Jan Kochanowski's "Midsummer Song"
"Midsummer Song about Sobótka" is a series of songs by Jan Kochanowski. The poet alludes to the Arcadian myth. He identifies his home village with a biblical paradise.
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1. "Midsummer song about the Saturday". What picture of the village does it present?
The piece brings an Arcadian image of the countryside. He is seen through the eyes of a landowner. It brings to mind a paradise, an arcadia.
Working on the land was considered excellent and the person doing it had reason to be proud. For he has an honest job that guarantees him a prosperous life. Moreover, his occupation affects the well-being of other people. For this he receives generous gifts from nature: abundant crops, wild game, fish, forest fruits. He does not have to fear hunger or scarcity.
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There is consent in the house of the landowner. His children show their adults respect. They are happy and joyful.
Life in the countryside was contrasted with life in the city. In the first case, the inhabitants of the countryside spend their time working, which, although hard, is considered pleasant. It is calm and quiet around. There are no such comfortable conditions in the city. There are also other people: deceitful, false, tired. This shows that true happiness is not wealth, but peace and harmony. It is a life according to divine law and the rhythm of nature.
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2. Idyllic and angelic, or how was the village perceived in the Renaissance?
The title of the piece refers to a folk rite. It refers to the St. John's Midsummer, which is of pagan origin and which is celebrated during the shortest night of the year - from 23 to 24 June, on the eve of St. John. It was this holiday that Jan Kochanowski made the starting point for writing a cycle of twelve idyllic songs. These are the stories of twelve virgins who take part in the feast celebrations: they light fires, play, dance, throw wreaths on the water.
The piece mixes elements of Slavic pagan beliefs with Christianity. Nature, which sets the rhythm of work and life in the countryside, is praised above all.
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The structure of "Midsummer Song about the sobótka" differs from another song by Jan Kochanowski "What do you want from us, Lord". The piece is longer, more elaborate. It can be considered a poem. It is also an example of an idyll. This genre was used when people wanted to describe rural life, most often in an idealized way.
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In his work, Jan Kochanowski, who was well educated, referred to the ancient tradition. He was familiar with the works of Virgil and Horace, and they were the source of inspiration for the poet from Black Forest. He also referred to Polish folk lyrics.
3. Construction of the "Midsummer Song about the sobótka"
The song is composed of four-verse verses with even rhymes. There are eight syllables in each verse. The verse is divided into two symmetrical distances (which is due to rhyme and intonation).
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The cycle was most likely intended for singing (Kochanowski avoided the use of gears).