Zaleski, Józef Bohdan

Zaleski, Józef Bohdan, b 14 February 1802 in Bahatyrka, Tarashcha county, Kyiv gubernia, d 31 March 1886 in Villepreux near Paris. Polish Romantic poet; an early, major representative of the Ukrainian school in Polish literature. From 1812 he studied at the school of the Basilian monastic order in Uman. There he befriended Seweryn Goszczyński and Michał Grabowski and formed with them the group Za-Go-Gra. In 1820 he moved to Warsaw. After participating in the Polish Insurrection of 1830–1 he fled to France. Most of Zaleski’s Byronic lyric poetry, historical elegies (eg, about Kryshtof Kosynsky, Ivan Mazepa, and the Battle of Khotyn), and narrative poems and ballads (eg, ‘Rusałki’ [The Water Nymphs], ‘Duch od stepu’ [Spirit from the Steppe]) reflect his idealized love and longing for an idyllic Ukrainian land. Many of his poems are stylized imitations or reworkings of Ukrainian folk songs. In 1866 he published a poem dedicated to the recently deceased Taras Shevchenko. He also wrote some poems in Ukrainian; they were first published in the 1890 Cracow edition of his works. The fullest editions of his works (4 vols, 1877) and correspondence (5 vols, 1900–4) were published in Lviv. Józef Tretiak wrote a major critical biography of him (3 vols, 1911, 1913, 1914).

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 5 (1993).]

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