Historical View of the Languages and Literature of the Slavic eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 454 pages of information about Historical View of the Languages and Literature of the Slavic.

  Laid her down to cry, one day only cried;
  Groaned the second day, and the third day died.

  From his heaven our Lord did two angels send,
  With the poor babe they did to heaven ascend.

  From the hell our Lord did two devils send;
  They took the bad stepmother and down to hell they went.

Of all the surviving Slavic tribes, we have seen that the nationality of the VENDES of Lusatia is most endangered.  If formerly, as a race, they suffered from persecution and oppression, they have now for several centuries shared all the advantages of an enlightened education and wise institutions with their German countrymen; and it would therefore be erroneous to consider them still in the light of an oppressed or subjugated nation.  Although their language cannot be said to be favoured by the government, they have their schools, their worship, their courts of justice, and, above all, their ballads, without let or hinderance; and if nevertheless the statistics of each year, especially in the plains of Lower Lusatia, show a diminution of the Slavic speaking population, we must attribute it rather to the natural and irresistible effect of time and circumstances, than to any despotic or arbitrary measures of the government.  The Vendish villages are flourishing; the costumes of the peasants are heavy and rich; and to their general welfare the cheerful merry character of their ballads seems to bear testimony.  Their melodies resemble the Bohemian, as much as their ballads do those of their neighbours; but German melodies also are frequently heard among them, and many translations of German popular ballads have become perfectly naturalized.  That the language of Upper Lusatia approaches very near to the Bohemian, we have stated above.  It is, however, much more interspersed with German words; although not to such a degree as the Lower Lusatian dialect.

Of all the Slavic popular ballads, we find in those of the Lusatians least of that chaste feeling, which is in general characteristic of Slavic love songs.  The pleasures of illicit intercourse and their consequences, which make also a favourite theme of the common English and German ballads, are often grossly described; and we may conclude that the talent of extemporizing, or in general making pretty verses, has forsaken the female villagers in this German neighbourhood, and passed over to the men.

We give here two characteristic ballads of the Upper Lusatian language.

THE ORPHAN’S LAMENT.[63]

  Far more unhappy in the world am I,
  Than on the meadow the bird that doth fly.

  Little bird merrily flits to and fro,
  Sings its sweet carol upon the green bough.

  I, alas, wander wherever I will,
  Every where I am desolate still!

  No one befriends me, wherever I go. 
  But my own heart full of sorrow and woe!

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Historical View of the Languages and Literature of the Slavic from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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