The Poet Aleš Balcárek and the St Wenceslas Tradition
|Keywords||St Wenceslas tradition – Aleš Balcárek – Bohemian and Moravian literature – Czech National Revival – 19th century|
|Type of Article||Matiční listy|
|Citation||ČAJOVÁ, Jaroslava. The Poet Aleš Balcárek and the St Wenceslas Tradition. Acta Musei Nationalis Pragae – Historia litterarum. Prague: National Museum, 2022, 67(3-4), 213–215. DOI: https://doi.org/10.37520/amnpsc.2022.045. ISSN 2570-6861 (Print), 2570-687X (Online). Also available from: https://publikace.nm.cz/en/periodicals/acta-musei-nationalis-pragae-historia-litterarum/67-3-4/the-poet-ales-balcarek-and-the-st-wenceslas-tradition|
The works of a Moravian poet of the Czech National Revival Aleš Balcárek (1840–1862) often depict the patron saint of Bohemia St Wenceslas. Balcárek asks St Wenceslas for help as the protector of the homeland and the nation. In 1862, the poet died of serious injuries sustained after he fell off the Horse Gate at Wenceslas Square. His tragic death was symbolically preceded by his exclamation: ‘Saint Wenceslas, intercede for us!’ The circumstances of his death give rise to many speculations about the real cause of the accident, because the student Balcárek had been monitored by the secret police for his patriotic stance. Balcárek’s patriotic motivation, embodied in the symbol of St Wenceslas, presumably dates back to his studies in Olomouc, where the Cathedral of St Wenceslas is located. Reminiscences of St Wenceslas also emerge in connection with Balcárek’s membership in Blaník, a student association in Prague (and the legend of St Wenceslas, who, accompanied by his knights, will come to the aid of the nation when it suffers most). The young man joined the Hlahol choir and learnt to sing in it the old Bohemian hymn ‘Saint Wenceslas!’; he became a skilled reciter who, under the influence of the scenery, often ended his performance with the exclamation: ‘Saint Wenceslas, do not let us and our descendants perish!’ In 1862, the funeral procession of the prematurely deceased talented hope of Moravian poetry symbolically passed by the old statue of St Wenceslas, situated in the middle of Wenceslas Square. The poem Můj zpěv [My Song], an excerpt from which is included in the text of the article, is the poet’s artistic and ideological legacy spanning centuries.