Julian Tuwim
Julian Tuwim (the surname
A surname is a name added to a given name and is part of a personal name. In many cases, a surname is a family name. Many dictionaries define "surname" as a synonym of "family name"...

 comes from the Hebrew
Hebrew language
Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

 "טובים", "tovim", "good"), sometimes used pseudonym "Oldlen" when writing song lyrics. He was a Polish poet, born in Łódź, Congress Poland
Congress Poland
The Kingdom of Poland , informally known as Congress Poland , created in 1815 by the Congress of Vienna, was a personal union of the Russian parcel of Poland with the Russian Empire...

, Russian Empire
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

, of Jewish parents, and educated in Łódź and Warsaw
Warsaw is the capital and largest city of Poland. It is located on the Vistula River, roughly from the Baltic Sea and from the Carpathian Mountains. Its population in 2010 was estimated at 1,716,855 residents with a greater metropolitan area of 2,631,902 residents, making Warsaw the 10th most...

 where he studied law
Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

 and philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

 at Warsaw University. In 1919 Tuwim co-founded the Skamander
Skamander was a Polish group of experimental poets founded in 1918 by Julian Tuwim, Antoni Słonimski, Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz, Kazimierz Wierzyński and Jan Lechoń....

group of experimental poets with Antoni Słonimski and Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz. He was a major figure in Polish literature
Polish literature
Polish literature is the literary tradition of Poland. Most Polish literature has been written in the Polish language, though other languages, used in Poland over the centuries, have also contributed to Polish literary traditions, including Yiddish, Lithuanian, Ukrainian, Belarusian, German and...

, and was also known for his contribution to children's literature
Children's literature
Children's literature is for readers and listeners up to about age twelve; it is often defined in four different ways: books written by children, books written for children, books chosen by children, or books chosen for children. It is often illustrated. The term is used in senses which sometimes...


Life and work

Tuwim was born in Łódź, into a family of assimilated Jews. His parents Izydor and Adela, provided Julian with a comfortable middle class upbringing. He was not a particularly diligent student and had to repeat the sixth grade. In 1905 the family had to flee from Łódź to Breslau in order to escape possible repercussions following Izydor's involvement in the Revolution of 1905.

Initially Tuwim's poetry, even more than that of the other "Skamandrites", represented a decisive break with turn-of-the-century mannerism. It was characterized by an expression of vitality, optimism, and praise of urban life. His poems celebrated introduction to the everyday life in a city, with its triviality and vulgarism. In his poems Tuwim often used vernacular language and slang as well as poetic dialogue.
The collections "Czyhanie na Boga" (In Lurking for God (1918)), "Sokrates tańczący" (The Dancing Socrates (1920)), "Siódma jesień" (The Seventh Autumn (1922)), and "Wierszy tom czwarty" (Volume Four of Poems (1923)) are typical of his early work. In his later collections — "Słowa we krwi" (Words in Blood, 1926)), "Rzecz Czarnoleska" (A Tale from Czarnolas
Czarnolas is a village in the administrative district of Gmina Policzna, within Zwoleń County, Masovian Voivodeship, in east-central Poland. It lies approximately north-east of Zwoleń and south-east of Warsaw....

) (1929), "Biblia cygańska" (A Gypsy Bible (1933)) and "Treść gorejąca" (A Burning Matter (1933)) Tuwim became restless and bitter, and wrote with fervor and vehemence about the emptiness of urban existence. He also drew more heavily from romantic and classicist
Classicism, in the arts, refers generally to a high regard for classical antiquity, as setting standards for taste which the classicists seek to emulate. The art of classicism typically seeks to be formal and restrained: of the Discobolus Sir Kenneth Clark observed, "if we object to his restraint...

 traditions, while perfecting his form and style, and becoming a virtuoso
A virtuoso is an individual who possesses outstanding technical ability in the fine arts, at singing or playing a musical instrument. The plural form is either virtuosi or the Anglicisation, virtuosos, and the feminine form sometimes used is virtuosa...

  of word and language.
From the very beginning and throughout his artistic career, Tuwim was satirically
Satire is primarily a literary genre or form, although in practice it can also be found in the graphic and performing arts. In satire, vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, and society itself, into improvement...

 inclined. He supplied sketches and monologues to numerous cabaret
Cabaret is a form, or place, of entertainment featuring comedy, song, dance, and theatre, distinguished mainly by the performance venue: a restaurant or nightclub with a stage for performances and the audience sitting at tables watching the performance, as introduced by a master of ceremonies or...

s. In his poetry and columns, he derided obscurantism
Obscurantism is the practice of deliberately preventing the facts or the full details of some matter from becoming known. There are two, common, historical and intellectual, denotations: 1) restricting knowledge—opposition to the spread of knowledge, a policy of withholding knowledge from the...

 and bureaucracy
A bureaucracy is an organization of non-elected officials of a governmental or organization who implement the rules, laws, and functions of their institution, and are occasionally characterized by officialism and red tape.-Weberian bureaucracy:...

 as well as militaristic
Militarism is defined as: the belief or desire of a government or people that a country should maintain a strong military capability and be prepared to use it aggressively to defend or promote national interests....

 and nationalistic
Nationalism is a political ideology that involves a strong identification of a group of individuals with a political entity defined in national terms, i.e. a nation. In the 'modernist' image of the nation, it is nationalism that creates national identity. There are various definitions for what...

 trends in politics. His best satiric poem is regarded to be the burlesque
Burlesque is a literary, dramatic or musical work intended to cause laughter by caricaturing the manner or spirit of serious works, or by ludicrous treatment of their subjects...

