TO THE MEMORY of Karageorge,
The Father of Serbia.
Proud be this Age of mine, beyond all other age;
It shall have martial memory, the Poet's song engage;
For in Bellona's cradle was bred a brood of eight,
She tended them and nursed them while the big world did wait —
Napoleon, Duke Wellington, Charles, Blücher, Souvorov,
Karageorge, the tyrant's scourge, Schwartzenberg and Koutozov.
Strong Ares made them drunken, intoxicate for glory,
The whole wide earth did give to them as theatre for their story!
'Tis from the jungles great that lions great appear,
And 'tis the peoples mighty who genius should rear;
Great realms may breed the hero, grant space for glorious deeds.
Triumphal wreaths down casting as onward still he speeds;
But Karageorge immortal, from Topola unknown,
His path beset on every hand, attained a nobler throne;
He raised his people in Christ's Name, broke the Barbarian's chains,
Brought back from Death the Serbian folk, reviv'd their pale remains —
Secret of fame immortal — arous'd to nobler part,
When knightliness was languishing brought his people lion heart.
Pharaoh's flashing heat 'fore Karageorge cool'd down.
When with high ardour chivalrous he nerved the Serbian arm,
Before him trembled Stamboul, father of plague and gore,
And e'en the Turks swore by his sword, no other oath they swore!
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Indeed for all the valiant is Tragedy in store,
Thy head was destin'd as the price of the fair wreath it wore.
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Let later kindred judge the deed,
And give to each as each his meed:
On Voukashin the Traitor, on Boris for his crime
Let fall the curse and nemesis throughout all aftertime;
The hateful name of Pison no calendar shall soil;
Orestes' justice (Heaven's thunder!) shall give Aegisthus toil.
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Upon thy shining grave let Envy outpour spite,
But shall they thus put out thy soul's celestial light?
Ye forms with hatred stain'd. think ye the victory gain'd?
Not so ye quench this flame; it shall but burn more bright!
The ever-growing radiance no centuries shall disturb
Of thy light-diffusing torch on the pathway of the Serb.
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The simple Serbian bride may still a Dushan bear,
The Serbian mother-heart still a brave Obilitch rear,
And heroes like Pojarsky of ever dauntless face;
'Tis a high-hearted purpose inspires a suffering race;
Now flees the dreadful curse, with all its wrack and scaith;
Their Father's vow the Serbs fulfil and vindicate his faith.
Original Dedication written in Vienna, New Year, 1847.
1) See “Srpske Pesme”, or “National Songs of Serbia”, by Owen Meredith, first Earl of Lytton, London, 1861. Reprinted with a Preface by G. H. Powell, London, 1917. “There remaineth to Serbia a story, A tale to be chanted and told!”
2) The dots “. . . . . . . .” indicate that the Poet was compelled (by difficult and painful circumstances) to delete several lines from his original dedication. — J. W. W. (from here to the end, all footnotes by the translator, J. W. W. — James W. Wiles).
- VLADIKA DANILO, Bishop of Montenegro from 1697-1737
- IGUMAN STEFAN, a blind and aged abbot
- SERDAR YANKO DJURASHKOVITCH, chief of a Montenegrin house
- SERDAR RADOGNA
- SERDAR VOUKOTA
- SERDAR IVAN PETROVITCH
- KNEZ RADÉ, brother of Bishop Danilo
- KNEZ BAIKO
- KNEZ ROGAN
- KNEZ YANKO
- KNEZ NIKOLA
- VOIVODA DRASHKO
- VOIVODA MILIYA
- VOIVODA STANKO
- VOIVODA BATRITCH
- TOMASH MARTINOVITCH
- VUK RASLAPCHEVITCH
- VOUKOTA MRVALYEVITCH
- VUK TOMANOVITCH
- A MULTITUDE
- BOGDAN DJURASHKOVITCH, brother of Serdar Janko
- VUK MITCHUNOVITCH
- VUK MANDUSHITCH
- VUK LIESHEVOSTOUPATZ, who sings to the gouslé
- POPA MITCHO, a priest of the Pravoslav Church
- THE SISTER OF VOIVODA BATRITCH
- HADJI-ALI MEDOVITCH, a Mohammedan Religious Judge or Kadi
- SKENDER-AGA, a Turkish nobleman
- ARSLAN-AGA MOUHANINOVITCH
- FERAT ZATCHIR, a kavaz-basha, or chief of a Turkish body-guard
- RIDJAL OSMAN, another Mussulman
- AN OLD WOMAN, a witch
1) Vladika: Serbian for Bishop.
2) Iguman: abbot or prior.
3) Serdar: an authority, sometimes civil, sometimes military, having power to punish and imprison.
4) Knez: a prince, leader, chieftain.
5) Voivoda: a marshal, a duke, in the original philological sense; leader of a host.
6) Popa or pop: an ordinary parish priest or clergyman, i.e. sveshtenik — not a celibate — in the Pravoslav Church.
7) Hadji or Hadzhija: a pilgrim either to Jerusalem or to Mecca; Christian Serbs bore the title if they had made the journey to the Holy Land, just as Serbian Mussulmans or Turks did who had made the pilgrimage to Mecca.
8) Aga: a Turkish chief officer.
9) Kavaz: an attendant upon a Pasha, but also in Montenegro a guard in authority at a door of entrance, taking the names of comers, and either handing them in or sending off the person according to circumstances. Kavazbasha: chief guard. The term baša was often given out of respect or in honour to person lower in rank than the aga or the beg or nobleman.
ON LOVTCHEN'S SUMMIT
Skipped (from some reason... should be something as: “A meeting on The Eve of Whitsuntide on the mount Lovchen. It is the dead of night. Everyone is asleep.” [from another translation on the guskova.ru])
BISHOP DANILO (in contemplation)
The Dragon see, with seven mantles red,
Wielding two swords and crownиd with two crowns;
Great-grandchild of the faithless Turk, with Koran!
Behind him hordes of that accursиd breed,
That they may devastate the whole wide earth,
As locusts pestilent lay waste the fields!
Had not the Rock of France its onrush curbed,
Arabia's flood had surely deluged all!
Osman — infernal dream — was monarch crown'd;
The pale moon wedded, she his apple fair;
From whom sprang Orkan, Europe's evil guest;
And now Byzantium's realm is nothing more
Than the youthful Theodora's dowry —
The star of destiny hangs darkly over her.
Now Paleologos bids Murat in,
To bury in one grave both Greeks and Serbs.
Their own ends sought both Brankovitch and Gerluka —
Meet recompense Mohammed gave to Gerluka!
From out far Asia where they have their nest,
This Devil's brood doth gulp the nations up;
Each day a nation, as night-owl takes bird:
Murat takes Serbia, and Bosnia Bayazed;
Murat Epirus, and Mohammed Greece;
Then the two Selims Africa and Cyprus —
Each takes something till nothing is there left!
Dreadful the deeds that happen day by day;
Too small is this wide world for Hell's great maw,
Which, though feeding ever, never knows repletion!
Yanko doth fight for Vladislaus dead;
But why fight on when fighting gives not aid?
Brave heart Obilitch beats in Skenderbeg,
And yet he pines in pitiless exile. —
But what can I! What helper is me nigh?
We have but few strong arms; our strength is small;
We are as wisps of straw tossed on the wind;
As orphan'd sad, forsaken of the world,
I see my people sleep a deadly sleep,
No parent's hand to wipe away my tears;
God's Heaven is shut above my head,
Giving no answer to my cries and prayers.
This world is now become a hell,
And men but demons in disguise.
Oh, dark, dark Day! oh, outlook ever black!
My fearing folk held ever underfoot!
Sure I have seen thy woe and all thine ill,
Yet 'gainst the worst I now must set my will!
When deadly wound is given in the head,
The quivering frame doth painfully expire.
Plague of mankind! May God make end of thee!
Is half a world so small, to thee so small —
A half-world filled with horror of thy deeds —
That pois'nous stenches from thy demon soul
Thou now must bring to spue upon our rock?
Is it small offering — of Serbia the whole,
From Danube river to the deep blue sea?
Thy seat thou hast, all wickedly to ride;
Thy blood-stained sceptre is thy boast and pride,
From sacred altar thou insultest God,
And where was outrag'd Cross dost rear a Mosque! —
Our very shades and relics would'st defile,
Those relics which to shelter men have brought,
And screen'd amid to eternal hills,
Dear shrines reminding of our heroes' deeds?
These all have been o'erwhelmed in blood,
A hundred times in thine, ten times ten in ours!
The work of that accursed monarch see —
He whom the devil teaches all things bad! —
“This Montenegro, which I cannot tame,
“By means or fair or foul shall own my name:
“With it, on this wise must the method be.”
Thus spake the Devil's Sent One; the began
Sweets of false faith to proffer unto man.
The curse of God be on this brood unclean!
What is the aim of Islam's creed 'mongst us?
How will ye 'scape from our ancestors' curse?
However dare 'fore Milosh to appear,
Or how before each other Serbian knight,
Whose names shall last while ever sun hath light?
... While pondering o'er this council for to-day,
Hot horror burns within my soul:
Shall brother brother ever thus war down;
Shall not such strife so bloody and so long
Destroy the very seed within the womb!
O cursиd day! — may God blot out thy light —
That thou didst bring me forth upon the world!
Last year a hundred times I curs'd the hour
Those Turks did fail to make an end of me,
Lest I should falsify my people's hope.
(Vuk Mitchunovitch, reclining near the Vladika, has feigned to be asleep, but has heard everything, and proceeds to arouse the Bishop to action, jerking Vladika with trenchant sentences from his purely contemplative poise.)
If God thou knowest; Bishop 'tis not so!
What miseries are these now come on thee,
That thou should'st weep and wail with woman-soul,
And sink beneath the waves of all our woe?
Is not to-day a solemn festival,
A day to counsel take with all thy people,
That they may rid their land of Islam's yoke?
Apasrt from that, our Slava falls to-day,
When all our noblest youth do gather
Their strength to test and put to trial their worth,
Their biceps' power, the fleetness of their feet,
And with the bow contending skill to show;
Who best can strike the knife through roast ram's shoulder;
To hear also the liturgy at Church,
And round about the precinets dance the kolo;
And chests expand in knightly exercise.
Best incense this to every hero-soul,
Forging in supple youth an iron heart!
Banish, Bishop, all these black discourses;
For men should bravely bear while women weep:
What wailing chief e'er wrought his people's good!
Thou art not chief without some good support:
See these five hundred agile lads,
What feats of manly strength and power
Were on this field displayed to-day!
Have they not winged the arrow to her mark?
With what agility they played at grada!
How nimbly all did catch the capitsa!
Soon as wolf-cubs around the she-wolf sport,
Full well they know in roughish gambols how
Their teeth to sharpen on each other's throat;
Or when on falcon the first feathers sprout,
Doth he still rest contented in his nest:
Doth he not pick and peck and pluck at it,
Pulling at twigs and straws time after time,
Then, twittering “seeyutchouchee”, seeks the sky?
In all these things a lesson is to find!
Beside these youths who now appear before thee,
Siz times as many like them are at home:
Their strength, Bishop, should be thy strength too.
Before the Turks have brought such to their knee,
Sure many a Turkish wife shall wear deep black;
And to this struggle no end shall ever be,
Until the Turk has disappeared — or we!
What right has anyone of us to Hope —
Except in God and in his own right arm!
Our Hope it was all buried long ago,
In one great grave on Kossovo's broad field.
When Fortune smiles 'tis easy to be good;
Adversity is e'er the hero's school!
(To the probable site of an ancient Pravoslav church on Lovtchen's lofty summit they have carried crosses. The men are reclining on the mountain summit, firing their rifles and counting the echoes.)
SERDAR YANKO DJURASHKOVITCH
What wondrous gun! 'Tis worth a manly head!
Each gun of ours makes half a dozen echoes,
But Vuk Tomanovitch — his jeferdar
Brings ever nine times ringing echo!
Lend me your ears now, Montenegrins!
Full fifty years I've spun of my life's thread,
And summer on this mount have ever spent,
Ascending quite to this commanding peak.
A hundred times I've gaz'd at floading clouds,
Sailing as phantom ships high off the sea,
And casting anchor on this mountain range!
Now here, now there I've watch'd them break away,
With darts of lightning and with rumblings dread —
And sudden roar of all the sky's artillery!
A hundred times have I watch'd from these heights,
And quietly basked beneath the genial sun,
While lightnings flash'd and thunders peal'd below:
I saw and heard how they did rend the skies;
Downpours from heaven of most hostile hail
Robbed Mother Earth of her fertility.
And how a wonder new comes into view:
Observest thou — if thou thy God dost know! —
How much is sea and how much is of shore?
View Bosnia's plains! Herzegovina see!
Albania spreading straight unto the waves!
Seest thou how much is Montenegrin soil?
One single cloud doth surely cover all!
All around doth peal the crashing thunder,
Behold beneath us how the lightnings flash,
Alone on us doth smile the cheering sun:
Kindly the air doth greet our faces now —
'Tis wont on Lovtchen to blow somewhat cool!
Didst thou mark the wonder and the omen —
How in the sky two flashes made a Cross!
One flash there was from Kom straight on to Lovtchen;
From Scutari another — unto Ostrog!
They made a cross of living fire;
Most beautiful indeed to view;
Never before in this wide world
Was like unto it seen or even heard,
God help us Serbs in all our misery,
And let this Cross be unto us good omen!
