Serbian epic poetry
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Serb epic poetry (Serbian: Српске епске народне песме) is a form of epic poetry written by Serbs originating in today's Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia and Montenegro. The main cycles were composed by unknown Serb authors between the 14th and 19th centuries. They are largely concerned with historical events and personages. The main instrument in performing the Serbian epic is the Gusle.
|This section requires expansion with: History. (January 2011)|
In 1824, Vuk Karadžić sent a copy of his folksong collection to Jacob Grimm, who was particularly enthralled by The Building of Skadar. Grimm translated it into German, and described it as "one of the most touching poems of all nations and all times".
The corpus of Serbian epic poetry is divided into cycles:
- Non-historic cycle - poems about Slavic Mythology, particularly the Zmaj, Aždaja and Vilas
- Pre-Kosovo cycle - poems about events that predate the Battle of Kosovo
- Cycle of Kraljević Marko
- Kosovo cycle - poems about events that happened just before and after the Battle of Kosovo (no poem covers the battle itself)
- Post-Kosovo cycle - poems about post-Battle events
- Cycle of hajduks
- Cycle of uskoks
- Poems about the liberation of Serbia
- Poems about the liberation of Montenegro
Poems depict historical events with varying degrees of accuracy.
People of Serbian epic poetry
- Benedikt Kuripečič — 16th century diplomat who traveled trough Ottoman Bosnia and Serbia in 1530 and recorded that epic songs about Miloš Obilić are popular not only among Serbs on Kosovo but also in Bosnia and Croatia. He also recorded some legends about the Battle of Kosovo and explained that in the whole region new poetry on the topic was composed.
- Dimitrije Karaman - the oldest known Serbian gusle player, c. 1551.
- Avram Miletić (1755 – after 1826) was a merchant and songwriter who is best known for writing the earliest collection of urban lyric poetry in Serbian.
- Old Rashko - one of the most important sources of the epic poetry recorded by Vuk Karadžić.
- Filip Višnjić (1767–1834), dubbed the "Serbian Homer" both for his blindness and poetic gift, was a guslar (gusle player).
- Tešan Podrugović (1783—1815) was Serbian hayduk, storyteller and gusle player (Serbian: guslar) who participated in the First Serbian Uprising and was one of most important sources for Serbian epic poetry.
- Živana Antonijević (Blind Živana) (died in 1822) was one of favorite female singers of Vuk Karadžić.
- Vuk Karadžić (1787—1864) was a Serbian philologist and linguist who was the major reformer of the Serbian language. He deserves, perhaps, for his collections of songs, fairy tales, and riddles to be called the father of the study of Serbian folklore.
- Petar Perunović (1880—1952), also known as 'Perun', he was a famous gusle player and one of the first to record Serbian epic poetry in a studio.
Some heroes are paired with their horses:
Rest of them include:
Popular legendary villains of Serbian epic poetry who are depicted as enemies of Kraljević Marko are based upon historical persons:
- Musa Kesedžija - he is the result of merging several historical people including Musa Çelebi son of Bayezid I and Musa from the Muzaka Albanian noble family while Jovan Tomić believes he is based on the supporter of Jegen Osman Pasha
- Djemo the Mountaineer - a member of Muzaka noble family (Gjin Muzaka) or maybe Ottoman military person Jegen Osman Pasha
- General Vuča - Tanush Dukagjin, a member of Dukagjini noble family or Prince Eugene of Savoy or Peter Doci
- Philip the Magyar - Pipo of Ozora, an Italian condottiero, general, strategist and confidant of King Sigismund of Hungary.
Many other heroes of Serbian epic poetry are also based upon historical persons:
- Strahinja Banović — Đurađ II Stracimirović Balšić
- Jug Bogdan — Vratko Nemanjić
- Beg Kostadin — Constantine Dragaš
- Sibinjanin Janko — John Hunyadi
- Petar Dojčin — Petar Doci
- Maksim Crnojević — Staniša Skenderbeg Crnojević
- Bajo Pivljanin - Bajo Nikolić
- Mihajlo Svilojević — Michael Szilágyi
|“||There two pines were growing together,
and among them one thin-topped fir;
neither there were just some two green pines
nor among them one thin-topped fir,
but those two were just some two born brothers
one is Pavle, other is Radule
and among them little sis' Jelena.
