Czesław Ratka and his ''Araucana''

There are many literary works, but only few can be called immortal. There are more translations of them, but only few can be called masterpieces.  Very rarely a translation is regarded as a milestone in the history of a literature. There are, however, such translations that are more important than many original works. In the first place they are translations of the Bible. Also translations of great epic poems, as the Iliad and the Odyssey by Homer, can be included in lists of the most important books in a launguege. Everyone knows that Jeruselem Delivered by Torquato Tasso is a masterpiece of renaissance Italian epic poetry. Not everyone knows that the poem was even more important for Poles than for Italians. In the beginning of 17th century Piotr Kochanowski, a nephew of the famous Jan Kochanowski of Czarnolas, translated La Gerusalemme liberata into Polish. He practically introduced ottava rima into Polish literature, as it had been used only once before (by Sebastian Grabowiecki in a short poem). Jerozolima wyzwolona by Piotr Kochanowski became a Polish national epic and is still widely read, at schools and the universities. Nowadays another great work of world poetry has been translated into Polish. It is Spanish epic poem '"Araucana" by Alonso de Ercilla y Zúñiga, who lived in the same epoch as teh above-mentioned Tasso.  The poem, which is appreciated by all Spanish-languege speakers all over the world exactly as Jerusalem delivered is loved by the Italian poeple, was put into Polish ottava rima stanzas by Czesław Ratka, an engineer and translator. His work can be compared to Piotr Kochanowski effort.   We may suppose that after many years Czesław Ratka translation will be named the most important translation of the beginning of 21st century.

Wiktor Jarosław Darasz
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