Say, Drashko, say! Whereat dost point thy jeferdar?
Tempted am I to shoot a little cuckoo,
But rather grudge to spend on it the bullet!
Save it, then, Drashko! Let life more precious be!
From shooting cuckoos there can come no good;
Dost thou not know — if the Devil hath not thee? —
That cuckoos are the daughters of Tsar Lazar?
(Much shouting is heard near the ruins on the hill-top on the north side, above the Lake.)
What cause for this ado? Why uproar thus?
Such babbling were a shame to any children!
A flight of partridges upon us came,
And every bird of them we took alive:
On which account this uproar great amongst us!
Let these birds go; I swear it is God's will!
For 'twas distress that brought them here;
How could ye captive make of one of them,
Since they do fly to you for kindly care,
'Tis not God's will that ye should them all kill!
They let the birds fly off, and the young men return to the crosses, with the aid of which they had caught the birds.
AN ASSEMBLY AT CETTIGNÉ
On the 8th september, on the occasion of the festival of the nativity of The Blessed Virgin Mary. (Some disputes are to be settled. The People dance the Kolo; the Chiefs go aside.)
THE PEOPLE, AS THEY DANCE THE KOLO,[*] SING:
Our God hath poured His wrath upon the Serbs,
For deadly sins withdrawn His favour from us:
Our Rulers trampled underfoot all law,
With bloody hatred fought each other down.
Tore from fraternal brows the living eyes:
Authority and Law they cast aside,
Instead chose folly as their rule and guide!
And those who served our kings became untrue,
Crimson they bathed themselves in kingly blood!
Our noblemen — God's curse be on their souls —
Did tear and rend the Kingdom into pieces,
And wasted wantonly our people's power.
The Serbian magnates — may their name rot out! —
They scatter'd broadcast Discord's evil seed,
And poisoned thus the life-springs of our race.
Our Serbian chiefs, most miserable cowards,
The Serbian stock did heartlessly betray.
Accursed be Kossуvo's Evening Meal;
Far better had it been if from that hour
Our magnates all had disappear'd for aye!
If only Milosh still remain'd unto us,
With his two valiant Pтbratims,
Then Serb would be with Serb to-day.
Thou Brankovitch, of stock despicable,
Should one serve so his Fatherland,
Thus much is Honesty esteem'd?
Who, Milosh, would not envy thee?
A victim thou to thine own truth and worth!
All-puissant spirit in the things of War;
A thunder mighty which did shatter thrones!
The deeds thy knightly soul hath wrought.
Outshine all lustre of the Past, —
The fame of Sparta and of mighty Rome!
Their valiant and heroic feats
Are all surpass'd by thy proud arm.
Where is Leonidas. where Scaevola,
When Obilitch doth enter the arena?
That arm of thine with but one only stroke
Brought down a throne and made all Hell to quake!
Yet Milosh fell, most marvellous of knights,
A victim fell unto the world's great Scourge.
In proud repose the puissant Leader lies:
There from his veins did spurt his noble blood,
Where he so proudly trod a while before,
His breast possess'd by one sole dread intent,
As he did press his way through Asia's hordes,
He swallow'd them with his great eyes of fire
Where he so proudly trod a while before.
Seeking his hallow'd tomb and life immortal,
Scorning alike the failures of small men,
And all that false and senseless company.
Our God hath pour'd His wrath upon the Serbs!
A seven-headed monster He sent forth
To plague and extirpate the Serbian Name,
Be they betrayers or be they betray'd.
On falling rums of a realm heroic
Did Milosh shine with firm and constant justice;
Crowned be too, with an undying glory,
Those pтbratims who steadfast were to Milosh;
Not less the lovely Jugovitch bouquet!
So parsed the Serbian Cap and Name away:
Warrior lions gave place to ploughmen,
While selfish poltroons took Mohammed's creed, —
Their Serbian milk shall ever bring them plague!
All those who 'scaped from death by Moslem sword,
All those who still held true to Christian faith,
Who with abhorrence thought of bonds and chains,
All such as these took flight to mountains grey,
To wane and perish and pour out their blood;
'Mid mountains, trust and heritage to guard,
Our sacred Freedom and our glorious Name.
Thereto our Traders Providence hath called,
Our Serbian Youth as radiant as the stars,
The children of these mountains wild,
In bloody combats falling day by day,
For sake of Honour, Faith, and Freedom dear;
Yet all our tears are wiped away
When skilful gouslar comes with rousing lay.
Oh, let our losses all be light,
If the hard mountains of our land
Become the grave of Moslem might!
Lo! what the cause, that long time now,
Our homeland hills have silent grown,
No longer echoing to heroic shout?
Our idling armour is consumed by rust,
And without chieftains is our country left,
Our hillsides reek with tramp of Moslem feet. —
In the same fold behold both wolves and sheep!
United now the Turk with Montenegrin,
The hodja calls upon Cettigné's plain;
The artful Turk hath run the lion to cage;
The Montenegrin Name is underground,
The Cross with fingers three is no more found!
*) The root meaning of the word kolo is a wheel or circle, and it is the word used all over Southern Slav lands for the national dance in which both men and women join, taking hold of hands; the number of dancers increasing and the circle extending as the dance proceeds. Even in the remotest hamlets the dancing of the kolo is the best-loved form of recreation. Groups of village children, between seven and fourteen years of age, boys and girls together, hand in hand, may be seen dancing the kolo with complete abandon and lack of self-consciousness, singing their own songs and emphasizing time and rhythm. The annual Court Ball is always opened with the kolo, the dance being led by the King and Queen. Cf. Greek: dance, chorus.
The Kolo ye have heard: how they have sung,
And all that has been set forth in their song?
Of the whole nation there ye hear the wisdom!
Good reason sure have these our countrymen
To hurl upon us, while they curse, a heap of stones:
We dare not any high emprise begin,
To fire our folk to deeds of note and valour;
To joyful make our fathers' sacred bones,
Until they live and sport upon their graves —
Woe unto us! We only quack like geese!
Hew down the Devil! Leave of him no trace!
Or ve shall forfeit this world and not less the Next!
Thou givest reason sound, good Voivoda!
Of our lov'd race may God remove all trace,
If we should live in cowardice and disgrace!
What will this Dragon in our Christian land?
Why nourish we a snake within our breast!
What “brothers” these? — 'tis God alone can tell!
Who mock and scorn our very honour,
And openly insult the Cross rever'd!
What now may be! that they have not yet come,
The Ozrinitchi — they who dwell by us?
For without them our parleys sure will fail:
In multitude of counsellors wisdom lies!
They all set out to meet some Turks,
That they might make exchange of prisoners
But envoy have I sent to them,
That on returning they may hasten here.
Let them speed on, so waste we not the day;
For this our business brooketh no delay!
(The Ozrinitchi arrive.)
By what misfortune are ye come so late?
Brothers, we famish, waiting here for you:
No longer have we food within our wallets,
Nor yet tobacco in our pouches;
My neck is all awry through peering after you —
Gazing far o'er the fields of yon to catch some view.
With haste came we, that we might quicker come!
By no means whatsoe'er more early were we done;
The Petzirиpи and the old Baleta —
Some twenty, thirty comrades have collected,
And hid in ambuscade by Douga.
There to wait a caravan from Nikshitch,
And stoutly fight the Turks upon the road.
Heads of Turks fourteen have they cut off,
And seventy horses taken from them too;
Of women they have taken two or three!
Moreover, came to us dispatch from Nikshitch,
Wherein were offers ten of pobratimstvo,
Request that we should meet at Poliana,
And render to them hostages for ransom:
So with these Turks in conference we sate. —
Good reason that, why we're a little late!
How spake Hamza and the Turks of Nikshitch?
Our word of honour, was it good to them,
That they should climb to Roudiné in peace?
Thou knowest, Baiko. it so might have been;
Who from good things doth flee away?
And how should not the Turks wish goodly things,
And space to spread their flocks wide out in peace?
Perchance there were some words between you
Concerning prisoners — or some other thing?
Rogan. 'tis true that there was roughish speech!
Dost thou not know these Turks of Nikshitch?
A little more, and Death had all in reach!
Then, down the ages had men told the story
Of our affray and how it had been gory!
How came about this little quarrel?
Who first with ill-will clouded the assembly?
It was but as in joke that things began:
Vuk Mandushitch and Vuk Mitchunovitch
With Captain Hamza first fell on
To talk on things relating to religion:
Their speech did then all of a sudden thicken,
And one affront received another back.
Unto Mitchunovitch the Captain said:
“Thou Vlach! Better am I than thou! Dost hear?
Know'st not that letter is my faith than thine!
I mount my steed and gird me with sharp sword,
And I am captain, too, of royal town;
Three hundred years my line has govern'd there,
At the sword point my grandsire did it gain,
When so were fix'd the destinies of States:
To me to rule ii cometh down by right.“
Then Vuk Mitchunovitch up straightway fir'd,
And Hamza thus address'd as he drew near: —
“Villein am I? thou hog and renegade!
Is traitor better then than knight?
How canst thou talk of ‘sword’ and ‘Kossovo’?
Were we not there together on that day?
I wrestled then, and still I wrestle now,
But thou hast ever traitor been, both first and last;
Thyself hast thou dishonour'd 'fore the world:
Thou hast denied the faith of all thy fathers:
And hast enslaved thyself to strangers!
Why boast then of thy town, or of thy lordship?
All Turkish towns that neighboring are to us,
Have I not girdled them with marble tombs?
So that for men no longer are they towns,
But rather prisons for unhappy captives!
I am a scourge of God, for thee prepar'd.
To bring to mind the evil thou hast wrought!”
Mitchunovitch! he acts as well as talks!
Serbian mother ne'er hath borne his like
Since Kossovo — nor yet, I trow, before it!
Methinks I have not nicely told
The reason why we almost came to blows:
Vuk and the Captain we did seek to soothe;
But well ye know how youths of Ozrinitch,
Where'er they come, how much they like a joke!
By fortune ill, there came unto this meeting
The aged hodja Brountchevitch,
Having his little carabine, —
Which scarce might be a cubit long:
He slung the weapon on his shoulder,
And then he wander'd as he willed
Across the fields like all the rest.
One of our youths then from us slipped away.
Went sidling up unto the hodja,
Sticking a horn full cubit long
Into the barrel of his gun!
O my goodness! our three hundred fellows
Did splil their very sides with laughter;
The hodja wonder'd as he walked
What had befallen all these people,
Till in his carabine he spied the horn.
Then on a sudden clouds did gather black:
Out from our rifles living fire was pour'd:
Fifteen stretchers quickly were prepar'd.
Stretchers six for ours, nine for men of theirs!
Sure time it is we counsel look together;
Time it is we did resolve on something;
Our business is on all hands talked of;
When some inkling get the Unbelievers
They will not fritter time away as we!
Each one is here who needs must be with us,
Saving the five Martinovitch:
To whom has come, I doubt not, some mischance;
But lacking them, sure nothing can be done!
Come, my comrades, let us get to business,
Or else let each away to his own house,
Lest we should be a laughing-stock for children;
Now, with the Turks, let each do how he may,
I myself shall know, should one fill in my hand!
Yet, here are we no better than those mice.
Who thought to take a bell and hang it on the cat!
(The Martinovitch arrive.)
At last you come, and sure we've waited for you!
Here now, comrades, are we now all gather'd,
Like tipsy wedding guests of which the story tells;
This is on you most certainly some shame,
Since all of you have shortest way to come!
O Vuk, reproach us not, nor you, my brothers!
We were already long time with you here,
Had fortune ill not met us on our way;
Therein the reason of our brief delay!
Wine sure has stirr'd the guests to quarrel!
Holds not your patron saint his feast to-day?
There was no quarrel 'mong our guests;
A wife of ours was captur'd by the Turks!
Some joke of thine? — what wife?
Prithee now tell us what the day has brought!
Have no concern; we lend to thee our ears,
For tales like these all ears have ever caught!
The story I will tell — a very devil's venture:
Our guests and we danced merrily the kolo,
And passed all round the bowl of ruby wine,
When suddenly, high up from Pishté stream,
A rifle-shot cracked forth, and someone cried:
“Where now some knight! Where now some hero bold!
Our Montenegrins are led off for slaves.”
No serious thought gave we, and little heed we paid:
“For slaves”, forsooth! — in very heart of Montenegro!
He's drunk, said we, and thinks he sings!
Then sure two shots, one sharp upon the other:
'Tzeek! tzeek" — the sounds attacked our ears;
While, as before, the man did shout.
A serious something sure is in the air:
We seized our guns, and started off to run;
Gaining the spot, thou hast a sight to see:
Mouyo Alitch, of Turkish guards the chief,
Has run away with Rose, the wife of Kasan,
And with him taken, too, her youngest brother;
And now, behold, full year it is and more,
Since they did put their heads together,
Yet who on earth had ever dreamt
A Serbian girl could marry with a Turk?
What woman does is ever smiling wonder;
In creeds she bothers not of “which” and “what”:
A hundred times she'd change her faith,
So she might have the longing of her heart.
I have not spoken to you all my mind:
Eternal woe unto that soul
Which did bring such fate on Rose! —
Which such a rose did give to Kasan.
Shutting a fairy in a very prison;
This Kasan is a good-for-nothing.
