Yesterday was the day when you can see Hungarians wearing their cockades. March 15 is the national holiday when we remember the revolution of 1848. Apart from being an important event in the country’s history, the revolution is strongly connected to poetry.
|The manuscript of the National Song|
Petőfi did not only write the poem to please the crowd: he believed that the poets’ role was to lead the people. If you think about, it is really not that rare the literary figures actively participated in politics or vice versa. Before the revolution, Petőfi wrote a poem called The Poets of the Nineteenth Century(A XIX. század költői) in which he expressed his opinion about the poetry of his age. I was surprised to see how accurate the translation by Edwin Morgan is, both in meaning and rhyme. It is so good that I decided to overlook the run-on lines.
|A portrait of the poet|
Among several other love poems, What Shall I Call You (Minek nevezzelek) became a famous piece about the poet’s love towards his wife, Júlia Szendrey. As Petőfi said in The Poets of the Nineteenth Century, a poet should do much more than groan and weep or yell with joy in his poems. I think all his poems are great and worth reading, but indeed, he might be one of the many poets without his role in the revolution.
|Petőfi's statue in Budapest|