, "Bal w Operze" (The Ball at the Opera, 1936).

In 1918 Tuwim co-founded the cabaret, "Picador", and worked as a writer or artistic director with many other cabarets such as "Czarny kot" (Black Cat 1917–1919), "Qui pro Quo" (1919–1932), "Banda" The Gang and "Stara Banda" The Old Gang (1932–1935) and finally "Cyrulik Warszawski" (Barber of Warsaw 1935–1939). Since 1924 Tuwim was a staff writer at "Wiadomości Literackie" (Literary News) where he wrote a weekly column "Camera Obscura". He also wrote for the satirical magazine "Szpilki" (Pins).

Tuwim displayed his caustic sense of humor and unyielding individuality in works such as "Poem in which the author politely yet firmly implores the vast hosts of his brethren to kiss his arse." Here, Tuwim systematically enumerates and caricatures various personae inhabiting European social scene of the mid-1930s -- 'perfumed café intellectuals', 'drab socialists', 'fascist jocks', 'Zionist doctors', 'repressed Catholics' and so on, and ends each stanza by asking each to perform the action indicated in the title. The poem ends with a note to the would-be censor who would surely be tempted to expunge all mention of this piece for its breach of 'public standards.' This stanza ends just like the others as the censor fulfills his role.

His poem "Do prostego człowieka
Do prostego człowieka
Do prostego człowieka is a poem by Julian Tuwim. Published for the first time in the November 7, 1929 edition of Robotnik daily, it immediately became popular due to its strong pacifist and anti-war message...

" (To the Common Man), first published on October 7, 1929 in "Robotnik" (Workman), started a storm of personal attacks on Tuwim, mostly from antisemitic right wing circles criticizing Tuwim's pacifistic views.

Julian's aunt was married to Adam Czerniaków
Adam Czerniaków
Adam Czerniaków , born in Warsaw, Poland, was a Polish-Jewish engineer and senator to the prewar Polish Sejm for Nonpartisan Bloc for Cooperation with the Government...

, and his uncle from his mothers side was Arthur Rubinstein
Arthur Rubinstein
Arthur Rubinstein KBE was a Polish-American pianist. He received international acclaim for his performances of the music of a variety of composers...


World War II and after

In 1939, at the beginning of World War II and Nazi Germany's occupation of Poland, Tuwim emigrated first through Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

 to France, and after France's capitulation, to Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

, by way of Portugal, and finally to the USA, where he settled in 1942. In 1939-41 he collaborated with the émigré weekly "Wiadomosci Polskie", but broke off the collaboration due to differences in views on the attitude towards the Soviet Union. In 1942-46 he worked with the monthly "Nowa Polska" published in London, and with leftist Polish-American newspapers. He was affiliated with the Polish section of the International Workers Organization from 1942. He was also a member of the Association of Writers From Poland (a member of the board in 1943).

During this time he wrote "Kwiaty Polskie" (Polish Flowers), an epic poem in which he remembers with nostalgia his early childhood in Łódź. In April 1944 he published a manifesto, entitled "My, Żydzi Polscy" (We, Polish Jews).

Tuwim returned to Poland after the war, in 1946, but did not produce much after the war.

Although Tuwim was well known for serious poetry he also wrote poetry for children and satirical works, for example "Lokomotywa"" (Locomotive) (1938, tr. 1940). Tuwim along with Jan Brzechwa
Jan Brzechwa
Jan Brzechwa , , born Jan Wiktor Lesman in Żmerynka, Podolia to a Polish family of Jewish descent was a Polish poet and author, mostly known for his contribution to children's literature....

 are the two most famous authors of children's poetry in Polish. He also wrote well-regarded translation
Translation is the communication of the meaning of a source-language text by means of an equivalent target-language text. Whereas interpreting undoubtedly antedates writing, translation began only after the appearance of written literature; there exist partial translations of the Sumerian Epic of...

s of Pushkin and other Russian
Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

 poets. Russian Soviet poet Yelizaveta Tarakhovskaya
Yelizaveta Tarakhovskaya
Yelizaveta Yakovlevna Tarakhovskaya was a Russian poet, playwright, translator, and author of children's books.-Biography:Yelizaveta Tarakhovskaya was born in the city of Taganrog on July 26, 1891 in a pharmacist's family. She is sister to poetess Sophia Parnok and twin sister to founder of...

 translated most of Tuwim's children's poetry into Russian
Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...



