Hungarian Poetry Analysis

The Medieval Period

(Critical Explorations in Poetry)

Along the well-worn path the Hungarians (Magyars) took westward during the centuries preceding their entry into the Carpathian Basin in 896 c.e., they shaped a peculiar folk culture and folk poetry. Ethnographers, linguists, and researchers of comparative literature have arrived at this conclusion, even though no written trace of ancient Hungarian literature has survived. The runic alphabet of the seminomadic Hungarians was not used for recording literary texts, but the wealth of ancient poetry is attested by later allusions, although after Christianization in about 1000, both the state and the Church made every effort to eradicate even the memory of the pagan period. The chant of the shaman, an improvised incantation for the purposes of sorcery, prophecy, necromancy, or healing, often combined with music, dance, and a primitive form of drama, thus survived primarily in children’s rhymes and other simple ritualistic expressions. The secular counterparts of the shamans, the minstrels (regsök), provided the first examples of epic poetry, recounting the origin of the Hungarians. Two of these epics are known (in their later reconstructed forms) as the Legend of the Miraculous Stag and the Lay of the White Steed. The versification is believed to have been similar to that of other ancient European poetry; it is thought, for example, that the Hungarian minstrels did not use rhyme, relying instead on alliteration.

The culture of medieval...

(The entire section is 613 words.)