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Lyrical Town – Cosmic and Human

Folkloristika 6/1 (2021): 31–66
Author: Ana Vukmanović
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The town in oral lyric is conceptualized as cosmic and human space. The image of town is a poetic reflex of microcosm manifested in the motifs of the town in the sky, in the heights, at the sea, on the island or between two mountains. Oral lyric songs transform the act of cosmic creation into the notion of building the town, which can carry an erotic symbolism as well. The lyrical town is dynamic – it is enclosed, but also open for human encounters and connections. In that sense it is determined by human emotions. This dynamics is best represented in the motif of opening the town gates to the alien, foreign hero or the wedding guests, in order to carry out (ritual) passage and to establish new relationships. When we speak of encounters, we speak of known and unknown town, one’s own and alien. They can be opposed, with tension between them, but going to faraway places is also to be expected. Therefore, far–off towns are both the measure of the distance and the distant places of wish and desire. The obstacles for the strangers can be set in front of them, but they are finally overcome in order to town to reopen and people to connect. In lyric poetry, when foreign towns are dangerous, the protection to the traveler is offered by its inhabitants (more often female than male ones), showing once again intricate relationship between familiar and alien spaces, opening lyrical towns to the foreigners. The town in oral lyric poetry carries utopian potential of freedom, and consequently is not merely a reflex of cosmic notions but also the reflection of human emotions, wishes and aspirations. Complex images of cosmic and human towns in lyric songs demonstrate complexity of town phenomenon and also complexity of lyric poetry that transforms that phenomenon.
Keywords: oral lyric poetry, love songs, wedding songs, town, microcosm, open/closed, one’s own/alien, utopia