And listen well, ye Montenegrins!
Might all my stock be blotted out,
Had any Serb run off with her,
And I had simply glanc'd to see —
Howe'er painful 'twere to me!
But when I heard she'd gone with Turks,
No time was there for vain reflection,
Full after them in chase we straight did go,
By Simounya did find the nuptial party,
And killed the brothers Alitch on the spot,
But, fell mischance! among the Turks the bride!
So horribly our reputation's blacken'd
Henceforth from God we wait no grace or favour.
O dear my Lord! What mighty fruit of counsel!
Children sure have done this business?
What we would dare, we dare not do;
We have no stomach for our resolutions;
Mere thoughts we load upon our neck,
As if to think were all our business,
And it matter'd not to act!
Whene'er I have o'ermuch debated,
My deeds have ever lagged behind;
He who says always “Not to-day!” will never, never find a way!
(Vladika Danilo, seeing that all are gathered, comes amongst them.)
Hold us not back on this wise, Bishop,
Send rather all this crowd away;
Each looks to hear what thou wilt say,
But thou art tangled much in blackish thoughts:
Nor dost thou summon nor dismiss us;
Black as the earth thy brow hath come to be,
Alone thou walkest out, without companion;
Thou dost not eat nor canst thou fall asleep;
Thou turnest o'er great thoughts within thy mind;
Thy crowding dreams are ever of the Turk,
But I grow numb with over-long reflection!
Now, listen. Vuk, and ye my other brethren!
At what ye see in me ye should not wonder; —
That I so tortured am by blackish thoughts,
That things of horror heave within my mind;
Who on the mountain height doth take his stand,
Sees more than he who stays upon the plain.
Some things I see more clearly than do ye;
At times this bringeth joy, at times but misery: —
I fear them not, this Devil's spawn,
Though they be thick as autumn leaves,
But I have fear of ills at home!
Our kinsmen wild have own'd Mahomet's Name;
And if the renegades we should attack,
Their Serbian kindred never would desert them;
Our land would be o'erwhelm'd in tribal strife,
And there would rule red carnage and great gore.
Satan doth come unto satanic wedding,
To quench in blackness all our Serbian light;
Our ills we bear lest worse on us should come.
The drowning man will catch at any straw,
His hands expose if he may shield his head!
KNEZ RADÉ (brother of Vladika Danilo)
Why blacken hands, if not to strike the anvil?
Why call assembly, if thou fear'st to speak?
Last year thou scarce escap'd a hanging;
God grant thee still to swing on Turkish hook!
Something thou mournest, yet thou know'st not what;
Warrest with Turks, yet treatest them as friend,
And showest thus thy love to thine own folk!
But err thou not, nor e'er be thou deceiv'd:
If thou into their hands shouldst ever fall.
They would upon the instant take thy head:
Or, holding thee in life, would hind thee fast,
And make great sport in torturing thee!
Raven plucks not eye from raven,
And Turk is ever brother unto Turk;
Strike while thou hast arm to strike,
And tears shed not in empty lamentation.
Upon the Devil's road have all set out,
Our land is foul — reeks of this False Religion!
VOIVODA BATRITCH (to Knez Radé)
Some right hast thou, though not unmixed with wrong!
What thou hast said could have been friendlier said,
So not to make his wounds to burn,
And gall him with an alien arrow!.
All are silent; scarcely dare they breathe.
A clear, moonlight night. They sit around the fire. The Kolo sings upon the big threshing-floor.[*]
None yet e'er drank a honey'd draught
Unnmixed with cup of bitter gall,
And cup of gall for honey equally doth call,
That so, the mixture one may easier drink.
Beg Ivan-beg of ancestry heroic,
Like tawny lion fought against the Turks,
On every side, and deep in gory woods:
Half of his lands the Turks did take from him,
The country delug'd was with blood,
These Moslems slew his doughty brother, —
Ferocious dragon, Urosh Voivoda! —
On tune broad fields of Tchиmovo.
Ivan his only brother mourn'd.
Mourn'd him more, — the Voivoda Urosh; —
Than were he mourning both his sons;
Mourn'd him more, the Voivoda Urosh,
Than he could mourn a whole lost land;
Mourn'd him more, the Voivoda Urosh,
Than he could mourn the loss of both his eyes;
Not dearer they to him than brother Urosh.
Full many a time and oft the hero may
Excite high heaven unto mighty laughter!
Ivan with cup on high vow'd direful vengeance,
Drinking the toast with consecrated wine.
He lets his white hair fall upon his shoulder's.
His white beard curling down unto his waist;
With his old hands he grasps his sword and lance;
Blood-sprinkled both his weapons and his arms,
At every step he fells a Turkish foe;
The old man bounds as were he nimble youth!
O dear my Lord, it sure must be a dream,
That on this wise an aged man can leap!
Good fortune past returns to him again:
At Karoutché upon Tsrmnitsa's boundary,
Of whole band of fifteen thousand Turks,
Not one of them escap'd alive;
Their marble tombs, which men still see,
Attest the glory of Prince Tsrnoyevitch:
God grant mercy to the soul of Urosh.
Wondrous offerings made men to his memory!
*) In all the Serbian lands the threshing-floor is always to be found in the open, never under a roof. Sometimes one whole neighbourhood uses the same threshing-floor. The wheat is trodden from the ear by horses. The threshing-floor serves also as a rendezvous for the Kolo-dancers on Sunday afternoons and other holidays.
All lie down to sleep.
Apart from Suffering never can be Song;
Apart from sweat of brow no sword is forged;
Heroic spirit conquers all life's ills;
Deeds nobly done are sweet unto the soul,
And wine most rich for those who follow on.
Thrice happy he whose name rings down the years,
For he had reason in this world to come;
A flaming torch is he when times are dark;
A torch ne'er burning low. ne'er 'minished to a spark!
BISHOP DANILO (with them, but speaking as if alone)
There where the seed doth first begin to sprout,
There may it quietly grow and bring forth fruit;
Is this mere instinct, or' the spirit's leading?
Mere human knowledge finds quick arrestation!
As Wolf doth on the Sheep impose his might,
So tyrant lords it over feebler fellow;
But foot to place upon the Tyrant's neck,
To bring him to the consciousness of Right —
This of all human duties is most sacred!
If thou canst calmly bloody sword embrace.
If thou canst swim through waves of blackest night,
Such sacred strife shall sanctify thy dust.
Europa's cleric from his Christian altar
Doth scoff and gibe at Asia's Minaret:
With thundrous strokes the Asiatic club
Shatters those fanes where Crucifix is rear'd,
Blood innocent is shed within our shrines,
And relics scatter'd to the winds in dust.
Above a world of travail God keeps silent:
The Crescent and the Cross, great Symbols twain,
Do no advantage gain save in a world of slain!
It is our lot to sail this crimson stream,
Toss'd here and there upon Life's labouring ship,
The equal fate is this of Christian and of Turk!
When Renegades blaspheme our relics blest,
Relics of saints who gave our childhood light,
The Nether World doth rise into my soul.
Men brook no flaw upon the sapling straight:
Should there be blemish on the Day's Bright Eye —
Shall Crescent rival be of Jesu's Agony!
O my true Faith! How orphan'd, poor and wretched!
O hapless tribe! How long shall last thy sleep?
One little race — that one as good as none!
For thou art only martyr'd but the more!
Force diabolic even side doth threaten:
Oh, had we brethren somewhere in the world
To weep for us, 'twould be some kindly aid.
Dark night holds firm her heavy sway:
The Moon to me now seems to be my Sun.
Alas! my leaden thoughts! what waters have I swum?
Young corn of Serbia! ripen into ears;
All premature shall Harvest come on thee.
Holocausts all precious pilиd high I see,
Before the Altar of our Church and Nation,
While our dark mountains echo lamentation.
We must uphold our Honour and our Name,
All unremitting though that strife endure!
Let come those things men thought could never be;
Let Hell devour; let Satan swing his scythe:
Still graveyard turf shall bring forth many a flower,
For coining kindreds in Time's later Hour!
God be with us, He and all His angels!
Vladika, behold how thou art driven
By all the wanton, wandering winds that blow;
By galtes of early spring when rules the witch;
By sombre autumn gusts the wizard doth control.
The Bishop starts from his dream.
Strike for the Cross! strike for heroic name!
Whoe'er girds on his shining arms,
Whoe'er hath heart within his breast —
Strike these blasphemers of Christ's holy Name!
Baptiz'd be they, with water or with blood!
Hunt we the leper now from out our fold;
Let chanted be some terror-bringing song;
Let the true altar rise on blood-stained stone!
The chieftains leap to their feet and loudly shout: “Let it thus be, or never be at all!”
Nay,... nay,... sit down, let us discuss yet more!
Brethren, now let us with accordant voice
Invite the heads of Serbo-Islam's tribes, —
Our brethren — to confer on all these matters,
With word of honour for their safe return;
Perchance they may unto our faith revert,
And thus extinguish'd be this blood-feud shame.
So be it, Bishop, this will we essay,
But on my faith in God! 'twill be in vain;
He who was nurtur'd by the devil black,
Abides him faithful to the very end.
E'en without pledges will they to us come,
And will before us very stoutly stand, —
Chieftains, in truth, thou hast them call'd,
But they do call themselves the Sultan's sons!
Three or four men are sent to invite the Turks to a meeting.
A bitter curse fell on a renegade:
Against her will a mother curs'd her son,
The Princess-Mother, wife of Ivan-beg,
Laid curse on Stanisha, her son,
Because he bit her breast when taking milk; —
So heavenly nurture down her bosom pour'd!
The parent's curse did fall upon the child:
Stanisha play'd false to Faith and Honour,
Prov'd traitor base unto Christ's holy Name;
On Tzernoyé's brave tribe he cast foul slightl;
Embrac'd the faith of bloody Moslem foe,
And thirsted e'en for very kindred blood.
What thunderings dread above Lieshko-Field:
Two brothers fight on question of Religion,
A thousand warriors drawing sharpest sword!
The mother's curse falls sure upon her son:
That son's whole army perish'd on the field!
Stanko fled headlong — straight to Bayazиd.
To dine with him on dish of Magyar noses.
Thou Mountain-Nest for Freedom's Quest!
On thee God's eye hath kept a constant guard;
What sufferings hast thou not endured;
What victories yet brings Time as thy reward!
Turkish Chieftains come; seven or eight, and sit down with the Montenegrins. They all keep silence, and do not venture to raise their eyes.
Ye wretches, are ye petrified!
Why do ye not begin some sort of speech,
Or night will overtake you in your sleep!
HADJI-ALI MEDOVITCH (Kadi)
Sure, right art thou, Knez Ozrinitch!
I will begin, seeing no other will.
One hundred chieftains are nowgather'd here,
Chiefs of ours and chieftains Montenegrin;
Full well I know why we are come:
To make a peace and end our mutual strife.
Cone now, O chieftains of the land!
Some method should we now devise
To reconcile two warring families:
The Velestovtzi and the Turks of Tcheklitchi;
Then the Baitzi and the Alitch clan.
Let us now try to make a peace between them,
Or some good step at least let's make towards peace!
First will I be to stand among the sponsors,
And for life ta'en to hand a solemn wergild;
Let peace but rule again! The dinar cut in twain,
And hang upon the wall these murd'rous rifles!
Effendia, thou dost not divine
The wherefore of our meeting here;
Of problems great thou touchest smallest end.
Learned and wise art thou, 'tis said,
Hast out of books in Stamboul read,
And gone as pilgrim to some sort of Mecca;
Yet more of wisdom still must fall on thee
If in our school thou wouldst good scholar be!
All again are silent, with eyes upon the ground.
O God of Mercy, Thou Who rulest all,
Who sittest Governor on Thy heavenly throne,
Who light and warmth dost give with glance of power;
Who wheel'st the planets in their orbit bright,
And to vain dust hast given beauteous form,
Who spread'st this Earth beneath Thy throne of light,
And hast thought fit to name it world of Thine, —
Thou puttest life in particles minute,
And add'st thereto intelligence and mind;
The Book of all Creation Thou dost hold —
That Book in which the destinies are writ
Of sentient things and beings spiritual;
Thou art in bounty graciously inclined
The agile members to endue with power
Both of proud lion and of the little ant! —
Send cheering light on Montenegro's Mount;
Forbid dread thunder and the lightning's bale;
Hold back all clouds outpouring cutting hail!
So greatly maybe they have not transgressed:
Unfaithlul souls seduced them from the faith —
Entangled them — all in the Devil's Net!
But what is Man? In truth, a feeble creature!
The Turks view one another askance.
E'en to chill lip of Age is honey sweet,
And how much sweeter unto Youth's warm taste:
Sweet was the bait, though it had likewise hook, —
“Either take sherbet from the Prophet's cup,
Or wait his stroke of axe between thine ears!”...
Life's honour may be stain'd through fear of death;
We creatures frail — we cleave unto the earth;
Though slight the bond, it yet may firmly bind;
The fragile bird falls helpless down before
The light that glistens in the fox's eye,
Though she has gazed unharmed at soaring eagle!
Sad news concerning brother or of son
Deepens threefold affection felt of yore;
Sweeter to find the lost than ne'er to lose at all;
As after hailstorm clearer is the sky,
So after sorrow more serene the soul,
And after tears more joyous is the song!
