These are very old ballads performed throughout the centuries all over Poland by wandering bards. The bards, now vanished, were a very controversial stratum of society. As winter began they would disappearing finding shelter in huts in a remote places. By warm fireplaces they were spinning tales heard during their travels Poland. The stories became
inspiration for their music. When spring came off the bards went on their next trek, that lasted until the fall. They lived of alms that listeners were handing out in exchange for ballads. Nineteenth century ethnographer, Oskar Kolberg wrote "Bards, keeping wake at the bodies of the deceased, treat themselves to the vodka and sing holy songs. When they are done, they make up new verses, for example with these words :
- You drunk your beer in breweries and now you lie on a bier
- You drunk your vodka with anise and now we came with a cross to get you"
Once in a while these representatives of "drunk, vain and fallen corporation" met in certain place in Poland, where something extraordinery happened ( miracle, murder or rape, committed on innocent person ) very quickly they created texts ( not rarely containing 40 stanzas ) and then they spread all over the country, heralding the "news" in a form of rhymed
verses with an accompaniment of inseparable companion - hurdy-gurdy. At present this instrument is largely associated with bards, most probably because of its great popularity among this social stratum, or else, what would be the bard's like? However, without harming the reputation of this great instrument they also performed national songs inspired by national
visionaries among the others "Wernyhora" who by his works influenced patriotic feelings. Also monks of various denominations used it in theirs liturgy including the first one in Cluny's monastery in France.
Bards in the past functioned as a mass media, spreading news, entertaining etc. That's why in new era their task came to an end, or maybe some day, as the springtime comes they will reapper on market places of the big cities, or by supermarkets?