Thursday, February 20, 2014

Henryk Siekiewicz's battle of Chocim 1673 - a fragment

terrible events took place last two days in Kiev, Ukraine, and I decided to turn to Henryk Sienkiewicz  and his novel ''Pan Wołodyjowski'' for some ... change of mood - so here an English translation by Jeremiah Curtin published in 1898- via

The grand hetman[Jan Sobieski], putting spurs to his horse, rushed like lightning at the head of some tens of men to the battle ; the voevoda of Rus remained with the fifteen squadrons of hussars, who, standing in order, were waiting only for the signal to spring forward and decide the fate of the struggle.

They waited long enough after that; but meanwhile in the depth of the camp it was seething and roaring more and more terribly. The battle seemed at times to roll on to the right, then to the left, now toward the Lithuanian armies, now toward the voevoda of Belsk, precisely as when in time of storm thunders roll over the sky. The artillery-fire of the Turks was becoming irregular, while Pan Kantski's
batteries played with redoubled vigor. After the course of an hour it seemed to the voevoda of Rus that the weight of the battle was transferred to the centre, directly in front of his cavalry.

At that moment the grand hetman [Sobieski] rushed up at the head of his escort. Flame was shooting from his eyes. He reined in his horse near the voevoda of Rus, and exclaimed,

" At them, now, with God's aid ! "

" At them ! " shouted the voevoda of Rus.

And after him the captains repeated the commands. With a terrible noise that forest of lances dropped with one ( movement toward the heads of the horses, and fifteen' squadrons of that cavalry accustomed to crush everything before it moved forward like a giant cloud.

From the time when, in the three days' battle at Warsaw, the Lithuanian hussars, under Prince Polubinski, split the whole Swedish army like a wedge, and went through it, no one remembered an attack made with such power. Those squadrons started at a trot, but at a distance of two hundred paces the captains commanded : " At a gallop ! "
The men answering, with a shout, "Strike! Crush!"
bent in the saddles, and the horses went at the highest speed. Then that column, moving like a whirlwind, and formed of horses, iron men, and straightened lances, had in it something like the might of an element let loose. And it went like a storm, or a raging river, with roar and outburst. The earth groaned under the weight of it ; and if no man had levelled a lance or drawn a sabre, it was evident that the hussars with their very weight and impact would hurl down, trample, and break everything before them, just as a column of wind breaks and crushes a forest. They swept on in this way to the bloody field, covered with bodies, on
which the battle was raging. The light squadrons were still struggling on the wings with the Turkish cavalry, which they had succeeded in pushing to the rear considerably, but in the centre the deep ranks of the janissaries stood like an indestructible wall. A number of times the light squadrons had broken themselves against that wall, as a wave rolling on breaks itself against a rocky shore. To crush and destroy it was now the task of the hussars.

A number of thousand of muskets thundered, " as if one
man had fired." A moment more the janissaries fix them- selves more firmly on their feet; some blink at sight of the terrible onrush; the hands of some are trembling while holding their spears ; the hearts of all are beating like hammers, their teeth are set, their breasts are breathing convulsively. The hussars are just on them; the thundering breath of the horses is heard. Destruction, annihilation, death, are flying at them. "Allah ! " "Jesus, Mary ! " these two shouts meet and mingle as terribly as if they had never burst from men's breasts till that moment. The living wall trembles, bends, breaks. The dry crash of broken lances drowns for a time every other sound ; after that, is heard the bite of iron, the sound, as it were, of thousands of hammers beating with full force on anvils, as of thousands of flails on a floor, and cries singly and collectively, groans, shouts, reports of pistols and guns, the howling of terror. Attackers and attacked mingle together, rolling in an unimaginable whirl.
A slaughter follows; from under the chaos blood flows, warm, steaming, filling the air with raw odor.

