Two Prešeren’s Manuscripts are Found in Cleveland: “We Are Talking about a Unique Find”

The manuscripts will be put on display for everybody at the Ljubljana Faculty of Arts next Wednesday.

“I am very glad that I had such an opportunity to hold these precious manuscripts in my hands,” Slovenian language instructor Luka Zibelnik says, who discovered two previously unknown Prešeren’s manuscripts in the US. Everyone will be able to read these manuscripts next Wednesday in Ljubljana. We are talking about such poems as “Slovo od mladosti” (“A Farewell to My Youth”) and “Dohtar” (“Doctor”).

Luka Zibelnik is an instructor and a volunteer working at the Slovenian Museum and Archives (Slovenskem muzeju in arhivu). He received an e-mail from the Consul General of the Republic of Slovenia in Cleveland — Andrej Gregor Rode. It stated that Evgen Favetti had informed him about the availability of two Prešeren’s manuscripts. “He invited me to come and see what it was about. I should say that at first I was seized by a light scepticism, because it was necessary to exclude the possibility of counterfeit or facsimile.”

According to Luka, in April, during their meeting at the Consulate, all doubts concerning the authenticity of the manuscripts disappeared by themselves. It was clear that they dealt with a valuable cultural artefact. Favetti expressed a desire to donate these manuscripts to the Slovenian Museum and Archives for public demonstration.


How did Favetti mange to find these valuable manuscripts?

Before the war, Father Favetti (also known as Evgen Favetti) worked as a salesman in a bookstore owned by Janez Dolžan in the Stritarjev Street near the Town Hall. Being a very adventurous person, he saved the manuscripts. Some people say that he received those manuscripts as a gift dedicated to the birth of his son, and others say that he obtained them as a salary. After the war, the Favetti’s family moved to the US, where, 10 years before his death, Evgen gave the manuscripts to his son. He said, “You’d better figure it out what to do with them.” The Favetti’s family understood quite well the real value of these manuscripts. “I am very pleased that now he has decided to donate them to the museum,” Luka Zibelnik confides.

An important discovery

This is a very important discovery, because the last copies of the France Prešeren’s manuscripts were found in the 60-ies of the XX century, as Professor of the Slavic Studies Department at the Ljubljana Faculty of Arts Miran Hladnik notes.

“Both France Prešeren’s manuscripts are signed and well preserved. They are slightly different from the other five or six well-known manuscripts of these poems. The manuscript of “A Farewell to My Youth” poem refers to the time of publication in the first issue of the “Krajnska Čbelica” magazine (1830). The manuscript of “Doctor” refers to the period after the publication in the fourth issue of “Krajnske Čbelice” (1833) and before the publication of the censored “Poezij” magazine (1846),” Zibelnik and Hladnik told to the journalists.

The manuscripts will be presented to the public in the auditorium 209 on the second floor at the Ljubljana Faculty of Arts, at 3:15 PM on 6 July.


“A Farewell to My Youth”. Author France Prešeren (1800–1849). Translated by Griša Koritnik and V. de Sola Pinto.

O happier half of days decreed to me,
My early years, so soon you passed away:
Few were the flowers that blossomed on that tree,
And they, scarce budded, fell into decay.
Few were the rays of hope that I could see,
And storms would often rage in wild array;
Still, for my youth, dark though thy dawn may be,
My heart will ever cry, God be with thee!
Too soon the fruits of knowledge did I eat!
Where dripped their poison, faded all delight:
I saw how honesty and truth could meet
Among the human kind with scorn and spite.
I sought true love – an empty dream and fleet,
Which disappeared as dawn broke into light!
And wisdom, justice and the learned mind
Were dowerless maids – no suitors could they find.

I saw how those who are not loved by fate
Their ship in vain against the wind may steer;
The one who is not born to high estate
Shall see no Fortune at his cradle appear;
I saw how fame is purchased at the rate
Of current cash – no price too high, too dear;
I saw in glory’s and in honour’s seat
All that beguiles men’s minds with lies, deceit.

These sights and others uglier by far
Burned in my heart till cruelly it bled;
Yet thoughts like these the joys of youth will bar
And quickly drive them out of heart and head;
Fair cloud-born castles glimmer from afar,
Green lawns arise where desert places spread,
Hope kindles many a wanton, beckoning light,
To lure the young and tempt them in the night.

They know not of the sudden storm that blows,
Dispelling phantom shapes that cannot last,
And all too soon forget misfortune’s woes,
Forget the wounds once they are healed and past –
Until the changing years show how life flows
Into a vessel that is leaking fast.
Still, O my youth, dark though thy dawn may be,
My heart will ever cry, God be with thee!


 “Doctor”. Author France Prešeren (1800–1849). Original.

“Dohtar, ti jezični dohtar!
kaj postopaš ti za mano?
Ne prepiram se z nobenim,
de bi peljal mojo pravdo;
ni umrla teta moja,
teta moja, dekle staro,
de bi, dohtar! mi opravljal
po nji dédino bogato;
sem premlada, de bi pismo
ženitvanjsko se pisalo.
Dohtar, ti jezični dohtar!
kaj postopaš ti za mano?” –

“Ne zameri, ne zameri,
cvet lepote, dekle drago!
Naj tekó ti mirni dnevi,
Bog ti žívi teto staro.
Je v šestnajstem, mislim, léti
se možiti še prekmalo;
de te ljúbit ni prezgodej,
tvoji mi pogledi právjo.
V pravdah ne želi pero ti,
al srce, le zate vžgano,
ti želi v ljubezni slúžit;
brez pokoja to za tabo
vódi mi poglede, misli
in nogé z močjo neznano,
koder hodiš, cvet lepote,
žlahtna roža; dekle drago!”