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"Zal" the word that expresses the soul of Poland.

Every language contains untranslatable words—more than that, every nationality has them. An Englishman cannot possibly make clear to Americans that peculiar product of his own peculiar civilization to which he refers when he speaks of a "bounder." Neither can a German make clear all the good-fellowship implied in "gemüchtligheit." The Italian dolce far niente, the "sweetness of doing nothing," we have found so untranslatable that we have simply adopted it wholesale, being willing to sense its vague suggestiveness rather than to define its meaning. The same applies to the French word "début," which we have summarily captured from our Gallic friends and adopted for our own use. The Poles also have a word which defies translation. It is the Polish word zal and represents a condition of mind peculiar to fair Poland. Once, the Countess d'Agoult asked Chopin "by what name he called that which he enclosed in his compositions, like unknown ashes in superb urns of most exquisitely chiselled alabaster?"
"Conquered by the appealing tears which moistened the beautiful eyes," continues the flowery Liszt, "with a candor rare indeed in this artist, so susceptible upon all that related to the secrets of the sacred relics buried in the gorgeous shrines of his music, he replied that her heart had not deceived her in the gloom which she felt stealing upon her, for whatever might have been his transitory pleasures, he had never been free from a feeling which might almost be said to form the soil of his heart, and for which he could find no appropriate expression except in his own language, no other possessing a term equivalent to the Polish word Zal! As if his ears thirsted for the sound of this word, which expresses the whole range of emotions produced by intense regret, through all the shades of feeling, from hatred to repentance, he repeated it again and again.
"Zal! Strange substantive, embracing a strange diversity, a strange philosophy! Susceptible of different regimens, it includes all the tenderness, all the humility of a regret borne with resignation and without a murmur, while bowing before the fiat of necessity, the inscrutable decrees of Providence: but, changing its character, and assuming the regimen indirect as soon as it is addressed to man, it signifies excitement, agitation, rancor, revolt full of reproach, premeditated vengeance, menace never ceasing to threaten if retaliation should become possible, feeding itself, meanwhile with a bitter, if sterile, hatred."

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