Wokół języka poetyckiego Wincentego Byrskiego. Studia ze stylistyki i lingwistyki kulturowej
Wydawnictwo Naukowe Uniwersytetu Pedagogicznego, Kraków
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The purpose of the investigation undertaken in the monograph was an attempt at a precursory interpretation of the literary output of Wincenty Byrski (1870–1939) – an unknown poet from the Podbeskidzie region. His extensive and diverse work emerging from the assumptions of local modernism and applying impressionist and symbolic techniques in the area of subject matter, refers to biographical motifs (little motherland, family village and family home), as well as social, historiosophical, patriotic and religious issues. In order to characterize the semantic-lexical level of the poems, the author used research tools of contemporary stylistics and the descriptive method, including the anthropological perspective. The reconstruction of the linguistic image of the world illustrated in the work of Wincenty Byrski consisted in the linguistic-stylistic analysis of the texts, including the semantics of excerpted lexemes and phraseological units, the purpose of which was to establish semantic groups and chains of synonymous words, comment on their meanings and collocations, as well as determine the expressive marking and stylistic value. In order to establish the meaning of words at that time, as well as their use in different varieties of the Polish language, the lexicons with vocabulary and phraseology of the last decade of the 19th century and the first decades of the 20th century proved very helpful. In some cases it was also necessary to carry out a morphological analysis of derivatives, which made it possible to assess which word-formation categories and reality arrangement methods were the closest to the poet from Kozy. Sometimes it was also necessary to consider the etymology of native words and determine the origins of foreign words, which was facilitated by appropriate lexicons. Bearing in mind the specificity of artistic language relating mostly to texts of autotelic function, it was important to remember about an equally significant referential function. Thanks to it, the author of a literary work, by creating the represented world, has the chance to refer continually to the extralinguistic reality, including all the components, both old and contemporary. Such poetic references to selected people, places and events determined the way of systematizing and describing the linguistic material derived from the texts. This material was first subject to an overview from the perspective of idiolectal traits of the writer, which were distinguished against the background of systemic features of the Polish language at the turn of the centuries. Next, as if based on the chronological criterion, a linguistic reconstruction of the ‘clotted’ image of the world in the analyzed poems was carried out. It included the most important (according to the poet) components: the character of a mother, and – to a noticeably lesser extent – the character of a father, the image of a family home and little motherland, i.e. a village in Podbeskidzie, along with characteristic buildings, cult places, elements of country landscape, views from Podbeskidzie and the Tatras, as well as mountainous nature, the picture of Cracow with its monuments from the period which preceded the regaining of sovereignty, the image of the Jasna Góra Monastery, including the miraculous icon, finally the nation during the Partitions and war struggles for independent existence. According to Byrski, not only family and nature, but also local and national patriotism, played a significant role, which was reflected in many of his works. A constant point of reference in many of his reflections was the Christian perspective, which is visible in his works completely dedicated to religious issues, especially the poem about the life and martyr’s death of Jesus of Nazareth. The monograph devoted to the unknown writer is closed by two chapters focusing comprehensively on selected poetic traces excerpted from the whole literary output of Wincenty Byrski, regardless of its thematic diversity. Both the study on lexical means referring to sensual perception, and the chapter illustrating the creativity of the writer in the area of comparative structures, are the complement to linguistic remarks on his poetic technique and linguistic sensitivity. It cannot be denied that the poet, who came from a rural background and was a railway worker (by education and profession), must have been a remarkable person in terms of the skills in using verse, as well as his knowledge of the world literature and archival materials. It is confirmed not only by his great language culture (testified by preserved manuscripts), from the graphic level, through inflectional subsystem to morphological and syntactic layers. Surprisingly enough, the writer’s vocabulary includes: words typical of the old period (e.g. chram, gon, jaśń, kierz, gwieździarz, głaźnie), foreign (frequently exotic) expressions (e.g. magrefa, nard, onychina, roztruchan, samum, sardiusz, szpikandardowy) and native words which are limited to particular regions (e.g. harny, króbka, zberczeć), or stylistically restricted (e.g. pustać, ścieża, zaobłoczny) in terms of usage. It was with undeniable mastership that he created poetic neologisms, replication or outdated word-formation models (like barcica, niezaradczość, powiecze, spławnia, ugorzywo, potworczy, jałowuchy, zaojczyźnić), or fulfilling exquisite compositional patterns (e.g. wiatrosiej, śnieżnoruny, wonnowłosy, złotogrzywy, tęczoskrzydlny). As for the topics which Byrski concentrates on, it is worth paying attention to the content variety of his works, ranging from local, private, humorous and simple issues, to frequent references to significant events, historical figures and places that are particularly important for the sense of national identity. The writer was also fascinated by atmospheric phenomena and keen on describing mountainous landscapes. In these contexts he had a tendency towards historiosophical or existential considerations. Byrski’s repertoire is admirable: poetic forms (with a clear preference for sonnets), verse layout (with a significant part played by terza rima and octave), metric measurements, as well as collections of literary topoi and stylistic tropes (epithets, comparisons, metaphors, symbols, metonymy and synesthesia). Bearing in mind the works connected with folk tradition and the Tatra poems, as well as the tendency towards reflecting momentary, ephemeral impressions tyical of impressionist techniques, or the skilful use of light and sound effects, undoubtedly, the writer can be perceived as the continuator of Young Poland traditions, attributed mainly to K. Tetmajer, T. Miciński and L. Staff. As for the ways in which urban, war and religious topics are approached by Byrski, they elicit associations with the literary output of W. Orkan, E. Zegadłowicz and J. Kasprowicz. Poetic works wtritten by Wincenty Byrski, regardless of the importance of the topic or literary inspiration, are always accompanied by excellent sense of style, while the choice of linguistic means, characterized by eloquence and sensitivity of the author, is carefully thought out. Thanks to these features, the Polish language used in the analyzed texts perfectly illustrates the ways of perceiving old reality by the poet from the Podbeskidzie region, reveals the systems of his values and life course, at the same time being a suggestive testimony to the morality of the bygone era.