- (Kraljević Marko speaks: )
|“||"I'm afraid that there will be a brawl.
And if really there will be a brawl,
Woe to one who is next to Marko!"
|“||"Thou dear hand, oh thou my fair green apple,
Where didst blossom? Where has fate now plucked thee?
Woe is me! thou blossomed on my bosom,
Thou wast plucked, alas, upon Kosovo!"
|“||"Oh my bird, oh my dear grey falcon,
How do you feel with your wing torn out?"
"I am feeling with my wing torn out
Like a brother one without the other."
Modern example of Serbian epics as recorded in 1992 by film director Paweł Pawlikowski in a documentary for the BBC Serbian epics; an anonymous gusle singer compares Radovan Karadžić, as he prepares to depart for Geneva for peace talk, to Karađorđe, who had led the First Serbian Uprising against the Turks in 1804:
|“||"Hey, Radovan, you man of steel!
The greatest leader since Karađorđe!
Defend our freedom and our faith,
On the shores of Lake Geneva."
|“||The ballads of Serbia occupy a high position, perhaps the highest position, in the ballad literature of Europe. They would, if well known, astonish Europe... In them breathes a clear and inborn poetry such as can scarcely be found among any other modern people.||”|
|“||Everyone in the West who has known these poems has proclaimed them to be literature of the highest order which ought to be known better.||”|
Modern Serbian epic poetry
Serbian epic poetry is being made today in the same way. Some modern songs are published in books or recorded, and under copyright, but some are in public domain, and modified by subsequent authors just like old ones. There are new songs that mimic Serbian epic poetry, but are humorous and not epic in nature; these are also circulating around with no known author. In the latter half of the 19th century, a certain MP would exit the Serbian parliament each day, and tell of the debate over the Monetary Reform Bill in the style of epic poetry. Modern epic heroes include: Radovan Karadžić, Ratko Mladić and Vojislav Šešelj. Topics include: Balkan Wars of the 90s, 1999 Nato Bombing of Serbia, and the Hague Tribunal.
Popular Modern Serbian epic performers (Guslars):
- Djordjije 'Djoko' Koprivica
- Milomir 'Miljan' Miljanić
- Boško Vujačiċ
- Vlastimir Barać
- Sava Stanišić
- Miloš Šegrt
- Saša Laketić
- Milan Mrdović
- Alan Dundes (1996). The Walled-Up Wife: A Casebook. Univ of Wisconsin Press. pp. 3–. ISBN 978-0-299-15073-0. Retrieved 1 March 2013.
- Paul Rankov Radosavljevich (1919). Who are the Slavs?: A Contribution to Race Psychology. Badger. p. 332. Retrieved 1 March 2013.
- Pavle Ivić (1996). Istorija srpske kulture. Dečje novine. p. 160. Retrieved 9 September 2013.
Бенедикт Курипечић. пореклом Словенаи, који између 1530. и 1531. путује као тумач аустријског посланства, у свом Путопису препричава део косовске легенде, спомиње епско певање о Милошу Обилићу у крајевима удаљеним од места догађаја, у Босни и Хрватској, и запажа настајање нових песама.
- Политикин забавник 3147, p. 4
- Black Lamb and Grey Falcon by Rebecca West is the title of one of the best-known books in English on the subject of Yugoslavia.
- Judah, Tim (1997). The Serbs - History, Myth and the Destruction of Yugoslavia. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.
|Wikisource has original text related to this article:|
|Wikisource has original text related to this article:|
- An article about Serbian oral tradition
- Songs from Kosovo cycle
- The Battle of Kosovo - Serbian Epic Poems Preface by Charles Simic Swallow Press/Ohio University Press, Athens 1987
- Heroic Ballads of Servia translated by George Rapall Noyes and Leonard Bacon, 1913