The Project Gutenberg eBook of Servian Popular Poetry

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Title: Servian Popular Poetry

Translator: John Bowring

Compiler: Vuk Stefanović Karadžić

Release date: March 2, 2012 [eBook #39028]

Language: English

Credits: Transcribed from the 1827 Baldwin, Cradock and Joy edition by David Price


Transcribed from the 1827 Baldwin, Cradock and Joy edition by David Price, email







Serbian italic text, possibly Гошпе, братіа, да вам рцјеч Кажец!






p. iiLONDON:

p. iiiTO

My friend! it is thou, it is thou
   Who hast usher’d these gems into day;
’Tis my pride and my privilege now
   To honour—I fain would repay
Thy toils, and would bind round thy brow
   The laurels that grow o’er thy lay.

We knew that the sun-light shone fair
   On thy Servia;—we knew ’twas a clime
Of mountains and streams, where the air
   Was fragrant,—though history and time
p. ivHad rear’d not their pyramids there:
   But we knew not the spirit sublime

Of music, and pathos, and song,
   Look’d down from the towers of Belgrad,
Had dwelt in the Mōrava long,
In the garb of Trebunia was clad;
   We welcome thee now to the throng
Of our muses, rejoicing and glad.

Unborrow’d the light thou hast shed,
   Though mild as the light of the moon:
Thy flowers, from thine own native bed,
   Thou hast gather’d and given: Not soon
Shall they fade; and thy music shall spread,
   And voices unnumber’d attune.

My song will but fall on thine ear,
   As a voice that appeals to the grave:
p. vIn vain I invite thee to hear:
   Go, happy enthusiast! and save
From time’s storm the memorials so dear,
   Which had else been o’erwhelm’d in its wave.

Thy tenement is but of clay;
   Thou art frailer than most of us be:
Yet a sunshine has lighted thy way,
   Whose effluence is sunshine to me:—
And ’tis sweet o’er thy Servia to stray,
   And to listen, pale minstrel! to thee.


In the middle of the seventh century, a number of Slavonian tribes stretched themselves along the Sava and the Danube, down to the Black Sea, and founded, at different times, no less than six separate kingdoms, those of Bulgaria, Croatia, Servia, Bosnia, Slavonia, and Dalmatia; under the name Srb, the four last of these nations must be considered as comprised.  p. viiiTheir earlier history it is not easy to trace.  Slavonian writers are disposed to represent the Maestidæ, who made an incursion into Italy during the age of Claudius Tacitus (A.D. 276), as synonymous with the Sarmatæ; and Kopitar (a high authority) has gathered much evidence to prove that the dialect spoken in the district to the east of Sparta is of Slavonic origin.  Leake has remarked, that many of the names of places in the Morea are Slavonian,—Kastanika, Sitina, Gorica, and others.  In the neighbourhood of Sparta is a town called Σηλαφοχωρὶ, and it is notorious, that the language of several of the islands of the Grecian Archipelago, Hydra for example, is Slavonic.  The original meaning of the word Srb, it is not p. ixeasy to fix.  Some derive it from Srp, a sickle, others from Sibir, Sever, the north; others from Sarmat, or Sarmatian; some from the Latin Servus; but Dobrowsky says, “Significatum radicis Srb, consultis etiam dialectis omnibus, nondum licuit eruere.” [0a]  In the year 640, the Servians built, with the permission of Heraclius, the city of Servica, on the banks of the Danube.  Little can be traced of their history till, under Vlastimir, at the end of the ninth century, they were the tributaries of the Greeks.  At this period, they appear to have been engaged in wars with the Bulgarians, whom they subdued.  At the beginning p. xof the 11th century, Vladimir assumed the title of king of Servia.  Afterwards, during the reign of Tzedomil, the Servians acknowledged the Roman authority, and leagued themselves with its emperors against Comnenus the Grecian monarch, in consequence of which Comnenus marched upon Servia (in 1151), subdued its inhabitants, and led their leader Tzedomil into captivity.  The submission of the latter obtained his release; but the Servians, impatient of foreign control, made another attempt to free themselves, but were defeated on the banks of the Morava, by Isaac Angelos, in 1192, when Stephen Nemana was proclaimed monarch, with the title of Despot.  His successor, Stephen p. xiNemanich, was driven from his throne by the Hungarians, and his brother Vuk Nemanich was proclaimed king or Kral of Servia, under Hungarian authority.  He reigned for a very short period, and the regal power again reverted to Stephen.  At this period, however, separate from, and almost independent of monarchical authority, a number of dukes, princes, and Bans, exercised a sway in Servia; Bosnia, then called Rama, South Bosnia or Herzegovina, and Rascia, that part of southern Servia, through which the river Raska flows, were frequently detached from, and as frequently re-united to Servia proper.  Milutin Urosh, who reigned from 1275 to 1321, was subdued p. xiiby Charles the First of Hungaria.  Soon after arose the monarch who is one of the most illustrious names in Servian song and Servian story, Dushan Silni (Dushan the mighty), who carried on several successful campaigns against the Greeks, and recovered many of the lost provinces of his country.  He took the title of Tzar, [0b] and was succeeded by that ill-fated Lazar, whose defeat by the sultan Murad (Amurath), on the field of Kosova (June 15, 1389), is the subject of so many of the melancholy ballads of the Servians.  Murad was stabbed by the Servian Molosh p. xiiiObilich, and Lazar was executed in the Mussulmans’ camp.  Murad’s brother (Bajazet), divided Servia between the two sons of Lazar, who did homage and paid heavy tribute.  Since then, no dawn of liberty has shone upon Servia.  Reduced to be the bloody theatre of the fierce wars which have been carried on between the Turks and Hungarians, every struggle for freedom—each feebler than the former one, has only served to deteriorate her condition, and to destroy her hopes.  In 1459, Servia was treated solely as a conquered province,—her most respectable families banished or destroyed, while, from time to time, vast numbers of Servians emigrated into Hungary.  In 1481, prince p. xivPavo Brankovich made an irruption into Servia, and after defeating the Turks in several battles, headed 50,000 Servians, who fixed themselves as colonists under the protection of Hungary.  In 1689, many thousand Servians flocked to the army of Leopold the First.  The following year, the patriarch Tzernovich led into Sirmia and Slavonia nearly sixty thousand Servian families.  By the treaty of Passarovich, in 1718, the greater part of Servia was transferred to the Austrians.  It reverted back to the Porte in 1739.  In 1759, a vast number of Servians emigrated into Russia, and peopled Newservia, but they have since been completely blended with the Russians, whose language they soon adopted.  At p. xvthe beginning of the present century, Servia was again released from the Turkish sway, and under the auspices of the Austrian emperor, is now governed by a Knes, or prince, whose name is Milosh Obrenowich. [0c]


p. xviThere are four provinces or governments (Sandshaks), Semendria, Perserin, Veltshterin, and Aladshahissar, consisting of nearly a million of Servians, subjected to Turkish authority.  The greater part of these are Christians of the Greek Church.  The number of Servians who recognise the Greek Church is estimated by Schaffarik at 2,526,000. [0d]


The various idioms of the Slavonian language may, without exception, be traced up to one single stem, the old or church p. xviiSlavonic.  From this one source, two great streams flow forth; the northern, comprehending the Bohemian, Polish, and Russian; and the southern, composed of the Hungarian, Bulgarian, and Servian tongues.  The latter branches were much less extensively employed than the former.  About a million and a half of men speak the Hungarian; not more than half a million the Bulgarian, which in Macedonia has been superseded by the Romaic, the Albanian, and the Turkish; while the Servian idiom, the most cultivated, the most interesting, and the most widely spread of all the southern Slavonian dialects, is the language of about five millions, p. xviiiof whom about two millions are Mahommedans. [0e]


The vicinity of Greece and Italy modified and mellowed the language of Servia, which is, in fact, the Russian hellenized, deprived of its hardiness and its consonant terminations, and softened down into a perfect instrument for poetry and music. [0f]  Of the descendants from the ancient Slavonic, it is more closely allied to the Russian and p. xixWindish idioms, than to the Bohemian or Polish.  Vuk Karadjich divides it into three distinct dialects, the Herzegovinian, or that spoken in Bosnia, Montenegro, Dalmatia, and Croatia; the Sirmian, which is used in Sirmia and Slavonian and the Resavian.  No doubt the Servian language has been considerably influenced by the Turkish, but though it has been enriched by oriental words, it has not adopted an oriental construction.  Schaffarik, in describing the different Slavonic tongues, says, fancifully but truly, that “Servian song resembles the tune of the violin; Old Slavonian, that of the organ; Polish, that of the guitar.  The Old Slavonian in its psalms, sounds like the loud rush of the p. xxmountain stream; the Polish, like the bubbling and sparkling of a fountain; and the Servian like the quiet murmuring of a streamlet in the valley.”


The Servian alphabet consists of only twenty-eight letters, which is twenty less than the old Slavonic, and seven less than the Russian.  The letters Ъ (dj), Ђ (tj), and Џ the soft g of the Italians, are unknown to the Russians, and the Servians have added two letters to their alphabet, by combining the Ь of the Russians with А and Н, making Љ and Њ, which are equivalent to the Italian gl and gn, the Spanish ll and ñ, and the Portuguese lh and nh.  They have wholly dismissed p. xxithe Б, which so constantly and so uselessly occurs in the church Slavonic and Russian.

No traces of Servian literature go beyond the thirteenth century. [0g]  The Hexaemeron of Basil, the Bulgarian exarch, written in 1263, and the Epistle of Damian, in 1324, are both in the old church Slavonian tongue.  The first Servian literary record is the Rodoslov of Daniel, archbishop of Servia, which is a chronicle of the four kings who were his contemporaries (from 1272 to 1336), beginning with Urosh.  This book is a valuable register of the laws enacted during his life, and throws much light on early Servian history.  An almanack, entitled Ljetopis, of this period, also exists; and of a somewhat later period, the Tzarostavnik, or Register of Princes, by an unknown author.  Dushan, with whose name the Servians associate all that is glorious, caused a book of laws to be written for the use of his kingdom, which breathe a milder and kinder spirit than would be p. xxiiiexpected in an age and among a people so little instructed.  They contain some remarkable provisions in favour of travellers and strangers; and not only compel hospitality, but protect property, by making the host responsible for its security.  The battle of Kosova introduced a long night of darkness and desolation into Servia; and though a few religious books were published soon after the invention of printing, no one work of the slightest interest appeared till the end of the 17th century, when George Brankovich, [0h] the p. xxivlast of the Servian despots, wrote a history of Servia, bringing it down to the time of Leopold the First.  In 1758, Demetrius Theodosijev established a Servian press.  In 1796, the Austrian government granted a monopoly of all Servian literature to the university of Ofen, by suppressing all printing-presses elsewhere.


p. xxvThough it is not my intention to write a general history of the literature of Servia, in introducing one interesting branch of it to the English reader, I cannot but slightly refer to the essential services it has received from a few distinguished writers.


John Raich was born in Karlovitz in 1726, and died in 1801.  He received his elementary education from the Jesuits in Komorn, removed to the evangelical school at Oedenburg, and completed his studies at Kiev.  He afterwards visited the famous convent of Chilendar (on Mount Athos), which was built and endowed by Shupan Nemana, who died there as a monk, having taken the name of Simeon.  p. xxviRaich was ultimately chosen archimandrite of the convent of Kovil, in Chaskisten bataillon.  His principal work, printed at Vienna (1792–5), is his history of the Slavonian people. [0i]  He also wrote a history of Servia, Rasza, Bosnia, and Rama (Vienna, 1793); a tragedy on the death of the Tzar Urosh (Ofen, 1798); and many theological treatises.  He uses the church Slavonian dialect, but his style is full of Servian and Russian phraseology, which he perhaps adopted as likely to recommend his productions.


p. xxviiDosithei Obradovich, who was born in 1739, and died in 1811, was the first who ventured to apply the popular language to the purposes of literature.  His birth-place was Chakovo in the Banat of Temeshvar, and at the age of fourteen he became a monk in the Opovo convent.  Here he was too restless to remain, and having determined to see foreign countries, he travelled for a quarter of a century, and visited Greece, Albania, Italy, Turkey, Russia, Germany, France, and England.  The love of home had mastered the desire of change, and he returned to Servia, when he was made a senator at Belgrad, and appointed to superintend the education of the children of Tzerny George.  He published p. xxviiiat Leipzig, in 1783, an auto-biography, entitled “Tzivot i prikliuchenjia D. Obranovicza,” besides sundry poems and fables, and moral treatises.


Demetrius Davidovich has greatly assisted in elevating the language of the Servian people to the best purposes of literary instruction.  He is (I believe at this time) the secretary to Milosh, the hospodar of Servia.  For many years he edited a Servian newspaper at Vienna, and has annually published a Servian almanack (Zabavnik), in which are many interesting particulars respecting the literary and political history of his country.  The indisposition on the part of the superintendents of schools in p. xxixServia, to employ the popular tongue as the instrument of education, has been long the ban of civilization, and the barrier to national improvement.  But of late the influence of those who have endeavoured to make literature subserve the interests and the happiness of the many rather than the few, has led to the dismissal of Slavonian, and the substitution of Servian books.  A controversy, with much controversial bitterness, is at the present moment carried on in Servia (where, as elsewhere, to be dignified is by some thought better than to be useful, and to please a few pedants is deemed more worthy of ambition than to instruct a whole people), between the advocates of the antiquated Slavonic, and p. xxxthose whose simple and intelligible maxim is, “write as you speak, if you would be understood;” and of the latter every year adds greatly to the numbers.


But of all the writers of Servia, he from whom the volumes emanate whence these translations are taken, is beyond comparison the most attractive and the most popular.


Stephanovich Karadjich Vuk was born on the 26th October, O. S., in the year 1787, at Trshich, an obscure village in Turkish Servia (Iadar), near the town of Losnitza and the river Drina, at a short distance from the Austrian and Hungarian p. xxxifrontier, where, however, the Servian language is spoken with far more purity than in the larger towns.  In his early youth he passed the borders, and received his education at the Gymnasium of the dissidents from the Greek church at Karlovitz.  There his school instruction began and ended; but having visited Vienna, intercourse there with intelligent and instructed men led to the development of the natural powers of his mind, and directed his inquiries to the hidden stores of popular literature which his country possessed.  A feeble and crippled frame unfitted him for bodily labour, and all his thoughts and all his ardour attached themselves to intellectual exertions.  He began his literary p. xxxiicareer at Vienna, and published in 1814 his Servian Grammar, and a century of Servian songs; but the embarrassments of the censorship induced him to seek a freer field for the publication of his works, and he removed to Leipzig, where the edition, in three volumes, of his popular Servian poetry, appeared in 1823–4.  He soon obtained high reputation there, and received the diploma of doctor in philosophy, and was elected to many literary distinctions.  The emperor Nicholas, in that spirit so honourable to many of the autocrats of Russia, has conferred on him a yearly pension of 100 ducats; and he now pursues his interesting inquiries, and from time to time exerts that creating and regenerating p. xxxiiipower which has called the poetry of Servia into existence, and established for it a permanent reputation. [0j]


The Servians must be reckoned among those races who vibrated between the north and the east; possessing to-day, dispossessed to-morrow; now fixed, and now p. xxxivwandering: having their head-quarters in Sarmatia for many generations, in Macedonia for following ones, and settling in Servia at last.  But to trace their history, as to trace their course, is impossible.  At last the eye fixes them between the Sava and the Danube, and Belgrade grows up as the central point round which the power of Servia gathers itself together, and stretches itself along the right bank of the former river, southwards to the range of mountains which spread to the Adriatic and to the verge of Montengro.  Looking yet closer, we observe the influence of the Venetians and the Hungarians on the character and the literature of the Servians.  We track their connexion now as allies, and p. xxxvnow as masters; once the receivers of tribute from, and anon as tributaries to, the Grecian empire; and in more modern times the slaves of the Turkish yoke.  Every species of vicissitude marks the Servian annals,—annals represented only by those poetical productions of which these are specimens.  The question of their veracity is a far more interesting one than that of their antiquity.  Few of them narrate events previous to the invasion of Europe by the Turks in 1355, but some refer to facts coeval with the Mussulman empire in Adrianople.  More numerous are the records of the struggle between the Moslem and the Christian parties at a later period; and last of all, they represent the quiet and friendly intercourse p. xxxvibetween the two religions, if not blended in social affections, at least associated in constant communion. [0k]


The earliest poetry of the Servians has a heathenish character; [0l] that which follows is leagued with Christian legends.  But holy deeds are always made the condition of salvation.  The whole nation, to use the p. xxxviiidea of Göthe, is imaged in poetical superstition.  Events are brought about by the agency of angels, but the footsteps of Satan can be nowhere traced;—the dead are often summoned from their tombs;—awful warnings, prophecies, and birds of evil omen, bear terror to the minds of the most courageous.


Over all is spread the influence of a remarkable and, no doubt, antique mythology.  An omnipresent spirit—airy and fanciful—making its dwelling in solitudes—and ruling over mountains and forests—a being called the Vila, is heard to issue its irresistible mandates, and pour forth its prophetic inspiration: sometimes in a p. xxxviiiform of female beauty—sometimes a wilder Diana—now a goddess gathering or dispersing the clouds, and now an owl among ruins and ivy.  The Vila, always capricious, and frequently malevolent, is a most important actor in all the popular poetry of Servia.  The Trica polonica is sacred to her.  She is equally renowned for the beauty of her person and the swiftness of her step:—“Fair as the mountain Vila,” is the highest compliment to a Servian lady—“Swift as the Vila,” is the most eloquent eulogium on a Servian steed.


Of the amatory poems of the Servians, Göthe justly remarks, that, when viewed all together, they cannot but be deemed of p. xxxixsingular beauty; they exhibit the expressions of passionate, overflowing, and contented affection; they are full of shrewdness and spirit; delight and surprise are admirably pourtrayed; and there is, in all, a marvellous sagacity in subduing difficulties and in obtaining an end; a natural, but at the same time vigorous and energetic tone; sympathies and sensibilities, without wordy exaggeration, but which, notwithstanding, are decorated with poetical imagery and imaginative beauty; a correct picture of Servian life and manners,—everything, in short, which gives to passion the force of truth, and to external scenery the character of reality.


p. xlThe poetry of Servia was wholly traditional, until within a very few years.  It had never found a pen to record it, but has been preserved by the people, and principally by those of the lower classes, who had been accustomed to listen and to sing these interesting compositions to the sound of a simple three-stringed instrument, called a Gusle; and it is mentioned by Göthe, that when some Servians who had visited Vienna were requested to write down the songs they had sung, they expressed the greatest surprise that such simple poetry and music as theirs should possess any interest for intelligent and cultivated minds.  They apprehended, they said, that the p. xliartless compositions of their country would be the subject of scorn or ridicule to those whose poetry was so polished and so sublime.  And this feeling must have been ministered to by the employment, even in Servia, of a language no longer spoken, for the productions of literature, though it is certain the natural affections, the everyday thoughts and associations could not find fit expression in the old church dialect:

            “The talk
Man holds with week-day man in the hourly walk
Of the mind’s business, is the undoubted stalk
True song” doth grow on.”

The collection of popular songs, Narodne p. xliisrpske pjesme, from which most of those which occupy this volume are taken, was made by Vuk, and committed to paper either from early recollections, or from the repetition of Servian minstrels.  These, he informs us, and his statement is corroborated by every intelligent traveller, form a very small portion of the treasure of song which exists unrecorded among the peasantry.  How so much of beautiful anonymous poetry should have been created in so perfect a form, is a subject well worthy of inquiry.  Among a people who look to music and song as a source of enjoyment, the habit of improvisation grows up imperceptibly, and engages all the fertilities of imagination in its exercise.  The thought p. xliiiwhich first finds vent in a poetical form, if worth preservation, is polished and perfected as it passes from lip to lip, till it receives the stamp of popular approval, and becomes as it were a national possession.  There is no text-book, no authentic record, to which it can be referred, whose authority should interfere with its improvement.  The poetry of a people is a common inheritance, which one generation transfers sanctioned and amended to another.  Political adversity, too, strengthens the attachment of a nation to the records of its ancient prosperous days.  The harps may be hung on the willows for a while, during the storm and the struggle, but when the tumult is over, they will be strung again to p. xlivrepeat the old songs, and recall the time gone by.


The historical ballads, which are in lines composed of five trochaics, are always sung with the accompaniment of the Gusle.  At the end of every verse, the singer drops his voice, and mutters a short cadence.  The emphatic passages are chanted in a louder tone.  “I cannot describe,” says Wessely, “the pathos with which these songs are sometimes sung.  I have witnessed crowds surrounding a blind old singer, and every cheek was wet with tears—it was not the music, it was the words which affected them.”  As this simple instrument, the Gusle, is never used but to accompany the p. xlvpoetry of the Servians, and as it is difficult to find a Servian who does not play upon it, the universality of their popular ballads may be well imagined.


Independently of the measure of ten syllables, universally used in the ballads of the Servians, they have verses of seven syllables, consisting of two trochaics and one dactyl:

Wĭlt thoŭ lōve thy̆ Mīlĭtză?

Of eight syllables, consisting of four trochaics: as,

Hāstăn ōnwărd tō thě wēddĭng.