The first, second, third, and tenth rank of the janissaries are lying like a pavement, trampled with hoofs, pierced with spears, cut with swords. But the white-bearded Kiaya, "Lion of God," hurls all his men into the boiling of the
battle. It is nothing that they are put down like grain before a storm. They fight! Rage seizes them ; they breathe death ; they desire death. The column of horses' breasts pushes them, bends, overturns them. They open the bellies of horses with their knives ; thousands of sabres cut them without rest ; blades rise like lightning and fall on their heads, shoulders, and hands. They cut a horseman on the legs, on the knees ; they wind around, and bite like venomous worms ; they perish and avenge themselves. Kiaya, " Lion of God," hurls new ranks again and again into the jaws of death. He encourages them to battle with a cry, and with curved sabre erect he rushes into the chaos himself. With that a gigantic hussar, destroying like a flame everything before him, falls on the white-bearded old man, and standing in his stirrups to hew the more terribly, brings down with an awful sweep a two-handed sword on the gray head. Neither the sabre nor the headpiece forged in Damascus are proof against the blow; and Kiaya, cleft almost to the shoulders, falls to the ground, as if struck by lightning.

Pan Adam, for it was he, had already spread dreadful destruction, for no one could withstand the strength and sullen rage of the man ; but now he had given the greatest service by hewing down the old hero, who alone had sup-
ported the stubborn battle. The janissaries shouted in a terrible voice on seeing the death of their leader, and more than ten of them aimed muskets at the breast'of the cavalier. He turned toward them like dark night; and before other hussars could strike them, the shots roared, Pan Adam reined in his horse and bent in the saddle. Two comrades seized him by the shoulders ; but a smile, a guest long unknown, lighted his gloomy face, his eyeballs turned in his head, and his white lips whispered words which in the din of battle no man could distinguish. Meanwhile the last ranks of the janissaries wavered.

The valiant Yanish Pasha tried to renew the battle, but the terror of panic had seized on his men ; efforts were use- less. The ranks were broken and shivered, pushed back, beaten, trampled, slashed; they could not come to order. At last they burst, as an overstrained chain bursts, and like single links men flew from one another in every direction, howling, shouting, throwing down their weapons, and covering their heads with their hands. The cavalry pursue them; and they, not finding space sufficient for flight singly, gather at times into a dense mass, on whose shoulders ride the cavalry, swimming in blood. Pan Mushalski, the bowman, struck the valiant Yanish Pasha such a sabre-blow on the neck that his spinal marrow gushed forth and stained his silk shirt and the silver scales on his armor.

The irregular janissaries, beaten by the Polish infantry, and a part of the cavalry which was scattered in the very beginning of the battle, in fact, a whole Turkish throng, fled now to the opposite side of the camp, where there was a rugged ravine some tens of feet deep. Terror drove the mad men to that place. Many rushed over the precipice, " not to escape death, but death at the hands of the Poles."
Pan Bidzinski blocked the road to this despairing throng; but the avalanche of fugitives tore him away with it, and threw him to the bottom of the precipice, which after a time was filled almost to the top with piles of slain, wounded, and suffocated men.

From this place rose terrible groans ; bodies were quivering, kicking one another, or clawing with their fingers in the spasms of death. Those groans were heard until evening; until evening those bodies were moving, but more and more slowly, less and less noticeably, till at dark there was silence.

Awful were the results of the blow of the hussars. Eight thousand janissaries, slain with swords, lay near the ditch surrounding the tents of Hussein Pasha, not counting those who perished in the flight, or at the foot of the precipice. 
   The Polish cavalry were in the tents; Pan Sobieski had triumphed.

Image by Leon Wyczółkowski, Polish artist of the XIX and early XX centuries. There is also a sculpture by pan Leon based on Jan Matejko's design.

Pacem aeternam to all fallen Ukrainians of last few days...

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Husaria - Władysław Bełza


A poem on Polish Winged hussars by Władysław Bełza, Polish poet and writer, author of the famous ''Katechizm polskiego dziecka''


Oto mi rycerz! Kopia u boku, 
Z ramion mu skrzydła płyną sokole! 
Odwaga w piersiach, męstwo gra w oku, 
Szyszak jak gwiazda błyszczy na czole!  
Och! archanielski zastęp tych wojów, 
Do dawnych synów podobny Sparty, 
Wśród tylu bitew i krwawych znojów, 
Wciąż stał zwycięski i nieprzeparty! 
A kiedy gnuśność nami owładła, 
Husarya padła i Polska padła!

The illustration below is by Michał Elwiro Andriolli, Polish patriot, solider of the January Uprising, and famous illustrator of the XIX century - the illustration is from this book.


