The story of the Polish National Anthem

    The Polish National Anthem “Dabrowski’s Mazurka” was written in Reggio Emilia, Cisalpine Republic in Northern Italy, in 1797 by Józef Wybicki. Two years after the Third Partition of Poland.

    The third and final  Partition of Poland took place in 1795 thereby ending Polish–Lithuanian national sovereignty until 1918. The representatives of partitioning powers; Austrian, Prussian, and Russian met on October 24, 1795 and agreed to permanently erase Poland’s name from existence in any historical context including the encyclopedias, in an attempt to restrain Polish people from dissidence and nationalistic behavior. 

    The anthem “Dabrowski’s Mazurka” was written in July of 1797 by Józef Wybicki, who was one of the organizers of General Jan Henryk Dąbrowski’s Polish Army in Italy. The theme of the original poem “Dabrowski’s Mazurka” expressed the idea that the nation doesn’t have to exist on the map of the world or on pages of history books to be a nation, as long as the Polish people have Poland in their hearts and are willing to fight for it. It didn’t take long for the “Dabrowski’s Mazurka” to become one of the most popular patriotic songs in Poland. The Polish nation went through multiple partitions and vicious attacks and so this Anthem still stirs the spirits of all generations to this day.

    The original lyrics refer to several Polish war heroes of the time, as well as heroes of past Polish wars. The Napoléon Bonaparte, a French statesman and military leader is mentioned in the original poem, as the commanding officer of Dąbrowski and as an example to be held up.

    The source of the melody is not known for sure, although historians often credit Michal Kleofas Oginski as the creator. It is most likely based on an anonymous folk melody, due to the unusual mazurka tempo, which is faster than most type of melodies. Mazurkas originated in Poland and have always been associated with the nation.
    When Poland regained its independence in 1918, “Dabrowski’s Mazurka” officially became the national anthem of the Republic of Poland on February 28, 1927.

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