And of one trochaic between two dactyls:

Mērrĭly̆, dāncĭng, mērrĭly̆.

p. xlviOf ten syllables, two trochaics and two dactyls:

Mōrăvă’s bānks ăre trōd by̆ thě māidĕn.

Of twelve syllables, composed of two trochaics and one iambic:

Gō thěn, Kūm, thŏu lōv’d ŏne, wāits shě fŏr thēe.

And of thirteen syllables, namely, four trochaics, a dactyl, and a closing trochaic:

Lōok ăroūnd, thŏu lōvěly Crētă, smīlĭngly lŏok rōund.

The translations which have appeared in Germany under the name of Talvj are the work of an amiable woman (Theresa von Jacob), who having passed the earlier part of her life in Russia, and possessing a mind cultivated by literature, and captivated by the natural beauties of Servian p. xlviipoetry, has most successfully devoted herself to their diffusion.


Professor Eugenius Wessely, of Vinkovcze in Slavonia, has also published a small volume of Translations from the Nuptial Songs of the Servians; [0m] the renderings have the merit of perfect fidelity, and his introduction contains many interesting illustrations of Servian manners.


In the following translations I have, in all the narrative poetry, preserved the original measure.  Rhyme is seldom used by the Servians.  It is found in some of the p. xlviiishorter lyrical pieces, in the rendering of which I have allowed myself some latitude of expression.  But the wish, above all things, to preserve most faithfully the character of the original, has prevented my introducing many very obvious decorations, and my veiling many equally obvious defects.  To fidelity, at least, this volume may lay an honest claim.  I have endeavoured to avail myself of all the authors who have written on the subject, particularly of the valuable criticisms of Dr. Kopitar in the Vienna Iahrbuch der Litteratur, of the works of Göthe, Grimm, and Vater.  The notes attached to Talvj’s translation I have employed, without any special reference to them.



Golden wine drinks Theodore of Stalach, [3]
In his Castle Stalach, on Morava;
Pours him out the wine his aged mother.
While the wine-fumes to his head were rising,
Thus his mother spoke unto the hero:

   “Son of mine! thou Theodore of Stalach!
Tell me, wherefore hast thou not espoused thee?
Thou art in thy youthful days of beauty;
In thy dwelling now thine aged mother
Fain would see thy children play around her.”

p. 4And he answer’d—Theodore of Stalach—
“God is witness, O my aged mother!
I have roamed through many a land and city,
But I never found the sought-for maiden;
Or, when found the maiden, found I never
Friendly feelings in thy mind towards her;
And where thou hast shown thy friendly feeling,
There I found the maiden false and faithless.
But, as yesterday, at hour of sunset,
I was wandering near Resava’s river,
Lo! I glanced on thirty lovely maidens
On its banks their yarn and linen bleaching:
’Midst them was the beauteous Iconia,
Fairest daughter of the Prince Milutin,
He the princely sovereign of Resava.
She, indeed, would be a bride to cherish;
She, indeed, were worthy of thy friendship:
But that maiden is betrothed already;
She is promised unto George Irēnē—
To Irene, for Sredoi, his kinsman.
But I’ll win that maiden—I will win her,
Or will perish in the deed, my mother!”

p. 5But his mother counsell’d him and warn’d him—
“Say not so, my son! the maid is promised;
’Tis no jest! she is of monarchs’ kindred.”

But the hero cared not for his mother:
Loud he called to Dōbrivi, his servant—
“Dobrivi! come hither, trusty servant!
Bring my brown steed forth, and make him ready—
Make him ready with the silver saddle;
Rein him with the gold-embroider’d bridle.”
When the steed was ready, forth he hasten’d,
Flung him on his back, and spurr’d him onward
To the gentle river of Morava,
Flowing through Resava’s quiet levels.

And he reach’d Resava’s gentle river:
There again he saw the thirty maidens—
There he saw the beauteous Iconia.
Then the hero feign’d a sudden sickness;
Ask’d for help; and sped her courteous greeting—
“God above be with thee, lovely maiden!”
p. 6And the loveliest to his words made answer,
“And with thee be bliss, thou stranger-warrior!”

“Lovely maiden! for the love of heaven,
Wilt thou give one cup of cooling water?
For a fiery fever glows within me;
From my steed I dare not rise, fair maiden!
For my steed, he hath a trick of evil—
Twice he will not let his rider mount him.”

Warm and earnest was the maiden’s pity,
And, with gentle voice, she thus address’d him:
“Nay! not so—not so, thou unknown warrior!
Harsh and heavy is Resava’s water;
Harsh and heavy e’en for healthful warriors;
How much worse for fever-sickening tired ones!
Wait, and I a cup of wine will bring thee.”

Swiftly tripp’d the maiden to her dwelling;
With a golden cup of wine return’d she,
Which she reach’d to Theodore of Stalach.
p. 7Out he stretch’d his hand; but not the wine cup,
But the maiden’s hand, he seized, and flung her,
Flung her on his chesnut steed behind him;
Thrice he girt her with his leathern girdle,
And the fourth time with his sword-belt bound her;
And he bore her to his own white [7] dwelling.


Near each other grew two verdant larches,
And, between, a high and slender fir-tree:
Not two larches were they—not two larches,
Not a high and slender fir between them—
They were brothers, children of one mother.
One was Paul; the other brother, Radul.
And, between them, Jēlitza, their sister.
Cordial was the love her brothers bore her;
Many a token of affection gave her,
Many a splendid gift and many a trifle,
And at last a knife, in silver hafted,
And adorn’d with gold, they gave their sister.

When the youthful wife of Paul had heard it,
Jealousy swell’d up within her bosom:
p. 9And she call’d, enraged, to Radul’s lady:
“Sister mine! thou in the Lord my sister, [9]
Dost thou know some plant of demon-virtue,
Which may bring our sister to perdition?”
Radul’s wife her sister swiftly answered—
“In the name of God, what mean’st thou sister?
Of such cursed weeds I know not.—Did I,
Never would I tell thee of them, never;
For my brothers love me; yes! they love me—
To their love full many a gift bears witness.”

When Paul’s youthful wife had heard her sister,
To the steed she hastened in the meadow,
Gave the steed a mortal wound, and hurried
To her husband, whom she thus accosted:—
“Evil is the love thou bear’st thy sister,
And thy gifts are worse than wasted to her;
She has stabb’d thy courser in the meadow.”

p. 10Paul inquired of Jelitza, his sister,
“Why this deed, as God shall recompense thee!”

High and loudly then the maid protested,
“By my life, it was not I, my brother;
By my life, and by thy life, I swear it!”
And the brother doubted not his sister.
Which when Paul’s young wife perceived, at even
To the garden secretly she hasten’d,
Wrung the neck of Paul’s grey noble falcon,—
To her husband sped she then and told him:
“Evil is the love thou bear’st thy sister,
And thy gifts to her are worse than wasted;
Lo! she has destroy’d thy favourite falcon.”

Paul inquired of Jelitza his sister,
“Tell me why, and so may God reward thee!”

But his sister swore both high and loudly,
“’Twas not I, upon my life, my brother;
On my life and thine, I did not do it!”
And the brother still believed his sister.
p. 11When the youthful bride of Paul discover’d
This, she slunk at evening,—evening’s meal-time,
Stole the golden knife, and with it murder’d,
Murder’d her poor infant in the cradle!
And when morning’s dawning brought the morning,
She aroused her husband by her screaming
Shrieking woe; she tore her cheeks, exclaiming:
“Evil is the love thou bear’st thy sister,
And thy gifts to her are worse than wasted;
She has stabb’d our infant in the cradle!
Will thine incredulity now doubt me?
Lo! the knife is in thy sister’s girdle.”

Up sprang Paul, like one possess’d by madness;
To the upper floor he hasten’d wildly;
There his sister on her mats was sleeping,
And the golden knife beneath her pillow.
Swift he seized the golden knife,—and drew it—
Drew it, panting, from its silver scabbard;—
It was damp with blood—’twas red and gory!

When the noble Paul saw this, he seized her,—
p. 12Seized her by her own white hand, and cursed her:
“Let the curse of God be on thee, sister!
Thou didst murder, too, my favourite courser;
Thou didst murder, too, my noble falcon;
But thou should’st have spared the helpless baby.”

Higher yet his sister swore, and louder—
“’Twas not I, upon my life, my brother;
On my life, and on thy life, I swear it!
But if thou wilt disregard my swearing,
Take me to the open fields—the desert;
Bind thy sister to the tails of horses;
Let four horses tear my limbs asunder.”
But the brother trusted not his sister:
Furiously he seized her white hand—bore her
To the distant fields—the open desert:
To the tails of four fierce steeds he bound her,
And he drove them forth across the desert;—
But, where’er a drop of blood fell from her,
There a flower sprung up,—a fragrant flow’ret;
Where her body fell when dead and mangled,
There a church arose from out the desert.

p. 13Little time was spent, ere fatal sickness
Fell upon Paul’s youthful wife;—the sickness
Nine long years lay on her,—heavy sickness!
’Midst her bones the matted dog-grass sprouted,
And amidst it nestled angry serpents,
Which, though hidden, drank her eyelight’s brightness.
Then she mourn’d her misery—mourn’d despairing;
Thus she spoke unto her lord and husband:
“O convey me, Paul, my lord and husband!
To thy sister’s church convey me swiftly;
For that church, perchance, may heal and save me.”

So, when Paul had heard his wife’s petition,
To his sister’s church he swiftly bore her.
Hardly had they reach’d the church’s portal,
When a most mysterious voice address’d them:
“Come not here, young woman! come not hither!
For this church can neither heal nor save thee.”
Bitter was her anguish when she heard it;
And her lord the woman thus entreated:
p. 14“In the name of God! my lord! my husband!
Never, never bear me to our dwelling.
Bind me to the wild steeds’ tails, and drive them;
Drive them to the immeasurable desert;
Let them tear my wretched limbs asunder.”

Paul then listened to his wife’s entreaties:
To the tails of four wild steeds he bound her;
Drove them forth across the mighty desert.
Wheresoe’er a drop of blood fell from her,
There sprang up the rankest thorns and nettles.
Where her body fell, when dead, the waters
Rush’d and form’d a lake both still and stagnant.
O’er the lake there swam a small black courser:
By his side a golden cradle floated:
On the cradle sat a young grey falcon:
In the cradle, slumbering, lay an infant:
On its throat the white hand of its mother:
And that hand a golden knife was holding.


Two young boys a happy mother nurtured;
Nurtured them through years of dearth and sorrow;
Ever toiling at her restless spindle.
Sweetest names she gave her hopeful children;
One was named Predrāg, [15a]—Nenād [15b] the other.
When Predrag could spring upon his courser,
Rein his courser, and his weapon brandish,
Lo! he left his home and aged mother,
To the mountain fled, and join’d the bandits:
And Nenad alone was left to cheer her.
Of his brother’s fate he nothing guess’d at;
But, as soon as he could mount his courser,
Rein his courser, and his weapon brandish,
p. 16He too left his home, and aged mother,
To the mountains fled, and join’d the bandits.

Three long years he dwelt among the bandits:
He was full of wisdom and discretion;
And in every fray him fortune favour’d:
He became the leader of the bandits.
Full three years he bore him as their leader;
Then did mother-longings move his spirit,
And he thus address’d his fellow-robbers:

“Comrades mine! mine own beloved comrades!
I have heartfelt longings for my mother.
Let us, comrades! now divide our treasures,
And let each go home and seek his mother.”
Willingly they listened to his counsel;
And, as each received his destined portion,
Many a loud oath swore they in their gladness:
By their brothers swore they, and their sisters.
And Nenad, their leader, piled his treasure,
And again address’d his fellow-robbers:

p. 17“Comrades mine! mine own beloved comrades!
I no brother have—no sister have I;
But I swear by the eternal heaven,
Be my right hand smitten by the palsy,
Let my good steed’s mane be shrunk and shrivell’d,
My sharp sabre rust within its scabbard,
If I add one para to my treasure!”

So the robbers all their gold partition’d.
Sprung Nenad upon his own good courser,
And he hasten’d to his aged mother.

Cordial was the greeting, great the gladness;
Hospitality made cheerful welcome:
And, while seated at the feast together,
Nenad whisper’d to his aged mother:
“Mother mine! thou venerable woman!
If it be no shame before the people,
If it be no sin in God’s high presence,
I will ask one question, O my mother!
Tell me why thou gav’st me not a brother?
Tell me why I had no little sister?
When we each received our treasure-portion,
p. 18Each in earnest and in eager language
By his brother swore, or by his sister;
I could only swear by my good weapon,
By myself, and by the steed I mounted.”

Then his mother laugh’d, and laughing answer’d,
“Thou, my son, dost talk a little wildly;
For, indeed, a brother have I given thee;
Long before thy birth Predrag had being:
Only yesterday the sad news reach’d me,
That he is become a highway robber,
In the verdant forest Garevitza,
Where he is the leader of the bandits.”
Then Nenad his mother answer’d quickly,
“Mother dear!  O thou most honour’d woman!
Now thou must another dress prepare me,
Skirted-short, and forest-green the colour,
That the forest trees I may resemble.
I will go, and I will see my brother,
So my inner longings may be silenced.”

Then his aged mother made him answer:
p. 19“Play not, son Nenad, with words so idle;
So thou wilt be sacrificed.”—But, reckless,
Little cared Nenad for mother-counsels;
But he did whate’er his spirit prompted.
He was clad in new short-skirted vestment
Of green cloth, the green that dyes the forests;
So a forest tree Nenad resembled.
Then he sprung upon his faithful courser;
On they sped, to seek his distant brother,
And to still his spirit’s inward longings.

And he spoke not—no! his lips were silent;
Spoke not to his steed, nor to his falcon.
When he reach’d the forest Garevitza,
Loud he cried, as cries the grizzled falcon,
“Garevitza! verdant mountain forest!
Dost thou then possess a youthful hero?
Dost thou hide Predrag, my only brother?
Are there other heroes in thy thickets?
Are there fellow-comrades of my brother?”
Near at hand, beneath a shading fir-tree,
Sat Predrag, the golden wine enjoying.

p. 20When he heard that voice within the forest,
Thus he call’d upon his bandit-comrades:
“Now, ye comrades mine! beloved brothers!
Hide ye in your ambuscades, and listen
To that voice,—the voice of unknown warrior;
Smite him not; but take his treasures from him,
And then bring him to your chief in safety.
Woe to him who does not thus obey me!”

So they issued forth, just thirty bandits,
In three companies; in each ten bandits:—
By the first ten, lo! he pass’d unheeded;
No one moved to interrupt his progress;
No one bade him halt, or bade his courser:
Each one bent his bow and held his arrow;
And Nenad, with courtesy address’d them:
“Draw not! draw not! brothers of the forest!
God preserve you from the impassion’d longing
That impels me now to seek my brother
O’er the weary world, a tired one, wandering.”
So in peace and undisturb’d he passes;
To the next embattled ten advances.
p. 21All their bows are bent, their arrows ready;
And Nenad thus speaks, and passes forward:
“Draw not! draw not! brothers of the forest!
God preserve you from the impassion’d longing
That impels me now to seek my brother
O’er the weary world, a tired one, wandering.”
So in peace and undisturb’d he passes;
To the next embattled ten advances,
With their bows all bent, their arrows ready.
Then impatient rage the youth possesses,
And he rushes on the thirty heroes.
Ten his trusty sabre soon has vanquish’d,
Ten his steed into the dust has trampled,
And the third ten drives he to the forest,
To the forest by the frigid water.
Then Predrag, the bandit chieftain, heard it.
“Help us, now, Predrag! our valiant leader!
For there is a brave and unknown warrior:
He has overwhelm’d thy valiant comrades.”
Swiftly sprung Predrag upon his feet, and
Seized his bow, and seized his arrows swiftly;
To the ambuscade he straightway hastens:
p. 22Draws his arrow,—makes his bow-string ready:—
Oh! sad destiny! ill-fated arrow!
Wing’d by fate, the hero’s heart it pierces!
Like a falcon springs Nenad, loud screaming.
Loudly scream’d he to his starting courser:
“Woe! woe! woe! thou hero of the forest!
Brother! brother! woe! the Lord will smite thee!
Thy right hand shall be struck dead with palsy;
That right hand which sped the arrow forward!
Thy right eye shall leap forth from thy forehead;
That right eye which saw my heart blood sprinkled!
Let the impassion’d longings for a brother
Trouble thee as they a brother troubled!
O’er the weary world, a lone one, wandering,
Now has stumbled on his own perdition!”

When Predrag had heard these words unwonted,
Lo! he sprung up from the pine, inquiring,
“Who art thou, and who thy fathers, hero?”
Then the wounded youth thus feebly answer’d:
“Ask’st thou who I am, and who my fathers?
Wilt thou own me? wilt thou claim my kindred?
p. 23I am young Nenad—a hapless hero!
I had once one venerable mother,
And one brother, too, Predrag—one brother:
He my elder and my only brother,
Whom to seek through all the world I wander
Forth, to still my soul’s impassion’d longings;
But to-day ’tis ended—and I perish!”

When Predrag thus heard his brother’s language,
Misery-stricken pull’d he forth the arrow;
Bent him o’er the young and wounded hero;
Took him from his horse, and gently seated
Nenad on the grass:—“And is it, brother!
Is it thou, indeed?—Thine elder brother,
Thy Predrag, am I:—but sure not mortal
Are thy wounds:—O let me tear asunder—
Let me tear thy shirt—and let me bind them!
Let me bind thy wounds—O let me heal them!”

Then to him the wounded youth:—”Thank heaven!
Thou, thou art Predrag—thou art my brother—
And my eyes may dwell upon thy visage!
p. 24God hath still’d my soul’s impassion’d longings:
I shall die—I know the wounds are mortal:
But to thee my blood shall be forgiven!”

So he cried,—and soon he sunk in slumber—
And despair possess’d his brother’s spirit.
“O Nenad! Nenad! my light—my sunshine!
Early and serene was thy uprising;
Early, too, and clouded thy downsitting,
O thou sweetest flow’ret of my garden!
Early was thy opening, beauteous flow’ret;
Earlier, earlier far, alas! thy fading!”

Then he took a dagger from his girdle:
Deep he plunged the dagger in his bosom,
And sank down in death beside his brother.


Yesterday was married Duka Leka:
Comes to-day a mandate from the emperor:
“Duka! on—on, Leka! to the army.”
Duka’s steed caparisons he quickly;—
His love holds him by the bridle, weeping:—
“Woe is me!—woe’s me! thou voivode [25] Leka!
Goest thou with thy noble steed to battle,
Leav’st alone thy young bride inexperienced?”
‘With thy mother, and with mine I leave thee.’
“Woe is me! woe’s me! thou voivode Leka!—
Thee away—and what avail two mothers?”

Duka Leka arms him for the battle:
His young bride stands by his courser, weeping:—
p. 26“Woe is me! woe’s me! thou voivode Leka!
Goest thou with thy noble steed to battle?
And with whom dost leave thy bride untutor’d?”
‘With thy father, and with mine I leave thee.’
“Woe, my Duka! woe! thou voivode Leka!—
Thee away—and what avail two fathers?”

Duka Leka girds him for the battle;
Weeping holds his wife his horse’s bridle:—
“Woe is me! woe, Duka!—voivode Leka!
Dost equip thy good steed for the battle?
Who shall care about the unpractised loved one?”

‘To thy brother, and to mine, I leave thee.’
“Woe! O Duka, woe! thou voivode Leka!
Thee away—and what avail two brothers?”


Never, since the world had its beginning,
Never did a lovelier flow’ret blossom
Than the flow’ret we ourselves saw blooming
In the white court of the Bey Liubōvich.
High above the level Nevesin̄a [27]
Tower’d the fascinating maid Ajkuna;
She, the Bey Liubōvich’s lovely sister.

   She was lovely—nothing e’er was lovelier;
She was tall and slender as the pine tree;
White her cheeks, but tinged with rosy blushes,
As if morning’s beam had shone upon them,
Till that beam had reach’d its high meridian;
And her eyes, they were two precious jewels;
And her eyebrows, leeches from the ocean;
And her eyelids, they were wings of swallows;
Silken tufts the maiden’s flaxen ringlets;
p. 28And her sweet mouth was a sugar casket;
And her teeth were pearls array’d in order;
White her bosom, like two snowy dovelets;
And her voice was like the dovelet’s cooing;
And her smiles were like the glowing sunshine;
And the fame, the story of her beauty
Spread through Bosnia and through Herzgovina. [28]
p. 29Many a suitor on the maiden waited:
Two were unremitting in their service;
One, the old gray-headed Mustaph Aga—
He of Uraine, from the Novi fortress; [29a]
And the other, Suko of Ubdinia. [29b]
Both together met the self-same evening,
When they came to court the lovely maiden.
Thousand golden coins the old man proffer’d,
And, besides, a golden drinking vessel:
Round the vessel twined a mighty serpent,
From whose forehead shone so bright a diamond,
That at midnight, just as well as noonday,
By its light you might indulge your feastings.
Suko offered but a dozen ducats;
All the youth possessed, except his sabre—
His good sabre, and his steed so trusty.
Suko dwelt upon the country’s border,
As the falcon dwells among the breezes.
p. 30Then his brother thus address’d Ajkuna:
“Lo! Ajkuna, my beloved sister!
When my mother bore thee, she betrothed thee—
She betrothed thee to another lover.
Many a lover, maiden! now would woo thee;
But the best of all those wooing lovers
Are those twain to-day that seek thy presence.
One the venerable Mustaph Aga;
He that comes from Uraine out of Novi.
Countless are the old Mustapha’s treasures:
He will clothe thee all in silk and satin,
Will with honey and with sugar feed thee.
Suko of Ubdinia is the other:
But this Suko nothing more possesses
Than his trusty steed and his good sabre.
Now, then, choose, Ajkuna; choose, my sister;
Say to which of these I shall betrothe thee.”