Oh, that these eyes of mine might but behold
Requital made for all my country's loss,
Then could I deem that Right had sway —
If light from Lazar's Crown might on me shine,
If unto us bold Milosh might return!
All tranquil then would be my soul,
As some fair morn in vernal Spring,
When gently moving winds and fleecy clouds
Do sleep upon the bosom of the sea.
The Turks look darkly at each other.
In name of my fair faith, I marvel
That such reproach, O Bishop, thou shouldst make!
What cup at once yields diverse drinks —
What cap at once upon two heads is worn?
The lesser stream doth run into the larger,
And mingles with it, losing e'en its name.
Till nameless both, when they do meet the sea!
Say, wouldst thou with thy cap be hunting bees,
And in grey mountains beehives tend?
Honey from thence no man would budge to eat!
Huge stone thou rollest vainly up high hill;
Old boughs bend not, they break before they straighten
The woodlands wild show parables to men;
Each several folk hath its peculiar faith; —
Neither 'bout eagle nor 'bout cock I ask,
But 'bout a goose — fears lion the goose? — Tell me!
I marvel also at this talk!
The priest the sinner on his sin doth question, —
If Satan hath not led him from right way?
But never have I seen the Devil
Making confession to the priest!
Should question me my wife where I have been,
I shall tell her: “I have been sowing salt.”
And woe to her if she should not believe!
There cometh now a story to my mind:
The Devil, when he from the pit was drawn,
Had face half white and fare half black!
Into my nose hath flown a fly;
Some sort of ill will come to me!
Why, sure I have an itching palm.
If anywhere there should be quarrel
We would demand a handsome ransom.
A gun indeed! Is anywhere a heavier!
In name of God and man, what dost thon with it, Stanko?
Alas! my brother, I am weary of it;
For long time now no worth hath it for me.
Last night how I did shake with laughter!
Into my house from somewhere came
Two handsome youths of Bielitsa;
And, as their wont is, they began to joke:
They told how, one time, ancestors of theirs
Upon a certain place did build a mill,
Where there was neither stream nor pond;
When all was built, then thought they 'bout the water
My brother's wife, alas! she lost her reason,
And without cords she could not be held in;
The Books Prophetic straightway I did open:
Some said, “Where dogs have scraped, sure she hath trod!”
But others cried, “By magic arts she is bewitched!”
I took her round to all the monks,
Who read; upon her pour'd their holy oil;
In every cloister I besought the Devil
To grant some respite unto our Angelia;
Alas! the Devil I did vainly conjure! —
At last I took my whip of triple thong,
And scourg'd her garment right into her flesh; —
The Devil said Adieu; he came not back;
And so was heal'd Angelia!
My brother Turks (may the winds take the word!),
Why hide we truth, or wherefore wrap it up?
Our little land is pressed on even side;
Hard task it is for us in her to stay;
Mighty the jaws that open to devour her;
Who then should dream to split our stock in twain?
But take ye once again your Fathers' Faith
In order with us to defend our honour!
The wolf needs not the cunning of the fox,
Nor hath a falcon need of glass to spy!
Have done with minarets and mosques!
Let flare the Serbian Christmas-log;
Paint gaily too the eggs for Eastertide;
Observe with eare the Lent and Autumn Fasts,
And for the rest — do what is dear to thee!
If ye take not the counsel that I give,
Why, then, I swear by name of Obilitch,
And by these arms in which I put my trust,
That both our faiths — they both shall swim in blood:
And that which better is — it surely shall not drown!
Bairam agrees not with our sweet Noлl —
Brothers Montenegrin, is't not so?
All cry: “'Tis so! Tis so!”
“Is't so? Is't so?” — Ye surely are all mad?
Would ye give noxious prick to healthy leg!
What mean ye — “eggs and fasts and Christmas logs”?
Would ye graft such upon our Prophet's Faith?
Night is the time for torches to be lit:
Away with torch when comes the light of day!
In Allah's name, what parleys these for wisdom!
Of “Cross” or “Unbaptiz'd” they ever talk —
Dream of a way that we can never walk!
Allah be praised! Two hundred years have passed,
Since first we took the true Faith of our Prophet,
Since first we bow'd within the sacred mosque:
By the Holy Kaaba, there's no trickery here!
Of what avail the weakly faith of Christ
Against the edge of our sharp, supple steel?
When the true saint brings down but once his club,
The land doth tremble underneath the stroke,
Like empty pumpkin bobbing on the water!
Handful of mortal men! Why thus so blind?
All ignorant of sweets in Paradise to find,
Ye fight with God and also fight with Man;
Without Hope's kindly light ye live and die,
Owning Christ's Cross, yet living after Milosh!
“The Cross”! — it is with you an empty phrase;
Your Milosh throws you into some strange stupor,
Or else intoxicates to wild excess.
Better one day of prayer within our mosque
Than four whole years of making Christian crosses!
O Hurias! With those eyes of blue! —
In agelong rapture might I gaze on you!
Where is the cloud-shade that could rise
To shield me from those star-like eyes? —
Those eyes from which keen arrows dart —
Their burning rays would fire cold stone:
Then what of me! — a weakly wight
Made but to melt beneath their light!
Such eyes are like to crystal water,
In which, as in two pearls of dew,
Thou gain'st of God some deeper view,
See'st more of God than on some clear Spring morn,
When from the mountains shimmers silver sea!
O Stamboul, thou delight of Earth!
Thou honey'd Cup. Thou Mount of sugar'd pleasures!
Thou sparkling bath of life and light,
Where in sherbet bathe the fairies!
O Stamboul, Palace of the Prophet!
Thou sacred source of strength and might,
From thee alone finds Allah his delight
By his Great Prophet earth to rule —
Could aught sever me from Thee!
How many hundred times in days of youth,
Fresh from my sleep I've stepped towards the Dawn,
Thy sea of light all wond'ringly to greet —
Reflected there thy visage fair,
Fairer than sun or moon or morn —
In silver mirror there to greet the sky,
And all thy towers and minarets sharp pointed;
To hear uprise into the azure blue,
At break of day in all the peace of Dawn,
A thousand, thousand holy voices,
Proclaiming to high heaven, “Allah alone is great”,
And upon all the Earth Mahomet's name and dower; —
What Faith with ours could ever hear compare?
What, other Altar Allah's favours share?
KNEZ YANKO (raising his cap)
Thus, Effendia, thank I thee!
Pretty sermon hast thou preached:
What we sought that we have surely found!
Let Cross and Club together strive,
But woe to him whose forehead shall be broken:
A whole egg gams o'er egg that's cracked,
Ye'll hear of what I do — shall I so will!
Upon my Faith, for my own part,
No more of this I'll hear!
This hodja who's from Cheklitché,
He crieth out “Oo-hoo!”
High perched upon his hollow stem,
As hoots an owl upon some age-worn tree.
Whom calls he so, on high,
From morn to morn, as day doth dawn?
I trow he now hath call'd enough!
I must confess it easier were for me,
If standing on my head were he!
My left ear, how it now doth tingle!
It means, I hope some joyful news.
Come now, Baiko, blow into mine eye;
A grain of dust doth make it very sore!
Strike now some fire that we may smoke;
For smoke is Islam's very soul:
Effendia will not be displeased.
Now do the ravens croak and fight;
Cheap meal shall quickly come to sight!
Over my rifle step not, Baiko,
Unless to step again — step back across it!
VUK MITCHUNOVITCH (whispering in Yanko's ear)
He holds on to the tail of Hadji-Hadja,
Nor will ever lose his grip,
Till either dog or millstone go!
SKENDER-AGA (displeased, seeing Vuk whispering)
What meaneth this, my brothers Montenegrin?
Who is it so hath fann'd this flame?
This thought unhappy — whence can it e'er be
To converse thus of vile apostasy?
No perverts ask we; we can brothers be;
Do we not fight and fight together,
Share we not good and ill as brothers?
Doth not veil'd Moslem girl, like Serbian maid.
Offer fair tresses on the hero's grave?
O Land, thou art accurst, and fallest all to ruin!
Most dread and horrible thy name is now to me!
O Land, if I some knightly son may have,
In youth's first blush thou takes! him from me;
Or if perchance I have some valiant, dear-lov'd brother,
He too is snatch'd away before his time;
Or if were mine some lovely bride —
A bride more sweet than any wreath of flowers —
She too would victim fall to thy fell scythe.
My Land, I see thee delug'd in our blood.
Now thou art nothing more in very truth
Than heaps of tones and mouldering tombs,
Whereon our youth, resolv'd and without fear.
Holds solemn festival with War and Death!
O Kossovo, Thou Field of ever tragic name,
No heavier doom had Sodom in her flame!
Shame on thee, Serdar, for such show of speech!
Why all these voting and ardent breasts,
Why all these eager-beating hearts within,
Whose quick blood courses through warm veins of pride?
Say, what are they? Sure sacrifice most noble,
From fields of battle taking flight
Into fair realms of poesy;
Like unto sparkling pearls of dew,
Which the sun lakes in joyous light to heaven!
What greater shame than growing old,
With faltering step and heavy eye,
With brain grown cloudy in its tony case,
With peevish look upon the deep-lined face,
And brow all wrinkled, ugly to the view,
The dim eyes sunken in perplexиd head, —
Death's ghastly grin upon the parchment skin —
As peers the tortoise from beneath his shell!
Why spak'st thou so of Kossovo and Milosh?
Our common weal collaps'd in ruins there.
Yet Montenegro's name and strength of arm
Came forth again from Kossovo's dark tomb.
Beyond the gloom into a Realm heroic,
Where Obilitch with knightly souls holds sway.
SERDAR IVAN PETROVITCH
Mahomet gives you all a stupid head!
Ye Turks, woe be unto your souls!
Why deluge all the land in kindred blood?
Two steeds make one too many for one manger!
FERAT ZATCHIR (Kavaz-basha)
Thy rifle, Serdar, findeth not the target!
He cannot hear his faith blasphemed,
That Turk who still hath head on shoulders!
Small enough is this our land,
Yet two faiths there still may be,
As in one sаhan soups agree.
Let us still as brothers live,
Of further love no need have we!
Fain would we, but it cannot be;[*]
Such love as this were laughing-stock!
No mutual love doth light our eyes,
A brother's glance we ne'er exchange,
Our looks are those of vengeful hate;
What saith the heart, the eyes must state!
*) An admirable analysis of the history of Islam from the psychological and spiritual side is to be found in Moslem Mentality, by L. Levonian, George Allen & Unwin, Ltd., London, 1928.
Brothers, see! How fine a sаrouk!
Where hast bought it, Aga? — by the Prophet say!
By purchase, Vuk, it did not come to me;
The Viziier gave it me as present,
This summer when I went to Travnik.
Upon thy love, such sаrouk get for me,
Then ox from out the yoke I'll give to thee.
I'll give il thee for present, Vuk,
If to my son thou koum wilt be;
It will great gladness for us make
True-hearted koum like thee to take.
Without baptizing, how can there be koum?
But to the font four times I'd go with thee.
'Twixt baptism and haircutting me the differenee tell?
Koum I'll be — a real koum; a mere stand-by never!
(A great uproar between Turks and Montenegrins; the wiser intervene to prevent slaughter. Then all are silent.)
Serdars three and Voivodas two;
Three hundred heroes coming with them keen;
And Falcon Baio with his thirty dragons —
His name must live as long as Time endures!
Up they came on Suliman the Vizier,
'Neath Vertielka, there upon the plain;
There they fought from summer dawn to noon:
No Serb by Serb was falsely there betray'd;
At none shall After-time cast word of shame,
Nor speak with scorn of one dishonour'd name —
Not shame as that to Brankovitch once came! —
All fell there; fell one Inside the other;
Fell each a-singing, Turks the while still killing:
Three alone came forth from out the slaughter,
Out from all the heaps of Turkish slain,
Bleeding from wounds — the Turks had gailop'd o'er them!
Many a glorious death repaid maternal pangs!
Unto these our heroes will God amply dower
Memory most fair and fragrance o'er their graves.
Heroes three thousand all steadfast together
'Gainst Suliman the Vizier measur'd forces
By Krstatz Field 'fore break of day;
God helps the strokes of him who strives:
The Vizier's might was broken quite!
Happy the man whose spirit urg'd him there,
To him Kossovo's Field no pain shall yield,
Nor 'gainst the Turk shall futile anger flare!
Hail, Serbian knights of Vertielka Field!
The torch so lit shall never, never wane;
It shall illume the tombs in Memory's sacred Fane!
(Ten Gavaz come from Podgoritza, sent by the new Vizier, who is making a tour of the empire; they give to Vladika Danilo a letter, which he reads thoughtfully.)
Say, Vladiko, what writes the Vizier?
We will not anything be hid —
Though e'en it wore that all the Turks had wings!
BISHOP DANILO (reads word by word)
“Selim Vizier, slave unto the Prophet's slave;
“Servant of the Brother of the world's great Sun,
“Envoy of him who ruleth all the Earth. —
“Now be it known, Ye Nobles with your Bishop,
“The Ruler of all rulers me hath sent
“To make a tour of this round world;
“To see how every State doth stand;
“To see that wolves do not o'er-eat;
“To see that lambs, escaping care,
“Do not their fleece in thickets tear;
“To shorten that which is too long;
“To pour out what is overfull;
“To east an eye o'er teeth of youth;
“To pluck the roses way from thorns;
“From out the mire to pick the pearl;
“To bridle well the raya herd —
“This raya herd of village cattle.
