Two Homelands — Two Patriotisms (Słowacki–Norwid)
In their writings the great Polish Romantics, Mickiewicz and Słowacki, first of all tackled the question of Poland’s independence and democratic transformations that were to achieve that objective. They distrusted the economic and civilisational changes taking place in western Europe and stressed Poland’s uniqueness, its distinctiveness when compared with the rest of Europe. In developing the views of Mickiewicz as the author of Konfederaci barscy, Słowacki particularly glorified the so-called gentry democracy and advocated a vision of Poland as a homeland chosen by God and made a guiding star for peoples on their way to liberation from the bondage of the Holy Alliance. Both poets were adherents of Jagiellonian Poland, a Poland of three nations and it was through such Poland that they imagined the future of Europe.
Norwid wrote in conscious opposition to the “giants”, at the same time regarding himself as their successors in national leadership. What mattered for him first of all were Poles the citizens, less so Poles the patriots. His concept of “citizenship” was far removed from noblemen’s sarmatism (and the notion that “a nobleman’s home is his castle” or that there is no man that a nobleman would think of as a superior) and close to Enlightenment views on the matter. For him, too, Poland was a chosen nation but under the law of salvation covering the entire Christian Europe. Poland’s role in Europe was measured only by Poland’s contribution to a European community, like Jan III Sobieski’s relief of Vienna. It was to this community that Poland owed its identity. Our homeland was based primarily on Judeo-Christian and ancient traditions, and these traditions – linked first of all to ancient and Christian Rome – were to be the dominant traditions for us. Norwid was opposed to the idea of Poland’s leading role in the transformation of the world and he saw our homeland as part of a future united Europe of equal, democratic nations.