Thus his sister answer gave her brother:
“Thine shall be the choice, my brother! only;
Him alone I’ll wed whom thou wilt give me;
p. 31But I’d rather choose a youthful lover,
Howsoever small that youth’s possessions,
Than be wedded to old age, though wealthy.
Wealth—it is not gold—it is not silver;
Wealth—is to possess what most we cherish.”
Little did he listen to his sister,
For he gave the maid to Mustaph Aga;
To that old white-bearded man he gave her.
He with speed to his own court departed,
Brought the bridal guests, to lead the maiden
To his dwelling; and among them Suko
Lifted o’er the rest the bridal banner;
And they hasten’d to the maiden’s dwelling.

At the dwelling of the lovely maiden,
Three white days the bridal crowd had linger’d,—
When the fourth day dawn’d, at early morning,
Forth they led the maiden from her dwelling;
And ere yet far off they had proceeded,
Ere they reach’d the flat and open country,
Turn’d the lovely maiden to the leader,
And into his ear these words she whisper’d:
p. 32“Tell me now, my golden ring, my brother! [32]
Who is chosen for the maiden’s bridegroom?”
Softly did the marriage-leader answer:
“Sweetest sister! fairest maid, Ajkuna!
Look to right, and look to left, about thee;
Dost thou see that old man in the distance,
Who like an effendi sits so proudly
In the farthest palanquin of scarlet,
Whose white beard o’ercovers all his bosom?
Lo! it is the aged Mustaph Aga;
He it is who’s chosen for thy bridegroom.”

And the maiden look’d around the circle
And within her sad heart sighing deeply,
Once again she ask’d the marriage-leader:
“Who is he upon that white horse seated,
He who bears so high aloft the banner,
On whose chin that sable beard is growing?”
p. 33And the leader answers thus the maiden:
“He’s the hero Suko of Urbinia;
He who for thee with thy brother struggled,—
Struggled well indeed, but could not win thee.”
When the lovely maiden heard the leader,
On the black, black earth, anon she fainted:
All to raise her, hastening, gather round her,
And the last of all came Mustaph Aga;
None could lift her from the ground, till Suko
Sticks into the earth his waving banner,
Stretches out his right hand to the maiden.
See her, see her! from the ground upspringing,
Swift she vaults upon his steed behind him;
Rapidly he guides the courser onwards,
Swift they speed across the open desert,
Swift as ever star across the heavens.

When the old man saw it, Mustaph Aga,
Loud he screamed with voice of troubled anger:
“Look to this, ye bidden to the wedding!
He, the robber! bears away my maiden:
See her, see her borne away for ever.”
p. 34But one answer met the old man’s wailings:
“Let the hawk bear off the quail in safety,—
Bear in safety—she was born to wed him;
Thou, retire thee to thy own white dwelling!
Blossoms not for thee so fair a maiden!”


To the baths the noble Turks are going;
From the baths are coming Turkish ladies.
Lo! before the Turks Prince Mujo marches;
Mahmoud Pasha’s bride before the ladies.
O how wond’rous fair is princely Mujo!
Fairer yet the bride of Mahmoud Pasha!
How magnificent their flowing dresses!
There the Tzar’s son, princely Mujo sicken’d,
Smitten by the bride of Mahmoud Pasha.
Ill he wended to his own white dwelling,
Threw him down upon his silken pillow.
All the ladies to the Prince’s mother,
All in order to the Tzaress crowded;
All, except the bride of Mahmoud Pasha.

Then the Mother-tzaress thus address’d her:
“Noble woman! bride of Mahmoud Pasha!
p. 36Think’st thou then thyself of higher lineage?
In death-sickness is my Mujo lying:
All the ladies of the court have sought him:
Thou, and thou alone, of all, art absent!”

When the bride of Mahmoud Pasha heard it,
Soon she girt her raiments—in her sleevelets
She prepared medicaments the choicest;
Rosy-sweets, wrapp’d up in golden vestments;
Yellow honey-comb in silver dishes,
And spring-cherries all preserv’d in honey;
Peaches with the earliest dew-drops gather’d;
Figs of Ocean, and the grapes of Mostar: [36a]
These she hid beneath her richest garments,
And she hasten’d to the Prince’s dwelling.

All unask’d and unobserved she enter’d:
No salām [36b] she gave—but hurried forward
p. 37To the balcony, where, sick and sorrowing,
Lay Prince Mujo:—at his head she fix’d her;
With her gold-wrought kerchief from his forehead
Lo! she wiped the hot, the feverish dew-drop,
And thus spoke she to the Empress-mother:

“Such a sickness as has seized the hero,
May it seize upon my only brother!
May it seize me, bride of Mahmoud Pasha!
’Tis not sickness—it is love hath seized him!”

When the princely Mujo heard this language,
From his slumb’ring bed he sprung swift-footed,
Hurried to the chamber door and closed it.
Three white days he kiss’d the bride unceasing;
When the fourth day dawn’d, did Mahmoud Pasha
Send a beautifully-written letter
To the Tzar; and this the letter’s language:

“Sultan!” said he, “noble Tzar and master!
Lo! a golden duck its flight has taken,
And has wander’d, monarch! to thy dwelling.
p. 38Three white days with thee that duck hath lingered;
Give it back—as thou on God dependest.”

Then the Tzar made answer to the Pasha:
“Nay! by God! my servant, Mahmoud Pasha!
I have caught a wild and untamed falcon;
What he seizes never will he loosen.” [38]


When Lazār’s head, from his body sever’d,
Lay upon the battle-field Kossova,
’Twas not found by any of the Servians:
But a Turkish boy—a young Turk found it.
’Twas a Turk,—a Turk in slavery nurtured;
But he was the child of Servian mother;
And thus spake the Turkish boy who found it:

“Hear, ye Moslems! hear, my Turkish brethren!
This was once the head of high-rank’d Servian; [39]
And, by God! it were a shame and scandal
If profaned by eagles or by ravens,
If ’twere trod upon by man or courser.”
p. 40So he took the head of th’ holy emp’ror,
Wrapt it carefully within his mantle,
Bore it to a neighbouring water-fountain,
And he threw it in the crystal water.

There long time it lay, all unmolested:
Happy time! it lay for forty summers.
On Kossova lay the headless body;
But the eagles touch’d it not, nor ravens,
Nor the foot of man, nor hoof of courser;
Therefore let the God of peace be worshipp’d!

Lo! a caravan of youthful travellers,
From the city white, the lovely Skoplja, [40a]
Leading on; both Grecians and Bulgarians
Travellers they, bound to Vidīn and Nissa: [40b]
And they make their halting on Kossova,
On Kossova take their meal as wonted;
p. 41And, when thirsty, ere the meal was over,
Lo! they light the splinters of the fir-tree;
Made a torch to light them as they wander,
Seeking all around a water fountain.
Lo! a strange and wond’rous fate awaits them!
Swift they speed them to the crystal water.

Then exclaim’d one of the youthful travellers—
“Lo! the moon is on the waters shining!”
And another traveller thus retorted—
“Brother! it is not the moon that shineth.”
But the third is silent—no word utters—
Turns him to the east—the sun’s uprising—
Then he speaks, and prays to God the righteous;
Prays to God and to the holy Nicholas—
“Help me, God! and thou, O father Nicholas!”
And he sought again the fountain-water;
Drew the holy head from out the water—
Holy head of holy Servian monarch;
Threw it on the verdant turf, and pouring
Water, swiftly fill’d the travelling vessel.

p. 42They had quench’d their thirst, and all were seated—
Seated round the head, and look’d about them.
On the verdant turf it lies no longer;
O’er the field the head is slowly moving—
Holy head seeks out the holy body;
Joins it, where that body lay untainted.

When the dawning of the morn had broken,
To the aged priests the youths reported—
To the aged priests, the wond’rous story.
Lo! a crowd of priests are hastening thither—
Crowds of ancient priests—above three hundred,
And twelve high and dignified archbishops,
And four patriarchs, the most exalted:
Him of Pechki, [42a] and the Tzarigrader [42b]
p. 43Of Jerusalem, and Vassiljēnski.
All were habited in priestly vestments;
Camilanks their holy heads enshrouded;
In their hands they held old sacred writings—
And they pour’d their fervent prayers to heaven,
And performed their holiest solemn vigils
Through three days, and through three nights of darkness;
Nor for rest they stopp’d, nor for refreshment,
Nor for sleep, nor any interruption:
And they ask’d the holy dead, unceasing,
Where his grave should be—his corpse be buried;
In Opōvo, or in Krushedōli,
Or in Jāssak, or in Beshenōvi,
Or Racōvatz, or in Shisatōvatz,
Or in Jivski, or in Kurejdini, [43]
Or in distant Macedonia rather.
But Lazar will choose no foreign cloister;
p. 44He will lie among his own loved kindred,
In his own, his beauteous Ravanītza, [44]
On the mountain forest, broad Kushaja,
In the convent he himself erected;
In his days of life and youthful glory,
He erected for his soul’s salvation;
With his bread and with his gold he raised it;
Not with tears nor wealth from poor men wrested.


Nine fair sons possess’d a happy mother;
And the tenth, the loveliest and the latest,
Was Jelitza,—a beloved daughter.
They had grown together up to manhood,
Till the sons were ripe for bridal altars,
And the maid was ready for betrothing.
Many a lover ask’d the maid in marriage;
First a Ban; [45] a chieftain was the other;
And the third, a neighbour from her village.
So her mother for the neighbour pleaded;
For the far-off-dwelling ban her brothers.
Thus they urged it to their lovely sister:
“Go, we pray thee, our beloved sister,
p. 46With the ban across the distant waters:
Go! thy brothers oft will hasten to thee;
Every month of every year will seek thee;
Every week of every month will seek thee.”
So the maiden listened to her brothers,
With the ban she cross’d the distant waters:
But, behold! O melancholy marvel!
God sent down the plague, and all the brothers,
All the nine, were swept away, and lonely
Stood their miserable sonless mother.

Three long years had pass’d away unheeded;
Often had Jelitza sighed in silence:
“Heaven of mercy! ’tis indeed a marvel!
Have I sinn’d against them?—that my brothers,
Spite of all their vows, come never near me.”
Then did her stepsisters scorn and jeer her:
“Cast away! thy brothers must despise thee!
Never have they come to greet their sister.”

Bitter was the sorrow of Jelitza,
Bitter from the morning to the evening,
p. 47Till the God of heaven took pity on her,
And he summon’d two celestial angels:
“Hasten down to earth,” he said, “my angels!
To the white grave, where Jovān is sleeping,—
Young Jovan, the maiden’s youngest brother.
Breathe your spirit into him; and fashion
From the white grave-stone a steed to bear him:
From the mouldering earth his food prepare him:
Let him take his grave-shroud for a present!
Then equip and send him to his sister.”

Swiftly hasten’d God’s celestial angels
To the white grave where Jovan was sleeping.
From the white grave-stone a steed they fashion’d;
Into his dead corpse they breathed their spirit;
From the ready earth the bread they moulded;
For a present his grave-shroud they folded;
And equipp’d, and bade him seek his sister.

Swiftly rode Jovan to greet his sister.
Long before he had approach’d her dwelling,
Far, far off his sister saw and hail’d him;
p. 48Hastened to him—threw her on his bosom,
Loosed his vest, and stamp’d his cheeks with kisses.
Then she sobb’d with bitterness and anguish,
Then she wept, and thus address’d her brother:
“O! Jovan! to me—to me, a maiden,
Thou, and all my brothers, all, ye promised
Oft and oft to seek your distant sister:
Every month in every year to seek her,—
Every week in every month to seek her.
Three long years have sped away unheeded,
And ye have not sought me.”—For a moment
She was silent; and then said, “My brother!
Thou art deadly pale! why look so deadly
Pale, as if in death thou hadst been sleeping?”
But Jovan thus check’d his sister: “Silence,
Silence, sister! as in God thou trustest;
For a heavy sorrow has o’erta’en me.
When eight brothers had prepared their nuptials,
Eight stepsisters ready to espouse them,
Hardly was the marriage service ended
Ere we built us eight white dwellings, sister!
Therefore do I look so dark, Jelitza.”

p. 49Three white days had pass’d away unheeded,
And the maid equipped her for a journey.
Many a costly present she provided
For her brothers and her bridal sisters:
For her brothers, fairest silken vestments;
For her bridal-sisters, rings and jewels.
But Jovan would fain detain her—“Go not,
Go not now, I pray thee—my Jelitza!
Wait until thy brothers come and greet thee.”
But she would not listen to her brother:
She prepared the costliest, fairest presents.
So the young Jovan began his journey,
And his sister travell’d patient by him.

So as they approach’d their mother’s dwelling,
Near the house a tall white church was standing,
Young Jovan he whisper’d to his sister—
“Stop, I pray thee, my beloved sister!
Let me enter the white church an instant.
When my middle brother here was married,
Lo! I lost a golden ring, my sister!
Let me go an instant—I shall find it.”

p. 50Jovan went—into his grave he glided—
And Jelitza stood—she stood impatient—
Wondering—wondering—but in vain she waited.
Then she left the spot to seek her brother.
Many and many a grave was in the church-yard
Newly made—Jovan was nowhere—Sighing,
On she hasten’d—hastened to the city,
Saw her mother’s dwelling, and press’d forward
Eager to that old white dwelling.

To that cuckoo’s cry within the dwelling!
Lo! it was not the gray cuckoo’s crying—
’Twas her aged, her gray-headed mother.
To the door Jelitza press’d—outstretching
Her white neck, she call’d—“Make ope, my mother!
Hasten to make ope the door, my mother!”
But her mother to her cries made answer:
“Plague of God! avaunt! my sons have perish’d—
All—all nine have perish’d—Wilt thou also
Take their aged mother!”  Then Jelitza
p. 51Shriek’d, “O open—open, dearest mother!
I am not God’s plague—I am thy daughter,
Thine own daughter—thy Jelitza, mother!”
Then the mother push’d the door wide open,
And she scream’d aloud, and groan’d, and flung her
Old arms round her daughter—All was silent—
Stiff and dead they fell to earth together.


What’s so white upon yon verdant forest?
Is it snow, or is it swans assembled?
Were it snow, it surely had been melted;
Were it swans, long since they had departed.
Lo! it is not swans, it is not snow there:
’Tis the tent of Aga, Hassan Aga;
He is lying there severely wounded,
And his mother seeks him, and his sister;
But for very shame his wife is absent.

When the misery of his wounds was soften’d,
Hassan thus his faithful wife commanded:
“In my house thou shalt abide no longer—
Thou shalt dwell no more among my kindred.”
When his wife had heard this gloomy language,
Stiff she stood, and full of bitter sorrow.

When the horses, stamping, shook the portal,
Fled the faithful wife of Hassan Aga—
p. 53Fain would throw her from the castle window.
Anxious two beloved daughters follow’d,
Crying after her in tearful anguish—
“These are not our father Hassan’s coursers;
’Tis our uncle Pintorōvich coming.”

Then approached the wife of Hassan Aga—
Threw her arms, in misery, round her brother—
“See the sorrow, brother, of thy sister:
He would tear me from my helpless children.”

He was silent—but from out his pocket,
Safely wrapp’d in silk of deepest scarlet,
Letters of divorce he drew, and bid her
Seek again her mother’s ancient dwelling—
Free to win and free to wed another.

When she saw the letter of divorcement,
Kisses on her young boy’s forehead, kisses
On her girls’ red cheeks she press’d—the nursling—
For there was a nursling in the cradle—
p. 54Could she tear her, wretched, from her infant?
But her brother seized her hand, and led her—
Led her swiftly to the agile courser;
And he hastened with the sorrowing woman
To the ancient dwelling of her fathers.

Short the time was—not seven days had glided—
Short indeed the time—and many a noble
Had our lady—though in widow’s garments—
Had our lady ask’d in holy marriage.

And the noblest was Imoski’s Cadi;
And our lady, weeping, pray’d her brother:
“I exhort thee, on thy life exhort thee,
Give me not, oh, give me not in marriage!
For the sight of my poor orphan’d children
Sure would break the spirit of thy sister!”

Little cared her brother for her sorrows;
He had sworn she should espouse the Cadi.
But his sister pray’d him thus unceasing:
p. 55“Send at least one letter, O my brother!
With this language to Imoski’s Cadi:
‘Friendly greetings speeds the youthful woman;
But entreats thee, by these words entreats thee,
When the Suates [55] shall conduct thee hither,
Thou a long and flowing veil wilt bring me,
That, in passing Hassan’s lonely dwelling,
I may hide me from my hapless orphans.’”

Hardly had the Cadi read the letter,
Than he gather’d his Suates together,
Arm’d himself, and hasten’d t’wards the lady,
Home to bring her as his bridal treasure.

Happily he reach’d the princely dwelling,
Happily were all returning homeward,
When toward Hassan’s house they were approaching,
Her two daughters saw her from the window,
Her two sons rush’d on her from the portal:
p. 56And they cried, “Come hither!  O come hither!
Take thy night’s repast with thine own children!”

Sorrowfully Hassan’s consort heard them;
To the Sarisvat she thus address’d her:
“Let the Suates stay, and let the horses
Tarry here at this beloved portal,
While I make a present to the children.”

As they stopp’d at the beloved portal,
Presents gave she unto all the children.
To the boys, boots all with gold embroider’d;
To the girls, long and resplendent dresses;
And to the poor baby in the cradle,
For the time to come; a little garment.

Near them sat their father, Hassan Aga,
And he call’d in sorrow to his children:
“Come to me, poor children! to your father;
For your mother’s breast is turn’d to iron,
Closed against you, harden’d ’gainst all pity.”

p. 57When these words were heard by Hassan’s consort,
On the ground she fell, all pale and trembling,
Till her spirit burst her heavy bosom
At the glances of her orphan children. [57]


Hark! the moon is to the day-star calling:
“Morning star! say, where hast thou been wandering;
Tell me where thou hast so long been lingering;
Where hast white days three so wasted,—tell me?”
To the moon, anon, the day-star answer’d:
“I have wander’d, moon! and I have linger’d,
Lingered o’er Belgrad’s white towers, and wondered
At the marvellous things which I have witness’d:
How two brothers have their wealth partitioned,
Jakshich Dmitar and Jakshich Bogdana.
p. 59They had thus arranged the shares allotted,
Well their father’s substance had divided:
Dmitar took Wallachia [59a] for his portion,
Took Wallachia and entire Moldavia; [59b]
Banat also, to the river Danube.
Bogdan took the level plains of Sermia,
And the even country of the Sava;
Servia, too, as far as Ujitz’s fortress.
Dmitar took the lower fortress’d cities,
And Neboisha’s tower upon the Danube;
Bogdan took the upper fortress’d cities,
And the church-possessing town, Rujitza.
Then a strife arose about a trifle,—
Such a trifle; but a feud soon follow’d,—
A black courser and a grey-wing’d falcon!
Dmitar claims the steed, as elder brother
Claims the steed, and claims the grey-wing’d falcon.
Bogdan will not yield or horse or falcon.
p. 60When the morning of the morrow waken’d,
Dmitar flung him on the sable courser,
Took upon his hand the grey-wing’d falcon,
Went to hunt into the mountain-forest;
And he call’d his wife, fair Angelīa:
“Angelia! thou my faithful lady!
Kill with poison thou my brother Bogdan;
But if thou refuse to kill my brother,
Tarry thou in my white court no longer.”

When the lady heard her lord’s commandments,
Down she sat all sorrowful and gloomy;
To herself she thought, and said in silence,
—“And shall I attempt it?—I, poor cuckoo!
Shall I kill my brother—kill with poison!—
’Twere a monstrous crime before high heaven,
’Twere a sin and shame before my people.
Great and small would point their fingers at me,
Saying,—‘That is the unhappy woman,
That is she who kill’d her husband’s brother!’
But if I refuse to poison Bogdan,
Never will my husband come to bless me!”
p. 61Thus she thought, until a thought relieved her;
She descended to the castle’s cavern,
Took the consecrated cup of blessing.
’Twas a cup of beaten gold her father
Had bestow’d upon his daughter’s nuptials;
Full of golden wine she fill’d the vessel,
And she bore it to her brother Bogdan.
Low to earth she bow’d herself before him,
And she kiss’d his hands and garments meekly.

“Lo! I bring to thee this cup, my brother!
This gold cup, with golden wine o’erflowing.
Give me for my cup a horse and falcon.”
Bogdan heard the lady speak complacent,
And most cheerfully gave steed and falcon.

