The discovery of some hitherto unknown documents relating to Bolesław Leśmian’s family has made it possible to re-read his autobiographical poems as responses to circumstances and events from the poet’s real life. An analysis of his poems in the light of the information supplied by the newly-discovered source shows that they provide a thoroughly accurate record of events as they happened, especially deaths. Not only do the deaths of his mother, father and his siblings hurt him deeply and foreshadow the end of his own life, but also make him feel guilty for not being able to remember them properly: as his memory fails him, they are condemned to a ‘second death’.
This paper argues that while writing about the works of other authors Bolesław Leśmian made use of the same ironic approach he employed in his own writing. A close analysis of his ironic strategies, which can be found in his reviews, theoretical refl ections, practical criticism and metacritical texts, leads to the conclusion that Leśmian’s irony is a stylistic trope in a literary poetics of dance, an aesthetic category as well as an artistic and existential concept akin to the ‘permanent parabasis’ of the Romantics.