WARRIOR CULTURE

By William Markiewicz

"Came the season when white roses grow
Come back Johnny, come from the little war
Come and kiss, remind us how it was
Befo-ore,
I will give you as a gi-ift a beautiful white rose.

"Again comes the season when white roses grow
Johnny doesn't need it any more
He's dead, fallen in the little war
Tra-la-la,
On his grave grows a bush of white roses."

Why "the little war"? Because in a history dense with wars, war becomes part of the very fabric of existence, treated affectionately as part of the family. I believe it was General Sosnowski who, in his "Testament", wrote: "I lived with war as with a mistress and with my mistresses, in war...".

Another sample from the old repertory of Polish soldiers' songs:

"How nice it is in the little war (bis)
When the horseman falls from the horse (bis)

His colleagues are not sorry for him (bis)
They will stomp with horses on him (bis)

Sounds heartless, but it's deceptive. I quote the rest without worrying about rhyme or rhythm:

"And for his young years (bis)
They'll trumpet him "tratatata" (bis)

And for his hardships (bis)
They'll shoot three salvos for him (bis)

Sleep colleague in the dark grave (bis)
Let Poland appear in your dreams. (bis)"

A friend was horrified that the warrior culture appeals to me more than the philosopher's culture. In the philosopher's culture there is no mystery, on the contrary, everything pulls toward crystal clarity, while, for me, the warrior culture contains sublime, monstrous, poetic beauty. Its followers play with acts and feelings, take nothing too dramatically, because they know that our fate is bigger than we are.

By the way, Polish history, in spite of its warrior tradition, was not directed to conquest, perhaps because Poles were too busy defending themselves. Poland, without natural borders, was constantly open to invasion by Turks, Tartars, Russians, Germans, Swedes ...



Back to the index of the Vagabond
© Copyright 2001 E-mail to: William Markiewicz