Page:A history of Hungarian literature.djvu/14

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ocean, the waves of which were now freed from the tyrant. But, in Hungary, alas! the poet and hero saw nothing but desolation, and went to meet his fate with a sad heart at the siege of Esztergom, fighting against the Turks. The chief Hungarian epic poet of the seventeenth century, Count Nicholas Zrinyi, happened to be travelling in Italy when Milton was there. Soon the return of each poet was claimed by his country, but the different parts which awaited them are characteristic of the fates of their respective lands. Milton left Italy, and with his pen helped to fight for, and to win, freedom under Cromwell's leadership.[1] Count Zrinyi devoted all his powers, both as general and as poet, to the great task of delivering Hungary from the Turkish yoke, but he did not live to see his aim fulfilled. The ideals of Zrinyi the leader were identical with those of Zrinyi the poet, and his literary work was like a trumpet-call to the nation, to awaken it from the torpor into which it had sunk under the "Turkish Opium," as he called the efforts of the Sultan to ingratiate himself with the subjugated Hungarians. Is it not natural that the leading theme of poets like Zrinyi should be the feeling of nationality?

After all danger from the Turk had passed away the Austrian influence threatened the national independence. At the time when Bishop Percy, in England, began to collect the treasures of ancient folk-lore, Hungarian popular poetry was just beginning to flourish. But by what sad events it was nourished. It sprang from the soil of the battlefield, during the wars of

  1. In his prose pamphlet, Defensio Secunda, Milton states that his mind was stronger than his body, and that therefore he did not court camps, where any common man could be as useful as himself.