Mikolaj Sep Szarzynski (1550 - 1581 / Poland)
Biography of Mikolaj Sep Szarzynski
Mikolaj Sep Szarzynski (1550-1581) was a Polish religious poet remembered for writing metaphysical sonnets with inverted word orders.
A forerunner of Baroque poetry, he wrote predominantly religious poetry akin to that of the English Metaphysical poets. In this period satire and pastoral were the most popular forms.
Szarzynski was a full-fledged baroque poet avant la lettre. His only collection, Rytmy albo wiersze polskie (Polish Rhythms or Verses; publicated posthumously in 1601), has been rediscovered only in recent decades, after centuries of oblivion.
Szarzynski did not write much, but what he wrote reveals an extraordinary personality, a profoundly metaphysical poet. In particular, a handful of his religious sonnets, in which tortuous syntax, violent enjambment, and oxymoronic imagery portray a mind torn asunder by spiritual torment, bear comparison with the best of John Donne or George Herbert.
Our almighty Lord, eternal, unfathomed,
To Thee Cherubin proclaim "Holy, holy, holy!"
To Thee too, Seraph, true love's pure brand;
A fiery firmament tho marks Thy glory's stead.
And tho Thou art in all, 'tis there my teary eyes
I lift, and there doth my longing heart sigh;
For my senses' strengths match not their afflictions,
Like servants of masters, Thy mercies they crave.