Soca River

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English text

You are splendid, limpid daughter of the heights,
You are graceful in your natural beauty,
When your transparent depths
Are not disturbed by the
Wrath of darksome storms,
You are splendid, limpid daughter of the heights!
Your course is lively and gentle
Like the walk of highland girls,
You are serene as the mountain air,
You are loud as the vigorous
Chant of the highland youth -
You are splendid, daughter of the heights.
I like to look into your lively waves,
These green-blue waves;
The dark green of highland grass
And the cheerful azure of the heights
Have flown together with delight;
From the dew of the blue skies,
From the dew of green mountains,
You have drunk your beauty -
You are splendid, daughter of the heights.
You are my most dear friend!
When you rustle down from mountain woodlands
You seem a messenger from home,
Carrying plenty of dear greetings -
May God welcome you amidst the plains! …
How dearly and loudly you murmur,
How stalwartly and soundly you bound
When you still flow through the mountains!
But when you clatter down to the flatlands,
Why do you lose your lively joy?
Why do you flow tiredly and slowly,
Why are your voices sad?
Is it hard to part from the mountain range,
The cradle of your waves?
Do you know you are passing by the graves,
The graves of Slovene homeland?
A double grief you suffer here!
In this grief, mournful and sluggish,
You seem like a big tear to me;
But even as tear - splendid!
You are splendid, limpid daughter of the heights,
You are graceful in your natural beauty,
When your transparent depths
Are not disturbed by the
Wrath of raging storms!
But, alas, my poor child,
A dreadful storm, a horrible storm
Is threatening you;
It will storm in from the warm south,
It will rage through the fertile plain
Nourished by your waters -
Woe!, that day is not far.
A clear arch will stretch above you,
Around you a hail of lead,
Rain of blood and streams of tears,
Lightning and thunder - oh, stifling battle!
Bitter steel will strike upon these lands,
And you will flow full of blood:
Our blood will nourish you,
The enemy's will muddy you!
Remember then, limpid Soca,
The commands of your fervid heart:
All the waters stored
In the clouds of your skies,
All the waters in your highlands,
All the waters of your blossoming plains,
Rush it all up at once,
Rise up, froth in a dreadful stream!
Do not confine yourself within the banks,
Rise wrathfully over the defences,
And drawn the foreigners ravenous for land
To the bottom of your foaming waves!

Original text

Krasnà si, bistra hci planin,
brdkà v prirodni si lepoti,
ko ti prozornih globocin
nevihte temne srd ne moti,
krasnà si, hci planin!
Tvoj tek je živ in je legák,
ko hod deklet s planine;
in jasna si ko gorski zrak,
in glasna si, kot spev krepak
planinske je mladine -
krasnà si, hci planin.
Rad gledam ti v valove bodre,
valove te zeleno-modre;
temnà zelén planinskih trav
in vedra višnjevost višav
lepó se v njih je zlila;
na rosah sinjega nebá,
na rosah zelenih gorá
lepoto to si pila -
krasnà si, hci planin!
Ti meni si predraga znanka!
Ko z gorskih prišumiš dobrav,
od doma se mi zdiš poslanka,
nesoca mnog mi ljub pozdrav -
Bog sprimi te tu sred planjav! …
Kako glasnó, ljubó šumljaš,
kako cvrstó, krepkó skakljaš,
ko sred gora še pot imaš!
A ko prideš na ravnine,
zakaj te živa radost mine?
Kaj trudno lezeš in pocasi,
zakaj so tožni tvoji glasi?
Težkó se lociš od hribov,
zibelke tvojega valovja?
Mar veš, da teceš tik grobov,
grobov slovenskega domovja?
Obojno bol pac tu trpiš!
V tej boli tožna in pocasna,
ogromna solza se mi zdiš,
a še kot solza - krasna!
Krasnà si, bistra hci planin,
brdkà v prirodni si lepoti,
ko ti prozornih globocin
nevihte divje srd ne moti!
Pa oh, siroti tebi žuga
vihar grozán, vihar strašán;
prihrumel iz gorkega bo juga,
divjal cez plodno bo raván,
ki tvoja jo napaja struga -
gorjé, da dalec ni ta dan!
Nad tabo jasen bo oblok,
krog tebe pa svincena toca
in dež krvav in solz potok
in blisk in grom - oh, bitva vroca!
Tod sekla bridka bodo jekla,
in ti mi boš krvava tekla:
kri naša te pojila bo,
sovražna te kalila bo!
Takrat se spomni, bistra Soca,
kar gorko ti srce naroca:
Kar bode shranjenih vodá
v oblakih tvojega neba,
kar vode v tvojih bo planinah,
kar bode v cvetnih je ravninah,
tacas pridrvi vse na dan,
narasti, vzkipi v tok strašán!
Ne stiskaj v meje se bregov,
srdita cez branove stopi,
ter tujce, zemlje-lacne, utopi
na dno razpenjenih valov!
[Na zemlji tvoji tujcev tropi
naj ne dobódo ni - grobov!]

Author notes

The priest-poet Simon Gregorcic (1844 - 1906) was born in a peasant family near the town of Kobarid (Caporetto in Italian) in the northern, Alpine area of the Austrian Littoral, and spent several decades as a parish priest in various Slovene-speaking villages in the County of Gorizia, before settling in the town of Gorizia. The simple and elegant style of his meditative poems helped to make him one of the most popular Slovene poets of the 19th century. Several of his poetic collections became best-sellers, and many of his poems retained their popularity after the change in taste brought by fin-de-siècle estheticism.

Background notes

This is probably Gregorcic's most famous poem, and it has been included into most elementary school curricula throughout the 20th century. Its popularity can be partially attributed to what is considered its prophetic value. In the poem, Gregorcic prohesied war on the banks of the Soca (known as Isonzo in Italian and German), which almost thirty years later came to pass in the fierce Battles of the Isonzo, fought along the river between the Austro-Hungarian and Italian armies in the years 1915-1917.
It is not certain that the poem’s unnamed foe is meant to be Italians; there is no hint of anti-Italian sentiments in Gregorcic's writings. Probably, the militant patriotism of the poem generic rather than specific.

  Posted by Luka Lisjak Gabrijelcic, 06.01.10