All through the village, bodies have banished light. They have driven it downhill
Like hostages to piratical Adriatic galley Come to enslave them.
In the first one hundred years Dalmatian village went through three crucial periods. The first, at the end of the 19th century, was characterised by a rapid growth of viticulture followed by a great decline at the beginning of the 20th century which caused a large economic crisis, poverty and mass emigration. The second period stretches throughout the second half of the 20th century and is marked by the country’s industrialisation, the socialist concept of agricultural development and a sharp fall of agricultural population and exodus from rural areas. The characteristic of the third period is the adoption of the liberal concept of development in which family farming is predominant.
Renewal of olive cultivation has advanced considerably since the eighties initiated by the UNDP project and new vineyards are being planted. This creative boost is still present today. Each of these periods had a special influence on the development of the rural villages.
From ancient times, life in Dalmatia was sustained by fishing, olive oil production and wine making, and the sea pathways allowed for easy distribution of these products throughout Europe. Life on the Dalmatian islands today has not changed much in that regard, except for the recent boom in the tourism industry. The sea is rich in fish, and no modern technology can compare to the efficiency of classic, old-fashioned fishing methods on small wooden boats that have served the local fishermen for centuries.
The entire length of Croatia’s Adriatic coast is delineated by steep, rocky mountains that plunge into the sparkling, crystal-clear sea. The coast and the islands are carved with thousands of small bays and pebbled beaches. Small villages and towns made entirely of stone are nestled among the bays, skillfully built by stonemasons and artists.
Even poor, without modern technology, people in Dalmatian village were always blessed by joy and song.
The 18th chapter of the manuscript titled “Poverta delle Parochie Illiriche” ([The Poverty of the Illyrian/Croatian Parishes) contains a description which reads as follows, in translation:
“Although the villages are small, they have their parish priest and his subordinates, the curates and ordinary priests. On Sundays and holy days they solemnly sing the mass and the canonic hours (le ore canoniche), and on ordinary days they sing the mass on anniversaries (of deaths of members of the parish) and the requiem masses. Their singing is not accompanied by musical instruments, they do not require special training. It is comprised of certain unembellished, moving melodies which arouse religious feeling. The choir has quite a number of members as it is made up of priests, clerics, students and many other laymen for whom learning the prayers which are sung is no problem, being in their own language, nor is it difficult for them to adapt their voices to the singing which requires more piety than skill”
Perhaps, D.M.Thomas, a Cornish novelist, poet and translator gave the best description of dalmatian village in his poem describing hard life of a woman surrounded by beauty of this amazing pearl called Dalmatia.
All along the beach, bodies have banished shadows.
Mid-afternoon sun broils and burnishes
Unction of suntan lotion on sleek nude bodies
Isolated by solar worship, their hatred of darkenss.
Lazy arms of frauleins break their torpor
To unfasten a strap: God heals the thin white back-wounds
Hungrily with gold. The is is an azure-gold basilica
Mosaic. Bodies have banished shadows;
Under the devaginating sun
All is gold, gold,
Leaving only the round blacks of sunglasses
As an instalment of evening,
They have left,
Have swarmed up the crumbling steps to the fortress-village,
Like Gadarene swine,
Through cobbled streets piled with grey houses,
Where old women swollen with olives sit
Silent on doorsteps, bluck muffled from head to toe,
As they must have sat when the frauleins’ fathers
Their eyes as subtly downcast
As their house-shutters’ lattices
They keep out heat and light, harves the sparse coolness
Subtly as oriental women.
The ox roosts in coolness.
The donkey reeks out from a dark stall.
The passions of the old women are darkly, cooly-lidded.
The photos on their graves
In the cypress-secluded cemetery
Will be slender brides.
All through the village, bodies have banished light.
They have driven it downhill
Like hostages to piratical Adriatic galley
Come to enslave them.