Page:Poetry of the Magyars.djvu/102

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lxxix
MAGYAR POPULAR POETRY.

the Magyars a poetical temperament. He says the national tone is noble, generous, gallant, susceptible, good-natured, loving, easily won, sharp-witted, and imaginative. Now, are not these elements enough for the creation of poets and poetry? And how can a nation be deemed unpoetical which can offer to the world such a roll of poets as Hungary presents?


 Of the popular poetry of the Magyars, little can be referred to a high antiquity. A fragment of an ancient poem is still sung by Hungarian children, thus:
     Lengyel László jó királyunk
     Az is nekünk illenségünk.[1]
Nothing, however, but these two lines remain. The martial songs of their warlike ancestors have not been saved out of the oblivion of old time. Of the historical songs none are earlier than those of the wars of the last Hungarian revolution. Of the oral stories (Mesék or Regék) of the Magyars, I shall translate Mailath's interesting descrip- tion:


 "The Magyar story-tellers are one of the many evidences of the oriental origin of the people.

Like the Night-fablers of Arabia, they go on by

  1. Laszló the Pole—the good king—he
    He also is our enemy.