Andrew S · Poetry · Religion

Easter Vigil and Other Poems | by Karol Wojtyla

Easter Vigil and Other Poems

Easter Vigil and Other Poems by Karol Wojtyla;
Translated by Jerzy Peterkiewicz
(Random House, 1979, 82 pages)

The poems in this collection were written before Karol Wojtyla became Pope John Paul II in 1978. In the introduction, Jerzy Peterkiewicz notes that the poems “indicate different stages in the spiritual growth of the future Pope” (x). They were written between 1950 and 1966, and they reflect on Marian themes, the mystery of natural elements (like water and stone), the nature of work, the nature of the Church, and the surprise of the Resurrection.

Wojtyla was writing in the context of the Communist government of postwar Poland, and there is a requisite heaviness to many of these poems. Despite the serious and sometimes bleak quality of some the poems, one of the themes that came through the clearest to me as I read them was the way in which work, even hard labor, can reveal the dignity of human beings. In “Inspiration” Wojtyla observes that “man matures through work/which inspires him to difficult good” (28).

Wojtyla is also capable of creating some striking images, as in, “The Samaritan Woman” where he depicts the Samaritan woman’s encounter with Jesus at a well. The well mediates the encounter between the two, and the woman reflects on the meeting: “No one between us but light/deep in the well, the pupil of the eye/set in an orbit of stones” (12).

These poems are quite beautiful, and they afford a fascinating look into the early artistic life of one of the twentieth century’s most important public figures.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s