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Horse poems by Leśmian

this Polish poet is famous for his fantastic and mythological-themed and erotic poetry but here I found some of this poems where horses are the subject matter or so :)

Bolesław Leśmian    "Koń" 

   Koniu krzywy, koniu siwy, 
   Ozdobiony łachem grzywy, 
Kocham zawiew zmydlonych twym potem rzemieni 
I oddech juchą parnej dymiący zieleni. 

   Łeb kościsty, ale krewki, 
   Z wargą miękką, jak pierś dziewki, 
Przewieś mi poprzez ramię w rzewną bezrobotę, 
Bym twarzą prężnej szyi wyczuwał ciągotę. 

   Koniu smutny aż do śmierci 
   Z białą pręgą lejc na sierści, 
Zaprzyjaźnij się ze mną, jak to czynisz z wołem, 
Wejdź do mej chałupy, siądź razem za stołem. 

    Dam ci wody z mego dzbana, 
    Dam ci cukru, dam ci siana, 
Dam bryłę szczerej soli, gleń świeżego chleba 
I przez okno otwarte przychylę ci nieba. 

    Nie sęp oczu brwi sitowiem, 
    Powiem tobie, wszystko powiem! 
A gdy noc już nastanie, pozamykam dźwierze 
I wspólnie odmówimy wieczorne pacierze.

 "Wiersz konny" 
Pochylony ku światu — patrzę w cień mój konny,
Jak się obco przewija — skośny i postronny —
Wybojem dróg.
Mój cisawy, któremu i głaz nie zacięży, —
Zaświat w słońcu zwęszywszy, — kark zagrzany tęży
W uparty łuk!

Woniejące od pola, z traw wywiane losy
Złączyły nas na wspólny bieg w tamte niebiosy
I w tamten las...
I kazały jednakim zespolić się ruchem
Na sny różne, co — jawy związane łańcuchem —
Śnią się raz w raz.

Dąb, migając za dębem, wstecz luźnie odlata, —
W przerwach między dębami zaskoczona chata
Cofa się w jar!...
Ruczaj, słońcu naukos jarząc się samopas,
Z oczu nagle nam znika, jak wylękły topaz,
Mara wśród mar...

Stogi siana z bocianem lub wroną na czubie
Olbrzymieją do czasu, aż giną w przegubie
Minionych miedz!

I dobrze nam i barwno, gdy skrajem źrenicy
Pochwycimy mak w życie lub kąkol w pszenicy,
By dalej biec!

I dobrze nam i skrzyście, gdy wpobok cmentarza
Chata szybą od blasku oślepłą przeraża
Daleki step —
Lub gdy srebrem oparty o wierzchołek drzewa
Obłok — snem rozwidniony — na słońcu wygrzewa
Kudłaty łeb!

Bezmiar nozdrza nam szarpie i wre w naszym pocie,
A my piersią zdyszaną na własnej tęsknocie
Kładziem się wzdłuż!
W jeden tętent dwa nasze stapiając milczenia,
Sprzepaszczamy się w zamęt bystrego istnienia
Obojgiem dusz!

Czy to śmierć się tak dymi w zdybanym bezkresie?
Tak, to — ona! To — ona! Bo tak właśnie zwie się.
Tchu w piersi brak!...
Trzeba przemknąć pomiędzy śmiercią a pokrzywą...
Cisak w nicość się gęstwi pogmatwaną grzywą,
Jak lotny krzak!

Jeszcze chwila — a niebo skończy się! Lecz niech no
Próżnie zowąd wybłysłe ku nam się uśmiechną
Zza mgieł i wzgórz,
A my, łamiąc przeszkody, groźniej i pochmurniej
Pośpieszymy w tę otchłań na wieczysty turniej
Tamtejszych burz!

Jakiś blady mieszkaniec chmur — z niebios wybrzeża
Widzi, że wicher w locie o pierś nam uderza
Jak stal o stal, —
I nie może rozeznać poprzez kurzaw zwoje,
Co się stało na ziemi, że tych kształtów dwoje
Mknie w jedną dal?