“Well, of your mountains ever much I hear;
“The kindred of the Holy Prophet
“Can rightly prize true heroism:
“Men speak false, if they should say
“The lion ever fears the mouse!
“Come under cover of my tent,
“Thou, Bishop, and ye Serdars bold.
“Appear before the Imperial Sign;
“Take from my hand all goodly gifts,
“Then live ye on, as ye till now have done.
“Strong tooth can crack the hardest nut;
“Sharper good sword than spiked war-club,
“Then how much more than cabbage-head!
“Is't not enough the reed to train,
“That it bend not before the storm?
“Who can leaping torrents stay
“From onward rush unto the sea?
“Whoe'er should leave the pleasant shade
“Of the Prophet's dreaded flag,
“The sun like lightning will him shrivel up.
“Did feeble hand yet ever forge tough steel?
“Doth pumpkin make not prison for the mouse?
“Why champ the bit? — it only breaks the teeth!
“What use were heaven, if therefrom came no thunder?
“Eyes have the rabble like to dirty water;
“The common folk are awkward sort of cattle,
“Docile only when they feel the whip.
“Woe to the land o'er which an army marches!”
With a smile, the trader lies;
A woman lies the while she cries;
But the Turk in lies all rivalry defies!
These envoys must not be detain'd;
Let them go hence with all due haste,
For fear the Pasha anxiously debate:
Let him know soon; then do whatever he may!
Make answer, Vladika — as well thou canst —
And save his face as he hath savиd thine!
BISHOP DANILO (writing the answer)
“From the Prince-Bishop and from ail his nobles,
“To Selim Pasha; Greeting responsive to the letter!
“This hard nut is fruit that, giveth wonder:
“Thou crack'st it not, except thou crack thy teeth;
“The price of wine is not what once it was;
“Nor is the world as ye have thought it!
“Europe to give as present to the Prophet —
“A sin 'twould be to think of it:
“That luscious fruit sticks half-way down his throat.
“The blood of men is monstrous nourishment,
“Already to the nose it choketh up;
“O'erfull the measure of your sins!
“Mahomet's mare hath snapp'd her saddle-girth!
“Duke Charles the Valiant of Lorraine;
“John Sobieski; Prince Eugene the Noble, —
“They broke the Turkish demon's horns!
“The scroll of fate reveals not lot the same
“For two brothers having name the same!
“Mohammed's horse did stumble at Vienna,
“And down the hill his chariot roll'd.
“What good is empire to inhuman men,
“Except to spread them shame thro' all the world!
“A mind all wild with virulent desire
“Becometh well wild hog, but not a man!
“Along his path who maketh Might his Right —
“Rise stenches of inhuman cruelty.
“I have divin'd what thou wouldst wish to say!
“Footprints are many to the cave:
“For guests well hated is no feast prepar'd.
“I know full well ye have no other thought
“Than greedy tooth to sharpen on your neighbours.
“And only your own flocks to guard from wolves!
“Narrow the way of entrance to the hives;
“For use against the tear is forged an axe;
“Of sheep and fair domain ye have enough.
“Yet still ye would both man and beast despoil!
“Where e'er ye come, rise groans on every side;
“Bad men oppressed by worse; good men by bad!
“I have essayed descent upon your rope!
“And. truth to tell, I was most like to choke;
“Friends at a distance since are we;
“Into my head some wisdom have put ye!”
(The letter finished, he reads it aloud to all the Montenegrins and the Turks.)
There is the letter, and now let's see your heels!
Give it to him, and let it talk with him!
(The Vizier's Envoys sadly go away.)
Here! take this cartridge! servant of the Sultan!
Take it, I say, as present to the Vizier,
And tell him, too, that such shall be the price
Of every single Montenegrin head!
What sayest thou? A cartridge for the Vizier!
Thou insolent and unbelieving haidouk!
This is no language for a Vizier;
Where Viziers come, they bring the aching fever,
Then lighten only tears each mournful eye,
And all the land re-echoes lamentation!
If guest thou wert not in our house,
I could give thee pretty answer!
But this I'll tell thee, anyway:
Haidouks both, say men, are we? —
Haidouk lie of slaves enchained;
Better he, since he took more!
But haidouk I, who hunts haidouks,
Haidoukship more famous far —
I waste not fair lands and peoples;
Though many a fiery-hearted tyrant
Has fallen on his nose before me,
And many a wailing Turkish wife
Behind me has unwound black wool!
(The Vizier's Messengers depart. Two cockerels fight before a ring of men.)
What devil's tricks these birds do play!
Wherefore fight they thus each other.
And tear out so each other's eyes?
Thirty hens do watch behind them;
These two cocks could live like Sultans,
Did not some ill luck plague them ever! —
But why concern their quarrels me, —
Though I'd wish victory to the smaller!
And thou, Aga, by the Prophet's beard?
I'd wish victory to the bigger:
Wherefore else should God give size?
He is bigger: let him have more power!
(In the moonlight: all sitting round the fire, The Kolo sings on the big threshing-floor.)
O Novi Grad! O Novi Grad!
Thou art seated by the sea;
Blue waves thou countest on the Main,
Like grey old man on grey stone seat,
Counting his beads with rosary!
Glorious dreams must thou have dream'd,
Till came Venetians off the sea,
And Montenegrins from the hills,
To greet each other 'neath thy walls!
With blood to sprinkle and with water holy,
Since when thou hast not smell of Infidels!
With twenty thousand men did Topal Pasha come,
In hottest haste with help for Novi Grad:
Our young Montenegrins met him
On the narrow Kamen Field,
Where perish'd fame of Turkish fez!
The Turkish host — they sank all in one grave,
And still to-day is seen the place of skulls!
(reclining by Serdar Yanko's side)
What wilt thou, Serdar, with this girdle?
I would wind it over all my clothes.
What fortune bad has come on thee
To put it thus o'er all thy clothes?
Evil dreams oppress me ever,
And I do choke when I would sleep!
Have done with nightmares and black thoughts!
Nor dreams nor witch thy bother be; —
Why! thou art round as any barrel;
Sure thy huge bulk is choking thee! —
Ne'er yet have nightmares troubled me.
True it is dream plagueth me,
Though I do take horse-radish with me
And thorn-sprig too within my doublet;
But to keep off all bad dreams
Better is girdle spread above one's clothes!
(lying beside Knez Rogan)
How these Renegades do smell!
Rogan! hast thou mark'd it well?
How, Knez, should I fail to mark it!
When, by my luck, I have to sit amongst them,
Then ever with both hands my nose I hold:
I sure should vomit, if I did not so!
I sleep o' nights right out upon the edge;
For close to them I ne'er could live till morn.
Thou seest now how far away they are,
Yet even here their odours wile we smell —
I' faith, each one is reeking infidel!
(At dead of night. All are asleep, but someone talks in his sleep, and Knez Yanko and Knez Rogan, rising to see who it is, find Vuk Mandushitch talking as in broad daylight.)
Mandushitch, what is the matter,
That all night long thou dost so chatter?
Do not, Rogan, rouse him up;
It is his way in sleep to talk as in broad day;
Let us ply him with some questions,
And from him get at least some fun!
I say, Vuk, what art thou telling
About our good lord Milonitch:
Hath there been a row between you?
Brother, nothing wrong is there between us;
His daughter-in-law — I've talked of her a little!
And what about? — All in secret, tell me now!
Prettier she than any fairy,
And she has scarcely eighteen summers;
She's simply captured all my heart!
How “simply captured all thy heart”?
“How?” askest thou! 'tis no joke about the “how?”!
In all the world her like cannot be found!
Were I already not Godfather
Nine times for our good Ban Milonitch,
Sure the maiden would I soon have seized,
And flown with her across the world.
O silly boy! Thy mother weeps o'er thee!
She's flown away already with tin wits.
By deal's power or magic arts,
Or something worse than either two,
If I just catch her smile, this girl,
I feel the whole world round me whirl!
All this I could endure, if badly,
But one eve the devil had me
To pass a night in Milon's cabin:
Just at dawn, the moon still shining,
Flames rose in the new-mown field;
From somewhere came the girl, — just think!
Sat by the fire to catch the glow,
Marked in the cabins how all slept,
And then unwound her lovely wreath of hair;
Down fell her tresses to her waist,
She comb'd her locks about her bosom,
With clear voice singing elegy,
Like nightingale in bushy tree:
So mourn'd she her husband's brother,
Son dear-lov'd of Ban Milonitch —
He who was slain full year ago
By Turks in Duga's rough ravine.
The Ban would grudge that she should cut such hair,
For more he prized her tresses fair
Than his own son who perished there.
This girl's laments, they tore my heart;
Her glowing eyes my spirit fired;
Clear as the moonlight shone her brow;
I wept — shed tears just like a child!
How blest is Andriya so to leave the world,
When eyes so glorious thus weep o'er him,
When lips so lovely thus do mourn him.
(Knez Rogan whispers to Knez Yanko: “Ask him no more for very honour, about things like these; else he will bleat out more.” Day breaks; they rise.)
Let me tell now what I have dreamt? —
Now, in my dream I saw great crowds,
Like unto some Church procession:
Scorching the sun, burning one's eyes from head;
Hard, too, the ground and dry, where'er we went,
Till on such field as this we came,
And there found rest beneath an apple tree,
Beneath whose shade a clear brook played;
Together we all gather'd in the cool,
And there we pluck'd of apples ripe,
So ripe and sweet, as sweet as sugar,
While from the Gospels read the priest; —
When on the instant five Martiovitch,
The one behind the other, all arose;
Near to them also comrades three or four.
All people look'd to see where they should go;
When, taking ladder, thev climb'd on the church,
Climb'd up, right up, on to the apse's top,
And thereupon did fix a golden cross.
The cross it shone as sun shines on the forest,
And on their feet stood all the people up,
Bowing themselves before the Cross of Honour.
Then I awaked from sleep in fear and dread.
Good luck befall thee-after so splendid dream!
And my own dream was likewise wonderful:
Guarding myself from some ferocious dogs,
With my own sword I smote down five or six —
When I shall join a haidouk band,
Sure Turks should fall to my strong hand!
Of wedding I have dreamt to-night:
My Bogdan took him Turkish wife,
In the church we did baptize her,
And after that we married them.
(The Turks all go away in file; sad and angry.)
Our father Ozra I did see last night:
We were in all two hundred Ozrinitch,
And we drove full two hundred horses,
Wine for St. Michael's Feast to buy,
And brought the wine from Cattaro back.
Songs we sang and fired our rifles:
Gaining Potochiné's height,
We saw three hundred men all seated,
Each was cloak'd in green dolаma;
They'd tokés too, and each was arm'd,
And we thought, “Whoe'er should these be?
Guest perchance? — yet 'tis not time!”
But closer, saw we ancient Ozra
With chosen heroes close behind him, —
No one of them is now alive!
A torrent of reproach they pour'd:
“Why built we not a church at Tchevo,
To honour Michael the Archangel?”
Then we almost fell to fighting;
I tremble still when I do all recall!
Busy all night I was with dreams,
Until I rose, and then I all forgot!
(Knez Baiko and Vuk Mandushitch are sad; neither will tell anything.)
Baiko, thou art a little sad,
That which must be, let it be!
Thy story give us — though it please thee not!
So will I, Knez! 'Tis all the same to me!
I had a dreadful dream last night:
Broken all my arms in pieces!
Surely some ill awaiteth me,
Or else some loss in family;
When thus I've dreamt upon my bed.
Ne'er have I failed a death to see!
Mandushitch, why thus downcast?
Why tell'st thou not thy dream last night?
I've had no dream, nor can I tell a tale;
All through the night I slept a most dead sleep.
Something I'll tell, since others nothing say:
I dreamt that I saw Drashko Popovitch!
And lo! almost I could put down a wager,
Is it not he now coming down the field!
Behold, how mean a thing is man,
Till now he's come not in our mind!
He, ablest of our Voivodas, —
Where's been our Drashko Popovitch?
Why, Drashko went away to Venice:
When Souleyman on Cattaro came,
With beechwood guns he shell'd the town;
Stepan the priest was there that day,
And fir'd jusi ouee from Cattaro,
Hitting straightway the Vizier's gun, —
Knocking its food right clean into its throat —
Into three hundred pieces shatter'd it!
Then gain'd the Priest a pension from the Doge —
A hundred sequins by the year.
Bow'd down with years is Stepan now;
So Drashko made his way towards Venice
To seek his father's pension from the Doge.
Turn, turn the spit, my boys! Turn these half dozen rams
That we may have our meal, and get us off towards home.
(Voivoda Drashko arrives, kisses each of them, embraces them, and sits down among them.)
Tell us something, Drashko, of what you've seen in Venice!
What sort of people found you over there?
“What sort of people?” ask you, Rogan! —
Just like other people, none of 'em had horns.
So, dear follow! So none of 'em had horns;
But were they rich and handsome?
Brother, many a handsome man I saw,
But ten times more of ugly folk;
Too ugly much to look upon!
Many a rich man was there too,
Whose wealth indeed had made him mad,
Made him like a silk child.
On every hand the poor did stand,
Toiling hard with sweat of brow,
Simply to earn a crust of bread.
Two men I saw between them bearing
Some kind of female on their shoulders.
Seated in chair so round and lazy, —
She weighed close on three hundred pounds!
