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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/634

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

particularly to those who have anything to do with the ceremonies, pet names by which they are called till the affair is over. A stereotyped name for the bride is Danica (the morning star), and for the groom Sunce (the sun) or Mjesec (the moon). The principal groomsman is addressed as Saint John; the god-father as Elias; the first bridesmaid as Mary; and the other guests usually receive names of flowers. The three chief personages after the bridal pair have generally the stereotyped name and a newly borrowed pet name. Evidently a poetical expression rules in these affairs, by which the figurative characterizations of the higher spheres of the sky have been adapted to the transferred names. Among the more than a hundred songs of this kind we cite one from B. Petranovic's collection of Servian popular songs, which relates how the suitor wakened the passion of his sweetheart:

"The morning star said angrily to the oon,
Where have you tarried, my bright moon, so long?
Where have you tarried, where have you idled the time?
Where I tarried I idled no time:
We were eating for you a supper of sweets;
We saw for you a maid as handsome as pearl;
Her hair was fragrant with sweet-smelling blossoms—
Oh, would that the flowers were for me!
Then jealous anger possessed the morning star.
And she speeded in rage over the clear sky."

The poetic imagery is, I think, perfectly comprehensible. It is of common application in popular verse. Let us recollect that every literature of the kind has only a comparatively limited stock of comparisons and figures, and that it is, therefore, obliged to make a narrow means suffice for all occasions. It does not readily waste its poetical material, and it is turned from its course only when the occasion is an extraordinary one. Metaphors drawn from the stars are still in full vigor, but find their complete adaptation only in poetry. But there is not a trace of mythological mysticism in it.

It may be observed, in explanation of the popular faith about the moon, that the people regard its regularly recurring decrease and increase wholly according to the apparently good or ill working of its phases upon the fortunes of man and the world. Of the phenomena themselves they have no settled opinion, although some incline to accept a fable which is peculiar to the Croats on the Steiermark border as a popular myth. I prefer to regard it as a part of the apocryphal folk-lore of the middle ages, or perhaps as of German origin. Saint Elias, as the national saint, lord of the highest mountains, lends it his name only to save the trivial story from ridicule. It runs:

The holy Elias once had a long leisure-spell, and went out