The Romantic movement had unique features in Poland, where it did not begin until the 1820’s, some thirty years later than in England and Germany. The most prominent literary figure of Romanticism in Poland was Adam Mickiewicz, whose poetry grew out of his formative years in Lithuanian Byelorussia. Mickiewicz wrote poems that had universal as well as regional and national significance. A poet of genius, he raised Polish literature to a high level among Slavic literatures and to a prominent place in world literature.

Although he was in many respects the quintessential Romantic poet, Mickiewicz eludes categorization. There is a strong classical strain running throughout his oeuvre, evident in the clarity of his diction and the precision of his images. He combined meticulous observation of the familiar world with an evocation of spiritual realms and supernatural experience. His concerns as a poet went beyond poetry, reflecting a responsibility to his beloved, oppressed Poland and to humanity at large. As he was a spokesman in exile for Polish freedom, so he remains a spokesman for all of those who share his hatred of tyranny.