Heart, ripped

Do you know this feeling, when a tooth aches for a such long time that you want to rip it out  of your mouth? Because you’re already OK with living without a tooth instead of enduring the pain…

I have this very feeling in the last time, and it is not a tooth but my heart I want to rip out of my chest. And this reminds me of two stories I’ve read as a child.

The first story is a legend about Danko, which is a part of Maxim Gorky’s story “Old Izergil”. The tribe Danko belonged to was forced to flee into a deep forest by their enemies. They were steppe people and cannot live in the forest, so they prepared to die. But Danko didn’t want to die without trying and promised to lead them out of the forest. It didn’t work as expected, and many had died. So, they wanted to kill him.

“…suddenly he ripped apart his chest with his hands and ripped out from it his own heart and raised it high over his head. It burned as bright as the sun, and brighter than the sun, and the entire forest became silent, lit up by this torch of the great love towards the people, and the darkness flew away from its light and there, deep in the forest, trembling, fell into the rotting maw of the swamp.
The people, amazed, stood like stones.
– Let’s go! – shouted Danko and rushed ahead to his place, holding the burning heart high and lighting the way with it for the people.”

They managed to get out of the forest, into a new a free steppe.

“…The proud and brave Danko took a look in front of him along the width of the steppe, took a happy look at the free land and proudly laughed. And then fell and died.
But the people, happy and full of hope did not notice his death and did not see that next to Danko’s body his brave heart was still burning. Only one cautious person noticed this and afraid of something, stepped on the proud heart with his foot. And falling apart into sparks it went out.”

I still remember how much I hated this cautious person as I child.

I couldn’t find the author of the second story; when researching in the Internet, sometimes it is called an Ukrainian song, sometimes a Tatar myth, and there is also a Caucasian version of it, making the story truly international in the USSR sence. The stories are slightly different, but the main canvas goes as follows.

There was a young man, who fell in love with a girl from the same villange. He loved she more than anything else, and he told her this. But the girl required his mother’s heart as a proof of his love. He couldn’t rip the heart of his own mother, so he stood at home and cried days long. His mother saw herself staying on the way of her son’s happiness. On one day, she ripped her heart out of her chest, and reached it to her son. He took the heart and run out of the house, but stumbled upon the threshold, fell on the ground and dropped the heart. “Did you hurt yourself, my son?” asked his mother’s heard worried…

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  1. I love this story about Danko. In the school I thought, it is about Dacians, because in the time of “Romanisation” many of dacians flew into the forests and mountais. But Gorkyi whrote this story while he was in Georgia, so I´m not shure now :)

  2. Yes, it has this style of historical romans, I also tempted to read it as a real legend or a story based on some historical events. And this is the genius of Gorkyi: normally you wouldn’t associate heart with something light radiating. But they way he describes it, you can almost visually see and immediately believe it.

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