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Słucki, Arnold

(1920–1972), poet, publicist, and translator. Born into an Orthodox family in Tyszowce, near Lublin, Arnold Słucki (originally Aron Kreiner) attended the State Seminary for Teachers of Judaism in Warsaw between 1934 and 1939. A Communist activist, Słucki fled the invading Nazis to the USSR, where he worked as a teacher and Komsomol instructor. In 1942, he joined the Red Army, later transferring to Polish units. After demobilization, he studied philosophy in Warsaw. A member of the Communist Party (1945–1966), he emigrated from Poland following the antisemitic campaign of 1968, eventually settling in West Berlin.

Słucki made his debut as a Yiddish poet in 1939. He subsequently switched to Polish, writing exclusively in that language. He published several volumes of poetry, including Ziemia jaśnieje (The Earth Brightens; 1950), Słońce nasz towarzysz (Our Comrade, the Sun; 1951), Dzwony nad Wisłą (Bells over the Vistula; 1958), Promienie czasu (Ray of Time; 1959), Faktura światła (Texture of Light; 1965), Eklogi i psalmodie (Eclogues and Psalmodies; 1966), and Biografia anioła (An Angel’s Biography; 1982).

Although Słucki initially was a follower of the doctrine of socialist realism, later his poetry acquired a visionary and symbolic tone reminiscent of romanticism and surrealism. Pointing to his use of biblical, Talmudic, and kabbalistic inspirations and the centrality of symbols such as word and light, critics began to link Słucki to Jewish mysticism. He also was influenced by interwar Polish Jewish poets, especially Maurycy Szymel, in portraying the shtetl and Jewish provincial life. Słucki’s image of the Jewish world is built, however, from the perspective of the Holocaust and by implementing the language of modern art, especially Marc Chagall’s painting.

Suggested Reading

Leszek Szaruga, “Przejęzyczenie,” Opcje 1 (2000): 10–16; Sławomir Jacek Żurek, “. . . Lotny trud półistnienia”: Motywy judaistyczne w poezji Arnolda Słuckiego (Kraków, 2002).



Translated from Polish by Christina Manetti; revised by Magda Opalski