The Pope’s poet

One of John Paul the Great’s favourite poets was Cyprian Kamil Norwid. Here’s a selection, translated from the original Polish by Adam Czerniawski (via


…God sees all 
“How can
God’s eye endure ugliness all round ?”
If you wish to know, with an artist’s eye 
Look closely at a ruin, at cobwebs
In sunlight, at matted straw 
In fields, at potter’s clay – 
– He gave us all, even His traces,
As He perceives things, have no envy, have no shame! 
Yet there is sun-gilded Pride
Convinced the sun will not shine through her; 
She is the end of sight and contemplation,
She is the screen against God’s rays,
So that man, the most ungrateful creature in the world, 
Should feel extinguished brightness and night in his eyes 
– In every art let all arts gleam, save the one
Through which the work is to be done. 

When I discovered the Gerard Manley Hopkins site researching a previous post, I was shocked to find another pertinent lecture, discussing similarities between Gerard Manley Hopkins and Cyprian Kamil Norwid.

Also, for some of Pope John Paul II’s thoughts on this Polish poet, see here.

There’s more to come about Norwid, but sometimes it’s just better to let the text speak for itself. 

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One Comment on “The Pope’s poet”

  1. Beautiful line: “He gave us all, even His traces,”

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