Pan Tadeusz.

Notable Works

Dziady (1823-1832)
Pan Tadeusz (1834)