A little about Shakespeare

It is pointless to try to prove the longevity of Shakespeare’s works, as everyone knows them. On the other hand, it may be interesting to frame in words some personal encounters with his works. 

The first of his books I read was for a mandatory school reading of Hamlet, and later I needed to become familiar with another of his literary works, Romeo and Juliet. I grew up much later to his Sonnets.  Shakespeare’s Sonnets are special, because they were meant for sensitive ears and for those who like to dive into the beauty of poetry.

Given my love of music, it should come as no surprise that the first sonnet which I ever read began with the words: ‘ Music to hear, why hear’st thou music sadly?’ I found it so beautiful; however, all the archaic contractions such as ‘hear’st’ or ‘receiv’st’ seemed very confusing to me, though I still found them charming.

As I have mentioned, everyone knows Shakespeare. His works have been translated into many languages, and obviously into Polish. As stated on Wikipedia, the first translations of Shakespeare’s work into Polish were undertaken by the Polish writer Ignacy Hołowiński in the years 1839-1841. However, many readers are more familiar with Polish poet Stanisław Baranczak’s translations, as they are the most popular.

Several years ago, the Polish singer Stanisław Sojka even went as far as a musical interpretation of the Sonnets and and he turned out to be a pretty good artistic interpreter.  Particularly noteworthy is the sonnet performed by Sojka that starts with ‘ My love is strengthen’d, though more weak in seeming’,  which in Polish means: ‘Mocniej cię kocham, choć na pozór słabiej.’

I am convinced that anyone who is able to understand both the Polish and English languages would agree that the translation of Shakespeare’s works into Polish did not take away their charm.  So, let us read and listen, all the while enriching ourselves with these timeless works.


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