Poems of a Young Pole Who Would Become Pope

Translation of Karol Wojtyla’s Early Works Is Published in Italy

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VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 15, 2004 (Zenit.org).- The volume «Early Poems of Karol Wojtyla,» the first translation into Italian of the poetical compositions of the youth of Wadowice, has just been published.

The book, already a best seller in Poland, includes letters of the future Pope written when he was 19 and 20.

These verses, unpublished for 50 years and considered by their author as «artistically immature,» are a product of the «literary atmosphere of the time,» explained Paolo Martino, professor of linguistics at Rome’s LUMSA University. The university published the work in Italy in collaboration with Edizioni Studium.

It has its own «form of symbolism and hermeticism,» which makes it «difficult reading,» Martino said when presenting the volume on Vatican Radio.

«They are substantial verses, in which Christian inspiration is mixed with the Slav spirit,» and «the splendor of the Greek-Latin classical world,» he said.

Martino pointed out that these poems of the young Wojtyla reveal a «limpid sense of premonition.»

«The young worker and student presages something of the future that awaits him … premonitions that are realized in the writer,» the professor said.

Martino quoted, for example, a passage of «Convivio,» in which the poet dialogues with the Almighty and confesses his desire to «extend your paternal inheritance … that this voice be heard everywhere among the peoples.»

It is even clearer at the beginning of the «Fourteenth Sonnet,» when the young author contemplates the flight of a pelican and says: «A soul like this is needed … which confesses the pain of the world, which alleviates the weight of misfortune, and brings one closer to the Love of the crucified hands.»

«That soul is already being forged in these verses and being prepared for the extraordinary destiny that is still unknown to it,» Martino explained. «He does so with his trust placed on high, which enables him to ‘see’ — beyond the dark horizon of the moment — a way of peace.»

Among the poems in the volume, there is one dedicated to his mother, who died when he was 12.

«A luminous tranquility shines on the white tomb, as if something raised us, as if it encouraged us to hope,» Wojtyla wrote.

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