  • Czyhanie na Boga (Lurking for God, 1918)
  • Sokrates tańczący (Dancing Socrates, 1920)
  • Siódma jesień (The Seventh Autumn, 1921)
  • Wierszy tom czwarty (1923)
  • Czary i czarty polskie (Sorcery and Deuces of Poland, 1924)
  • Wypisy czarnoksięskie (The Reader of Sorcery, 1924)
  • A to pan zna? (And do you know it?, 1925)
  • Czarna msza (1925)
  • Tysiąc dziwów prawdziwych (1925)
  • Słowa we krwi (1926)
  • Tajemnice amuletów i talizmanów (1926)
  • Strofy o późnym lecie
  • Rzecz czarnoleska (1929)
  • Jeździec miedziany (1932)
  • Biblia cygańska i inne wiersze (1932)
  • Jarmark rymów (1934)
  • Polski słownik pijacki i antologia bachiczna (1935)
  • Treść gorejąca (1936)
  • Bal w Operze (1936, published 1946)
  • Kwiaty polskie (1940–1946, published 1949)
  • Pegaz dęba, czyli panoptikum poetyckie (1950)
  • Piórem i piórkiem (1951)

Songs to Tuwim's poems

  • Karol Szymanowski
    Karol Szymanowski
    Karol Maciej Szymanowski was a Polish composer and pianist.-Life:Szymanowski was born into a wealthy land-owning Polish gentry family in Tymoszówka, then in the Russian Empire, now in Cherkasy Oblast, Ukraine. He studied music privately with his father before going to Gustav Neuhaus'...

     - Słopiewnie for voice and piano, op. 46bis (1921)
  • Witold Lutosławski - Piosenki dziecinne (Children's Songs) (1952); Spóźniony słowik (The overdule nightigale, 1947), O Panu Tralalińskim ( About Mr. Tralalinski, 1947), for voice and piano (also arr. for orchestra)
  • Several of his poems were set to music by Zygmunt Konieczny
    Zygmunt Konieczny
    Zygmunt Konieczny — Polish composer of theatre music and film music.Zygmunt Konieczny spent his childhood in the village of Szczyrzyc. He debuted in the 1950s in the cabaret Piwnica pod Baranami in Kraków. Since then Konieczny composed many pieces for film, theater performances and singers such as...

     and sung by Ewa Demarczyk
    Ewa Demarczyk
    Ewa Demarczyk is a Polish singer. She is generally associated with the Piwnica pod Baranami cabaret.Demarczyk is recognized as one of the most talented and charismatic singers in the history of Polish music. She is praised for her unique interpretations, expression and unusual stage personality...

    , including Tomaszów
    Tomaszów may refer to the following places in Poland:* Tomaszów Lubelski, a town in Lublin Voivodeship* Tomaszów Mazowiecki, a town in Łódź Voivodeship*Tomaszów, Lublin Voivodeship *Tomaszów, Opoczno County in Łódź Voivodeship...

     and Grande Valse Brillante (this text is part of the Kwiaty Polskie poem, which references the Chopin composition several times)
  • Krzysztof Meyer
    Krzysztof Meyer
    Krzysztof Meyer is a Polish composer, pianist and music scholar.-Biography:Meyer was born in Cracow. As a boy he played piano and organ. He began his composition study early – in 1954, with Stanisław Wiechowicz...

     - Quartettino for voice, flute, cello and piano (1966); Symphony No. 2 (1967); Spiewy polskie (Polish Songs) for voice and orchestra (1974)
  • David Bruce (composer)
    David Bruce (composer)
    David Bruce is a British-American composer.Bruce began his undergraduate studies in music in 1988 at Nottingham University , before moving on to the Royal College of Music where he obtained a Masters Degree in Composition, studying with Tim Salter and George Benjamin; and a PhD in Composition at...

     - Piosenki for soprano, baritone and ensemble (2006) - setting of 11 songs. Piosenki at David Bruce's website
  • Akurat
    Akurat is a Polish band formed in November 1994 in Bielsko-Biała district. 'Akurat' is Polish for 'exactly' or 'yeah right'. Music of the band can be credited as a fusion between punk rock, reggae, ska and pop.-Current members:*Piotr Wróbel - guitar, vocalist...

     - Do Prostego Człowieka
  • Czesław Niemen - Wspomnienie
  • KBTW? - "Wiersz, w którym autor grzecznie, ale stanowczo uprasza liczne zastępy bliźnich, aby go w dupę pocałowali" ("A poem in which the author politely yet firmly implores the vast hosts of his brethren to kiss his arse")
  • Marek Grechuta - Mandarynki i pomarańcze

Further reading

  • Keane, Barry (2004) "Skamander. The Poets and Their Poetry.", Agade: Warszawa, ISBN 8387111295.
  • Mortkowicz-Olczakowa, Hanna (1961). "Bunt wspomnień." Państwowy Instytut Wydawniczy.

See also

  • Murzynek Bambo
    Murzynek Bambo
    "Murzynek Bambo" is a children's poem by Polish author Julian Tuwim , written in 1923 or '24. It is about a small black boy called Bambo, who lives in Africa...

  • List of Poles
  • List of Polish poets

External links

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