All through the streets they carried her,
In daylight broad now here, now there, —
Regardless of all manly honour,
Simply to earn a crust of bread.
What sort of houses have they, Drashko?
No finer houses in the world!
But with it all is pain and need;
All closely pack'd are they together,
'Mid odours had and noisome air;
Pale and bloodless, too, their faces. —
But tell me now, how was thv welcome?
What thinkest thou! who should receive me?
No one of them was known to me,
From whom should then my welcome be!
Besides, a staring motley crowd
Did hinder me from going out;
They pointed and halloo'd at me,
When forth I went to view the town;
So 'tis with us at Eastertide,
When make our youths their masquerade!
If I had not met a friend, —
The son of Zané Grbichitch, —
I ne'er again had seen this land;
There sure had left my tones to rest;
But Zané gave me brother's welcome,
And with me made the round of Venice.
And are they valiant, Voivoda?
Nay, Mandushitch. i' faith they were not;
Of heroism be nought said!
With speeches fair they did decoy our brothers
Enticing, and then trapping them —
Yea, our falcon brothers poor —
From Dalmatia and Croatia,
Crowding their ships all full of them,
And pushing them across the world:
Thus did Venice heap up riches,
Her will impose on towns and cities!
Their Courts of Justice, are they just?
“Just” may be, but God help thee,
If thou wouldst not Turkish justice
In them not to come!
A monstrous building there I saw,
Where they did make and fit out ships,
Where many thousand wretches toiled,
Weighed down by clank of heavy chains
They worked on vessels for the Prince:
Dreadful it was to stand there by,
Because of cries and lamentations.
Some of these prisoners were made last
By chains to huge, high-towering galleys,
Which on the silver sea they row'd,
Under burning summer suns,
Or drenching rains — amid all weathers!
They scarce might move a single foot;
But like a dog chained to his kennel,
They dragged away their nights and days.
Yet worst of all their dungeons were;
Deep down beneath the Doge's Palace;
The foulest pits thou couldst imagine
Might not compare with these vile prisons.
A horse could not live long so kept,
And who would tie his dog down there!
Yet wretched men are stabled in them,
Ay, men are shackled there below,
And drowned too in those dread holes.
A curse upon them! I am numb
Whene'er I contemplate their horrors.
None dare compassionate his brother,
And still less come unto his aid.
As I saw brave men suffer thus,
My heart was pained, and out I cried:
“Ye heathens all, what make ye here?
“Why not boldly kill them off.
“Than torture men upon this wise?”
Then Grbichitch. he said to me:
“Let not such words escape thy lips;
“The truth to speak is here forbidden;
“Happy for thee they have not understood!”
List, brethren, what I tell to-day:
These dungeons drear have taught to me,
That such men must have greatly sinn'd.
And therefore shall their Kingdom fall, —
Fall into hands not so defil'd!
Since thou thus canst prophesy, —
Fear they none in all this world?
What man is there entirely without fear? —
If startled only by his shadow!
No other fear, I ween, had they
Than of police and espionage:
All Venire shook with fear of spies;
When two men speak upon the street.
The third tends ear to spy on them;
Then with all speed run to the court
To tell the tale of what he's heard,
Adding thereto some pleasant relish;
Whereon such speakers are arrested,
And forthwith sent unto the galleys.
On this wise perish half the people,
And trust no more the one the other.
From end to end through all wide Venice,
Cannot be found one single man
Who doth not fear his fellow-creature,
As lurking spy or sycophant!
The other day swore Grbichitch
That just such spies and secret agents
Had e'en denounced one day the Doge. —
The Doge himself — 'fore Senate and 'fore people!
Who was, indeed, brought to his end,
Upon the steps of his own Palace.
Then how must others quake and tremble
When they spare not the very Doge?
Have they diversions in this Venice,
As we enjoy ourselves at home?
Games there were, but not like ours:
In some house they gather'd all,
When night had fall'n, after supper;
Big was the house, and all the world was there.
Thousands of candles brightly burned;
Around the walls were curious holes.[*]
Holes that were all filled with people,
As well as all the floor below.
All looked out from these wall-pockets
Like mice a-peep from out a nest.
Then suddenly a curtain rose,
The third part of the place fell open!
Upon my word, it was a wonder:
Thence crept out all kinds of folk,
(In all thy dreams ne'er hast thou seen such!)
So multi-coloured, like wild cats.
Then shouts were heard all through the house,
And all the people clapped their hands;
I was nearly dead with laughter.
A little while, and they went out,
But others came to take their places;
Such ugliness, such dreadful folk,
No one e'er had seen before:
Noses they had a full foot long,
And vampire-like their starting eyes;
They ope'd their jaws like hungry wolves;
They walked around on wooden legs,
On wooden legs like unto keys;
In rags and tatters did they dress;
If one had met them in broad day,
His very hair had stood on end!
Then from these wall-holes someone cried —
May God give blessings on his head —
“The house has fir'd! Flee, flee away!”
Picture thyself the hurly-burly:
Some were crying, some did shout;
Caps a-falling, things all breaking round about;
Many a poor one trodden down;
In the crush all squeez'd and chok'd,
As herds stampeding from wild beast!
Upon the morrow we a visit paid,
But there was no one in the house:
Barr'd and bolted were all doors!
The biggest fun I've kept till last: —
With eyes askance you'll at me glance —
In Venice is a wondrous joke,
Men jump and dance upon a rope!
*) I.e. theatrical boxes.
O Drashko, can this all be true!
Conjuring tricks they did for you!
That I know not; whal I saw, I saw! —
I think with thee it might be magic.
What else could it be but magic!
My grandsire old I once heard say:
To Cattaro's bay there came one day
Some folk from Italy — or somewhere else —
To Bocco town on market-day.
Who out-cried to all the people:
“Look, ye people, at this cock!”
And when the folk the cock did view, —
His claw, it held a timber beam: —
A moment after, and we saw
That the beam was only straw!
Then, again to us they cried:
“People, hear! To each some grapes in hand;
“But if to them you place a knife,
“Then take good care lest ill befall; —
“Pray cut them not with knife at all.”
Then all the people seize their grapes,
And hold close to them all their knives: —
A miracle ne'er seen before:
The grapes all gone, they hold their noses,
And think from them to cut nice bunches! —
Then cried a third upon a wall:
“People, take care lest ye do drown!”
Whereon, upon the market square,
A rushing torrent pour'd,
And maid and man from water ran.
When, on a sudden, stream was none,
Nor yet a trace of water,
Though still there stood with skirls upturn'd
Full many a gazing daughter!
Then when the people saw
How well they'd been deceived,
All angrily they sprang
And would have kill'd each man,
But into Cattaro bay,
The wily Latins ran!
These tricks are much the sort of joke
That Drashko tells about the rope.
Well, do they sing unto the gouslé
As pretlily as we do, Drashko?
Gouslé in Venice! What think'st thou?
I never heard the word once named.
Without gouslé, for no game in the world
Would I give a Turkish farthing!
A house which hath no gouslé tones,
There all is dead and dry as bones!
On everything we've questioned thee; —
But the Doge, Drashko, didst thou see?
Him saw I, brother, as I do see thee now.
And was he... What was he really like?
Why! just a man of middle size!
If his position weren't so high.
Sure he need i'ear no jealousy!
What did they call him, Voivoda?
Valiero: his other names I do not know!
Did he ask thee 'bout our land?
Brother, he did, though I forget just how!
With Grbichitch I audience had,
And I did bow as I was told:
The Doge, he cast a smile towards me,
And ask'd me questions 'bout our land,
Which made me think he lik'd us well,
For he remember'd all the wars
When we sent men to help his Venice.
He went on talking as a child,
Ask'd me all about our neighbours,
The Bosnian Turks and the Albanians:
“When such men catch a Montenegrin,
“Be he alive or be he dead” — so he did say —
“They eat him, eh?... or what do they?”
Could man eat man? Is there no God?
Where the people that do eat their neighbours?
“I have heard tell”, he next did say,
“A folk your way at least eats snakes!” —
How... eat snakes, my honoured Sire!
Not e'en to see them do our people care;
They put on end our people's every hair!
I think that he received thee well!
Not only well, exceeding well!
Promis'd more than ever I did ask.
And methought, on taking leave,
“I'm bless'd both now and evermore,
“Good fortune cometh now to all our people;
“Powder enough I'll carry back
“Al least to fire our guns against the Turks!”
But after, on the following day,
These speeches fair had melted all away,
And now I never would believe him,
Though he should tell me milk is while!
What kind of food gave they to thee?
Didst thou get good dishes, Drashko?
'Mong them I saw no food save bread;
Though true they serve some sort of sweets;
Three hours tasting they think makes a meal.
Two out of three of all their men,
Though still quite young, are lacking teeth,
For they eat sweetmeats all day long!
I longed for flesh, but none was there;
Only just now I ate well here!
In truth they are a wondrous folk!
Have you seen down at Cattaro
Sovra, the man who governs there,
And other magnates all Venetian?
They like better egg or chicken
Than sheep's flesh or ball of cheese;
Untold the quantity of chickens
That they eat up within a year!
From this lordly life they die,
With bellies big and no moustaches,
Their craniums dusted o'er with powder
And, like ladies, dangling rings at ear!
When they reach their thirtieth year,
They get a face like some old hag,
Too ugly are they to be seen;
And even should they climb a stair,
All pale they grow and linen-white,
And something rattles in their throat;
As if had come their dying night!
(The roast is served. Yanko asks who gave the ram, and looks upon its shoulder-blade: they say that Martin Baitza provided it.)
What a fine blade and what fine fortune written!
Through all thy life shall goodly things befall thee,
Thy days shall bring thee wondrous luck.
Which part; suppose ye, may be ours?
Is it from Cross or may it be from Pillar?
We've always held unto the Cross.
I've picked a thousand shoulder-bones,
Yet never read such dire misfortune!
Whose is this shoulder that I see?
His family shall all die out,
Nor round the house shall cock more crow;
All pierced the bone right to the middle,
As cobbler with his awl might pierce it;
This bone doth show a score of graves, —
Not one outside the family!
(All look wonderingly at the shoulder-blade; it is said to have been Skender-Aga's animal.)
KNEZ YANKO (looking upon the bone, and reading what he sees)
Who owneth this hath twenty head of cattle,
Hb granaries shall be well filled,
His dwelling's beams are strong enough,
Fine and handsome all his horses;
Wrapped up somewhere he has money,
Though I should say it is not much,
And it is known to all his house.
VOUKOTA MRVALYEVITCH (relates what he sees in another bone)
Somewhere see I booty rich,
But mixed with blood and curst of God, —
A very Kossovo for slaughter!
Ye babble fortunes like old witches,
Like old witches with their beans!
Say, is there knowledge in dead bones
Of what shall happen in the future?
Why pretendest thou to wisdom?
Since thou from bones hasl read more futures
Than any ten of us have done!
No bone can one of us e'er pick,
Ere thou dost snatch it from his lips;
So hast thou done a hundred times,
And done the devil's business too! —
Most of thy life thou hast spent thus.
Come now, Vuk, of Liéshev Stoupa!
Thy gouslé take, and entertain us so;
Good we have had; now give us something better!
VUK OF LIESHEV STOUP (singing to the gouslé)
O Plain of Tchevo, thou art nest of heroes,
And field where men most bloodily have fought;
What memories of battles round thee circle,
How many a mother thou to grief hast brought!
Thy plain is whiten'd o'er with dead men's bones;
And drench'd with blood are all thy stories!
Since Vidov Day alway thy ground doth find
For ravens black and for brown howling wolves
Rich meals of flesh of horse and humankind.
'Twas horrible to see how on that day
Clouds of black smoke made heavy pall alway;
To thee one hundred thousand Turks had run,
And there was murderous crack of every gun;
While doughty men most furiously did cry,
And croaking ravens hover'd black on high.
As after darkness shineth forth the sun,
So towards evening clear'd the storms sky:
How many Turkish corses strewn o'er thee! —
Men counted them, how many might there be,
But on their number none did e'er agree.
(He lays down the gouslé.)
Cease not, Voutché, let thy song still flow,
Without thy gouslé, Time doth heavy go.
VUK OF LIESHEV STOUP
As 'tis not in me, Voivoda, to sing on,
It is better I should stop.
(Rifle shots are heard up the field. About hundred and fifty men are singing.)
What sounds are these? Are they not mad?
They are the nuptial guests of Moustafitch.
The Turkish standard-bearer, Soulio, doth wed
The Kadi's niece from out the fort of Obod.
Not all the guests are Turks, it seems to me;
Among them there are Montenegrins.
There are of Montenegrins there
A little less than half.
Whence come these house-dogs, pickers-up of crumbs,
These Brankovitchi, lickers-up of dishes?
Why make they comrades of the Turks?
What a diabolic wedding,
To have no blessing from the Church, —
And copulate like any cattle!
'Mongst them there is no nuptial crowning,
They only make a kind of contract,
As if they simply hired a cow;
Within the house no partner is the wife,
They hold her like a slave for selling,
And they tell you: Woman is for man;
As some sweet fruit or like roast lamb;
While such she be, let her keep sale at home;
Be she not so, then throw her out of doors!
In God's great name, oh! what a breed of dogs!
How drunk with evil and iniquity!
