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Khristo Botev

Botev's life and death has striking similarity in the deeds of two other poets and revolutionaries. In Hungary, Shandor Petyofi and in Ukraine, Taras Shevchenko, fought also with pencil and sword their nations' oppressors. The motherland of these three poets and revolutionaries was nineteenth-century Eastern Europe, partitioned among three empires: the Russian, the Habsburg, and the Ottoman one. Two strong movements, Nationalism and Romanticism influenced strongly their poetry and belletristic.
Botev's life followed the blueprints of a nineteenth-century National revolutionary in Eastern Europe. Born in 1848 (the year of revolutions throughout Europe), raised with the living traditions of hayduks (guerilla fighters), studied in Russia (influenced by narodniks), taught in his home town, and eventually joined the revolutionaries across Danube to cross the river again in 1876 and find his death and immortality. 
(more about Botev in Manning, Clarence Augustus. The history of modern Bulgarian literature. Westport, Conn., Greenwood Press,1974.)

Christo Botev
Khadzhi Dimitqr

 

Zhiv e toi, zhiv e! Tam na Balkana,

potqnal v kqrvi, lezhi i pqshka

yunak s dqlboka na gqrdi rana,

yunak vqv mladost i v sila mqzhka.

na edna strana zahvqrlil pushka,

na druga sabiya na dve stroshena;

ochi tqmneiyat, glava se lyushka,

usta proklinat zyila vselena!

Lezhi yunakqt, a na nebeto

slqnzeto spryilo sqrdito peche:

zhetvarka pee neyide v poleto,

i krqvta oshte po silno teche!

Zhetva e sega...Peyite robini,

tez tqzhni pesni! Greyi i ti zlqnze,

v taz robska zemyia! Shte da zagine

i toyia yunak... No mlqkni sqrze!

Toz, koyito padne v boyi za svoboda,

toyi ne umira: nego zhaleyat

zemyia i neb, zvyiar i priroda,

i pevtzi pesni za nego peyiat...

Denem mu syianka pazi orlitza,

i vqlk mu krotko ranata blizhe;

nad nego sokol, yunashka ptitza

i tyia se za brat, za yunak grizhi!

Nastane vecher-mesetz izgree,

zvezdi obsipyat svoda nebesen;

gora zashumi, vyatqr povee,-

Balkanqt pee hayidushka pesen!

I samodivi v byala premyana,

chudni, prekrasni, pesen poemnat,-

tiho nagzyat v treva zelena

i pri yunakqt doyidat ta sednat.

edna mu s bilki ranata vqrzhe,

druga go prqsne s voda studena,

treta go v usta zelune bqrzhe,-

i toy yi gleda,-mila, zasmena!

"Kazhi mi, sestro, deyi Karadzata?

de e moyita vyarna druzhina?

Kazhi mi, pqk mi zemi dushata,-

az iskam, sestro, tuk da zagina!"

I plesnat s rutze, pa se pregqrnat,

i s pesni hvrqknat te v nebesata,-

letyiat i peyat, dorde osqmnat,

i tqrsyiat dduha na Karadzata...

No sqmna veche! I na Balkana

Yunakqt lezhi, krqvta mu teche,-

bqlkqt mu blizhe lyutata rana,

i slqnzeto pak peche li-peche!


Published in August 1873.
In 1868, Khadzi Dimitqr and Stefan Karadza crossed with 120 men Danube, part of Rakovski's Detachment Tactics for the liberation of Bulgaria. Encircled in the Balkan by numerically much stronger Turkish troops and killed almost to the last man.
The four central concerns in Botev's poetry-defined as the dream of freedom, both personal and national; the depiction of national oppression, the poetry of the mountains; the theme of death-found their most expression in the poem.


Last modified: November 24, 1997

p-miltenoff@nwu.edu