Bill West has invited us to join him for the 11th Annual Great Genealogy Poetry Challenge. This is my third year participating, although my poem choices for the first two years related to my maternal side of the family tree, which is strongly colonial American with a dash of Danish, Swedish and Dutch.
For the past year and a half, I have spent a good amount of time gathering scholarly works about the history and culture of the Carpatho-Rusyn people, which makes up the other half of my family tree. Both of my paternal grandparents were Rusyns whose families lived in what today is Slovakia.
I’ve written a number of posts about my Rusyn heritage, so this year’s poem choice was written by Alexander Duchnovic, a 19th century priest who worked to further the Rusyn language, culture, history and patriotic feelings in his countrymen.
This poem was originally written as a hymn and today is the Rusyn anthem, although Rusyn villages are divided between Slovakia, Poland, Ukraine and Romania, along the northern and southern hills in the Carpathian Mountain range in central Europe.
I would love to learn to speak at least a bit of Rusyn, which has several variant dialects and is a Slavic language (but not Russian!).
Source: Wikimedia Commons
I Was Rusyn
(Ja Rusyn Byl)
Translated into English:
I was, am and will remain Rusyn,
I was born a Rusyn,
My honorable lineage I will not forget,
And I shall remain its son;
My father and mother were Rusyn,
As are all my relatives,
My brothers and sisters are Rusyns,
And my large group of friends
My great and mighty people
Are united in peace,
And with renewed strength and spirit,
Are magnanimous to all others.
I first saw the light of this world
under the [Carpathian] Beskid range,
The first breath I drew was Rusyn,
And I was raised on Rusyn bread,
A Rusyn it was who cradled me.
When I opened my mouth for the first time,
I spoke Rusyn words,
And it was over Cyrillic letters
That sweat ran from my young brow.
Later I was educated as a Rusyn
And as such went out into the wide world;
But I did not forget
My own distinguished people.
And now who shows me the way?
Who nourishes me? Who uplifts me?
It is the Rusyn nation
Which upholds my respectability.
It is for you, my people,
I bow down to the living God.
Through sweat and hard work
I pay back my obligation
And give to you as much as I can
Accept as a gift and with sincerity
This little book
And its writer’s words
I will not forget to sacrifice this repentance
From the bottom of my heart
I will remain your devoted
Friend until I die.