Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Tales of St. John's Eve, Intro

I'm going to share with you some of Jan Kochanski's poetry from the book, Poets and Poetry of Poland. Jan was a 16th century poet who was born in Sycyna, near Radom, Poland, in 1530. He traveled through Europe and after his return to Poland he served in high offices of the kings until 1574 when he retired to become a country squire on his estate. In 1575 he married Dorota Podlodowska, with whom he had seven children. He died August 22, 1584. The first of his poetry I will share with you is Tales of St. John's Eve (which we know as the summer solstice).

"In Poland, as in most Catholic countries, Saint John's Day is a time of great festivity, and in the evening the Poles are accustomed in meadows, and particularly by the side of rivers, to light barge fires, and to dance around them singing ancient songs. KOCHANOWSKI, to whom the Black Forest belonged as in heredity possession, used to gather the youths and maidens together in order to celebrate the festival in the very manner in which he has described it. NIEMCEWIZ has published a drama called " KOCHANOWSKI," and there introduced the old poet with the nymphs singing around him. " (Below, "Czary las" refers to the Black Forest)

Tales of Saint John's Eve; or, Sobotka Fire by Jan KOCHANOWSKI

When the first sunbeam's Cancer fill
And tuneful nightingale is still,
In Czarny las from older days
Sobotka's fire is want to blaze.

The neighboring swain, the distant guest,
Around the sacred fire have prest;
The orchards with a joyous sound
Of three gay fiddlers laugh around.

On the green turf they take their seat,
Where twice six maidens fair and meet,
Their ornaments and dress as one,
And girdled with the same bright zone,

And skill'd in dance, are all the throng;
And all are skill'd in gentle song;
To all the call of music rings,
And thus the foremost maiden sings:

To be continued with First Maiden…