Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Forefathers' Eve

“The souls of Purgatory! In any side of the world: whether you are burning in tar, freezing at the bottom of a brook, or for a severer punishment you are implanted into austere wood, while being bit by embers of a stove you cry mournfully and moan. Each of you hurry to join our herd! Let the herd meet. We are having Forefathers’ Eve!"

This quote is the beginning line from the play Forefathers' Eve (Part II) by Adam Mickiewicz, the man who single-handedly created Polish identity (which was especially remarkable since he was writing during the Partitions when Poland did not have political autonomy) through his writing. Every Polish writer since then has reacted to his literary works. Although this creation of identity can be problematic, I am impressed with the way in which a literary genius is able to unite a nation of people who otherwise were not allowed to participate in their culture.

Because Forefather's Eve is next week and the play reminds me of Paradise Lost, I thought it would be highly appropriate to share the translation of that first line today.

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