Konstanty Ildefons Gałczyński bigraphy, stories - Translators

Konstanty Ildefons Gałczyński : biography

23 January 1905 - 06 December 1953

Konstanty Ildefons Gałczyński (23 January 1905 – 6 December 1953), alias Karakuliambro, was a Polish poet. He is well known for the "paradramatic" absurd humorous sketches of the Green Goose Theatre.

The grave of Konstanty Ildefons Gałczyński and his wife Natalia on the Military Graveyard on Powązki in Warsaw.


Born to a lower middle-class family in Warsaw, Gałczyński was evacuated with his parents at the outbreak of World War I, and from 1914 to 1918 he lived in Moscow, where he attended a Polish school. Returning to Poland in 1918, he studied classics and English language at the University of Warsaw, submitting a dissertation on a non-existent nineteenth-century English poet, Morris Gordon Cheats.

His literary debut came in 1923 and was a member of the Kwadryga group of poets, and he was linked to satirical and political publications. In 1930 he married Natalia Avalov. From 1931-33, he held the post of cultural attaché in Berlin. From 1934-36 he was in Vilnius. He settled there at 2 Młynowa Street. There, in 1936, the couple's daughter Kira was born. Through his works Gałczyński refers to the atmosphere of Vilnius, and that which Adam Mickiewicz left behind.

Konstanty saves one of the inmates from the transport from women camp in Ravensbrück. Her name is Lucyna Wolanowska. For a short time they live together. In January 1946 their son is born, Konstanty Ildefons Gałczyński. In 1946 Lucyna Wolanowska and little Konstanty went to Australia. Konstanty will visit Poland in June 1990.

With the outbreak of World War II, Gałczyński received a draft card from the army. He took part in the Polish September Campaign of 1939. On 17 September, he became a Russian prisoner of war and was later captured by the Germans. He spent the duration of the occupation in the Stalag XI-A prisoner-of-war camp in Altengrabow, his poems printed secretly in anthologies. After the war he travelled to Brussels and Paris, returning to Poland in 1946. He established The 13 Muses Club in Szczecin in 1948 before moving back to Warsaw, and produced work for numerous weekly magazines.

Many of his postwar pieces, including "A Poem for the Traitor" ("Poemat dla zdrajcy"), an attack on Czesław Miłosz, "Chryzostom Bulwieć’s Trip to Ciemnogród" ("Podróż Chryzostoma Bulwiecia do Ciemnogrodu") and the panegyric "Stalin is Dead" ("Umarł Stalin") (1953), were written according to socialist realist conventions. In 1950, he became the object of an ideological battle, his artistic work denounced by Adam Ważyk at the Reunion of Polish Writers as petit-bourgeois.

In the later years of his life, he wrote several greater poetic forms:

  • "Jan Sebastian Bach's Easter" (1950) ("Wielkanoc Jana Sebastiana Bacha")
  • "Niobe" (1951)
  • "Wit Stwosz" (1952)
  • "Olsztyn Chronicle" (1952) ("Kronika Olsztyńska")

Bust of the poet in front of the museum in the forester's lodge Pranie.

From 1950 to 1953, he was linked with the forester’s lodge at Lake Nidzkie, where he wrote numerous works, including "Olsztyn Chronicle". It is there that his museum is currently located. He published the volumes of poetry Enchanted Droshky (1948) ("Zaczarowana dorożka"), Wedding Rings (1949) ("Ślubne obrączki") and Songs (1953) ("Pieśni"). He also produced translations, or paraphrases, of A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare (1952) and Ode to Joy by Friedrich Schiller.


He died on 6 December 1953, aged 48, following a third heart attack.


Since 1998 a biennial poetry competition has been organised in Szczecin, named Gałczynalie in honour of the poet. A Green Goose foundation was formed in Warsaw in September 2007.

Gałczyński was portrayed in the book The Captive Mind (Zniewolony umysł) by Czesław Miłosz; he is Delta.

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