Meanwhile through the day was Dmitar wandering
In the mountain-forest; nought he found there;
But chance brought him at the fall of evening
To a green lake far within the forest,
Where a golden-pinion’d duck was swimming.
Dmitar loosen’d then his grey-winged falcon,
p. 62Bade him seize the golden-pinion’d swimmer.
Faster than the hunter’s eye could follow,
Lo! the duck had seized the grey-wing’d falcon,
And against his sides had crush’d his pinion.
Soon as Dmitar Jakshich saw, he stripp’d him—
Stripp’d him swiftly of his hunting garments;
Speedily into the lake he plunged him,
And he bore his falcon from its waters.
Then with pitying voice he ask’d his falcon:
“Hast thou courage yet, my faithful falcon!
Now thy wings are from thy body riven?”

Whispering, said the falcon to his master:
“I without my pinions nought resemble,
But a brother riven from a brother.”
Then the thought pierced through the breast of Dmitar,
That his wife was charged to kill his brother.
Swift he threw him on his mighty courser—
Swift he hurried to Bijōgrad’s [62] fortress,
Praying that his brother had not perished.

p. 63He had hardly reach’d the bridge of Chekmel, [63]
When he spurr’d his raven steed so fiercely,
That the impetuous courser’s feet sank under,
And were crushed and broken on the pavement.
In his deep perplexity and trouble,
Dmitar took the saddle off his courser,
Flung it on the courser’s nether haunches,
And he fled alone to Belgrad’s fortress.
First he sought, impatient, for his lady—
“Angelia! thou my bride all faithful!
Tell me, tell me, hast thou kill’d my brother?”
Sweet indeed was Angelia’s answer:
“No! indeed, I have not killed thy brother;
To thy brother have I reconciled thee.”


Brothers three combined to build a fortress,
Brothers three, the brothers Mrljavchēvich,
Kral [64b] Vukāshin was the eldest brother;
And the second was Uglēsha-Voivode; [64c]
And the third, the youngest brother, Goiko.
Pull three years they labour’d at the fortress,
Skadra’s fortress on Bojana’s river;
Full three years three hundred workmen labour’d.
Vain th’ attempt to fix the wall’s foundation.
Vainer still to elevate the fortress:
Whatsoe’er at eve had raised the workmen
Did the Vila raze ere dawn of morning.

When the fourth year had begun its labours,
p. 65Lo! the Vila from the forest-mountain
Call’d—“Thou King Vukashin! vain thine efforts!—
Vain thine efforts—all thy treasures wasting!
Never, never wilt thou build the fortress,
If thou find not two same-titled beings,
If thou find not Stojan and Stojana: [65]
And these two—these two young twins so loving,
They must be immured in the foundation.
Thus alone will the foundations serve thee:
Thus alone can ye erect your fortress.”

When Vukashin heard the Vila’s language,
Soon he call’d to Dēssimir, his servant:
“Listen, Dessimir, my trusty servant!
Thou hast been my trusty servant ever;
Thou shalt be my son from this day onward.
p. 66Fasten thou my coursers to my chariot:
Load it with six lasts of golden treasures:
Travel through the whole wide world, and bring me,
Bring me back those two same-titled beings:
Bring me back that pair of twins so loving:
Bring me hither Stojan and Stojana:
Steal them, if with gold thou canst not buy them.
Bring them here to Scadra or Bojana:
We’ll inter them in the wall’s foundation:
So the wall’s foundations will be strengthened:
So we shall build up our Scadra’s fortress.”

Dessimir obey’d his master’s mandate;
Fasten’d, straight, the horses to the chariot;
Fill’d it with six lasts of golden treasures;
Through the whole wide world the trusty servant
Wander’d—asking for these same-named beings—
For the twins—for Stojan and Stojana:
Full three years he sought them,—sought them vainly:
Nowhere could he find these same-named beings:
p. 67Nowhere found he Stojan and Stojana.
Then he hasten’d homewards to his master;
Gave the king his horses and his chariot;
Gave him his six lasts of golden treasures:
“Here, my sov’reign, are thy steeds and chariot:
Here thou hast thy lasts of golden treasures:
Nowhere could I find those same-named beings:
Nowhere found I Stojan and Stojana.”

When Vukashin had dismiss’d his servant,
Straight he call’d his builder, master Rado.
Rado call’d on his three hundred workmen;
And they built up Scadra on Bojana;
But, at even did the Vila raze it:
Vainly did they raise the wall’s foundation;
Vainly seek to build up Scadra’s fortress.
And the Vila, from the mountain-forest,
Cried, “Vukashin, listen! listen to me!
Thou dost spill thy wealth, and waste thy labour:
Vainly seek’st to fix the wall’s foundations;
Vainly seek’st to elevate the fortress.
Listen now to me!  Ye are three brothers:
p. 68Each a faithful wife at home possesses:—
Her who comes to-morrow to Bojana,
Her who brings the rations to the workmen—
Her immure within the wall’s foundations:—
So shall the foundations fix them firmly:
So shalt thou erect Bojana’s fortress.”

When the king Vukashin heard the Vila,
Both his brothers speedily he summon’d:
“Hear my words, now hear my words, my brothers!
From the forest-hill the Vila told me,
That we should no longer waste our treasures
In the vain attempt to raise the fortress
On a shifting, insecure foundation.
Said the Vila of the forest-mountain,
‘Each of you a faithful wife possesses;
Each a faithful bride that keeps your dwellings:
Her who to the fortress comes to-morrow,
Her who brings their rations to the workmen—
Her immure within the wall’s foundations;
So will the foundations bear the fortress:
So Bojana’s fortress be erected.’
p. 69Now then, brothers! in God’s holy presence
Let each swear to keep the awful secret;
Leave to chance whose fate ’twill be to-morrow
First to wend her way to Skadra’s river.”
And each brother swore, in God’s high presence,
From his wife to keep the awful secret.

When the night had on the earth descended,
Each one hasten’d to his own white dwelling;
Each one shared the sweet repast of evening;
Each one sought his bed of quiet slumber.

Lo! there happen’d then a wond’rous marvel!
First, Vukashin on his oath he trampled,
Whisp’ring to his wife the awful secret:
“Shelter thee! my faithful wife! be shelter’d!
Go not thou to-morrow to Bojana!
Bring not to the workmen food to-morrow!
Else, my fair! thy early life ’twill cost thee:
And beneath the walls they will immure thee!”

On his oath, too, did Uglesha trample!
p. 70And he gave his wife this early warning:
“Be not thou betray’d, sweet love! to danger!
Go not thou to-morrow to Bojana!
Carry not their rations to the workmen!
Else in earliest youth thy friend might lose thee:
Thou might’st be immured in the foundation!”

Faithful to his oath, young Goiko whisper’d
Not a breath to warn his lovely consort.

When the morning dawn’d upon the morrow,
All the brothers roused them at the day-break,
And each sped, as wont, to the Bojana.

Now, behold! two young and noble women;
They—half-sisters—they, the eldest sisters—
One is bringing up her snow-bleach’d linen,
Yet once more in summer sun to bleach it.
See! she comes on to the bleaching meadows;
There she stops—she comes not one step farther.
Lo! the second, with a red-clay pitcher;
Lo! she comes—she fills it at the streamlet;
p. 71There she talks with other women—lingers—
Yes! she lingers—comes not one step farther.

Goiko’s youthful wife at home is tarrying,
For she has an infant in the cradle
Not a full moon old, the little nursling:
But the moment of repast approaches;
And her aged mother then bestirs her;
Fain would call the serving maid, and bid her
Take the noon-tide meal to the Bojana.
“Nay, not so!” said the young wife of Goiko;
“Stay, sit down in peace, I pray thee, mother!
Rock the little infant in his cradle:
I myself will bear the food to Scadra.
In the sight of God it were a scandal,
An affront and shame among all people,
If, of three, no one were found to bear it.”

So she staid at home, the aged mother,
And she rock’d the nursling in the cradle.
Then arose the youthful wife of Goiko;
Gave them the repast, and bade them forward.
p. 72Call’d around her all the serving maidens;
When they reach’d Bojana’s flowing river,
They were seen by Mrljavchevich Goiko,
On his youthful wife, heart-rent, he threw him;
Flung his strong right arm around her body;
Kiss’d a thousand times her snowy forehead:
Burning tears stream’d swiftly from his eyelids,
As he spoke, in melancholy language:

“O my wife, my own! my full heart’s-sorrow!
Didst thou never dream that thou must perish?
Why hast thou our little one abandoned?
Who will bathe our little one, thou absent?
Who will bare the breast to feed the nursling?”
More, and more, and more, he fain would utter;
But the king allow’d it not.  Vukashin,
By her white hand seizes her, and summons,
Master Rado,—he the master-builder;
And he summons his three hundred workmen.

But the young-espoused one smiles, and deems it
All a laughing jest,—no fear o’ercame her.
p. 73Gathering round her, the three hundred workmen
Pile the stones and pile the beams about her.
They have now immured her to the girdle.

Higher rose the walls and beams, and higher;
Then the wretch first saw the fate prepared her,
And she shriek’d aloud in her despairing;
In her woe implored her husband’s brothers:

“Can ye think of God?—have ye no pity?
Can ye thus immure me, young and healthful?”
But in vain, in vain were her entreaties;
And her brothers left her thus imploring.

Shame and fear succeeded then to censure,
And she piteously invoked her husband:
“Can it, can it be, my lord and husband,
That so young, thou, reckless, would’st immure me?
Let us go and seek my aged mother:
Let us go—my mother she is wealthy:
She will buy a slave,—a man or woman,
To be buried in the walls’ foundations.”

When the mother-wife—the wife and mother,
p. 74Found her earnest plaints and prayers neglected,
She address’d herself to Neimar [74] Rado:
“In God’s name, my brother, Neimar Rado,
Leave a window for this snowy bosom,
Let this snowy bosom heave it freely;
When my voiceless Jovo shall come near me,
When he comes, O let him drain my bosom!”
Rado bade the workmen all obey her,
Leave a window for that snowy bosom,
Let that snowy bosom heave it freely
When her voiceless Jovo shall come near her,
When he comes, he’ll drink from out her bosom.

Once again she cried to Neimar Rado,
“Neimar Rado! in God’s name, my brother!
Leave for these mine eyes a little window,
That these eyes may see our own white dwelling,
When my Jovo shall be brought towards me,
When my Jovo shall be carried homeward.”
Rado bade the workmen all obey her,
Leave for those bright eyes a little window,
That her eyes may see her own white dwelling,
p. 75When they bring her infant Jovo to her,
When they take the infant Jovo homeward.

So they built the heavy wall about her,
And then brought the infant in his cradle,
Which a long, long while his mother suckled.
Then her voice grew feeble—then was silent:
Still the stream flow’d forth and nursed the infant:
Full a year he hung upon her bosom;
Still the stream flow’d forth—and still it floweth. [75a]
Women, when the life-stream dries within them,
Thither come—the place retains its virtue—
Thither come, to still their crying infants. [75b]


From Jerusalem, the holy city,
Lo! there flew a gray and royal falcon;
With him came a little flitting swallow.
No! it was no gray and royal falcon;
’Twas Elias! ’twas the holy prophet;
And he brought no little flitting swallow,
But a letter from God’s holy mother
To the Emperor, from Polje Kossova; [76]
At the Emperor’s feet he drops the letter:
And the letter thus address’d the Emperor!

“Tzar Lasar! thou tzar of noble lineage!
Tell me now, what kingdom hast thou chosen?
Wilt thou have heaven’s kingdom for thy portion,
Or an earthly kingdom?  If an earthly,
Saddle thy good steed—and gird him tightly;
p. 77Let thy heroes buckle on their sabres,
Smite the Turkish legions like a tempest,
And these legions all will fly before thee.
But if thou wilt have heaven’s kingdom rather,
Speedily erect upon Kossova,
Speedily erect a church—of marble;
Not of marble, but of silk and scarlet; [77]
That the army, to its vespers going,
May from sin be purged—for death be ready:
For thy warriors all are doom’d to stumble;
Thou, too, prince, wilt perish with thy army!”

   When the Tzar Lasar had read the writing,
Many were his thoughts and long his musings.
“Lord my God! what—which shall be my portion,
Which my choice of these two proffer’d kingdoms?
Shall I choose heaven’s kingdom? shall I rather
Choose an earthly one?—for what is earthly
Is all fleeting, vain, and unsubstantial;
Heavenly things are lasting, firm, eternal.”
p. 78So the Tzar preferr’d a heavenly kingdom
Rather than an earthly.—On Kossova
Straight he builds a church, but not of marble;
Not of marble, but of silk and scarlet:
Then he calls the patriarch of Servia,
Calls around him all the twelve archbishops,
Bids them make the holy supper ready,
Purify the warriors from their errors,
And for death’s last conflict make them ready.

So the warriors were prepared for battle,
And the Turkish hosts approach’d Kossova.
Bogdan leads hit valiant heroes forward,
With his sons—nine sons—the Jugovichi,
Sharp and keen—nine gray and noble falcons.
Each led on nine thousand Servian warriors;
And the aged Jug led twenty thousand.

With the Turks began the bloody battle.
Seven pashas were overcome and scattered,
But the eighth pasha came onwards boldly.
And the aged Jug Bogdan has fallen—
p. 79Fallen with his sons—nine Jugovichi,
Nine gray noble falcons—all have fallen;
And the host has fallen with its leaders!

Forward press the Mrljashevich warriors,
Ban Uglesha and the Voivode Goiko;
And with them the monarch Tzar Vukashin:
Each one leads full thirty thousand warriors.
With the Turks begins the bloody battle;
Eight pashas are soon o’erwhelm’d and perish,
But the ninth pasha comes boldly onwards—
Brothers Mrljashevich twain have fallen,
Ban Uglesha and the Voivode Goiko,
With a grievous wound sinks down Vukashin,
He is trodden on by Turkish horses,
And the warriors perish with their leaders.

Now the ducal Stephan presses forward:
Strong and mighty is the ducal army;
Strong and powerful; sixty thousand warriors.
And the battle with the Turks is raging;
Nine pashas are soon o’erwhelm’d and perish;
p. 80But the tenth pasha comes boldly onward;
And the ducal Stephan is o’erpower’d,
And his warriors perish with their leader.

Then Lasar, the noble lord of Servia;
Seeks Kossova with his mighty army;
Seven and seventy thousand Servian warriors.
How the infidels retire before him,
Dare not look upon his awful visage!
Now indeed begins the glorious battle.
He had triumph’d then,—had triumph’d proudly,
But that Vuk—the curse of God be on him!
He betray’d his father at Kossova.

So the Turks the Servian monarch vanquish’d,
So Lasar he fell, the Tzar of Servia—
With Lasar fell all the Servian army.
But they have been honour’d, and are holy,
In the keeping of the God of heaven.


God of mercy! what a wond’rous wonder!
Such a wonder ne’er before was witness’d.
In Saint Paul’s—within the holy cloister,
Gather’d round a golden table, seated
In three ranks, the saints are all collected;
O’er them sits the thunderer Elias; [81a]
In the midst are Sava and Maria;
At the ends are Petka and Nedelia;
And their health the holy Nicholas pledges,
Pledges them their health to Jesus’ glory. [81b]
But behold, behold the saint!—he slumbers;
From his hand the cup of wine has fallen,
p. 82Fallen from it on the golden table:
Yet the wine’s unspilt,—the cup unbroken.
Then laugh’d out the thunderer Elias:
“O my brother!  O thou holy Nicholas:
Often drank we cooling wine together;
But it was our duty not to slumber,
Not to drop the cup—And tell me, brother,
Why to-day does slumber’s power subdue thee?”

Him thus answer’d Nicholas the holy:
“Jest not thus with me, thou sainted thunderer!
For I fell asleep, and dreamt three hundred,
Dreamt three hundred friars had embark’d them
In one vessel on the azure ocean;
Bearing offerings to the holy mountain,
Offerings,—golden wax, and snowy incense.
From the clouds there broke a furious tempest,
Lash’d the blue waves of the trembling ocean,
Scooping watery graves for all the friars.
Then I heard their blended voices call me,
‘Help, O God! and help, O holy Nicholas!
Would that thou, where’er thou art, wert with us!’
p. 83So I hurried down to help the suppliants—
So I saved the whole three hundred friars—
So I shipped them full of joy and courage;
Brought their offerings to the holy mountain,
Brought their golden wax, their snowy incense;—
And meanwhile I seem’d in gentle slumber,
And my cup fell on the golden table.”


Lo!  Erdelska’s lady [84a] reared a fir-tree,
And invoked the fir-tree—thus invok’d it:
“Grow thou, fir-tree, to the height of heaven!
To the green grass bend thy spreading branches;
Let me mount upon thy branches, fir-tree!
From those branches see the white-wall’d Buda,
And in Buda see the Budan Jovan.
Does he bear himself as once he bore him;
Does the feather wave upon his Kalpak; [84b]
Does his steed still bear his high head proudly?”
Thus she spoke and thought that no one heard her;
But the Ban of Transylvania heard her,
Even her lord, the Ban, and thus address’d her:
“Now, by heaven, thou Erdelskan Banitza;
p. 85Why is Buda fairer than Erdelska?
Why is Jovan nobler than thy husband?”
Thus replied the Erdelskan Banitza:
“Buda is not fairer than Erdelska,
Jovan is not nobler than my husband.
But my first, my earliest joy, was Jovan;
My first joy—a cup with flowers full laden,
Second joy—a cup with wine o’erflowing,
My third joy—a cup fill’d up with wormwood.”


Once the mother of the princely Marko
Thus address’d her son:—“Now, Marko, tell me
Why hast thou so many a shrine erected?
Is it for thy sins in lowly penance?
Is it that thy wealth is overflowing?”

Then the noble prince address’d his mother:
“Now, by Heav’n, I’ll tell thee!  Erst I travell’d,
Aged mother! in the Moorish country:
To the water-cisterns sped me early,
To refresh my Sharaz:—round the cisterns
Were a dozen Moorish men assembled:
Through the Moors I fain would reach the water—
Reach the water to refresh my Sharaz:
But the dozen Moorish men opposed me,
And we there began a bloody struggle—
There my trusty club aloft I lifted:
p. 87One of the black Moors with earth I levell’d:
One I struck to earth,—eleven assail’d me:
Two I struck to earth,—and ten attack’d me:
Three I struck to earth,—and nine engaged me:
Four I struck to earth,—and twice four smote me:
Five I struck to earth, and strove with seven:
Six I struck to earth, and faced as many:
But the six o’erpower’d the weary Marko;
And they bound my hands, and bore me swiftly,
Bore me swiftly to the Moorish palace;
And the monarch sent me to a prison.

“Seven long years I dwelt within my dungeon:
Nothing knew I of the summer’s dawning;
Nothing knew I of returning winter;
Nothing knew I, mother, but that snow-balls,
Snow-balls oft were thrown into my prison—
Thrown into my prison by the maidens:
So I knew it was the winter season.
Sometimes maidens flung me Basil-garlands,
So I knew it was the dawn of summer.
When the eighth year broke upon thy Marko,
p. 88It was not my dungeon that distress’d me:
’Twas the sorrow of a Moorish maiden,
And she was the Moorish monarch’s daughter.
When the morn return’d, and when the ev’ning,
To my dungeon-window came she greeting:—
“Nay! thou shalt not perish in thy prison,
Thou poor Marko! give me but thy promise
That thou wilt espouse the Moorish maiden,
When the maiden has unlock’d thy prison—
When she has released thy faithful Sharaz.
I will bring a heap of golden ducats:
All the ducats thou canst wish for, Marko.”

“When I heard her in my misery, mother!
From my head I took my cap, and laid it
On my knees,—and twice I swore upon it:
‘By my faith!  I’ll never leave thee, maiden!
By my faith!  I never will betray thee!
E’en the golden sun is sometimes treach’rous—
Shines not out in winter as in summer—
But my word, my faith, shall be unchanging!”

p. 89And the maiden drank the dear delusion:
She believed the oath that I had sworn her;
And when ev’ning’s fall the earth had shaded,
She flung ope the portals of my dungeon:
From my prison-house she brought me, mother,
Brought me to my proud and prancing Sharaz:
For herself she brought a steed yet nobler:
Both were loaded well with bags of ducats:
And she brought my bright and faithful sabre.
On our steeds we sprung, and swiftly sped us,
In the darkness, from that Moorish country.

“But at last the twilight dawn’d upon us,
And I flung me on the ground to slumber:
And the Moorish maiden laid her near me:
And she threw her ebon arms around me:
But, as daylight came, and I, O mother!
Saw how black her face, her teeth how ivory,
Such a fright, and such a shuddering seized me,
That I drew the sabre from its scabbard,
Plunged it deeply through her silken girdle;
Through and through the bloody sabre smote her.
p. 90“Then I sprung upon the back of Sharaz,
And I heard the maiden’s lips address me:
‘Thou in God my brother! thou, O Marko!
Leave me not!—thus wretched do not leave me!”

“Therefore, mother! do I lowly penance:
Thus, my mother! have I gold o’erflowing:
Therefore seek I righteous deeds unceasing.”


Visir Amurath is gone a-hunting;
Hunting in the leafy mountain-forest:
With him hunt twelve warriors, Turkish heroes:
With the heroes hunts the noble Marko:
White days three they hunted in the mountain;
Nothing found they in the mountain-forest.
But, behold! while in the forest hunting,
They a lake, a green-faced lake, discover,
Where a flock of gold-winged ducks are swimming.

