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Sandor Petofi biography


Sándor Petőfi biography

Sándor – Alexander – Petöfi (his proper name was Petrovics – pron. Petrovitch) is perhaps Hungary´s most famous poet. Born on 1.1. 1823 in Kiskörös (Kiskunhalas), he died as a soldier during the revolution against the k.u.k.-empire of Vienna the last day of july 1849 in Schäßburg/Segesvár/Sighisoara (now Romania). Son of a butcher, he left highschool and his family to become an actor, joining a theatre troupe and wandering across the country.

In 1839 he became a soldier, then in 1841 he took up again his unsteady life as a roving actor. After his first booklet with poems having been published he got a job as an assistent editor in Pest. His poetry soon had its proper tone, as he used the language of the people, thus affec- ting the political intentions to abolish latin still being the official language of poli- tics and administration in Hungary.

His work also was a contribution to give a break-through to a poetry close to the people in those days literature, initiating the beginning of a new epoch of poetic style. The highly patriotic impetus of his lyric was not regarded with benevolence by the authorities but nevertheless loved by the hungarian people. For the first time in hungarian poetry Petöfi´s lyrics deal with personal feelings, always being dominated by a subjective note, thus breaking up the poetical conventions of his time.

“A haza” (the land of his nation) and love for a woman being the “twin-like” components of his whole life and feeling are also the two cardinal points of Sándor Petöfi´s work. There are quite some of his poems talking of these forces – sometimes drifting apart from one another and tearing his heart…: On march 15, 1848 he left his dearly beloved wife in order to take his place in front of the “Revolutionary Youth” in Pest, later serving as “Hadsegéd” (assistent officer) of the polish general J. Bem.

He lost his life in one of the last battles of the hungarian Liberation´s War – Szabadság harc- (1848-49). Going through Petöfi´s poetical work in a chronological way (I am doing so since years – mostly while having breakfast), you can easily follow his footsteps and trace his emotional ups and downs – it´s almost like reading a diary.

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