Karol Wojtyła’s Poetry: an Ascetic Journey

  • Lia Fava Guzzetta Libera Università Maria SS. Assunta, Rome, Italy
Keywords: Karol Wojtyła, John Paul II, literary work, poetry, criticism and interpretation


This article is a kind of journey through the poetic work of Karol Wojtyła / John Paul II – a wandering that is ascetic, yet extremely rich – in the footsteps of an outsider, a person free from our native historical and cultural context, and hence open to the unlimited possibilities of interpretation. This work shows the universal character of Karol Wojtyła’s poetic output; it emphasises new elements in the perception of that poetry, while showing the meaning of the verses in a different light, verses still relevant and invariably addressed to man, who is also (and maybe especially) struggling with eternal dilemmas today. The early literary works already contained two profound dimensions: the Slavic soul and intellectual classicism, which would also become a feature of John Paul II’s talent for ecumenical communication and his theological vision of the Church. In the transition from youthful sonnets to hymns, we can notice not only the stylistic development and depth of the message, but, above all, a move towards conscious religiousness, contemplation, towards the priesthood, a move which was born in the very dramatic time of the Second World War. As a priest, on the other hand, his poetic choices were marked by a desire to understand the condition of man and to see God’s love for His creation. This contemplation becomes increasingly more like a prayer, and dialogue is born out of prayer. Karol Wojtyła’s literary work appears as a story about his own inner experience and reveals a spiritual anthropology.


Dante Alighieri. Divina Commedia. Paradiso XXXIII, vv. 85–87.

Giovanni Paolo II. Trittico romano. Meditazioni, a cura di Giovanni Reale, Bompiani, 2003. Petrocchi, Giorgio. „La religiosità”. Letteratura italiana, vol. V: Le Questioni, Giulio Einaudi Editore, 1986, p.135.

Spadaro, Antonio. Nella melodia della terra. JacaBook, 2007.

Spartà, Santino. L’opera poetica completa di Karol Wojtyła. Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2013. Wojtyla, Karol. La dottrina della fede in San Giovanni della Croce. Bompiani Editore, 2003. Wojtyła, Karol. Le poesie giovanili, cura e traduzione di Marta Burghardt, Edizioni Studium, 2004. Wojtyła, Karol. Tutte le opere letterarie. Presentazione di Giovanni Reale, Bompiani, 2001.