There the proud Visir lets loose his falcon,
Bids him pounce upon a gold-wing’d swimmer;
But the falcon turned his glances upwards,
And he mounted to the clouds of heaven.
To the proud Visir said princely Marko:
“Visir Amurath! is it allowed me
To let loose my own, my favourite falcon?
p. 92He a gold-wing’d duck shall doubtless bring thee.”
And the Moslem swiftly answer’d Marko:
“’Tis allow’d thee, Marko!  I allow thee.”
Then the princely Marko loosed his falcon;
To the clouds of heaven aloft he mounted;
Then he sprung upon the gold-wing’d swimmer—
Seized him—rose—and down they fell together.
When the bird of Amurath sees the struggle,
He becomes indignant with vexation:
’T was of old his custom to play falsely—
For himself alone to gripe his booty:
So he pounces down on Marko’s falcon,
To deprive him of his well-earn’d trophy,
But the bird was valiant as his master;
Marko’s falcon has the mind of Marko:
And his gold-wing’d prey he will not yield him.
Sharply turns he round on Amurath’s falcon,
And he tears away his proudest feathers.

Soon as the Visir observes the contest,
He is fill’d with sorrow and with anger;
Rushes on the falcon of Prince Marko,
p. 93Flings him fiercely ’gainst a verdant fir-tree,
And he breaks the falcon’s dexter pinion.
Marko’s noble falcon groans in suffering,
As the serpent hisses from the cavern.
Marko flies to help his favourite falcon,
Binds with tenderness the wounded pinion,
And with stifled rage the bird addresses:
“Woe for thee, and woe for me, my falcon!
I have left my Servians—I have hunted
With the Turks—and all these wrongs have suffer’d.”
Then the hunters in their course pass’d by him—
Pass’d him by, and left him sad and lonely.
There his falcon’s wounds to heal he tarried—
Tarried long amidst the mountain-forests.
When the wounds were heal’d, he sprung on Sharaz,
Spurr’d his steed, and gallop’d o’er the mountain;
Sped as swiftly as the mountain Vila.
Soon he leaves the mountain far behind him:
Reaching then the gloomy mountain’s borders;
On the plain beneath him, with his heroes—
p. 94Turkish heroes twelve, the princely Marko
The Visir descries, who looks around him,
Sees the princely Marko in the distance,
And thus calls upon his twelve companions:

“Ye, my children! ye, twelve Turkish heroes!
See ye yonder mountain-mist approaching,
From the darksome mountain travelling hither?
In that mountain-mist is princely Marko;
Lo! how fiercely urges he his courser!
God defend us now from every evil!”
Soon the princely Marko reach’d the Moslems,
From the sheath he drew his trusty sabre,
Drove that arm’d Visir and all his warriors—
Drove them from him—o’er the desert scatters,
As the vulture drives a flock of sparrows.
Marko soon overtakes the flying warriors,
From his neck their chieftain’s head he sever’d;
And the dozen youths his trusty sabre
Into four-and-twenty halves divided.

p. 95Then he stood a while in doubtful musing;
Should he go to Jedren [95a] to the sultan—
Should he rather seek his home at Prilip? [95b]
After all his musings he determined:
“Better is it that I seek the sultan;
And let Marko tell the deeds of Marko—
Not the foes of Marko—not the Moslems!”

So the hero Marko speeds to Jedren.
To the sultan in divan he enter’d;
And his fiery eyes look’d fiercely round him,
As the hungry wolves around the forest;
Look’d as fiercely as if charged with lightnings.
And the sultan ask’d the hero Marko,
“Tell me what hath vex’d thee, princely Marko?
Say in what the sultan has annoy’d thee?
Tell me what misfortune has disturb’d thee?”
Then the princely Marko tells the sultan
p. 96What with Amurath visir had happened;
And the sultan feign’d a merry laughter:
And with agitated brow responded,
“Blessings be upon thee, princely Marko!
Hadst thou not behaved thee thus, my Marko,
Son of mine I would no longer call thee.
Any Turk may get a visir’s title,
But there is no hero like my Marko.”

From his silken vestments then the sultan
From his purse drew out a thousand ducats,
Threw the golden ducats to the hero:
“Take these ducats from thy master, Marko,
Drink to my prosperity, thou hero!”

Marko took the purse of gold in silence,
Walk’d away in silence from the palace;
’T was no love of Marko—no intention
That the hero’s lips should pledge the sultan:
’T was that he should quit the monarch’s presence,
For his fearful wrath had been awaken’d.


At the dawn of day the noble Marko
Rode in sunlight on the Sabbath morning;
By the sea, along the Urvinian mountain,
Towards the mountain-top as he ascended;
Suddenly his trusty Sharaz stumbled;
Sharaz stumbled, and began to weep there.
Sad it fell upon the heart of Marko,
And he thus address’d his favourite Sharaz—
“Ah! my faithful friend, my trusty Sharaz,
We have dwelt a hundred years and sixty,
Dwelt together as beloved companions,
And till now have never, never stumbled.
Thou hast stumbled now, my trusty Sharaz,
Thou hast stumbled, and thine eyes are weeping.
God alone can tell what fate awaits me;—
p. 98One of us is surely doom’d to perish,
And my life or thine is now in peril.”

While the prince apostrophized his Sharaz,
Lo! the Vila from Urvina’s mountain
Call’d aloud unto the princely Marko:
“Brother, listen—listen, princely Marko!
Know’st thou why thy faithful Sharaz stumbled?
Know that he was mourning for his master;
Know that ye ere long must be divided.”
Marko answer’d thus the mountain Vila:
“Thou white Vila, let a curse be on thee! [98]
Now shall I be parted from my Sharaz,
Who through many a land and town hath borne me,
From the sun’s uprising to his setting.
Better steed ne’er trod the earth than Sharaz,
As than Marko never better hero.
While my head stays firmly on my shoulders,
Never will I from my steed be sever’d.”

p. 99The white Vila answer’d princely Marko:
“Brother, listen!—listen, princely Marko!
Force will never tear thy Sharaz from thee;
Vainly ’gainst thee would the arm of hero
Be uplifted—not the shining sabre,
Not the battle-club—nor lance of warrior.
Earth no hero holds who can alarm thee;—
But the brave must die—and thou art mortal;
God will smite thee—God, the old blood-shedder. [99]
But if thou would’st doubt the mountain Vila,
Hasten to the summit of the mountain,
Look to right and look to left around thee:
Thou wilt see two tall and slender fir-trees,
Fir-trees towering o’er the mountain forests;
They with verdant leaves are cover’d over;
And between the fir-trees is a fountain.
Look! and afterwards rein back thy Sharaz,
Then alight, and bind him to the fir-tree:
Bend thee down,—and look into the fountain;
p. 100Look—as if the fountain were a mirror;
Look, and thou shalt see when death awaits thee.”

Marko did, as counsell’d by the Vila.
When he came upon the mountain summit,
To the right and left he look’d around him;
Then he saw two tall and slender fir-trees,
Fir-trees towering high above the forest,
Covered all with verdant leaves and branches.
Then he rein’d his faithful Sharaz backwards,
Then dismounted—tied him to the fir-tree;
Bent him down, and looked into the fountain,
Saw his face upon the water mirror’d,
Saw his death-day written on the water.

Tears rush’d down the visage of the hero:
“O thou faithless world!—thou lovely flow’ret!
Thou wert lovely—a short pilgrim’s journey—
Short—though I have seen three centuries over—
And ’tis time that I should end my journey!”

Then he drew his sharp and shining sabre,
p. 101Drew it forth—and loosed the sabre-girdle;
And he hasten’d to his faithful Sharaz:
With one stroke he cleft his head asunder,
That he never should by Turk be mounted,
Never be disgraced in Turkish service,
Water draw, or drag a Moslem’s Jugum. [101]
Soon as he had cleaved his head asunder,
Graved a grave he for his faithful Sharaz,
Nobler grave than that which held his brother.
Then he broke in four his trusty sabre,
That it might not be a Moslem’s portion,
That it might not be a Moslem’s triumph,
That it might not be a wreck of Marko,
Which the curse of Christendom should follow.
Soon as he in four had broke his sabre,
Next he broke his trusty lance in seven;
Threw the fragments to the fir-trees’ branches.
Then he took his club, so terror-striking,
In his strong right hand, and swiftly flung it,
Flung it from the mountain of Urvina,
Far into the azure, gloomy ocean.
p. 102To his club thus spake the hero Marko:
“When my club returneth from the ocean,
Shall a hero come to equal Marko.”

When he thus had scatter’d all his weapons,
From his breast he drew a golden tablet;
From his pocket drew unwritten paper,
And the princely Marko thus inscribed it:
“He who visits the Urvina mountain,
He who seeks the fountain ’neath the fir-trees,
And there finds the hero Marko’s body,
Let him know that Marko is departed.
When he died, he had three well-fill’d purses;—
How well fill’d?—well fill’d with golden ducats.
One shall be his portion, and my blessing,
Who shall dig a grave for Marko’s body:
Let the second be the church’s portion;
Let the third be given to blind and maim’d ones,
That the blind through earth in peace may wander,
And with hymns laud Marko’s deeds of glory.”

And when Marko had inscribed the letter,
p. 103Lo! he stuck it on the fir-tree’s branches,
That it might be seen by passing travellers.
In the fount he threw his golden tablets,
Doff’d his vest of green, and spread it calmly
On the grass, beneath a sheltering fir-tree;
Cross’d him, and lay down upon his garment;
O’er his eyes he drew his samur-kalpak, [103]
Laid him down,—yes! laid him down for ever.

By the fountain lay the clay-cold Marko
Day and night;—a long, long week he lay there.
Many travellers pass’d, and saw the hero,—
Saw him lying by the public path-way;
And while passing, said, “The hero slumbers!”
Then they kept a more than common distance,
Fearing that they might disturb the hero.

Fortune is the leader of misfortune,
As misfortune oft is fortune’s leader:
p. 104’T was a happy fortune, then, that Vaso,
He the Iguman [104a] of the Holy Mountain, [104b]
From the white church bound of Vilindari,
With his scholar, with the young Isaja,
Thither came and saw the sleeping Marko.
His right hand then beckon’d to his scholar:
“O, my son, be cautious, lest thou wake him!
When disturb’d he rages full of fury,
And without remorse he might destroy us.”
Then he look’d in anxious terror round him,
Saw the letter on the fir-tree branches;
Read it from a distance;—as he trembled,
Read that Marko had in death departed.
From his horse the astonish’d monk alighted,
Seized the hand of Marko;—Marko moved not!
Long he had been dead,—long since departed!

Tears rush’d swiftly from the eye of Vaso,
Marko’s fate fill’d all his thoughts with sorrow.
p. 105From the girdle then he took the purses,
Which he hid beneath his own white girdle:
Round and round inquired Iguman Vaso
Where he should entomb the hero Marko; [105]
Round and round he look’d in fond inquiry.
On his horse he flung the hero’s body,
Brought it safely to the ocean’s borders,
Thence he shipped it for the Holy Mountain;
Near the white church, Vilindari, landed,
To that white church he convey’d the body;
And, as wont, upon the hero’s body
Funeral hymns were sung; and he was buried
In the white church aisle, the very centre,—
There the old man placed the hero’s body.
p. 106But no monument he raised above him,
Lest when foes should mark the hero’s grave-stone,
Theirs should be the joy, and theirs the triumph. [106]


p. 109THE CURSE.

I heard a sprightly swallow say
To a gray cuckoo t’ other day,—
“Thou art a happy bird indeed;
Thou dost not in the chimney breed,
Thou dost not hear the eternal jarring,
Of sisters and step-sisters warring;
Their woes and grievances rehearsing,
Cursing themselves, and others cursing.
A young step-sister once I saw,
Foul language at the elder throw;
“Perdition’s daughter! hence depart;
Thou hast no fruit beneath thy heart.”
p. 110And thus the elder one replied:
“Curse thy perverseness and thy pride!
Mijailo is a son of thine;
Now thou shalt bring forth daughters nine,
And madness shall their portion be.
Thy son shall cross the parting sea;
He never shall return to thee,
But, bathed in blood and wounded, pine!”

And thus she cursed;—the curse was true;
Her sister’s nine fair daughters grew;
And madness seized them,—seized them all:
Mijailo,—far away, and wounded,
By solitude and woe surrounded,
I heard him on his mother call:
“O mother! mother! send me now
A bandage of that snowy linen
Which you so thoughtlessly were spinning,
When curses wander’d to and fro.
In your rage you wove it,—now remove it;
p. 111Tear it for bandages, as you tore
Love and affection all asunder.
Where it was bleach’d thy son lies under;
With it cover his hot wounds o’er.
Rend it, mother! and send it, mother!
May it thy suffering son restore!”

p. 112FAREWELL. [112]

Against white Buda’s walls, a vine
Doth its white branches fondly twine:
O, no! it was no vine-tree there;
It was a fond, a faithful pair,
p. 113Bound each to each in earliest vow—
And, O! they must be severed now!
And these their farewell words:—“We part—
Break from my bosom—break—my heart!
Go to a garden—go, and see,
Some rose-branch blushing on the tree;
And from that branch a rose-flower tear,
Then place it on thy bosom bare;
And as its leavelets fade and pine,
So fades my sinking heart in thine.”
p. 114And thus the other spoke: “My love!
A few short paces backward move,
And to the verdant forest go;
There’s a fresh water-fount below;
And in the fount a marble stone,
Which a gold cup reposes on;
And in the cup a ball of snow—
Love! take that ball of snow to rest
Upon thine heart within thy breast.
And as it melts unnoticed there,
So melts my heart in thine, my dear!”


How captivating is to me,
Sweet flower! thine own young modesty!
Though did I pluck thee from thy stem,
There’s none would wear thy purple gem.
I thought, perchance, that Ali Bey—
But he is proud and lofty—nay!
He would not prize thee—would not wear
A flower so feeble though so fair:
His turban for its decorations
Had full blown roses and carnations.

p. 116SMILIA. [116]

Sweet Smilia-flowers did Smilia pull,
Her sleevelets and her bosom full;
By the cool stream she gather’d them,
And twined her many a diadem—
A diadem of flowery-wreaths;—
One round her brows its fragrance breathes;
One to her bosom-friend she throws;
The other where the streamlet flows
She flings, and says in gentlest tone—
“Swim on, thou odorous wreath! swim on,
Swim to my Juris’ home, and there
O whisper in his mother’s ear:
‘Say, wilt thou not thy Juris wed?—
Then give him not a widow’s bed;
But some sweet maiden, young and fair.’”


Take hold of your reeds, youths and maidens! and see
Who the kissers and kiss’d of the reapers shall be.
Take hold of your reeds, till the secret be told,
If the old shall kiss young, and the young shall kiss old.
Take hold of your reeds, youths and maidens! and see
What fortune and chance to the drawers decree:
And if any refuse, may God smite them—may they
Be cursed by Paraskev, the saint of to-day!
Now loosen your hands—now loosen, and see
Who the kissers and kiss’d of the reapers shall be. [117]


Beauty’s maiden thus invoked the Heavens:
“Send me down a whirlwind! let it scatter
Yonder stony tower—its halls lay open!
Let me look on Gertshich Manoīlo.
If the otter on his knee is playing—
If the falcon sits upon his shoulder—
If the rose is blooming on his kalpak.” [118]

What she pray’d for speedily was granted:
And a storm-wind came across the ocean;
And the stony tower fell down before it:
And she look’d on Gertshich Manoīlo:
Saw the otter on his knees disporting:
Saw the falcon sitting on his shoulder:
Saw the rose upon his kalpak blooming.

p. 119KISSES.

What’s the time of night, my dear?
For my maiden said, “I’ll come”—
Said “I’ll come,”—but is not here:
And ’tis now the midnight’s gloom.
Lone and silent home I turn’d;
But upon the bridge I met her—
Kiss’d her:—How my hot lips burned!—
How forget it—how forget her!
In one kiss full ten I drew:
And upon my lips there grew,
From that hour, a honey-dew,
As if sugar were my meat,
And my drink metheglin sweet.


Lord and master! let us homewards, let us homewards haste:
Far, far distant are our dwellings—far across the waste. [120a]

Some have aged mothers threat’ning—“Ne’er allow another:”
Some male-children [120b] in the cradle, crying for their mother:
Some impatient lovers chiding;—dearer they than brother.

p. 121CURSE.

The maiden cursed her raven eyes,
She cursed them for their treacheries.
“Be blinded now, to you if heaven
All that is visible has given!
If ye see all, ye traitors, say
Why saw ye not my love to day:—
He pass’d my door,—but, truants, ye
Gave not the gentlest hint to me.
He had a nosegay in his hand,—
He wore a gold embroider’d band,—
’Twas made by other hands than mine!
Upon it wreathing branches twine:
May every branch embroidered there,
A miserable heart-wound bear;—
Upon each branch, may every leaf
Bring and betoken toil and grief.”


Lo! the maiden greets the day-star!  “Sister!
Sister star of morning! well I greet thee;
Thou dost watch the world from thine uprising
To thy sinking hour.  In Herzgovina, [122]
Tell me didst thou see the princely Stephan?
Tell me, was his snowy palace open,
Were his steeds caparisoned, and ready;
And was he equipp’d his bride to visit?”

Gently then the morning star responded:
“Lovely sister! beautiful young maiden,
True, I watch the world from my uprising
To my setting;—and in Herzgovina
Saw the palace of the princely Stephan;
p. 123And that snowy palace was wide open,
And his horse was saddled, and was ready,
And he was equipp’d his bride to visit:
But not thee—not thee—another maiden;
False tongues three have whisper’d evil of thee;
One has said—thine origin is lowly;
One, that thou art treacherous as a serpent;
And the third, that thou art dull and dreamy.”

Then the maiden pour’d her imprecations:
“He who said my origin was lowly,
Never let a child of love be born him;
He who called me treacherous as a serpent,
Round his heart, O! let a serpent wreathe it;
Through hot summers in his hair be tangled,
Through cold winters in his bosom nestle;
He who dar’d to call me dull and dreamy,
Nine long years may he be worn by sickness,
And no sleep renew his strength to bear it.”


The maiden sat upon the hill,
Upon the hill and far away,
Her fingers wove a silken cord,
And thus I heard the maiden say:
“O with what joy, what ready will,
If some fond youth, some youth adored,
Might wear thee, should I weave thee now!
The finest gold I’d interblend,
The richest pearls as white as snow.
But if I knew, my silken friend,
That an old man should wear thee, I
The coarsest worsted would inweave,
Thy finest silk for dog-grass leave,
And all thy knots with nettles tie.”


The king from the queen an answer craves;
“How shall we now employ our slaves?”
The maidens in fine embroidery,
The widows shall spin flax-yarn for me,
And the men shall dig in the fields for thee.

The king from the queen an answer craves;
“How shall we, lady, feed our slaves?”
The maidens shall have the honey-comb sweet,
The widows shall feed on the finest wheat,
And the men of maize-meal bread shall eat.

The king from the queen an answer craves;
“Where for the night shall rest our slaves?”
The maidens shall sleep in the chambers high,
The widows on mattress’d beds shall lie,
And the men on nettles under the sky.

p. 126ROSA.

Under roses slept the maiden Rosa,
And a rose fell down and waken’d Rosa;
To the flower-rose, said the maiden Rosa—
“Rose of mine!  O fall not on the maiden,
I am in no tune of soul to love thee,
For a heavy grief o’erwhelms my spirit;
Youth would have me,—but old age hath won me.
An old bridegroom is a worthless maple;
When the wind is up it faints and trembles;
When the rain descends, decay decays it:
But a young bride, is a roselet budding;
When the wind is up, its fair leaves open,
When the rain descends, it shines in beauty,—
When the sun comes forth, it smiles and glories.”


A maiden proudly thus the sun accosted:
“Sun! I am fairer far than thou,—far fairer;
Fairer than is thy sister [127a] or thy brethren,—
Fairer than yon bright moon at midnight shining,
Fairer than yon gay star in heav’n’s arch twinkling,
That star, all other stars preceding proudly,
As walks before his sheep the careful shepherd.”
The sun complain’d to God of such an insult:
“What shall be done with this presumptuous maiden?”
And to the sun God gave a speedy answer:
“Thou glorious Sun! thou my beloved daughter! [127b]
p. 128Be joyous yet! say, why art thou dejected?
Wilt thou reward the maiden for her folly—
Shine on, and burn the maiden’s snowy forehead.
But I a gloomier dowry yet will give her;
Evil to her shall be her husband’s brother;
Evil to her shall be her husband’s father.
Then shall she think upon the affront she gave thee.”


If I had, ah Laso!
All the emp’ror’s treasures,
Well I know, ah Laso!
What with these I’d purchase;
I would buy, ah Laso!
Garden on the Sava;
Well I know, ah Laso!
What my hands would plant there;
I would plant, ah Laso!
Hyacinths, carnations.
If I had, ah Laso!
All the emp’ror’s treasures,
Well I know, ah Laso!
What with these I’d purchase;
I would buy, ah Laso!
I would purchase Laso,
He should be, ah Laso!
Gardener in my garden.


