Pavol Országh Hviezdoslav

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Pavol Országh Hviezdoslav
Pavol Országh Hviezdoslav
Pavol Országh Hviezdoslav
BornPavel Országh
(1849-02-02)2 February 1849
Vyšný Kubín (Felsőkubin), Árva County, Kingdom of Hungary, Austrian Empire (now in Slovakia)
Died8 November 1921(1921-11-08) (aged 72)
Dolný Kubín, Czechoslovakia
Resting placeCemetery in Dolný Kubín
Pen namePavol Országh Hviezdoslav, Jozef Zbranský
Occupationpoet, dramatist, translator
LanguageSlovak, Hungarian
SpouseIlona Országhová
Hviezdoslav statue at Hviezdoslavovo námestie (Hviezdoslav Square) in Bratislava, Slovakia

Pavol Országh Hviezdoslav (2 February 1849 - 8 November 1921) was a Slovak poet, dramatist, translator, and for a short time, member of the Czechoslovak parliament. First, he wrote in a traditional style, but later became influenced by parnassism and modernism.


Born as Pavel Országh in Vyšný Kubín (Felsőkubin), Orava County, Kingdom of Hungary, Austrian Empire, Országh became a Slovak patriot[1][2][3] and then continued wroting his poems in Slovak[3] until the 1860s.[2] He was of noble origin.[4] He studied in Miskolc, Kežmarok (Késmárk), Budapest, and Prešov (Eperjes). Hviezdoslav (a Slavic name, meaning approximately "celebrating the stars" and/or "Slav of the stars") was his pseudonym from 1875.[5] His earlier pseudonym was Jozef Zbranský. His family name is Hungarian (from ország, meaning "country").


There are streets named after Hviezdoslav in almost all Slovak towns

Hviezdoslav studied at grammar schools in Miskolc and Kežmarok (Késmárk) in the Hungarian lutheran school. During this time he got acquainted with the poetry of Arany János and Petőfi Sándor and under their influence he started to write poems first in Hungarian, then from the mid-1870s in Slovakian. After his graduation in 1870, he continued his studies at the Law Academy of Prešov (Eperjes), where in 1871 he participated in the preparation of the Almanach Napred ("Forward" Miscellany/Almanac), which marked the beginning of a new literary generation in Slovak literature. Due to his contribution to this Almanac with several radical poems, however, he was ignored in the literary life of the country for the rest of the 1870s and couldn't get his works published. During this period, he pursued his law career in Dolný Kubín, but he also carried on with his literary work in his free time. He practiced as a lawyer between 1875 and 1899 in Námestovo (Námesztó), and then in Dolný Kubín again. In 1918, he became a member of the newly created Revolutionary National Assembly (provisional governing body, later parliament) in Prague, and from 1919 to 1920, served as its representative. In 1919, he was chosen as the leader of the re-established Matica slovenská (see below). In 1954, the Literary Museum of P. O. Hviezdoslav was established in Dolný Kubín. A festival of amateur poetry reciters named Hviezdoslav's Kubín has been held there since.

His relation to the Slovak Matica[edit]

The Slovak Matica is a cultural institute. During the darkest years of Slovak literary life, Slovak Matica kept Slovak literature alive. The intolerant anti-Slovak policy of the Hungarians forcibly closed the doors of the Matica and confiscated its property in 1875. The Matica was re-opened after the creation of Czechoslovakia in 1919. Hviezdoslav was honored by being named its new head. Under his inspired leadership, the Matica spread and grew.


He introduced the syllabic-tonic verse into Slovak poetry and became the leading representative of Slovak literary realism. His style is characterized by extensive use of self-coined words and expressions, making it difficult to translate his works into foreign languages.

His oeuvre constitutes some 12 volumes of original poetry and an additional 3 volumes of translations of classical authors. During his era, he was the poet laureate of the Slovak nation. To honor his quality 1905 translation,[6] of The Tragedy of Man by Imre Madách, he was elected a member of the Kisfaludy Society in 1912.[7]

Collected works and selections[edit]

  • The Collected Poetical Works of Hviezdoslav, vol. 1 to 15 (Zobrané spisy básnické Hviezdoslava, zv. 1–15, 1892 – 1931)
  • Biblical Poems (Básne biblické, Prague 1911)
  • The Writings of P.O. Hviezdoslav in 12 volumes (Spisy P.O. Hviezdoslava v 12 zväzkoch, 1951–1957)
  • Poetic First Fruits (Basnicke prvotiny I-II, 1955–1956)
  • Poetic Maturing I-II (Básnicke zrenie I-II, 1957–1958)
  • Works I-IV (Dielo I-IV, 1973, second edition 1997–1998)

Reflexive poetry[edit]

He began writing poetry – initially in Hungarian – while still attending grammar school (in Miskolc and Kežmarok / Késmárk)). His first poetry collection, the Básnické prviesienky Jozefa Zbranského ("Poetry primroses of Jozef Zbranský"), was published in 1868. It introduced the syllabic-tonic verse into Slovak literature.

