Academic journal article Serbian Studies

Serbian Folk Poetry

Academic journal article Serbian Studies

Serbian Folk Poetry

Article excerpt

Serbian folk poetry was created during the centuries of Turkish occupation. At first, and for a long time, it was delivered orally by singers accompanying their recitation by a one-string instrument called gusle. In 1814 Vuk Karadzic collected those songs in a book Pesnarica (song book) which has since then remained a standard collection of Serbian folk poetry, although there have been many other collections in the 19th century.

Serbian folk poetry is of two kinds: epic poetry and lyrical folk poetry called women's songs. Epic poetry is customarily classified into several cycles: songs before history, songs before the Battle of Kosovo, songs of the Battle of Kosovo, songs about Marko Kraljevic, songs about haiduks (outlaws), and songs of the Serbian Resurrection. Each cycle is a unit unto itself, concentrating on the main events of the period it covers. Thus, of the songs selected here, The Mother of the Jugovices and The Kosovo Maiden, represent the highest points of the tragedy and grief caused by the loss in the Battle of Kosovo, as well as the grief for the lost warrior sons, while the Kosovo Maiden grieves for her fallen fiance and his close friends, heroes like him. Prince Marko's Plowing is one of many songs extolling the virtues and valor of the most popular Serbian folk hero. The prehistoric songs deal with the memory of the pagan past; the pre-Kosovo songs depict the heights of Serbia's glory before the defeat, exemplified by Tsar Dusan's empire; the songs about haiduks tell of the warriors who fought the Turks long after the Battle of Kosovo; and the songs of the Serbian insurrection glorify the final victory on the road to freedom in the 19th century. …

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