The falcon soars both far and high,
He spreads his pinions in the sky;
Then from his cloudy heights he lowers,
And seats him on the city’s towers:
He sees a laughing girl of grace,
In crystal water bathe her face;
And looks with open, eager eye
Upon her neck of ivory:
White as the snow upon the mountain;
And there he hears a youth recounting
His tale of love.—“Now bend thy head
Upon thy snowy neck,” he said;
“Its whiteness is too bright for me:
And ’neath it sorrowing heart may be.”


Upon the silent Danube’s shore,
   When ev’ning wastes, ’tis sweet to see
(Their golden wine cups flowing o’er);
   Our heroes in their revelry.

A youthful beauty pours the wine,
   And each will pledge a cup to her;
And each of charms that seem divine,
   Would fain become a worshiper.

“Nay! heroes, nay!” the virgin cried,
   “My service—not my love—I give:
For one alone—for none beside:
   For one alone I love and live.”


Lo! the maid her rosy cheeks is laving.
Listen! while she bathes her snowy forehead:
“Forehead! if I thought an old man’s kisses
Would be stamp’d upon thee, I would hasten
To the forest, and would gather wormwood:
Into boiling water press its bitters:
With it steep my forehead ev’ry morning,
That the old man’s kiss might taste of wormwood.
But, if some fair youth should come to kiss me,
I would hurry to the verdant garden:
I would gather all its sweetest roses,
Would condense their fragrance,—and at morning,
Every morning, would perfume my forehead:
So the youth’s sweet kiss would breathe of fragrance,
And his heart be gladden’d with the odour.
p. 133Better dwell with youth upon the mountains,
Than with age in luxury’s richest palace:
Better sleep with youth on naked granite,
Than with eld on silks howe’er voluptuous!”

p. 134CHOICE.

In my court the morning’s twilight found me;
At the chase the early sun while rising,
I upon the mountain—and behind it,
On that mountain, ’neath a dark-green pine tree,
Lo! I saw a lovely maiden sleeping;
On a clover-sheaf her head was pillow’d;
On her bosom lay two snowy dovelets;
In her lap there was a dappled fawnkin.
There I tarried till the fall of ev’ning:
Bound my steed at night around the pine-tree:
Bound my falcon to the pine-tree branches:
Gave the sheaf of clover to my courser:
Gave the two white dovelets to my falcon:
Gave the dappled fawn to my good greyhound:
And, for me,—I took the lovely maiden.

p. 135ANXIETY.

I fain would sing—but will be silent now,
For pain is sitting on my lover’s brow;
And he would hear me—and, though silent, deem
I pleased myself, but little thought of him,
While of nought else I think; to him I give
My spirit—and for him alone I live:
Bear him within my heart, as mothers bear
The last and youngest object of their care.

p. 136INQUIRY.

Say, heavenly spirit! kindly say,
   Where tarries now this youth of mine;
Say, is he speeding on his way,
   Or doth he linger, drinking wine?

If he be speeding on,—elated
   With joy and gladness let him be:
If quaffing wine,—in quiet seated,
   O! his be peace and gaiety!

But if he love another maiden,
   I wish him nought but sorrow:—No!
Then be his heart with anguish laden!
   And let Heaven smite his path with woe!


Thick fell the snow upon St. George’s day;
The little birds all left their cloudy bed;
The maiden wander’d bare-foot on her way;
Her brother bore her sandals, and he said:
“O sister mine! cold, cold thy feet must be.”
“No! not my feet, sweet brother! not my feet—
But my poor heart is cold with misery.
There’s nought to chill me in the snowy sleet:
My mother—’tis my mother who hath chill’d me,
Bound me to one who with disgust hath fill’d me.”


Fondly lov’d a youth and youthful maiden,
And they wash’d them in the self-same water,
And they dried them with the self-same linen:
Full a year had pass’d, and no one knew it:
Yet another year—’twas all discover’d,
And the father heard it, and the mother;
But the mother check’d their growing fondness,
Banish’d love, and exiled them for ever.

To the stars he look’d, and bade them tell her:
“Die, sweet maiden! on the week’s last even;
Early will I die on Sabbath morning.”
As the stars foretold th’ event, it happen’d:
On the eve of Saturday the maiden
Died—and died the youth on Sunday morning:
And they were, fond pair, together buried;
And their hands were intertwined together:
p. 139In those hands they placed the greenest apples:
When, behold! ere many moons had shone there,
From the grave sprung up a verdant pine-tree,
And a fragrant crimson rose-tree follow’d:
Round the pine the rose-tree fondly twined it,
As around the straw the silk clings closely.


A young deer tracked his way through the green forest,
One lonely day—another came in sadness;
And the third dawn’d, and brought him sighs and sorrow:
Then he address’d him to the forest Vila:
“Young deer!” she said, “thou wild one of the forest,
Now tell me what great sorrow has oppress’d thee?
Why wanderest thou thus in the forest lonely:
Lonely one day,—another day in sadness,—
And the third day with sighs and anguish groaning?”

And thus the young deer to the Vila answer’d:
“O thou sweet sister!  Vila of the forest!
Me has indeed a heavy grief befallen;
For I had once a fawn, mine own beloved,
p. 141And one sad day she sought the running water:
She enter’d it, but came not back to bless me:
Then tell me, had she lost her way and wander’d?
Was she pursued and captured by the huntsman?
Or has she left me?—has she wholly left me?—
Loving some other deer—and I forgotten.
O! if she has but lost her way, and wanders,
Teach her to find it—bring her back to love me.
O! if she has been captured by the huntsman,
Then may a fate as sad as mine await him.
But if she has forsaken me—if, faithless,
She loves another deer—and I forgotten—
Then may the huntsman speedily o’ertake her.”


Over Sarajevo flies a falcon,
Looking round for cooling shade to cool him.
Then he finds a pine on Sarejevo;
Under it a well of sparkling water;
By the water, Hyacinth, the widow,
And the Rose, the young, unmarried virgin.
He look’d down—the falcon—and bethought him:
“Shall I kiss grave Hyacinth, the widow;
Or the Rose, the young, unmarried virgin?”
Thinking thus—at last the bird determined—
And he whisper’d to himself sedately,
“Gold—though long employ’d, is far, far better
Than the finest silver freshly melted.”
So he kiss’d—kiss’d Hyacinth, the widow.
Very wroth wax’d then young Rose, the virgin:
p. 143“Sarejevo! let a ban be on thee!
Cursed be thy strange and evil customs!
For thy youths they love the bygone widows,
And thy aged men the untried virgins.”


All the night two nightingales were singing
At the window of th’ affianced maiden;
And th’ affianced maiden thus addressed them:
“Tell me, ye two nightingales, O tell me!
Are ye brothers? are ye brothers’ children?”

Thus the nightingales made speedy answer:
“Brothers are we not, nor brother’s children:
We are friends—friends of the verdant forest.
Once we had another friend—another—
But that friend is lost to us for ever.
We have heard that nuptial bliss awaits him;
And we came the youthful bride to look on,
And to offer her a golden spindle,
With the flax of Egypt bound around it.”

p. 145THE RING.

The streamlet ripples through the mead, beneath the maple tree;
There came a maid that stream to draw—a lovely maid was she;
From the white walls of old Belgrade that maid came smilingly.
Young Mirko saw, and offer’d her a golden fruit, and said:
“O take this apple, damsel fair! and be mine own sweet maid!”
She took the apple—flung it back—and said, in angry tone,
“Neither thine apple, Sir! nor thee—presumptuous boy, be gone!”

p. 146The streamlet ripples through the mead, beneath the maple tree;
There came a maid that stream to draw—a lovely maid was she;
From the white walls of old Belgrade that maid came smilingly.
Young Mirko saw, and proffer’d her a golden brooch, and said:
“O take this brooch, thou damsel fair! and be mine own sweet maid!”
She took the brooch, and flung it back, and said, in peevish tone,
“I’ll neither have thee nor thy brooch—presumptuous boy, be gone!”

The streamlet ripples through the mead, beneath the maple tree;
There came a maid that stream to draw—the loveliest maid was she;
From the white walls of old Belgrade that maid came smilingly.
p. 147Young Mirko saw, and proffer’d her a golden ring, and said:
“O take this ring, my damsel fair! and be mine own sweet maid!”
She took the ring—she slipp’d it on—and said, in sprightliest tone,
“I’ll have thee and thy golden ring, and be thy faithful one.”


Between two mountains sank the sun—
Between two maids the enamour’d one.
He gave his kiss to one alone;
The other maid grew jealous then:
“Most faithless thou of faithless men!”
She said—and he replied—“Fair maid!
I fain would kiss thy cheeks of red,
But thou hast got a bickering brother,
Who loves to quarrel with another,
And I no quarrel seek, my love!”

She hied her to the darksome grove—
Silent—she turn’d o’er many a rock,
And look’d ’neath many a broken stock;
Probed weeds and briars, till she found
A poisonous serpent on the ground.
p. 149She smote it with her golden ring,
Tore from its mouth the venomy fang;
Its poisonous juice her hands did wring
Into a wine cup—and she sprang
On swiftest feet to Raduli—
Her own—her only brother he—
Her hands the fatal cup supplied—
He drank the poison—and he died.

Then sped she to the youth—“A kiss—
At least one kiss of love for this—
For this—for thee—I dress’d the cup
With poison—and he drank it up—
The brother that thou lov’st not—he
I poison’d—for a kiss from thee”—

“Away! away! thou murd’rous maid!
Avaunt! avaunt!”—the lover said:
“What fame—what courage could confide
In thee—a heartless fratricide!”

p. 150LOVE.

The youth he struck on the tambourine,
And nought was so bright as its golden sheen;
Of the hair of maidens twined together
Its strings, which he struck with a falcon’s feather.
The maid look’d down from the balcony,
And thus to her inner self said she:—

“O heaven! what a noble youth is he!
Would’st thou but give this youth to me,
I would make of the garden-pinks his bed,
I would lay fair roses under his head;
And waked by perfume, with what delight
Would he kiss the maiden’s forehead white!”


O thou brotherly maple tree!
Wilt thou be a friend to me?
Be a brother, and be a friend!
To the green grass thy branches bend,
That I may climb to their highest tip!
Look o’er the sea, and see the ship,
Where my lover sits smiling now;
He binds the turban round his brow,
And over his shoulders the shawl he flings,
Which is full of mine own embroiderings.
For three long years my hands inwove
Those golden flowers to deck my love:
The richest silk of the brightest dyes
I work’d for him, and now my eyes
Would fain my absent lover see:
Assist me, brotherly maple tree!
And tell me, if he thinks of me!


Lovely maiden of Semendria! [152]
Turn again thy footsteps hither;
Let me see thy countenance!

Hail thee, youth! and health be with thee!
Hast thou visited the markets?
Saw’st thou there a sheet of paper?
Like that paper is my forehead.
Hast thou ever seen the vineyard,
Seen the rosy wine that flows there?
Youth! my cheeks that wine resemble.
Didst thou ever walk the meadows,
Hast thou seen the black sloe-berry?
p. 153That black sloe my eyes will paint thee:
Hast thou wandered near the ocean?
Hast thou seen the pijavitza? [153]
Like it are the maiden’s eye-brows.


A maiden to the fountain went;
I saw her overhang the place—
And—she was young and innocent—
I heard her say with simple grace,
“Indeed she has a pretty face;
And if she had a spring-flower wreath,
How well ’twould sit upon her brow;
And she might hear the shepherd breathe,
Yes! thou shalt be my maiden now!
The shepherd—’midst his fleecy drove,
Goes like a moon the stars above.”


Maiden! let us share each other’s kisses!
Tell me, tell me, where shall be our meeting,
In thy garden, or in mine, sweet maiden?
Under thine, or under my green rose-tree;
Thou shalt be a rose, my gentle angel:
I to a fond butterfly will change me,
Everlastingly o’er thee to flutter—
On thy flowers untired I will suspend me,
Living blest upon mine own love’s kisses.


The maiden made a foolish vow:
“I’ll never wear a flow’ret now;—
No flow’ret shall be ever mine—
I’ll never drink the proffer’d wine,
No wine I’ll drink—no friend I’ll kiss,
No, never more—my vow is this.”
So rashly, rashly spoke the maid,
But soon—ah, soon—repentance said:

“A flowery garland o’er me,
   How beautiful ’twould be:
And wine—it would restore me,
   My heart’s own gaiety:
And love might play before me,
   If one sweet kiss were free.”

p. 157VILAS.

Vishnia! [157a] lovely vishnia!
Lift thy branches higher;
For beneath thy branches,
Vilas [157b] dance delighted:
While Radisha [157c] dashes
From the flow’rs the dewdrops.
Vilas two conveying,
To the third he whispers:
“O be mine, sweet Vila!
Thou, with mine own mother,
In the shade shalt seat thee;
Silken vestments spinning,
Weaving golden garments.”

p. 158LEPOTA. [158]

Lepota went forth to the harvest—she held
A sickle of silver in fingers of gold:
And the sun mounted high o’er the parched harvest field;
And the maiden in song all her sympathies told.
“I’ll give my white forehead to him who shall bind
All the sheaves which my sickle leaves scatter’d behind:
I’ll give my black eyes to the friend who shall bring
A draught of sweet water just fresh from the spring;
And to him who shall bear me to rest in the shade,
I will be—and for aye—an affectionate maid.”

And she thought that her words were all wasted in air:
But a shepherd—just watching his sheepfold, was there;
p. 159And he flew, and with sedges he bound all the sheaves;
And he made her an arbor of haslewood leaves;
And he ran to the spring, and he brought the sweet water;
And he look’d on the face of Beauty’s young daughter,
And he said, “Lovely maiden, thy promise I claim;”
But the cheeks of the maiden were cover’d with shame,
And she said to the shepherd, while blushing—“Not so!
Go back to thy sheepfold—thou wanderer, go!
For if thou didst bind the loose sheaves, thou hast left
Thy sheep in the stubble, to wander bereft;
And if from the fountain the water thou beared’st,
Its freshness and coolness thou equally shared’st;
And if thou hast reared up an arbor of shade,
For thyself as for me its refreshment was made.”


Through the long night a falcon cried,
“Awake, awake thee! youth! anon
Thy maiden will become a bride:
She puts her marriage garments on.
Awake! awake thee, youth! and send
A marriage blessing to thy friend.”

“What! shall I be a marriage guest?
And shall I bid the maid be blest?
Hear then my marriage blessing, hear!
No son her barren womb shall bear:
May every bit of bread she breaks
Bring with it wretchedness and woe,—
For every drop her thirst that slakes
May tears of bitter anguish flow!”


Two lovers kiss each other in the meadows;
They think that no one sees the fond betrayal,
But the green meadows see them, and are faithless;
To the white flocks incontinent they say all;
And the white flocks proclaim it to the shepherd,
The shepherd to a high-road traveller brings it;
He to a sailor on the restless ocean tells it,
The sailor to his spice-ship thoughtless sings it;
The spice-ship whispers it upon the waters,
The waters rush to tell the maiden’s mother.

And thus impassioned spoke the lovely maiden—
“Meadows! of spring-days never see another!
Flocks! may the cruel ravenous wolves destroy ye.
Thee, shepherd! may the cruel Moslem slaughter.
p. 162Wanderer! may oft thy slippery footsteps stumble.
Thee, sailor! may the ocean billows smother.
Ship! may a fire unquenchable consume thee;
And sink into the earth, thou treacherous water!”

p. 163WISHES.

O that I were a little stream,
That I might flow to him—to him!
How should I dance with joy, when knowing
To whom my sparkling wave was flowing!
Beneath his window would I glide,
And linger there till morning-tide;
When first he rouses him to dress
In comely garb his manliness,—
Then should he weak, or thirsty be,
O he might stoop to drink of me!
Or baring there his bosom, lave
That bosom in my rippling wave.
O what a bliss, if I could bear
The cooling power of quiet there!


O nightingale! thy warblings cease,
And let my master sleep in peace:
’Twas I who lull’d him to repose,
And I will wake him from his rest;
I’ll seek the sweetest flower that grows,
And bear it to his presence blest;
And gently touch his cheeks, and say,
“Awake, my master! for ’tis day.”


O nightingale! sweet bird—they say,
   That peace abides with thee;
But thou hast brought from day to day
   A triple woe to me.
The first, first woe my spirit knew,
   My first, first woe was this,
My mother never train’d me to
   A lover’s early bliss.
My second woe, my second woe,
   Was that my trusty steed,
Whene’er I mounted, seem’d to show
   Nor eagerness nor speed.
My third, third woe—of all the worst,
   Is that the maid I woo,
The maid I lov’d the best—the first,
   Is angry with me too.
p. 166Then grave an early grave for me,
   Yon whiten’d fields among;
In breadth two lances let it be,
   And just four lances long.
And o’er my head let roses grow,
   There plant the red-rose tree;
And at my feet a fount shall flow,
   O scoop that fount for me!
So when a youthful swain appears,
   The roses he shall wreathe;
And when an old man bent with years,
   He’ll drink the stream beneath.


The sheep, beneath old Buda’s wall,
Their wonted quiet rest enjoy;
But ah! rude stony fragments fall,
And many a silk-wool’d sheep destroy;
Two youthful shepherds perish there,
The golden George, and Mark the fair.

For Mark, O many a friend grew sad,
And father, mother wept for him:
George—father, friend, nor mother had,
For him no tender eye grew dim:
Save one—a maiden far away,
She wept—and thus I heard her say:

“My golden George—and shall a song,
A song of grief be sung for thee—
p. 168’Twould go from lip to lip—ere long
By careless lips profaned to be;
Unhallow’d thoughts might soon defame
The purity of woman’s name.

“Or shall I take thy picture fair,
And fix that picture in my sleeve?
Ah! time will soon the vestment tear,
And not a shade, nor fragment leave:
I’ll give not him I love so well
To what is so corruptible.

“I’ll write thy name within a book;
That book will pass from hand to hand,
And many an eager eye will look,
But ah! how few will understand!
And who their holiest thoughts can shroud
From the cold insults of the crowd?” [168]


Lo! a fir-tree towers o’er Sarajevo,
Spreads o’er half the face of Sarajevo—
Rises up to heaven from Sarajevo:
Brothers and half-sisters there were seated;
And the brother cuts a silken garment,
Which he holds, and questions thus his sister:

“Brother’s wife! thou sweet and lovely dovelet!
Wherefore art thou looking at the fir-tree?
Art thou rather dreaming of the poplar,
Or art thinking of my absent brother?”

To her brother thus the lady answer’d:
“Golden-ring of mine! my husband’s brother!
Not about the fir-tree was I dreaming,
Nor the noble stem of lofty poplar;
p. 171Neither was I dreaming of my brother.
I was thinking of my only mother,
She with sugar and with honey reared me;
She for me the red wine pour’d at even,
And at midnight gave the sweet metheglin;
In the morning milk, with spirit chasten’d,
So to give me cheeks of rose and lily;
And with gentle messages she waked me,
That her child might grow both tall and slender.”

p. 172COUNSEL.

My Misho! tell me, tell me, pray,
Where wert thou wandering yesterday?”
‘I did not ramble—did not roam;
A wretched head-ache kept me home.’
“A thousand times I’ve said, I think,
No widows love—no water drink!
But thou, a thoughtless unbeliever,
Wilt water drink, and get a fever;
Wilt give to widows thine affection,
And find remorse, or find rejection;
Now take my counsel,—drink of wine,
And be a virgin maiden thine!”


Gloomy night! how full thou art of darkness!
Thou, my heart! art fuller yet of sorrow,
Sorrow which I bear, but cannot utter!
I have now no mother who will hear me,
I have now no sister who will soothe me,—
Yet I had a friend—but he is absent!
Ere he comes, the night will be departed;
Ere he wakes, the birds will sing their matins;
Ere his kiss, the twilight hour will brighten:
Go thy way, my friend! the day is dawning!


Sweet maiden mine! thou blushing rose!
   Sweet, blushing roselet mine!
For me, what thought of honey flows
   From those sweet lips of thine?”
‘I dare not speak with thee, my dear,
   My mother has forbid me.’
“Sweet maid! thy mother is not here.”
   ‘She saw me once, and chid me.
Sir, she is in the garden there,
   Plucking the evergreen:—
O may her heart like mine decay,
   Like mine decay unseen,—
Ere love’s sweet power has pass’d away,
   As it had never been.’

p. 175MILITZA.

Long and lovely are Militza’s eyebrows,
And they overhang her cheeks of roses—
Cheeks of roses, and her snowy forehead.
Three long years have I beheld the maiden,
Could not look upon her eyes so lovely—
On her eyes—nor on her snowy forehead.
To our country dance I lured the maiden,
Lured Militza,—lured her to our dances,
Hoping to look on her eyes so lovely.

While they danced upon the greensward, verdant
In the sunshine, sudden darkness gather’d,
And the clouds broke out in fiery lightning,
And the maidens all look’d up to heaven,—
All the maidens—all, except Militza.
p. 176She still look’d on the green grass, untrembling,
While the maidens trembled as they whisper’d:

“O Militza! thou our friend and playmate,
Art thou overwise—or art thou silly?
Thus to look upon the grass beneath us,
And not look up to the heaven above us,
To the clouds, round which the lightnings wind them.”

And Militza gave this quiet answer:
“I am neither overwise nor silly.
Not the Vila, [176] not the cloud-upgatherer;
I am yet a maid—and look before me.”


