National Slovak Society

50th Anniversary
of the 19th Regular Convention
Youngstown, Mahoning County, Ohio
August 5-10, 1946

PAVEL ORSZAGH HVIEZDOSLAV

During the many centuries between the decisive battle of Bratislava in 907 -- which shattered the Great Moravian Empire and reduced the sovereign state of Slovakia to a province in the Kingdom of Hungary -- and the creation of the Republic of Czecho-Slovakia in 1918 -- which reestablished the Slovak nation on the face of the globe -- Slovak literature naturally shared the vicissitudes of the nation itself.

During their long subjugation, the Slovaks always remained a race apart -- a distinct people with their own language and their own culture, neither of which has anything in common with the Magyars.

The Slav family consists of eight branches, of which the Russians are the largest member, and the Slovaks one of the smaller. It can be fairly said, that the Slovak language, as it is the central, so it is the purest of the eight Slav tongues.

During those many centuries of Magyar domination, Fate blessed the Slovaks with many illustrious, nationally-conscious authors and poets to keep alive the fires of Slovak spirit, the fires of Slovak nationalism, which ever smouldered in the bosoms of their oppressed kinsmen. Among the greatest of the poets were Vajansky, Holly, Sladkovich and Hviezdoslav the last, the brightest star in the Slovak poetical firmament.

Paul Orszagh was born on February 2, 1849 at Vysny Kubin. He was a lawyer by profession. Under the colorful pen name of Hviezdoslav, he was a fertile writer and a prolific translator. He has enriched Slovak literature with some 15 volumes of original poetry and with many volumes of translations of the classical works of Goethe, Mickiewicz, Pushkin, Shakespeare and Slowacki. During his era, he was the poet laureate of Slovakia.

In 1861, a Slovak cultural institute was established in the city of Turciansky Sv. Martin -- the Slovenska Matica. It was the home, the nourishing mother of all things literary, national and cultural in the life of the Slovak people. During the darkest years in Slovak literary life, it kept alive Slovak literature. The intolerant anti-Slovak policy of the Magyars forcibly closed its doors in 1875.

On August 5, 1919, it was re-opened and re-dedicated in the presence and with the aid of President Thomas G. Masaryk. Hviezdoslav was honored by being named its new head. Under his inspired leadership, the Matica spread and grew -- a national symbol of the vitality of a nation and the heroism of a people, who through 10 centuries of oppressive foreign domination, fought for its heritage until it regained it. It was soon enlarged by the addition of a Slovak National Museum.

However, his leadership was short-lived. On November 28, 1921, at Dolny Kubin, he -- the greatest Slovak poet -- passed on to his eternal reward.

The National Slovak Society is very active in America today. For the latest information on the National Slovak Society visit the official National Slovak Society Web Site "Where Fraternal Benefits And Financial Security Have Met Since 1890".

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