An awakened national pride brought him to resolve to work in Slovak, but the inclination towards realism in his early poetry was met with aversion by the older generation.

Among the most important of his mature lyric cycles are:

  • Sonety (1882–1886) (Sonnets)
  • Letorosty I-III (1885–1893) (Growth Rings I – III)
  • Žalmy a hymny (1885–1892) (Psalms and Hymns)
  • Prechádzky jarom (1898) (Walks through Spring)
  • Prechádzky letom (1898) (Walks through Summer)
  • Stesky (1903) (Languors/Complaints)
  • Krvavé sonety (1914/1919) (Bloody Sonnets) – important anti-World War I poetry

Epic compositions[edit]

The poet's epic compositions derive from his native Orava and from biblical topics, through which he commented allegorically on the situation of the Slovak nation:

  • Hájnikova žena (1884–1886) (The Gamekeeper's Wife)
  • Ežo Vlkolinský (1890)
  • Gábor Vlkolinský (1897–1899)

Biblical poetry with allegorical untertones[edit]

  • Agar
  • Kain
  • Ráchel
  • Sen Šalamúnov (The Dream of Solomon)


  • Pomsta (Revenge)
  • Herodes a Herodias (1909) (Herodes and Herodias)- verse drama inspired by the Bible; a pillar of Slovak classic dramatic repertory.


Hviezdoslav was also a versatile translator who endeavored to refine and enrich the Slovak language and to advance its potential as a medium for poetic expression.

He translated many works of such authors as Goethe (Faust, Iphigenia on Tauris, ballads), Schiller (selected poems), Mickiewicz (Crimean Sonnets [3] et al.), Pushkin (Boris Godunov, The Captive of the Caucasus, The Gypsies, Rusalka, etc.), Shakespeare (Hamlet, A Midsummer Night's Dream), Słowacki (In Switzerland, etc.), Arany (28 lyric poems and ballads), Petőfi (42 selected poems),[8] Lermontov (A Song about the Emperor Ivan Vasilievitch, The Song of the Merchant Kalashnikov, The Demon) and Madách (The Tragedy of Man).

These artistic translations were collected after his death into volumes 12 to 15 of The Collected Poetical Works of Hviezdoslav.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Seymour-Smith, Martin (1973). Funk & Wagnalls Guide to modern world literature. Funk & Wagnalls. p. 360. ISBN 978-0-308-10079-4. As a precocious boy poet he was a Hungarian patriot,
  2. ^ a b Encyclopædia Britannica, inc (2002). Encyclopædia Britannica. 6. Encyclopædia Britannica. p. 182. ISBN 978-0-85229-787-2. He originally wrote in Hungarian and was a Hungarian patriot
  3. ^ a b Buchanan-Brown, John (1973). Funk & Wagnalls Guide to modern world literature. 1. Morrow. p. 586. ISBN 978-0-688-00228-2. was an enthusiastic Slovakian patriot; and some of his first poems were written in Hungarian
  4. ^ H. Gordon Skilling, T.G. Masaryk: against the current, 1882–1914, Pennsylvania State University Press, 1994 p.76 [1]
  5. ^ Kirschbaum, Stanislav J. (March 1995). A History of Slovakia: The Struggle for Survival. New York: Palgrave Macmillan; St. Martin's Press. p. 141. ISBN 978-0-312-10403-0.
  6. ^ Madách, Imre: Tragédia človeka. Dramatická báseň. Prel. Hviezdoslav. Turč. Sv. Martin, 1905. 270 l.
  7. ^ Stanislav Šmatlák (, (The Centre for Information on Literature) established by the Ministry of Culture of the Slovak Republic) [2]
  8. ^ Tótnyelvre áttett hazafias magyar költemények. Vlastenecké básne z puvodné reči preložil. Margócsy József, Losoncz, 1902. p.28 (2nd edition: 1914)

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