He slept beneath a poplar tree:
And three young maidens cross’d the way;
I listened to the lovely three,
And heard them to each other say:—
“Now what is dearest, love! to thee?”
The eldest said—‘Young Ranko’s ring
Would be to me the dearest thing.’
“No! not for me,” the second cried;
“I’d choose the girdle from his side.”
‘Not I,’ the youngest said—‘In truth,
I’ll rather have the sleeping youth.
The ring, O sister! will grow dim,
The girdle will ere long be broken;
But this is an eternal token,—
His love for me, and mine for him.’

p. 178FOR WHOM?

Sweet fountain, that so freshly flows!
And thou, my own carnation-rose,
That shinest like a shining gem!
And shall I tear thee from thy stem?
For whom? my mother? ah! for whom?
My mother slumbers in the tomb.
For whom? my sister? she has fled,
To seek a foreign bridal bed.
For whom? my brother? he is far,
Far off, in dark and bloody war.
For whom, for whom, but thee, my love?
But thou art absent far above,
Above these three green mountains,
Beyond these three fresh fountains!

p. 179LIBERTY.

Nightingale sings sweetly
In the verdant forest;
In the verdant forest,
On the slender branches.

Thither came three sportsmen,
Nightingale to shoot at.
She implored the sportsmen,
“Shoot me not, ye sportsmen!

“Shoot me not, ye sportsmen!
I will give you music,
In the verdant garden,
On the crimson rose-tree.”

But the sportsmen seize her;
They deceive the songster,
p. 180In a cage confine her,
Give her to their loved one.

Nightingale will sing not—
Hangs its head in silence:
Then the sportsmen bear her
To the verdant forests.

Soon her song is waken’d;
“Woe! woe! woe betides us,
Friend from friend divided,
Bird from forest banish’d!”

p. 181THE DANCE.

Omer’s court is near to Sarajevo; [181a]
All around it is a woody mountain:
In the midst there is a verdant meadow;
There the maidens dance their joyous Kolo. [181b]
In the Kolo there is Damian’s loved one;
O’er the Kolo her fair head uprises,
Rises gay and lustrous in her beauty.
’Midst the Kolo Nicholas address’d her:
“Veil your face, thou Damian’s best beloved!
For to-day death’s summons waits on Damian.
Half thy face veil over, lovely maiden!”
Hardly the prophetic words were utter’d,
Ere a gun was heard from the green forest;
p. 182Damian, wounded, fell amidst the Kolo—
Damian fell, and thus his love address’d him:
“O my Damian!  O my sun of springtime!
Wherefore, wherefore didst thou shine so brightly,
Thus so soon to sink behind the mountain?”
“My beloved!  O thou rose all beauteous!
Wherefore didst thou bloom so fair, so lovely,
And I never can enjoy, nor wear thee?”

p. 183ELEGY.

Konda died—his mother’s only offspring.
O what grief was hers the youth to bury
Far away from his own natural dwelling!
So she bore him to a verdant garden,
And ’neath gold pomegranate trees interr’d him.
Every, every day she wandered thither:
“Doth the earth, sweet son, lie heavy on thee?
Heavy are the planks of maple round thee?”
From his grave the voice of Konda answers:
“Lightly presses the green earth upon me,
Lightly press the planks of maple round me.
Heavy is the virgins’ malediction;
When they sigh, their sighs reach God’s high presence;
When they curse, the world begins to tremble;
When they weep, even God is touch’d with pity.”

p. 184INQUIRY.

A maiden sat on th’ ocean shore,
And held this converse with herself:
“O God of goodness and of love!
What’s broader than the mighty sea,
And what is longer than the field,
And what is swifter than the steed,
What sweeter than the honey dew,
What dearer than a brother is?”
A fish thus answer’d from the sea:
“O maid! thou art a foolish girl.
The heaven is broader than the sea;
The sea is longer than the field;
The eye is swifter than the steed;
Sugar more sweet than honey dew;
Dearer than brother is thy love.”

p. 185DOUBT.

Three young travellers travell’d forth to travel:
On their travels met a lovely maiden:
Each will give the lovely maid a present:
One presents her with a fresh-pluck’d apple:
One presents her with bosilka [185a] flowering:
One a gold ring for the maiden’s finger.
He who gave the maiden the bosilka
Said, “The maid is mine—I claim the maiden.”
He who gave the maid the fresh-pluck’d apple
Said, “The maid is mine—I claim the maiden.”
He who gave the gold ring to the maiden
Said, “We’ll go and seek the judge [185b] together:
He shall say to whom belongs the maiden.”
p. 186So they went and sought the judge’s presence:
“Judge, thou honourable judge! between us:
We three travellers travell’d forth together,
And we met a maiden in our travels,
And we gave her—gave her each a present:
One of us a green and fresh-pluck’d apple:
One presented her bosilka flowering;
And the third a gold ring for her finger:—
Now decide to whom belongs the maiden.”

Thus the honourable judge decided:
“We present bosilka for its odour:
As a pledge of love we give an apple:
But to give a ring is a betrothing;—
He who gave the ring must have the maiden.”


Listen!  I hear a cry, a cry!
The bells are ringing lustily;
And the hens are cackling all in riot.
No! no! no! the bells are quiet;
The hens at rest with one another:
’Tis the sister calls the brother:

“Brother! I am a Moslem slave:
Tear me from my Turkish grave.
Small the price which sets me free:
Of pearls two measures—of gold but three.”

In vain she calls her brother.—‘O no!
My treasures to my apparel go:
The gold my horse’s bridle must deck:
My pearls must grace my maiden’s neck;
Must buy a kiss—must buy a kiss.’
p. 188The maid her brother answer’d with this:
“I am no slave!  I am no less
Than the sultan’s chosen sultaness.”


Here there is a maiden,
Young, and yet a virgin:
Give her then a husband,
Or give us the maiden,
And we will betroth her
To Ivan the student.
He’s our parson’s nephew—
He has art to write on
Pinions of the eagle.
What shall be his subject?
What—but bright-eyed maidens
And the brows of heroes?


O thou lovely maiden!
Lo! thy praise has mounted
To the monarch’s city!
Maiden! thou hast planted
The six-branch’d kaloper [190a]
And bosilka [190b] early.
But the youths unmarried
Long have been in waiting
To tear up thy balsam—
Thy bosilka pillage.
Know’st thou not they linger
Just to steal thy kisses?
Maiden! maiden! never
Let those youths betray thee!


O sleep! sweet sleep! in vain, in vain
      I bid thee visit me:
The anxious thought disturbs my brain—
      Whose shall the maiden be?
My mother says, “The goatherd, child!
      The goatherd, child! for thee.”
   Nay, mother, nay! not he, not he;
   That were no happiness for me:
   He tracks the mountains steep and wild
   Where rocks and dangers be.

O sleep! sweet sleep! in vain, in vain
      I bid thee visit me:
The anxious thought disturbs my brain—
      Whose shall the maiden be?
My mother says, “The shepherd, maid!
      The shepherd, maid! for thee.”
   p. 192Nay, mother, nay! not he, not he;
   That were no happiness for me:
   He wanders through the distant glade
   Where wolves and perils be.

O sleep! sweet sleep! in vain, in vain
      I bid thee visit me:
The anxious thought disturbs my brain—
      Whose shall the maiden be?
My mother says, “The tradesman, dear!
      The tradesman, dear! for thee.”
   Nay, mother, nay! not he, not he;
   That were no happiness for me:
   He is a wanderer far and near,
   His house no home may be.

O sleep, sweet sleep! in vain, in vain
      I bid thee visit me:
The anxious thought disturbs my brain—
      Whose shall the maiden be?
My mother says, “The tailor, then,
      The tailor, then, for thee!”
   p. 193Nay! mother! nay; not he, not he!
   That were no happiness for me;
   The tailor’s needle may be keen,
   His children hungry be.

O sleep, sweet sleep! in vain, in vain
      I bid thee visit me;
The anxious thought disturbs my brain,
      Whose shall the maiden be?
My mother says;—“The peasant, take
      The peasant, child! for thee.”
      Yes! mother, yes! in him I see
   Both love and happiness for me;
   For though his labouring hands are black,
   The whitest bread eats he.


His breath is amber,—sharp his reed;
The hand which holds it, O! how white.
He writes fair talismans,—a creed,
For maidens doth the loved one write:
“Of him that will not have thee,—think not!
From him that fain would have thee, shrink not.”


Come with me, thou charming maiden!
Be my love and come with me.”
‘Wherefore play with words so foolish?
That can never, never be;
I had rather in the tavern
Bear the golden cup, than ever,—
Ever promise to be thine.’
“I am the young tavern-keeper,
So thou wilt indeed be mine.”

‘Wherefore play with words so foolish?
No such fate will e’er befall;
In the coffee-house I’d rather
Serve, envelop’d in my shawl,
Rather than be thine at all.’
“But I am the coffee boiler,
Thee, my maiden, will I call.”

p. 196‘Wherefore play with words so foolish?
That can never, never be;
Rather o’er the field I’ll wander,
Changed into a quail, than ever,
Ever give myself to thee.’
“But I am a vigorous sportsman,
And thou wilt belong to me.”

‘Play not, youth! with words so foolish,
That can never, never be;
Rather to a fish I’d change me,
Dive me deep beneath the sea,
Rather than belong to thee.’
“But I am the finest network,
Which into the sea I’ll cast;
Mine thou art, and mine thou shalt be,—
Yes! thou must be mine at last;
Be it here, or be it there,
Mine thou must be every where.”


Lovely maiden gather’d roses,
   Sleep overtook her then;
Pass’d a youth and call’d the maiden,
   Waked the maid again:
“Wake! O wake! thou lovely maiden,
   Why art slumbering now?
All the rosy wreaths are fading,
   Fading on thy brow.
He, thy heart’s own love, will marry;
   He will break his vow!”
‘Let him marry, let him marry,
   I shall not complain;
But the thunderbolt of heav’n
   Shall destroy him then.’


On the balcony young Jovan sported,
While he sported, lo! it crash’d beneath him,
And he fell,—his right arm broke in falling!
Who shall find a surgeon for the sufferer?
Lo! the Vila of the mountain sends one,
But the recompense he asks is heavy;
Her white hand demands he of the mother,—
Of the sister all her silken ringlets,—
Of the wife he asks her pearl-strung necklace.

Freely gave her hand young Jovan’s mother,
Freely gave her silken hair his sister,
But his wife refus’d her pearly treasure:—
“Nay! I will not give my pearl-strung necklace,
For it was a present of my father.”
Anger then incens’d the Mountain-Vila,
p. 199Into Jovan’s wounds she pour’d her poison,
And he died,—Alas! for thee, poor mother!

Then began the melancholy cuckoos,—[199]
Cuckoos then began their funeral dirges;
One pour’d out her mournful plaints unceasing,
One at morning mourn’d, and mourn’d at ev’ning,
And the third whene’er sad thoughts came o’er her.
Tell me which is the unceasing mourner?
’Tis the sorrowing mother of young Jovan.
Which at morning mourns and late at evening?
’Tis the grieving sister of young Jovan.
Which when melancholy thoughts come o’er her?
’Tis the youthful wife,—the wife of Jovan.


I heard young Falisava say:
“I’ll have no ancient greybeard, nay!
A sprightly beardless youth for me.”
An aged man the maiden heard,
He shaves his long and snowy beard,
And paints his chin like ebony:
To Falisava then he goes—
“My heart! my soul! my garden rose!
A beardless youth is come for thee.”
And then she listen’d—they were wed—
And to the old man’s home they sped.

Then twilight came, and evening’s shade—
And said the old man to the maid:
“Sweet Falisava! maiden fair!
Our bed beside the stove prepare,
And the warm feather-mattress bear”—
p. 201The maiden heard—the maiden went,
And gather’d flowers of sweetest scent—
Of sweetest scent and fairest hue,
Which on the old man’s bed she threw,
And like a strong-wing’d eagle then
Flew to her father’s home again.


Who is mourning there in Glamotz’s fortress?
’Tis the Vila—’tis an angry serpent?
’Tis no Vila—’tis no angry serpent!
’Tis the maid Emina there lamenting—
There lamenting, for her woe is grievous!
Lo! the Ban the maiden hath imprison’d—
Hath imprison’d her, and will baptize her;
But Emina never will be faithless—
From the white-wall’d tower will fling her rather.

Thus the unbelieving Ban address’d she:
“Unbelieving Ban! a moment tarry,
While I hasten to the upper story.”
And she hasten’d to the upper story;
Look’d around her from the white-wall’d fortress:
In the distance saw her father’s dwelling—
Saw the white school where she pass’d her childhood.
p. 203“O my father’s home! my poor heart’s sorrow!
School of childhood! once that childhood’s terror!
Many a day of weariness and sorrow
Did thy small-writ lessons give Emina.”
Then she wrapp’d her snowy robes around her—
Thought not of the band that bound her tresses,
And she flung her from the fortress turret.
But her hairband caught the open window—
From the window, ah! she hung suspended—
Hung a week suspended from the window—
Then her hair gave way—and then the maiden
On the greensward fell.
            The Christian heard it—
He, the Christian Ban, and hasten’d thither;
Oft and oft he kiss’d the dead Emina;
And he peacefully entomb’d the maiden.
O’er her grave a chapel he erected,
And with golden apples he adorn’d it.
Ere a week had pass’d away, descended
On her tomb a beauteous light from heaven;
At her head a beauteous light was kindled;
At her feet another light shone sweetly;
p. 204And her aged mother saw and wonder’d.
From her chain she took her knife, and plunged it—
Plunged it deep within her troubled bosom—
Fell, and died—O melancholy mother!


I loved her from her infancy,
         Lado!  Lado!
From childhood to maturity,
         Lado!  Lado!
And when I claim’d the smiling maid,
         Lado!  Lado!
“Ye are of kindred blood!” they said,
         Lado!  Lado!
“Brother and sister’s children ye,
         Lado!  Lado!
It were a sin to steal a kiss,”
         Lado!  Lado!
Oh what a sacrifice is this!
         Lado!  Lado!
I’ll steal a kiss though I be riven,
         Lado!  Lado!
From every, every hope of heaven,
         Lado!  Lado!
p. 206For what would heaven become to me,
         Lado!  Lado!
When the long nights of autumn flee,
         Lado!  Lado! [206]

p. 207WITCHES.

The sky is cover’d with stars again:
The plains are cover’d with flocks of sheep:
But where is the shepherd?  On the plain
The shepherd is lost in careless-sleep:
The youthful Rādoje sleeps:—Arise!
Awake! his sister Jania cries.

“Jania! sister! nay! depart!
   My body to witches is plighted:
My mother has torn away my heart,
   And my aunt my mother lighted.”

p. 208PLEDGES.

The wind was with the roses playing:
   To Ranko’s tent it blew their leaves:
Militza, Ranko, there were staying;
   And Ranko writes—Militza weaves.
His letter done, he drops his pen:
   Her finish’d web she throws aside:
And lo! I heard the lover then
   Low whisper to his promised bride:
“Militza! tell me truly now
   And dost thou love me—love me best?
Or heavy is thy nuptial vow?”—
   And thus the maid the youth address’d:
“O trust me—thou my heart—my soul!
   That thou art dearer far to me—
p. 209Far dearer, Ranko! than the whole
   Of brothers—many though they be:
And that the vows we pledged together
Are lighter than the lightest feather.”


O flower! so lovely in thy bloom,
Be evil fate thy mother’s doom!
Thy mother, who so kindly nurst,
And sent thee to our village first.
Where heroes o’er their cups romancing,
And our young striplings stones are flinging,
And our delighted brides are dancing,
And our gay maidens songs are singing—
’Twas then I saw thee, lovely flower!
And lost my quiet from that hour.

p. 211SONG.

The winter is gone,
      Beloved, arise!
The spring is come on,
The birds are all singing:
      Beloved, arise!

The roses are springing;
Earth laughs out in love:
      Beloved, arise!
And thou, my sweet dove!
O waste not thy time:
      Beloved, arise!

Enjoy the sweet bliss
Of a kiss—of a kiss:
      Beloved, arise!
In the hour of thy prime,
      Beloved, arise!


I have piercing eyes—the eyes of falcons:
I am of undoubted noble lineage:
I can read the heart of Osman Aga:
I was ask’d by Osman Aga’s mother:
“Cursed witch: and yet most lovely maiden!
Why with white and red dost paint thy visage?
Fascinate no longer Osman Aga!
I will speed me to the verdant forest,
Build me up of maple-trees a dwelling,
And lock up within it Osman Aga.”

Then the maid replied to Osman’s mother:
“Lady Anka!  Osman Aga’s mother—
I have falcon eyes—and eyes of devils:
With them I can ope thy maple dwelling—
With them visit, too, thy Osman Aga.”


Two solitary sisters, who
A brother’s fondness never knew,
Agreed, poor girls, with one another,
That they would make themselves a brother:
They cut them silk, as snow-drops white;
And silk, as richest rubies bright;
They carved his body from a bough
Of box-tree from the mountain’s brow;
Two jewels dark for eyes they gave;
For eyebrows, from the ocean’s wave
They took two leeches; and for teeth
Fix’d pearls above, and pearls beneath;
For food they gave him honey sweet,
And said, “Now live, and speak, and eat.”


On the hill, the fir-tree hill,
   Grows a tall fir-tree:
There a maiden, calm and still,
   Sits delightedly.
To a youthful swain she pledges
   Vows: “O come to me:
Lightly spring across the hedges:
   Come—but silently.
Come at eve—lest harm betide thee.
   If any home thou seek,
In our quiet dwelling hide thee;
   Not a whisper speak.”
As he o’er the hedges sprung,
   Lo! a twig he tore:
When the house-door ope he flung,
   Noisy was the door.
p. 215When he enter’d in, there fell
   Shelves upon the floor,
’Twas the broken china’s knell—
   O the luckless hour!
Then her mother comes afeard,
   Trips and cuts her knee;
And her father burns his beard
   In perplexity.
And the youth must quench the fire,
And the maiden must retire.


Lo! upon the mountain green
Stands a fir tree tall and thin—
’Tis no fir tree—none at all—
’Tis a maiden thin and tall.
Three long years the enamour’d one
Fed upon her eyes alone;
On the fourth, he sought the bliss
Of the maiden’s primal kiss:
“Why, thou witching maid! repel me—
Why with foot of scorn dost tread,
On my feet, my boots of red!
Why despise me, maiden! tell me.”

“No, my friend, I will not tread
On thy feet, thy boots of red!
p. 217Come at evening—come and string
Pearls for me—and thou shalt fling
O’er me my embroider’d shawl.
We will go at morning’s call
To the Kolo—Friend! but thou
Must not touch the maiden now
Know’st thou not that busy slander
Follows us where’er we wander?
Evil tongues are ever talking;
Calumny abroad is walking.
Know’st thou that a simple kiss
Ample food for slander is?
‘Never did we kiss,’ you’ll say,
‘Till last evening and to-day.’
Come at evening—come my dear!
Sisters’ eyes will watch thee here.”


Where wert thou, Misho! yesterday?”
‘O ’twas a happy day to me!
A lovely maiden cross’d my way,
A maiden smiling lovelily.
And those sweet smiles for me were meant;
I claimed her—mother answer’d ‘No!’
Would steal her—vain was the intent,
For many guardians watch’d her so.
There grows a verdant almond-tree
Before her house—its boughs I’ll climb;
Wail like a cuckoo mournfully,
And swallow-like, at evening time,
Pour forth my woe in throbbings deep,
And like a sorrowing widow sigh,
And like a youthful maiden weep.
So may her mother turn her eye,
Pitying my grief, her heart may move,
And she may give me her I love.’


I wish the happy time were nigh,
When youths are sold, that I might buy.
But for an azure-eyed Milinar, [219]
I would not give a single dinar,
Though for a raven-black eyed youth,
A thousand golden coins, in truth.
Alas! alas!—and is it true?
My own fair youth has eyes of blue;
Yes! they are blue—yet dear to me—
Will he forgive my levity?
Ye maidens! pray him to forgive me;
Nay! spare me now—and rather leave me
To tell him “I am yours”—and smile
In fond affection all the while.

p. 220THE WIDOW.

Rose! O smile upon the youth no longer;
He, in his impatience to be wedded,
Chose a widow for his years unsuited,
And where’er she goes, where’er she tarries,
She is mourning for her ancient husband.

“O my husband! first and best possession!
Happy were the days we spent together!
Early we retired and late we waken’d.
Thou didst wake me kissing my white forehead,
‘Up, my heart! the sun is high in heaven,
And our aged mother is arisen.’”

p. 221ALARMS.

Fairest youths are here—but not the fairest!
Could I hear him now, or could I see him,—
Could I know if he be sick, or faithless!
Were he sick, my ears would rather hear it,
Than that he had loved another maiden.
Sickness may depart, and time restore him,—
If enamour’d,—never! never! never!

p. 222FOND WIFE.

O! if I were a mountain streamlet,
   I know where I would flow;
I’d spring into the crystal Sava,
   Where the gay vessels go,
That I might look upon my lover—
   For fain my heart would know
If, when he holds the helm, he ever
   Looks on my rose, and thinks
Of her who gave it;—if the nosegay
   I made of sweetest pinks
Is faded yet, and if he wear it.
   On Saturday I cull
To give him for a Sabbath present
   All that is beautiful.


