Orkiestra św. Mikołaja: ‘From the High Field’

“Z wysokiego pola” (From the High Field) is one of my favorite songs by Orkiestra św. Mikołaja.

The melody of the song is Hungarian, while the text is a Polish ballad from the region near Zamość an ancestral land.  In the early nineteenth century my great 4x grandfather had an estate in Zalesie.

His son, my great 3x grandfather was born in 1822 Łabunie, the nearby village. Even before I found the connection between the song and my ancestral land, I was always very moved by the song. Something about the melody and lyrics really struck me.

The lyrics in Polish and English are below.

I also like the image used in the video — women in folk costumes against the background of brick ruins.


Z wysokiego pola, z rajskiego podwórza
Zakochał się Jasio w Maniusi jak róża.

Gdy się Mani matka o tym dowiedziała,
Poszła do murarzy, murować kazała.

Murarze, murarze, prośbę do was wnoszę:
Wymurujcie wy mi, o co ja was proszę.

Murarze, murarze prośbę wysłuchali,
Nadobnej Maniusi więzień zbudowali.

A gdy usłyszała pierwszy dzwonek z wieży –
– Puśćcie mnie matusiu, Jasio chory leży!

A gdy usłyszała drugi dzwonek z wieży –
– Puśćcie mnie matusiu, Jasio w trumnie leży!

A gdy usłyszała trzeci dzwonek z wieży –
– Puśćcie mnie matusiu, Jasio w grobie leży!

Ta niedobra matka puścić ją nie chciała,
Maniusia w więzieniu trzy razy zemdlała.

Jasia pochowali na środku cmentarza,
A Maniusię jego zaraz koło niego.

Na Jasiowym grobie wyrosła lelija,
Na Maniusi grobie śliczna konwalija.

Gdy się Mani matka o tym dowiedziała,
Wzięła ostry sierpek, kwiaty pościnała.

A gdy je ścinała krew się strugą lała –
Jakie serce miała, że nie zapłakała!


From the high field, from the heavenly yard,
Jasio fell in love with Manusia like a rose.

When Manusia’s mother learned of this,
She went to the masons and said to the masons.

Masons, masons, I have a request for you,
Build for me what I ask.

The masons listened to the request,
They built a prison for beautiful Maniusia.

And when Manusia hears the first bell from the tower,
“Mommy let me go, Jasio is sick.”

And when she hears the second bell from the tower,
“Mommy let me go, Jasio is lying in a coffin.”

And when she hears the third bell from the tower,
“Mommy, let me go, Jasio is lying in his grave.”

This bad mother did not want to let her go,
Maniusia fainted three times in the prison.

Jasio was buried in the middle of the cemetery,
A Maniusia is right next to him.

On Jasio’s grave grows a lily,
On Maniusia’s grave is a lovely lily of the valley.

When Maniusa’s mother learns of this,
She takes a sharp sickle, and cuts the flowers.

And when she cut them, a stream of blood flowed,
What a heart she had, that she did not even cry!

8 thoughts on “Prewar Painted Stripes in Lviv

  1. Thank you Areta for another important and timely blog post on the challenges and issues of Jewish heritage and recovery of memory. We are hopeful that soon the headstones used as basement steps in a courtyard in Lviv (Hałycka Płoszcza 15 / Galitskaya 15) will be recovered. The Lviv Volunteer Center is working behind the scenes to make this happen, with the support of the Lviv Jewish community and others.

  2. This is the part that blows my mind: “During periods of transition, the records occasionally show the use or mix of two languages—Church Slavonic and Latin, or Latin and Ukrainian…”
    SO COOL!
    Thanks, Areta!

  3. > The largest and best-preserved fragment of Lviv’s medieval defense structures is the Hlyniany Gate (1618)

    Areta, Hlyniany Gate and wall around it have been renovated.

    There used to be some residential building in its place (behind the now-demolished fire station in the foreground)

    Building, close-up

    The wall looked like this

  4. Any idea what the Yiddish is on the hat sign on the right? I can make out most of the letters, but my Yiddish isn’t good enough to fill in the blanks. I used to pass by that wall frequently on my way to a friends house, but he has moved since then. It’s still my favorite ghost sign, though 🙂

  5. Kudos to you, Aretha. I came across your blog from a repost from one of your diaspora Ukrainian language from Pre-war Galicia words versus accepted and widely used Post-war words for a long list of foods. I too grew up in the diaspora in Cleveland. I was in Lviv in November of this soon to be last year. Although Lviv is my Dad’s ancestral city, I had family from Central Ukraine and grew up hearing both dialects. I think the blog was from 2014 or 2015. I wanted to leave a comment on your new blog and commend you for the interesting sociolinguistic and cultural discussions you have initiated. Nice to see that you are now in the field doing your research first-hand.

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