Where comes the Turk, there law doth cease to be;
His heart's own I lust-that is his only law, —
What he desireth not is writ not in the Koran!
(The Wedding Guests are singing in the field.)
A TURKISH WEDDING GUEST (improvising)
O Guerguelez, thou of quick falcon wing,
Who on fleet steed to Paradise didst speed
Of thy free will impell'd by no compulsion,
More quickly so to greet great Allah's Prophet! —
The sweetest hourias sure have captur'd thee,
That thus thou dost delay to us to come:
Come — with no wailing! Make thee now swift way;
Upon the back of thy wing'd charger come!
Forget thee not thy sabre, nor thy lance;
Thy scourge infernal lake with thee withal,
Seeing the raya lifts again his head:
Drive him once more as cattle back to stall, —
Each wolf of thine doth snap his jaws with hunger!
Let brightly flash thy keen Damascus blade.
That whelping dogs may bark not on the Prophet!
A MONTENEGRIN WEDDING GUEST
Where art thou, Marko! thou our champion mighty?
Though thou hast been the Sultan's vassal nam'd,
Alway thou art our glory and our pride!
Make fast the saddle-girth on thy fam'd steed, Sharatz,
From thy whole armoury no weapon take,
Saving thy heavy iron-knotted Club:
At Guerguelez betwixt his shoulders aim good blow,
And let him have his hourias and his prophet!
A TURKISH WEDDING GUEST
And thou, Ilderim, Thunder of the Prophet!
Wast thou not satiate of the Cross and Christian folk
Through farspread lands from Morning unto Even?
Not space enough to ride thy winged horse?
Thy keen Damascus blade — could it not slake its thirst?
Most dreaded pupil thou of our Mahomet!
Yet must thou sped to hunt the kin of Fatima,
The best lov'd daughter of great Allah's Prophet! —
A sin was that, 'fore God and 'gainst the Prophet,
And he who so offends, he heavily must pay.
But all thy sins, be they forgiven thee,
Since thou hast broken stubborn Bosnia's horns,
Since thou hast struck on head the Prophet's foes,
And only spar'd the common toil-worn herd
To do our will, and wail before the Cross!
A MONTENEGRIN WEDDING GUEST
And thou, bold Obilitch, thou flaming Dragon,
All eyes were blinded which did look on thee!
Thy name heroic must most honour'd be!
For ne'er didst thou thy Sovereign Lord betray.
But set thy foot to stop proud Murat's way,
When thou thy path didst thread unto his tent! —
On thy horse, Ždral, I see thee still,
Smiting a road through all the Turkish camp!
What man can smile away stern things which have to be;
For Serb with Turk sure sooner would agree,
Than would to sherbet turn the salt, salt sea!
A TURKISH WEDDING GUEST
Stay, Ali, stay! child of unwedded maid!
Kotari's girls are scattered far and wide;
It were a shame for such a falcon grey
The partridge thus to hunt along the glade,
And still so long without a meal to bide!
Strike, Tale, strike! Strike with thy knotted club,
Which cracketh human ribs like hazelnuts!
Though half of all thy men should lose their heads,
Thou shouldst not give o'er Kossa to the giaours —
So fine a fruit is no dessert for Serbs!
A MONTENEGRIN WEDDING GUEST
Fly, Komnen, warrior bold!
Since thou hast captur'd such a prey,
Thou hast enough repos'd thy wings.
Nor is Kotаri far away!
Thine own sweet Haika likes thy faith,
And would, maybe, become a Christian!
Starina-Novak, haidouk brave!
Shout down the glen as is thy wont;
The Moslem's ears are closed with dirt,
Wake up the fleas upon his shirt.[*]
Now, Bayo, eye each living wight!
Lei no more guest, arouse these hills,
If thou or Limo deem not right!
*) Literally, within his fur coat.
(Moustai-Kadi requests the lads to stop this kind of singing near the Montenegrins, lest some chieftains should be offended. They may, however, sing wedding songs, and he himself logins.)
Weep not, Mother, pretty Fatima:
She is married, she's not buried;
From off her bough falls not this rose;
She dwelleth hence on fruitful ground!
For Fatima will Soulyo guard
As the dear apple of his eye.
Fatima hath wondrous figure,
And her eyes are like two stars;
Her countenance the ruddy morn;
Her garland hair crowns radiant brow;
Fits smallest coin her sweet-curv'd mouth,
And rose alone could colour such red lips;
Betwixt them greets the glance at whiles
A bracelet row of snowy pearls!
Her throat it is of ivory pure,
So white her arms as wings of snow-white swan.
This Morning Star is pois'd above sweet flowers!
O'er her life's waters move but silver oars,
And blest the pillow that she rests upon!
A MONTENEGRIN WEDDING GUEST
Falcons like not dusty fields;
Do falcons scour a marsh for frogs?
The falcon loves the rocky steeps,
The falcon's eye the partridge doth spy out, —
Some partridge light and timorous,
Sharp-darting as quick fire!
A TURKISH WEDDING GUEST
Waste not the hours, thou senior guest,
For hours to-day have equal worth to years;
The time to Soulyo will seem long!
God in His kindness man's brief day hath given,
That he may have some joy upon this earth,
And it is sin to 'minish what God gives!
Shameful is this! A most wretched medley!
Mark'd ye not well the fashion of their singing?
'Tis of no use for foes to fraternize.
Always must come allusions to past times:
Milosh and Marko, Mouпo and Ali!
The storm doth gather slowly, then suddenly bursts fort,
As seething water plays with kettle-lid!
Why with the foe should fraternize men so?
If they were fried upon one pan,
The gravies would not mix together!
Most impudent and dirty rascals
With all indecency do us dishonour!
If they did know the dignity of heroes,
Could they be hangers-on to these vile Turks?
To me more hateful they than Turks! —
But what care I for Turks or them?
They challenge and defy the Turks,
And yet, like dogs, do lick the Turkish dishes!
They would ever sing just so,
Unless that artful fox said No!
See ye not that Kadi there?
Thereпs not his like upon the earth;
His mouth is full of honey'd words.
Around the Cross he softly treads,
But he is full of foulest cunning;
A bitterer foe the Cross hath not,
By Montenegrin gun let him be shot!
(The Wedding Guests depart. Soon afterwards a group of mourners appear upon the horizon. At their head is the Sister of Batritch, mourning for her brother.)[*]
*) In Montenegro those who lament and mourn the dead are called pokainitse. These pokainitse include not only the nearer kinfolk; but also more distant relatives and friends. The nearer kindred attend the funeral lamenting; other relatives and friends, if they cannot attend the funeral, come on the second or third day to mourn the deceased.
THE SISTER OF BATRITCH
Whither hast thou flown from me,
O falcon mine!
From all thy noble company,
O brother mine!
Didst thou not know the faithless Turk, —
May God him curse!
Could never faithful be?
Most lovely head!
My world is gone now thou art gone,
My sun! My brother!
Never can my wounds be sooth'd,
My smarting wounds!
My very eyes and pluck'd from me.
Light of mine eyes!
To whom shall now go all thy brothers!
O thou their pride!
And Pera grey, thy stricken sire? —
Thy stricken sire!
Young sisters three bereft of thee, —
Each mourning thee!
Bereft thy seven brothers' wives!
O darken'd lives!
Why throw thy handsome head away,
Thou princely spirit!
O'er thy head now gloats the foe!
Our boast and pride!
'Gainst honour's word they hew'd thee down!
Most treach'rous brood!
Too well they garnish'd Travnik town!
God make them pay!
They deck'd it with thy lovely head!
My heart lies dead!
Round whom now will heroes gather?
Thou of men the leader!
Who now defend the far-flung wing?
Who now keep count of Turkish heads?
Keen sword wast thou!
Hadst thou been slain in combat, sharp
Thou warrior soul!
Where hot young heroes headlong ride
To glory's goal!
To take their toll of arms and men,
Thy death were priced!
Faith o'rmuch thou gav'st the faithless!
Thou loyal mind!
Miadness now creeps over me —
O'erwhelm'd in night!
Oh, might I everything forget!
My broken heart!
Thou wast ever wise in counsel,
My fair brother!
And couldst an Emperor well have serv'd!
With clearest mind!
Full well a Vizier hadst thou been!
My broken pride!
Or had't thou served before a king,
O ruler mine!
Thou wouldst have marshall'd bravest troops,
Thou Rose of Mine!
Oh, might we once more talk together,
Heart of mine!
Might I caress thy head so still! —
No solace mine!
Again to glance in thy dark eyes!
Thou wert mine eyes!
Thy now cold head to kiss again, —
As 'twere still part of thee!
Again to tend thy wavy locks!
It ne'er can be!
Thy hero's turban could I wind!
O day most blind!
All-bloody hands round thee to find!
But God requite!
Thy lovely head is all despoil'd! —
Many a brother shall thou greet!
We hapless ones behind!
Thou shalt find most knightly souls;
But wretched me!
Hoist upon the walls of Travnik!
Comrades' heads thou may'st nol know!
Oh, empty world!
Insults heap'd upon us sorely?
Oh, the Moslem foe!
Whither will thy heart's young love?
Tears 'stead of sleep!
And her two hapless children weak,
Orphan'd they and lone?
And grandsire Baiko, now grown old,
In Batritch clan?
Thy grandsire he did train thee well!
He'll mourn thee well!
Forgiveness o'er thy deadly wounds,
The whelming woes of our whole race —
Not parrdon'd these!
Our land falls under Islam's yoke!
Our chiefs have now all heart of stone, —
Let death come to their home!
(She kills herself.)[*]
*) “Lovely and pleasant in their lives, and in their death they were not divided.” — The Old Test., II Sam. i. 23.
(All the chieftains are weeping. On hearing the name of Batritch they all go forth to meet the mourners. As they come up to them, they learn what has happened. The Sisters of Batritch embraces her grandfather — Knez Baiko — snatches his dagger from his girdle and with it kills herself. Baiko swoons and falls before his lifeless grandchild.)
In God's own name, what sorrow great
And unawaited falls on us to-day!
(None utter a word; all are weeping.)
To God our cries ascend; He hears our centuries of sighs!
Ruin doth strike us at the very head!
Already I have eighty winters pass'd,
And many a time I carefully have scanned,
The Turks, the Latins, and the Montenegrins,
But ne'er so fine a youth saw I from any land!
Nowhere in all these lofty hills
Was bred a youth unto our Batritch rival;
He was in truth a very winged hero:
I've watched him leaping with his comrades:
His standing jump was fourteen feet;
And running, he did twenty-four!
He'd clear three horses with one leap!
Why should one hide what really is?
Such a grey falcon ne'er before
Did Montenegro bring to birth!
Such balance of fine qualities:
That he more handsome was than good,
Less kindly he than he was wise —
What, one of us would dare to say?
Side by side six times were we,
When powder blazed into our eyes,
And Death was hurtling all around:
Such iron brow I ne'er had seen;
No other youth so stood his ground,
And he was scarcely twenty-two!
Wherefore hide it, Montenegrins! —
He's caught away my living heart.
And all our country weepeth truest tears.
He hardly had begun with life:
Yet all his comrades on the field
To him first place were bound to yield;
Turkish heads some seventeen
He had taken in the wars!
O God, that he should meet death thus!
How could he ever trust the Turks;
Or e'er rely upon their honour?
A hero he, who ever trusted men,
That dog which men call Tchorovitch,
On faith fraternal, tricked him to this folly, —
The scoundrel Turk! his name be e'er accurst!
Hath he not heir to follow him?
Though heirs he hath, it profits not;
He leaveth but two little boys;
One to the other cannot pass a cup, —
Yet as two golden apples lovely!
'Tis long to wait the upgrowth of the lads!
And he has left flow many brothers?
Seven brothers, brothers seven, all alike!
And say, will they avenge him, Vuk?
Knez, they will, but to what profit?
To what profit? say'st thou, man!
Sure if they should well avenge him,
'Twere resurrection from the grave!
Alas, for this unhappy maid,
Self-slain amongst us all this day.
For her my heart hath keener sorrow
Than for the head of her unhappy brother!
Talk not, Knez, of our distress;
There never was a grief like this
In any place that I have known;
Her heart did break with in her breast;
The world for her was all overturned;
Thinking of her falcon grey,
She could not overcome her grief,
So through dark death hath sought relief.
Grieving so sore, what had she but to die!
Sorrow like hers — it would have crushed a stone,
Then how much more her gentle sister-heart!
Too handsome he — that was his sole misfortune:
When for some expedition he was dressed, —
When he had donn'd his ornaments and medals,
Red silk aflame around his head,
And locks luxuriant falling on his shoulders,
With brace of pistols stuck in gayish girdle;
His yatagan slung from the waist,
And in his hand his jeferdar; —
With visage fine — tall as a lance —
When thus I think on him as oft he came,
My heart lights up in living flame!
(The Chieftains are seated on the hip threshing-ground, and they talk, when there comes upon the scene three or four hundred Osrinitchi, Tzoutzé, and Bielitze. All takeplaee before the Chieftains, holding their rifles at the shoulder.)
Well are ye come! Say, what has happen'd, brothers?
Ye started out as if for war;
For war, indeed, was some necessity;
Was there not slaughter somewhere, in God's name?
May, Serdar, no slaughter yet hath been,
Although one feels it in the air.
(a second soldier)
Priest of the Tzoutzé! give them now the letter,
Which thou didst write amongst us all,
And let them have a talk with it; —
Quieter business that, than talking all together!
