Rota (poem)

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The Rota played from the Gdańsk carillon tower

Rota ("The Oath") is an early 20th-century Polish poem,[1] as well as a celebratory anthem, once proposed to be the Polish national anthem. Rota's lyrics were written in 1908 by activist for Polish independence, poet Maria Konopnicka as a protest against German Empire's policies of forced Germanization of Poles.[2] Konopnicka wrote Rota in 1908 while staying in Cieszyn. The poem was published for the first time in Gwiazdka Cieszyńska newspaper on 7 November. The music was composed two years later by composer, conductor and concert organist, Feliks Nowowiejski.


Konopnicka's poem came into being as a protest against the German Empire's oppression and suppression of Polish culture in German-occupied western Poland — lands that from the late 18th century after the Partitions of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth to 1918 were under Prussian — and later, German — rule.[1] During the Prussian and German rule, German political leaders like Otto von Bismarck, Eugen von Puttkammer and thinkers like Edwart Hartmann campaigned for policy of "ausrotten"(German for extermination) of Poles[3][4] and Rota was written as a reply to this campaign.[5] The word ausrotten was later used by Nazi Germany against Jews, and it meaning means extermination, as "ausrotten," when used in the context of living things means their complete destruction of those things through killing.[6]

Rota was first sung publicly during a patriotic demonstration in Kraków on July 15, 1910, held to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Polish-Lithuanian victory over the Teutonic Knights at the Battle of Grunwald. The anthem quickly became popular across partitioned Poland.[1] Until 1918, Rota served as the anthem of the Polish Scouting movement.[citation needed] The post-1926 government led by Józef Piłsudski considered several different poems for a national anthem. The political right, which saw the proposed We Are the First Brigade of the Pilsudski legion as partisan and was lackluster on Poland Is Not Yet Lost, proposed "Rota", which was associated with anti-German struggles from the late 19th century, as a national anthem.[7]

During the German occupation of Poland in World War II, on the eve of 11 November 1939 (Polish Independence Day), in Zielonka, a town at the outskirts of Warsaw, the scouts from the Polish Scouting Association put up posters with the text of the poem on the walls of the buildings. In reprisal, German occupying forces carried out an execution of 9 scouts and other inhabitants of the town.[citation needed] The Communists also retained the same national anthem as well as "Rota", making it the official anthem of the 1st Tadeusz Kościuszko Infantry Division.[8]

After 1989 Rota became the official anthem of the Polish People's Party. Until 2003, the melody of the anthem was played by the Gdańsk carillon tower and served as the signature theme of the television stations TVP Poznań and TVP Gdańsk. In 2010 Rota and its author Konopnicka were honored by a special resolution of the Polish Sejm.[9][need quotation to verify] It also served as the anthem of the Polish National-Territorial Region.[citation needed] Rota is also the official anthem of League of Polish Families political party.

Text and translation[edit]

Musical manuscript of Rota by Feliks Nowowiejski, from the Jagiellonian Library collection.

Nie rzucim ziemi, skąd nasz ród.
Nie damy pogrześć mowy.
Polski my naród, polski lud,
Królewski szczep piastowy.
Nie damy, by nas gnębił wróg.

Tak nam dopomóż Bóg!
Tak nam dopomóż Bóg!

Do krwi ostatniej kropli z żył
Bronić będziemy Ducha,
Aż się rozpadnie w proch i w pył
Krzyżacka zawierucha.
Twierdzą nam będzie każdy próg.

Tak nam dopomóż Bóg!
Tak nam dopomóż Bóg!

Nie będzie Niemiec pluł nam w twarz
Ni dzieci nam germanił,
Orężny wstanie hufiec nasz,
Duch będzie nam hetmanił.
Pójdziem, gdy zabrzmi złoty róg.

Tak nam dopomóż Bóg!
Tak nam dopomóż Bóg!

Nie damy miana Polski zgnieść
Nie pójdziem żywo w trumnę.
Na Polski imię, na jej cześć
Podnosim czoła dumne,
Odzyska ziemię dziadów wnuk.

Tak nam dopomóż Bóg!
Tak nam dopomóż Bóg!

We won't forsake the land we came from,
We won't let our speech be buried.
We are the Polish nation, the Polish people,
From the royal line of Piast.
We won't let the enemy oppress us.

So help us God!
So help us God!

To the last blood drop in our veins
We will defend our Spirit
Till into dust and ash shall fall,
The Teutonic windstorm.
Every doorsill shall be a fortress.

So help us God!
So help us God!

The German won't spit in our face,
Nor Germanise our children,
Our host will arise in arms,
The Spirit will lead the way.
We will arise when the golden horn sounds.

So help us God!
So help us God!

We won't have Poland's name defamed,
We won't step alive into a grave.
In Poland's name, in her honor
We lift our foreheads proudly,
The grandson will regain his forefathers' land

So help us God!
So help us God!

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Maja Trochimczyk, "Rota" (the Oath), in the National Anthems of Poland including music recording in Real Audio format. The Polish Music Reference Center. Retrieved February 4, 2013.
  2. ^ pg. 92
  3. ^ The Lands of Partitioned Poland, 1795-1918 Piotr S. Wandycz page 236
  4. ^ Literary and Cultural Images of a Nation Without a State: The Case of Nineteenth-century Poland Agnieszka Barbara Nance Peter Lang, 2006 page 32
  5. ^ The Review of Reviews, Volume 60 Review of Reviews, 1920,page 216
  6. ^ [1] Holocaust-Denial, the Poznan speech, and our translation The Holocaust History Project
  7. ^ Independence Day: Myth, Symbol, and the Creation of Modern Poland, Oxford University Press, M. B. B. Biskupski, pages 58-59
  8. ^ Soviet Soft Power in Poland: Culture and the Making of Stalin's New Empire 1943-1957, University of North Carolina press, Patryk Babiracki, pages 24-25
  9. ^ Uchwała w sprawie uczczenia pamięci Marii Konopnickiej