I nie może zrozumieć w swojem wniebowzięciu,
Czemu z wyżyn drapieżnych spadł na kark zwierzęciu
Człowieczy stwór?
I dlaczego dwie zmory różnego obłędu
Zbiegły się, aby zdwoić czar swego rozpędu
Do innych zmór?
  and a little quick sketch-


Poem by Maria Pawlikowska-Jasnorzewska

 like my title says - a Polish language poem about an Arabian horse by a scion of the most famous horse painters family in Polish art history - the Kossaks

 Maria Pawlikowska-Jasnorzewska

"Kohejlanie z sułtańskiego orszaku,
Arabczyku, marzenie Kossaków
  Z wiotką grzywą i z natchnieniem w oku!
Rozwichrzony, jak fala wezbrany,
  Kipisz, macąc twoich kształtów plany,
pod czaprakiem, co cię w przepych okuł.
   Cień twój tańczy, szafirowa struga,
A namiętność w twoich nozdrzach mruga,
   Błyskasz sierści palącym się mlekiem ...
-I tak dumnie, prychając dokoła,
  I chwast grzywy odrzucając z czoła,
Nosisz godność niebycia człowiekiem!
  Pochwalony, kochany do syta,
Wznosisz w górę wyciągasz kopyto
  Jak wyniosłą dłoń do pocałunku ...
Stwórco! -patrząc na formę tak czystą,
   już cię wielbię, gorący artysto,
już kwituję z naszych rozrachunków ..."

One could read it with google translate

and a little quick sketch


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

a sketch and some articles on dumbing down in the US

 been sketching in Mypaint since my Wacom Intuos 4 revived itself and 'stopped' giving me trouble :) - by the way I am thinking about buying a tablet to draw on, been exploring various ideas.

Ad rem, I have been sketching in MyPaint and hence this sketch, still unfinished, of a  XVII century Hungarian soldier

also, a sketch of a Hun warrior and a bridle - after some sketches by M. V. Gorelik - that is still in development as per equipment, pose and colours

On larger and more important issues - I do not write here much about current day politics et al (unless it is about horses like the mustangs in the US) , but this merits a break in this tradition.
Education, nowadays an integral part of the chivalrous  pursuit & personal growth, I dare to insist :)
Gurdian reports that US President's State of the Union address is .. dumber. - sad news indeed.

But then, already in 2009,m  in Oklahoma they dared to publish these shameful and tragic results - only one in four Oklahoma public high school students can name the first President of the US... while only 3 percent of the students surveyed would pass the US citizenship test required by law and administered to the applicants for the US citizenship.
2010 survey on US history of high school students : 

 While this 1912 test from Bullitt County Schools, KY,  for 8th graders -
and the answers

Interesting view - by Mort Rosenblum - on growing lack of foreign news(not entertainment)  reporting in the US.

An interesting view (from 2009) on the decline of humanities in the American University  - including these results of 2003/4 academic year across the US
English: from 7.6 percent of the majors to 3.9 percent
Foreign languages and literatures: from 2.5 percent to 1.3 percent
Philosophy and religious studies: from 0.9 percent to 0.7 percent
History: from 18.5 percent to 10.7 percent
Business: from 13.7 percent to 21.9 percent

 A view on classical education: The Death of Classical Education and Its Consequences -

Thomas Jefferson on education :  'If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.'

Jefferson also wrote:

“What constitutes a State? 
Not high-raised battlements, or labor’d mound, 
Thick wall, or moated gate; 
Not cities proud, with spires and turrets crown’d; 
No: men*, high minded men*; 
Men*, who their duties know; 
But know their rights; and knowing, dare maintain. 
These constitute a State.”

*Jefferson wrote before the mass suffrage et al, so today it means all citizens - men and women.

And this essay by Dorothy Sayers:  The Lost Tools of Learning
     I should mention that I am a big follower of the idea of classical education and have done home-schooling with much success, that I am very proud of :)

     My favourite, non-Polish literature, books of all times are:  Illiad, Bible, Histories by Herodotus, Anabasis by Xenophon, Greek Myths, Shahnameh,  Decameron, The Canterbury Tales, The Arabian Nights, Three Musketeers, Cantar de mio Cid, Song of Roland, Le Morte d'Arthur, Robinson Crusoe, war and Peace, The Brothers Karamazov, Sherlock Holmes, The Jungle Book etc . Certainly I could add countless other books to this list here, especially since digital library is just wonderfully easy to access and use, eg I am developing liking for the Victorian travel literature of the XIX century
    English Literary Canon
    Great Books Lists