The maiden gave the ring she wore
To him who gave it her before:
“O take the ring,—for thou and thine
Are hated,—not by me,—but mine:—
Father and mother will not hear thee,
Brother and sister both forswear thee:
Yet, think not, youth,—O think not ill
Of her who needs must love thee still!
I am a poor unhappy maid,
Whose path the darkest clouds o’ershade;
I sowed sweet basil, and there grew
On that same spot the bitterest rue:
And wormwood, that unholy flower,
Is now alone my marriage dower;
The only flower which they shall wear
Who to the maiden’s marriage come,
When for my marriage altar there
The guests shall find the maiden’s tomb.”


Upon her mother’s bosom lay
Young Mira, and she pined away.
’T was in her own maternal shed;
And thus the anxious mother said:—
“What ails thee, tell me, Mira! pray?”

“O ask me not, my mother dear!
I feel that death approaches near;
I shall not rise from this my bed;
But, mother mine! when I am dead—
O mother mine! call round me all
My playmates to my funeral:
And let the friends I loved receive
The little gifts that I shall leave;
Then let me sleep in peace beneath.—
There’s one, my mother, I should grieve
To be divided from in death.
p. 225Then call around me priests divine,
And pious pilgrims, mother mine!
The forehead of thy dying daughter
Steep in the rose’s fragrant water.
And, mother, let my forehead be
Dried with the rose-leaves from the tree;
And pillow not thy daughter’s head,
O mother! with the common dead;
But let me have a quiet tomb
Adjacent to my Mirjo’s home,
And near my Mirjo’s nightly bed;
So when he wakes his thoughts shall dwell
With her he loved, and loved so well.”


The sun sank down behind the gold-flower’d hill;
The warriors from the fight approach the shore:
There stood young George’s wife, serene and still:
She counted all the heroes o’er and o’er,
And found not those she loved—though they were three:—
Her husband, George; her marriage friend, another,
Who late had led the marriage revelry;
The third, her best-beloved, her only brother.

Her husband, he was dead; she rent her hair
For him.—Her friend was gone,—for him she tore
Her cheeks.—Her only brother was not there:
For him she pluck’d her eye-balls from their bed.
Her hair grew forth as lovely as before;
Upon her cheeks her former beauties spread;
But nothing could her perish’d sight restore:
Nought heals the heart that mourns a brother dead.

p. 227REBUKE.

Maiden! hast thou seen my steed?”
‘Faithless one! not I, indeed!
But I heard that thou hadst tied him
   To the mountain-maple tree;
When a stranger pass’d beside him,
   Full of scorn and rage was he:
With his hoofs the ground he beat;
   Of his master’s guilt he knew.
Not one maiden did he cheat:
   No; that master cheated two:
One has borne a wretched child;
One with grief and shame is wild!’

p. 228MAN’S FAITH.

Say! dost thou remember when under the vine,
Thy tears fell in streams on the breast of thy maid;
When thy heart burst in joy as I own’d thee for mine?
Alas! for the maiden whose peace is betray’d,
By the tears and the vows of a falsehood like thine!
As the changeable sky—now o’erclouded, now bright,
Is the faith of thy race—their language to-day,
“I will wed thee to-morrow, my love and my light!”
To-morrow—“Let’s wait till the harvest’s away.”
The harvest is ended, the winter is nigh,
And another maid dwells in their hearts and their eye.


Black is the night—an outcast lad
Is wandering in our village, mother!
Thy daughter’s heart is very sad,
Sad even to death!  He has no home:
O give him ours, he has no other,
And bid the lad no longer roam!”
‘Nay! daughter, let this outcast stray,
He is a proud and city youth;
Will ask for wine at break of day,
And costly meats at eve, forsooth,
And for his city-tutor’d head
Will want a soft and stately bed.’

“O mother!  In God’s name divine,
Give the poor lad a shelter now:
My eyes shall serve instead of wine,
p. 230For costly meats my maiden brow.
My neck shall be his honey comb:
His bed the dewy grass shall be,
And heaven his stately canopy.
His head shall rest upon my arm.
O mother! give the youth a home,
And shelter, shelter him from harm.”



Make ready! make ready,”
To his sister the youth is repeating;
“Make ready my steed for the wedding,
O sister! the young Doge [231] is waiting:
I’m bid to the wedding, I’m summon’d to guide
To the wedding the maiden—the Doge’s young bride.”


What is shining on the verdant mountain?
Sun—or moon—so beautifully shining?
’Tis not sun, or moon that shines so brightly,
’Tis the bridegroom [232] hasting to the marriage.


Sweetest of maidens!  O be still,
Be silent—prithee weep not now,
Thy mother she will weep—wilt fill
Her sorrowing eyes with tears, for thou
Wilt leave thy cherish’d home ere long:
p. 233And when thy young companions go
To the fresh stream, amidst the throng
She’ll seek thee—will she find thee?  No!


O thou young bridegroom, thou rose in its beauty,
Lo! we have brought thee a rosemary branch;
And if the rosemary branch should decay,
Thine will the shame be, the sorrow be ours.
Scatter the rosemary leaves o’er thy way;
Let not destruction disparage its flowers.


Maid! from a distant forest tree,
A verdant leaf is blown to thee;
p. 234And that green leaf has fixed it now,
In the green garland on thy brow:
The garland green, that we have bound,
Maiden! thy auburn ringlets round:
O no! it is no leaf, that we
Have braided in a wreath for thee;
’Tis the white hood that thou must wear,
The token of domestic care:
Thou hast no mother now—another,
A stranger must be called thy mother;
And sister-love thy heart must share,
With one who was not born thy brother.


An apple tree at Ranko’s door was growing,
Its trunk was silver, golden were its branches;
Its branches golden, and of pearls its foliage,
Its leaves were pearls, and all its apples corals.
And many dovelets, on the branches seated,
p. 235Coo’d in their fond affection to each other;
Coo’d loudly, and they pluck’d the pearls—one, only
One, only one was silent, one was silent—
It coo’d not, pluck’d no pearls from off the branches:
That one was terrified by Ranko’s mother:
“Begone—gray dovelet! thou art an intruder!
Was not the apple-tree by Ranko planted?
By Ranko planted, and by Ranko watered,
That it might shade the guests at Ranko’s marriage,
Shade all his guests beneath its joyous branches.”




[0a]  Instit. Ling. Salv. p. 154.

[0b]  The origin of this word is rather oriental than Roman.  It is the Persian Shah, and not the Cæsar of Rome, nor the Kaiser of Germany.

[0c]  The best sources of Servian history are:

George Brankovich’s History of Servia, MS. in Karlovitz.

Julinac’s vvedencie v istoria slaveno-serbskag Naroda.

Raicz’s Kratkaia Serblii, Rassii, Bosny i Ramy Istoria; and by the same author, Istoria Slavenskich Narodov, &c.

Von Engel’s Geschichte von Servien und Bosnien.

Neshkovicz’s Istoria Slaveno-bolgarskog Naroda, and Davidovicz’s Jeianija k Istoria Srbskoga Naroda.  See Schaffarik’s Slawische Sprache und Literatur, p. 196.

[0d]  Geschichte der Slawischen Sprache und Literatur, p. 201.

[0e]  Grimm’s Introduction to Vuk’s Servian Grammar, p. x.

[0f]  Adelung, who has only given a fragment of the Servian language in his Mithridates, calls the Servian and Bosnian dialects “the clearest and purest of all the Illyrian tongues.”

[0g]  The Servians possess a translation of the Bible, made in the ninth century, written in the Pannonian dialect, which is now obsolete.  This Bible, however, has served, and still serves, as a standard of the Servian language; and its authority has been rather increased than diminished from the circumstance of its phraseology being far removed from what is deemed the vulgar idiom.  That the vulgar idiom, however, is amply sufficient for all the common purposes of language, and for the communication even of the most exquisite shades of thought and feelings, is sufficiently exemplified.

[0h]  He was born in 1645.  He represented the princes of Transylvania at Constantinople, where he served Leopold so faithfully, that the latter determined to unite in his person the Hungarian and the Servian crowns.  It was he who, associated with the archbishop of Ipek, led 36,000 Servian families into Lower Hungary, and, as a reward for his exertions, he was made a baron (Freiherr), and afterwards a count; but ere long he became the object of suspicion; he was confined at Vienna, banished as a state prisoner to Eger in Bohemia, where he wrote his History of Servia, and died in 1711.

[0i]  He frequently refers to the Servian ballads as historical authorities, though he seems to have formed no correct estimate of their poetical merits.

[0j]  Dr. Vuk is at the present hour, I believe, a member of the household of the Hospodar of Servia, and engaged in collecting a farther supply of popular poetry.

Dr. Vuk has also published Narodne Srpske Pripovijetke.  A collection of Servian tales.  Vienna, 1821.

A Comparison between the Servian and other Slavonic Idioms.  Vienna, 1822.

A Specimen of a Translation of the New Testament into Servian.  Vienna, 1824.

[0k]  Göthe, Ueber Kunst und Alterthum, V. ii. 40–42.

[0l]  Among all the Slavonic tribes, many vestiges of idolatry are yet found.  The songs with which a wedded pair are accompanied to and from the church contain frequently allusions to Lada (the Slavonian Venus), and the bride wears a wreath of wasilok and ruta (evergreens), and is called a Queen.

[0m]  Serbische Hochzeitslieder.  Pest. 1826.

[3]  A ruined fortress on the banks of the river Morava.

[7]  White is a favourite Slavonic appellation.  In the Russian popular ballad of “Vladimiz and his Round Table,” White Kiev is the title constantly given to that capital, and the lower Russians almost always call Moscow, “Mother Moscow, the white-walled.”

[9]  “Thou in the Lord my sister,”—“Thou in God my brother,”—“Mother in God,” are common Servian expressions.

[15a]  Predrag—the well-beloved.

[15b]  Nenad—the unhoped-for,—the unexpected.

[25]  Governor of a province—commander.

[27]  An extensive plain near the Narenta, in Herzegovina, on which is a village of the same name.

[28]  I pay cheerful homage to the poetical beauties of the translation of this ballad in “The Servian Minstrelsy,” quoted in the Quarterly Review, No. LXIX. p. 71.  The tasteful author has
no doubt greatly embellished the original; but the words in italics are not to be found there.

Stately was she, as the mountain pine tree;
White and rosy-colour intermingled
Were her cheeks, as she had kiss’d the dawning;
Dark and flashing, like two noble jewels,
Were her eyes; and over them were eyebrows,
Thin and black, like leeches from the fountain;
Dark the lashes too; although the ringlets
Hung above in clusters rich and golden.
Softer were her eyelids than the pinions
Of the swallow on the breeze reposing;
Sweeter were the maiden’s lips than honey;
White her teeth, as pearls in ocean ripen’d;
White her breasts, two little panting wild doves;
Soft her speaking, as the wild dove’s murmur;
Bright her smiling, as the burst of sunshine.

[29a]  In Bosnia, on the river Una.

[29b]  A town on the frontiers of Dalmatia.

[32]  Brother-in-law.  The Servians have a number of words to express the shades of relationship.  Brat is brother; Sever, the husband’s brother; Shura, the wife’s brother; Snaa, the brother’s wife; Pobratim, the adopted friend.

[36a]  A large commercial town on the river Narenta.

[36b]  “Salve!” the Mahommedan greeting.

[38]  A translation very slightly varying from Talvj’s is given by Göthe, in his Kunst und Alterthum, Vol. V. ii. p. 60.

[39]  Ovo j’glava jednog gospodara, the head of a Hospodar; man of high rank.

[40a]  Scupi, in Macedonia.

[40b]  Vidin, a large fortress in Bulgaria, on the Danube.  Nisha, a large fortified city on the Servian frontier.

[42a]  Ipek, a city in Albania.

[42b]  Tzarigrader, Zarigrad, the city of the Tzar—Constantinople.  The four Greek patriarchs are those of Constantinople, Jerusalem, Antioch, and Alexandria.  Ipek (in Servia) was the fifth patriarchate, though the first in the eyes of the Servians.  Vassilenski is no other than Constantinople (Vselenski), though constantly confounded by the uninstructed.

[43]  All these are Sirmian convents.  Krushedol was founded in 1509, by Bishop Maximus Brankovicz, and is celebrated in many Servian legends.  It is famous for its collection of reliques.

[44]  A renowned convent built by the Tzar Lazar, on the Ressava.  It was destroyed by the Turks in 1435.

[45]  Ban, a title frequently used in Servia.  Its general acceptation is governor.  It may be derived from Pan, the old Slavonic for Lord.

[55]  Conductors of the marriage festival.

[57]  The translation of this poem by Goethe, who disclaims any knowledge of the original, is perfectly admirable.  It first directed attention to the literature of Servia.  His account of it is as follows: “It is now fifty years since I translated the Lament of the noble Bride of Hassan Aga, which is found in the Travels of the Abbé Fortis, and in the Morlachian Notices of the Countess Rosenberg.  I rendered it from the French version, preserving the rhythmus and the measure of the original.”  When Vuk printed his first collection of Servian songs, Goethe was greatly delighted at finding it among them.  It was omitted in his other editions, because Vuk had not himself heard it in the Servian language; and it was his determination to publish nothing for whose authenticity he could not himself personally vouch.

[58]  A translation of this ballad, by Grimm, will be found in the fourth volume of Goethe’s Für Kunst und Alterthum, p. 66.

[59a]  Kavavlashka.

[59b]  Karabogdanska.

[62]  Belgrad.

[63]  Chekmel-Juprija.

[64a]  Scutari.

[64b]  King, monarch.

[64c]  Governor.

[65]  Dok ne najesh dva slichna imena
Dok ne najesh Stojy i Stojana.

These are both Servian names, and the point of the ballad must be seen in their affinity to the verb stojiti, to stand, stojnitza, standing (statio).

[74]  Neimar.—Master.

[75a]  A small stream of liquid carbonate of lime is still shown on the walls of Scutari, as evidence of the truth of this story.

[75b]  A translation of the poem by Grimm is to be found in the 2d part of the fifth volume of the Kunst und Altherthum, p. 24, and Goethe observes, that it is equally remarkable for its polish and for its barbarously superstitious sentiment.  It represents a human victim as murdered in its most disgusting shape.  A young woman is immured in order that the fortress of Scutari may be built; and the sacrifice seems less accountable, since oriental usages have generally only required the entombment of consecrated pictures or talismans in order to make castles and asylums impregnable.

[76]  The Polje Kossova.  Amselfeld (German) or Field of Thrushes, was the scene of Servia’s heaviest calamity, and is the subject of her most melancholy songs.

[77]  A church in the camp.

[81a]  Gromovnik Ilija.

[81b]  I napija u slavu Ristovu.

[84a]  Erdelska Banitza.  The wife of the seven-city’d (Transylvanian) Ban.

[84b]  Kalpak—the Hungarian cap.

[95a]  Adrianople.

[95b]  A commercial town in Servian Macedonia, where Dushan built a palace.  It was the abode of Marko.

[98]  Grlo te boleto!—literally, “May thy neck ache!”

[99]  Starog Krvnika.

[101]  A large water vessel.

[103]  Sable cap.

[104a]  Iguman, ἡγουμενος.  Hegumenos cœnobii.

[104b]  Svetogortza, Holy Mountain, Mount Athos.

[105]  Of the Servian heroes, Marko (ob. 1392) is without comparison the most illustrious.  He (says Goethe) is represented as holding almost equal intercourse with the Adrianople sultan, and appears like a coarser representation of the Grecian Hercules or the Persian Rustan, though indeed in a most Scythian and barbaric shape.  He mounts a steed (Sharaz), aged a century and a half, himself being three centuries old.  He perishes at last in all the plenitude of his strength; nor is it easy to discover why.

[106]  There are other accounts of Marko’s death, which are more accordant with historical records.  Some state that he fell in a battle between the Turks and the Wallachian Voivode Mirscheta, which took place near the village of Rovine.  Others say that he perished with his horse in a morass, in Krania, not far from the Danube; and the morass is yet pointed out, where the ruins of an old church are said to mark his burial-place.  Others narrate that he was miraculously conveyed away from the field of battle above mentioned, to a mountain-cavern, where his wounds were healed, and where he still lives.—Talvj, vol. i. p. 285.

[112]  Of this little poem, which Goethe calls “wonderful,” the following is an almost literal translation:—

Full of wine, white branches of the vine-trees
To white Buda’s fortress white had clung them:
No! it was no vine-tree, white and pregnant!
No! it was a pair of faithful lovers,
From their early youth betrothed together.
Now they are compell’d to part untimely.
One address’d the other at their parting,
“Go! my soul! burst out and leave my bosom!
Thou wilt find a hedge-surrounded garden,
And a red-rose branch within the garden;
Pluck a rose from off the branch, and place it,
Place it on thy heart, within thy bosom;
Then behold!—ev’n as that rose is fading,
Fades my heart within thy heart thou loved one!”
And thus answer’d then the other lover:
“Thou, my soul! turn back a few short paces.
There thou wilt discern a verdant forest;
In it is a fount of crystal water;
In the fount there is a block of marble;
On the marble block a golden goblet;
In the goblet thou wilt find a snow-ball.
Love! take out that snow-ball from the goblet,
Lay it on thy heart within thy bosom;
See it melt—and as it melts, my lov’d one!
So my heart within thy heart is melting.”

[116]  Smilia, the grapharium arenarium, or “lovely love.”  Also a woman’s name.

[117]  This song is sung at the close of the harvest, when all the reapers are gathered together.  Half as many reeds as the number of persons present are so bound that no one can distinguish the two ends which belong to the same reed.  Each man takes one end of the reeds on one side, each of the women takes one end at the other:—The withes that bind the reeds are severed, and the couples that hold the same reed kiss one another.

[118]  Kalpak—the fur cap of the Servians.

[120a]  This is one of the songs sung at the breaking up of the company, addressed to the giver of the festival.

[120b]  Mushko chedo (male child).  The male sex are in Servia, as elsewhere, deemed entitled to more care and attention than the other.

[122]  Herzegovina.  S. Sabba.

[127a]  Svszde, star, is of the feminine gender.

[127b]  Sun is feminine in Servian.

[152]  Smederevo—a Servian fortress on the Danube.

[153]  The Leech, Sanguisuga; but in Servian there is no disagreeable association with the word.  It is the name usually employed to describe the beauty of the eyebrows, as swallows’ wings are the simile used for eye-lashes.  See p. 27.

[157a]  Vishnia, the universal Sclavonian name of the Vistula cherry-tree.  The Cerasum apronianum of Linné.

[157b]  The Vila nearly corresponds to the Peri of the Persians, and the Wöla of the Scandinavians.

[157c]  Radisha, is the name of a man.  Radovanic—joy.

[158]  Lepota as the Servian word for Beauty.

[168]  I shall be accused of having decorated this.  The translation is more free than I have generally given; but in order to show how little I have deviated from the thoughts of the original, I give the conclusion.

“Ako bi te u pjesmu pjevala,
Pjesma ide od usta do usta,
Pa che dochi u pogana usta;
Ako bi te u rukave vesla,
Rukav che se odma isderati,
Pa che tvoje ime poginuti;
Ako bi te u Knigu pisala
Kniga ide od ruke do ruke,
Pa che dochi u pogane ruke.”  Vuk i. p. 200.

[176]  One of the distinguishing titles of the Vila is that here given; sabejam oblake, the cloud-gatherer.  Νεφεληγερετης, in the classical mythology, is one of the names of Jupiter.

[181a]  Sarajevo—A large commercial city in Bosnia, on the river Miljazka.

[181b]  The popular national dance of the Servians.

[185a]  Bosiljak—the Ocimum basilicum of Linné.

[185b]  Sudija.

[190a]  Kaloper.  Balsamita vulgaris.  Linné.

[190b]  Bosiljak, see p. 185.

[199]  The cuckoo (kukavitza) according to Servian tradition, was a maiden who mourned so unceasingly for a dead brother, that she was changed into a bird, and thence continues without rest her melancholy note.  A Servian girl who has lost a brother never hears a cuckoo without shedding tears.—“I a poor cuckoo,” is equivalent to “woe is me!”

[206]  Lado, the vocative of Lada, the goddess of love, in the old Slavonian mythology.  Lado! is a melancholy interjection in Servian, whereas Lele! the vocative of Lela, the god of love, has frequently a cheerful association: Polela (after love), the goddess of marriage, is also sometimes apostrophised.

Talvj remarks, that Ljad, in Russ, signifies misfortune.  In common parlance, Lele mene (Servian) imports Woe is me!

[219]  Milinar.  The Miller.

[231]  Wesely imagines that this expression has got introduced into Servian poetry by the influence of the interesting ballad on the marriage of Maximus Tzernojevich (see Quarterly Review for Dec. 1826).  The intimate intercourse which existed between Servia and Venice may account for the phraseology.

[232]  Original, son-in-law.  I have only chosen a few of the songs used during the marriage festival.  But a volume might be filled with them.  Every step of the ceremony, which lasts many days, is accompanied by music and poetry.  A very interesting description of it will be found in the introduction to Talvj’s second volume.

[233]  Aulimarama.