Mihály Vörösmarty experimented with versification as a teenager, and he was amazed and overjoyed when he discovered that the Hungarian language was readily adaptable to the requirements of metrical poetry. Because the early decades of the nineteenth century were considered the golden age of literary classicism in Hungary, and because Vörösmarty’s education at the gymnasium was also heavily classical, it is not surprising that he produced a great number of odes, epigrams, and other verse forms patterned after the poets of antiquity. The other important influence in his early youth was an all-pervasive patriotism, which obliged him to produce a number of historical epics. In these, he demonstrated a naïve view of Hungarian nobility and its relationship to the king, attributing any conflicts between the two to personal rivalries and the divisive intrigue of (usually foreign) courtiers.
The work that stands out among his early creations and that made him a nationally known poet was Zalán futása (the flight of Zalán), a heroic epic in ten cantos, completed in 1825. Vörösmarty successfully combined the treatment of a major Hungarian literary motif with the use of polished classical hexameters, while putting into practice his conviction that the depiction of epochal events from the nation’s history was an excellent way to reawaken a national consciousness in nineteenth century Hungarians. He also revived the genre of the heroic epic in Hungarian literature, paralleling the activities of Miklós Zrínyi (1620-1664)....
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