NA ZDROWIE by Jan Kochanowski (1530-1584)

There is something about Polish poetry and verse that cannot be literally translated, unless you translate it into the essence of the Poem. Here’s one I stumbled upon by Jan Kochanowski, 16th century renaissance poet from Poland, whose  writing influenced modern day literature in Poland. Following that is another great website I found with a fewtranslations, but mind you ! Just the essence, not direct and literal translation, by Jarek Zawadzki, all of which you can find here :



Ślachetne zdrowie,
Nikt się nie dowie,
Jako smakujesz,
Aż się zepsujesz.

Tam człowiek prawie
Widzi na jawie
I sam to powie,
że nic nad zdrowie
Ani lepszego,
Ani droższego;

Bo dobre mienie,
Perły, kamienie,
Także wiek młody
I dar urody,
Mieśca wysokie,
Władze szerokie
Dobre są, ale –
Gdy zdrowie w cale.
Gdzie nie masz siły,
I świat niemiły.
Klinocie drogi,
Mój dom ubogi
Oddany tobie
Ulubuj sobie!


In English :


by Jan Kochanowski (1530–1584)

My good and noble health,
Thou matter’st more then wealth.
None know’th thy worth until
Thou fad’st, and we fall ill.

And every man can see,
In stark reality,
And every man will say:
“’Tis health I need today”.

No better thing we know,
No dearer gem we owe,
For all that we possess:
Pearls, stones of great finesse,
High offices and power
– One may enjoy this hour –
And so the gifts of youth,
And beauty are, in truth,
Good things, but only when
Our health is with us then.
For when the body’s weak,
The world around is bleak.
O jewel dear, my home
Awaiteth thee to come;
With thee it shall not perish.
’Tis all for thee to cherish.





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