20th century

If meter was considered important in poetry later, sometimes only the stressed syllable counted as "long" for the authors, but sometimes both the stressed syllables as well as those with long vowels or diphthongs did, like during the Classicist period.

Fine arts

When Karol Marko (1791-1860) from Levoča painted Dunajec Castle in 1820, his style:


... was decidedly Classicist although his subject was in his native Spiš County, not a Greco-Roman theme.


The John Kollar Slovak Literary Library and Society founded in Pittsburgh in 1913, commonly called the Kollar Club now, was named after the Classicist poet, Lutheran Minister in Budapest, and later Professor of Archeology at the University of Vienna Ján Kollár.

Metric progress

Although traditionalist in his language and literary tastes, Kollár was among the early owners of the then-recently invented Draisine:


... the predecessor of the modern bicycle, whose praises he sang in the metric rhythms of a sonnet in The Daughter of Sláva.

Meter in Slovak poems

Q: What syllables counted as long?

Classical Roman poets and those writing in Latin later made sure to use predefined sequences of "long" and "short" syllables. In principle, Slovak Classicist poetry counted both a stressed syllable and a syllable with a long vowel or a diphthong as "long," but there was a lot of latitude in that in practice. The fashion to compose poems on Latin models, Classicism in Slovak poetry, petered out in the early decades of the 19th century. Ján Kollár (1793-1851) and Ján Hollý (1785-1849) were the last major Slovak Classicist poets.

Classicist poetry

The predefined sequences of "long" and "short" syllables were called feet. Some of them, e.g., the bisyllabic "short–long" sequence called the iamb typical of the iambic pentameter popular in Latin (and English) poetry, were difficult to achieve at the beginning of a verse, because the Slovak (and Czech) words stress the first syllable (Bratislava), and the stress commonly shifts to the preposition if one is present (do Bratislavy, "to Bratislava").

Iambic pentameter was used in an English translation of the opening of Ján Kollár's voluminous poem The Daughter of Sláva (1824) influential among the Slavs in the Habsburg Empire:

Stir not, | for where | you tread | is ho-|-ly ground,
O Ta-|-tra's son, | lift up | your eyes | to heaven

But the original employed different feet (dactylic pentameter/hexameter), those that start with a stressed syllable. Here are the same opening verses as originally published in Budapest in an archaic written norm used before the spelling and style reform of 1846:


The verses show the degree to which "long" and "short" were a matter of interpretation for the Slovak Classicists rather than a rigorous application of their theoretical definition.

Romantic poetry

The next generation of poets turned away from Classicism and became enamored with Slovak folk songs. Many Romantic authors imitated their patterns based on the number of syllables (regardless of stress or length) per verse and on distinct, adjacent rhymes: aabb... or abab... An English translation of one of the best known Romantic poems in Slovakia, The Death of Jánošík (1862) by Ján Botto (1829-1881), matches that pattern closely:

A fire burns brightly on the Mountain of Kings.
And who fed its flames? – Twelve falcons without wings.

The 1862 original below differed in one word from how the two verses are known today:


That trend remained fashionable for about two decades around the middle of the 19th century, but the Romantics also wrote poetry, including sonnets, that was not based on traditional folk models.