Friday, February 8, 2013

Cold Month of Love

February seems to me like a month that doesn't demand a ton of you emotionally.  It is muddy, in a spiritual sense.  However, today is Prešeren Day, the Slovenian Cultural Holiday!  Spiritual mud and all, the imperative to celebrate love is constantly reinforced.  Let's submit.

My college-student status at my bank is expiring, which reminds me that about four years ago at this time I was opening a new bank account that would be relatively easy to access in Slovenia, where I would be visiting Marisa.  Most of the pictures you see below were taken by her steady hand.  It was a fun trip:

Fun.  This hostel was full of impudent French teens.

Slovenia is the kind of place that lurks in the back of your (my) mind--it could exist, and you could think about it, but what is there to think?

Here are some suggestions:

Somehow, this is the most famous thing about Slovenia.

2.  Slovenia is different from Slovakia, but they are nearby, relatively speaking.  Slovenia is probably closer to Slovakia than you are.

3.  Slovenia is next to Italy, which is somewhat confusing but also very convenient, in certain circumstances.

4.  There are Alps.  You may ski there.

Shortly before I left I looked at a map that told me that Slovenia lay slightly south of the line between places in Europe whose average winter temperatures are below zero, and those whose are above.  I was extremely encouraged by this.

 Prešeren Day, the Slovenian Cultural Holiday falls on the anniversary of the death of the poet France Prešeren, national poet of Slovenia (as far as I can tell, there are no other contenders for this honor).  He was born in 1800 in what is today Slovenia, and had a lackluster and overall unsuccessful career as a lawyer, but did manage to open his own law firm in 1846, three years before his death.

Both of these portraits are approximations.  He avoided having his portrait done his entire life, to the day of his death (today).

He was kind of a mess.  But he had a job to do (Romantic poet), and he did it well.  He networked with other Romantic poets.  He produced a national epic.  And, he remained in unconsummated, unrequited love for almost two decades, despite a marriage to someone else and several affairs.
 164 years ago today, he confessed that he had always loved the woman he had first fallen in love with, Julija Primic.  She, in turn, seems to have done pretty well at the job of poet's muse.

Ms. Primic.
This is a rendition of her, located on a wall on the main square in Ljubljana.  Its gaze is directed toward the statue that sits in the center of the square, of the man she wasn't in love with.

Watch out for an upcoming post about the realities of Carnival, as shown at the bottom of the frame.

 Let my poem, like a shrine, contain - your name;
In my heart shall ever proudly reign - your name;
Let my countrymen hear echoes, east and west,
Of the music in that joyous strain - your name;
On this shrine shall nations henceforth read your fame;
Here it stays to glow and glow again - your name.
When both you and I have crossed in Charon's boat,
Even then the glory will remain - your name.
More than Cynthia, Laura, Delia and Corrina,
Time will ever hallow my refrain - your name. 

Which seems true, since I am blogging about her.  Maybe this is consolation enough.

So today, raise a glass of pretty good beer to a pretty good Romantic poet from a small, pleasant country.  And, enjoy!


Jane said...

You should do a series on things people don't know about Eastern European countries. Even if just for my benefit, because I would definitely benefit from knowing more about Eastern European countries than I presently do.

Then learn Kazakh and come be the translator when I do field work.

Emmo said...

Fortunately/unfortunately, I think that's what this blog is. It may also be my ideal career.