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The New Patriotic Song Book

book, performance, workshop, concert, lecture

In Poland, women’s suffrage coincided with the nation’s independence. The celebration of independence eclipsed the fact that Poland, as one of the first countries in the world, acknowledged the political equality of its citizens regardless of their sex. These two undoubtedly important historical events do not have to compete with each other.

Singing patriotic songs is one of the most unifying and popular practices of remembering. We learn national songs as children, humming them often thoughtlessly. Rarely do we think about the meaning of the repeated lyrics: the lyrics full of stereotypes concerning sex, fascination with war and violence, and which lack the space for mourning, emotions or the ethos of work for the community.


We have decided to write (rewrite) the patriotic songs anew to enjoy independence and tradition without turning a blind eye to misogyny, militarism, class discrimination and racism. The narration of independence usually ignores the role of women, simultaneously creating the mythologised image of a male-warrior fighting for his country. The dynamics of many of these songs are based on stereotypical gender roles: we have male soldiers surrounded by females – the real ones (wives, girlfriends, mothers) and abstract fantasies: Polonia (the female personification of Poland) and war.

Nowy śpiewnik patriotyczny

We have created a songbook of the “refreshed” patriotic songs, which became more inclusive while preserving the well-known melodies. The New Patriotic Song Book comprises the original and the new song lyrics with our deconstructive comment. The song book functions as karaoke videos as well as a zine that can be freely downloaded and printed from our Facebook page. We also run workshops on critical reading and disarming patriotic texts, as well as concerts and collective singing.

In 2021, thanks to the ZAIKS Scholarship for Supporting Creativity, we published our New Patriotic Song Book enriched with notes and illustrations by Marcin Matuszewski. We also invited Pamela Bożek to the project – an artist who runs Notesy from Łuków initiative. Refugees from Łuków sewed our song books using a red thread, which added a new dimension to our project – promoting open, tolerant patriotism and redefining the understanding of nation and community.

song example playlist: Farewell My Girl (Bywaj dziewczę zdrowe) 

Orginal version:

(male voice)
Farewell, my girl, the fatherland is calling

For my country I will fight among my fellows
And though I may be chasing far the enemy
No, I won't forget how you are dear to me

What is that tear and that pounding heart for?

I owe you my love, I owe my country life
Remember you are a Pole, it’s the fight for our land
Poland’s independence, darling, is your rival

My mother is Polish, she has raised me so
Be faithful to the country, devoted to my love
And though I may die for the fatherland in need,

Pray, do not despair, girl, in Heaven we will meet

(female voice)

I feel it, I am Polish: the fatherland is calling
Pray, do not think of me, do not spare yourself
Those who let its pain and calling be ignored
Are unworthy of love and uncapable of love

Yes, you will stand up, I do not ever doubt it

I do envy you, love, that you are a man

Well, you know my soul, you do know my heart
I have to suffer, as I don't know how to fight

Dont speak about despair, it is the soul’s weakness
I am only moved by my country’s fate

Wherever we'll meet, we'll meet for sure

We'll always be the Poles, though in another world

Our version:

Farewell, my girl, the fatherland is calling
For my country I will fight among my fellows
And though I may be chasing far the enemy
No, I won't forget how you are dear to me

Eyes are full of tears, these are sad, sad times

I owe my life to you, and not to my dear land
And though I may die for my beloved Poland
you know that I would rather live our happy life

Building Poland's future with you, arm in arm
I aimed to live among the equal and the free
And if I
die for the fatherland in need,

I will suffer badly, because I love you, dear

I don't want to bury you my darling love
Pray, do not forget me and take care of yourself
Those who only blindly follow the crowd

Are unworthy of love and uncapable of love

The reason is meaningless, I do not care about it
Dying for ideas, no, I don’t envy you

Well, you know my soul, you do know my heart
Constant suffering makes me really tired

Let’s speak about despair, we need to help the soul
And free our hearts from the war’s horrors

Even if I meet you when the war is over,

Will I ever have a peaceful sleep, my lover?

Nowy spiewnik patriotyczny
Nowy spiewnik patriotyczny

From left to right: documentation of singing together during the Macierz / Matrix exhibition at the Jagiellonian University, photo: Karolina Baranowska; karaoke stills: Wojenko, wojenko (War, war) and Hej hen ułani (Hey hey uhlans); spread of the New Patriotic Songbook, graphic design by Karolina Ciepielwska; documentation of the workshops on rewriting national songs during Poprawka exhibition in Częstochowa, photo: Daria Gajewska;

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