(Priest Mitcho gives the letter to Vladika Danilo, who looks at it without saying anything.)
What saith the letter? what's written, Vladiko?
In truth there is no reading of it!
(The Bishop gives the letter to Knez Yanko, that he may hand it to The Priest.)
KNEZ YANKO (looking at it)
A pretty letter! Plague on him who wrote it!
How nicely all is put upon the paper!
A cockerel's claw was surely pen for it!
(All are laughing. Knez Yanko gives the letter to The Priest and speaks to him.)
Here, Pop[*] Mitcho! Hold this letter!
Read it, that we may know what's written.
*) I.e. “priest.”
(Priest Mitcho takes the letter, looks at it a long time, and then begins to read.)
PRIEST MITCHO (reading)
. . . . um . . . dam . . . am . . .
. . . . bi . . . nu . . . no . . .
. . . . na . . . sha . . . ra . . .
Reads he not, nicely — keenly as a sword?
To-day's confabulation gives good fun!
Now — upon oath! — where didst thou learn to read?
Wast thou not at school in Venice?
If thus thou read'st a letter that's thine own,
Good business wouldst thou make of one unknown!
Vuk, 'twould seem thou'rt poking fun at me!
But as the teaching, so the reading:
If 1 had had a better master,
I should have been a better reader —
Be that as it may; this all comes in my day,
And who can better, there's room enough to try!
No offerings would I give to thee,
Were the business left to me — not a grain of wheat!
No wheat I get — not e'en a handful;
Sometimes a fleece or ball of cheese,
And that they seem to give perforce!
Are not our givers known to thee?
I' faith, I pray, do not be angry!
But how dost manageI with the service,
If such a letter gives thee sweat?
To speak the truth, no Liturgy I read;
Nor do I need for service any sort of book;
Nor should I need to open it in church:
I've learnt it all by heart quite well —
The Liturgy and Baptisms and Marriage,
And other things of not the same importance!
Thus when for things like these demand is made
I can them all sing out like tuneful bird in glade.
Of priests the wonder! May no ill befall him!
There's not his equal in the whole wide world.
(All are laughing and conversing.)
Come on, any one of you, and tell us now a tale!
And after that let's go at once, before the night o'ertakes us here!
ONE OF THE TZOUTZÉ
Enough have we to give fine stuff for tales:
But hundred pardons e'en to Turkish swords —
Harvest enough since Kossovo they've reaped! —
Rather than that our story should prove true!
Or six or seven years have ready gone,
Since prophetess to us did come,
From Antivari, it was said:
She dealt in herbs for human healing;
And wrote for people amulettes,
To ward them from all gunshot harm.
The people thought — God pardon them! —
She had visions by God's Spirit!
The Devil now has sent her unto us,
Within the last three weeks or so,
To do what she ne'er did before, —
To point out witches 'mongst our women; —
Twenty or more she hath picked out,
And counts herself amid their number!
More than fifty heads already
Have been eaten by these women —
Heads of children who have died,
Or of men young, by rifle killed.
Deeply moved are all our folk,
Yet what to do no one doth show;
Everyone now loathes his neighbour!
For what to do no one doth know,
How mutual slaughter to prevent!
By much persuasion come we here,
With your help these wrongs to clear!
Strange cattle these! Good riddance to them!
For things like this they want to kill!
And where is this ill-starred old hag,
Who 'midst you wields the bloody knife?
THE SAME TZOUTZA WARRIOR
Here is she: we have brought her here;
Witness is she before you all;
She says that she hath nought to hide,
And when she speaks (God grant her ruth!),
You'd think her tale must all be truth!
(Enter The Witch-Prophetess.)
Tell us, old mother, art thou witch?
Witch I am: why should I hide it?
And how dost thou perform thy arts?
We have a certain herb for this,
Which herb we cook within a pot;
With which in turn we all anoint, —
Upon which we are witches all![*]
*) I.e. observe the play on the words.
And after that, what do you do?
We meet on th' copper threshing-floor:
And we alone know where it is;
In March we ride on weaving-beams,
Together hold our secret councils,
Decide on whom to work our ill.
Many a different form we take,
And we row with silver oars;
Of fragile eggshell is our boat;
To one we hate no harm we do!
But be he dear, or of our kin,
Then blot we out all trace of him.
THE TZOUTZÉ PEOPLE (all together)
Who says that she nothing knows?
All that she hath said is true;
Why bring shame upon herself,
Were she not member of this ring?
Now she's rueful; mindful of her soul,
For she pro-views us extirpated whole!
Listen, woman! We do all believe thee!
There may indeed be copper threshing-floor,
And weaving-beams are big enough to ride;
But egg-shell boats and oars of silver. —
We're not the folk to credit that!
Silver oars for boats of shell —
I trow such craft would sink too well!
'Tis true, my dear, upon my soul!
How dare I run beyond the truth,
When I have one foot in the grave?
Place of repentance have I found;
And I prefer to suffer stoning
With all the others of my choir,
Than still do ill, as we have done till now;
May it be easier for my soul!
An evil sprite possesses her;
In God's name, brethren, be there witches?
Aye, hornиd witches are there, Knez! —
Who from a cloud can even shoot an eagle.
VUK MITCHUNOVITCH (to The Bishop)
Thou 'rt learnиd. Bishop, very deep in books;
Is mention made therein of witches?
Thou askest as to witches, Vuk?
One never reads of them in books!
True hands upon me place, and swear
Old wives' tales and lore, all this!
As for this hag. she telleth lies, —
Yet witch indeed she well might be!
ALL THE CHIEFTAINS
Baba, say, why thou hast lied —
Or on our soul thy stoning be!
'Tis not a joke what thou hast done;
Discord brought 'mongst three whole tribes,
And unsheathed too the sword among them!
(The Witch is frightened and trembles.)
Though I will tell, that should be in confession,
Then do with me whale'er ye will.
Woman! there is here no priest. —
Unless we send to thee Priest Mitcho!
Of books he has not one by him!
Out with the truth, or stoning waits thee;
Believe me, only such thy fate can be!
THE WITCH (with trembling voice)
When I set out from Antivаri,
A kavaz from the Pasha came,
Ay, kavaz unto me did come,
And took me to the Vizier, at Scutаri.
Of all that was afoot he had well heard,
How ye took counsel 'mong yourselves.
Attack to make on Renegades amongst you;
So me he sent to sow discord between you,
That ye might busied be with your own ills.
From him I learnt what I must do:
He said to me (a curste upon his soul!):
“Suspicion will not on thee fall
“Since thou art daily in and out among them.“
And threaten'd me as I did leave him:
“Woman, if thou stirr'st not up
“These Montenegrins, I do surely swear
“On solemn oath of faithful Moslem,
'Thy little children ten at home,
“And thy three sons who married be,
“I'll lock them up within thy dwelling,
“And burn them all — true, burn them living!“ —
This threat it was that urged me on
Discord to sow 'mid Montenegrins!
(All the people jump up, take stones to stone the woman, but The Chieftains will not permit it, though defending her with difficulty.)
(Everybody disperses homewards, save some of The Chieftains, who remain to confirm their decision.)
Night-time. Chieftains sitting round the fire. A blood-red moon and earthquake. Blind Old Abbot Stephen comes to them, rosary in hand.
What meaneth, Father Abbot,
The quaking of these hills?
Who, my son, can know the mysteries of God's will,
Who insight hath His wonders all to fathom?
Canst thou not say why is this moon so red,
As though some mighty hand had heated it in fire?
Not this, my son, can I to thee explain;
Of heavenly garments God hath store enough,
And He doth give to each as is His will;
But unto me or Sun or Moon are just the same,
Since from mine eyes is fled the light of day!
Blest be your eyes that can these wonders see,
So you His truer worshippers may be!
(Tranquillity; The Abbot counts his beads.)
And dost thou alway, Abbot, count thy beads?
I do, my son, nor do I ever cease!
Thou shouldst have had enough of counting;
E'en to thy sightless eyes, it must o'er weary be!
Rather than that . . . . . .
Why, give to me a rosary of nuts. —
That I may count them once, as is our way —
In preference to a hundred of these pearls, —
So I could use my fingers to good end!
Of all things, Knez, thou makest sport and joke!
Come, Father, now, as thou dost know so well.
In God's good name some story to us tell,
Ere, having laid us down, we fall asleep!
Who words from thee hath never heard,
Knows not what lies asleep within thy soul.
I will, my brothers: 'tis just for that I'm come!
How many a twinkling light have I fir'd up.
On altar of our Church — the “Right Believing”!
And as a blind old man I come to you
To brighten still, so much as in me lies,
These holy fires of yours upon your altar,
Upon the altar of your Church and Honour.
(Many cry out together: “Speak, father, we all will listen howsomuch thou wilt, even until midnight.”)
Of life I now can count full eighty years:
Since I did lose the sight of this world's light,
I dwell the more within the spirit realm, —
Although this body still holds back the soul.
Within her darksome casket lock'd and hidden,
As flame doth burn in dark and earthy cavern.
Full many a far-off land have I beheld,
And the most sacred churches of our God,
Which Earth responsively hath rais'd to Heaven:
I have look'd o'er them all; seen each in turn;
And oft enjoy'd the altar's sweet perfume.
I have ascended too Olivet's holy mount,
Where Christ once gave the warning and prediction
Of all that soon must come on His doom'd City.
I have seen too those sacred grottoes three,
Where the Eternal Light did take on flesh,
And Heaven's own King did sanctify a manger,
And where the Three Wise Men came to the Child,
To offering make of all their gifts most rare.
Gethsemane's dark garden I have seen, —
Forgotten ne'er through suffering and through sin!
A wind most mad hath nigh put out that Light! —
One now beholds upon those fields so rich
A hateful growth of thorns and briars,
And Omar's fane hath uprais'd high its head
On sacred stones that Solomon laid down; —
A stable now is Holy Wisdom's Shrine!
Strange are the changes in all earthly things;
How mark'd they are by most capricious whim:
The whole wide round of Nature feeds upon
The milk all-nourishing of Mother Sun;
Yet wantonly those rays strike hapless head,
And burn to-day whom yesterday they fed!
Not every river is it that hath bed,
Where its onsurging waters free may flow:
We all have seen that terrifying sight,
Waters in flood, to devastate and blight!
Our lot on earth, and what our destin'd goal —
Two sphinx-like faces which we try to read:
Where seems Disorder, Wisdom all profound?
What are the children, what fathers of man's dreams?
That we call “Real”, is it “Appearance” mere?
Are these all mysteries Man can never sound?
That which to man “appears” — is that the “Real”,
Or are we simply trick'd by our own eyes?
This world of ours awakes the human will,
And duty is not done apart from thought;
Nor can our life proceed without defence:
Nature herself doth ever furnish arms —
Defence against a force that may break loose;
Arms to supply a lack, arms to resist attack; —
The very corn is spiked for self-defence,
And thorns do punish plucking of a rose;
Nature hath sharpen'd myriads of teeth,
And pointed too how many myriad horns!
Yet bark and shell and wing and speed of feet,
And all this vast array of things confus'd
Hath yet some rhythmic Harmony and Law:
O'er all this curious mixture of a world
There yet doth reign one over-arching Mind,
Which shall not suffer ill to dominate,
Put out the threatening spark and strike the serpent's head.
The Man defender is of Wife and Child;
Altar and Hearth a People must safeguard,
And Honour is a Nation's sacred charge!
Each generation must its burden bear,
New needs call forth from man new powers;
'Tis in such struggle Genius is forged.
The Oppress'd do rise against th' Oppressor:
The stroke calls forth a flash from out the stone;
Lacking that stroke, imprisoned still the spark!
Suffering reveals the virtue of the Cross,
And fiery trial doth temper well the soul; —
Subtle force electric through the body;
Through Hope man's spirit findeth bonds with Heaven,
E'en as the Sun's rays draw earth's dew above.
“What is Man?” 'tis his to be a Man!
Small creature he, and by the forth deceiv'd,
While Earth herself is not for ever his.
Is not the Real more puzzling than the Dream?
When man on Earth doth merit name of Honour,
He hath had right to start as pilgrim here,
Missing such name, how deep his fall may be!
O generation mine, created to be sung!
From Age to Age shall muses vie
To bring thee wreaths that cannot die;
What ye by deeds proclaim shall poets teach,
In songs that shall be sung down deathless years.
O generation mine, most dread is thine ordeal!
One part of thee all renegade hath been,
And pervert is become to Mammon,
Sure Nemesis already on it falls,
For what is Bosnia? What Albania's half? —
If slaves to Islam brothers of your blood?
United all, there's toil enough for you:
It is your lot and call to bear the Cross,
Alike to strive with brethren and with strangers.
The thorny crown is sharp, sweet after be the fruit!
Except by way of death was never resurrection.
E'en now I see thee 'neath thy glistering shroud:
Honour and Hope shall both resurgent be:
There, where the Altar looks unto the East,
There, where doth burn Christ's fragrant incense free,
There die glorious death, since die once thou must!
Wounded honour fires the valiant breast:
It cannot feebly linger or stay sick! —
The sorrows of our Altar — long blasphem'd in rage —
The kindly hand of Heaven shall at last assuage.
(All fall asleep. The blind Abbot stays by the fire alone, counting his beads, and praying all night amongst them. Daybreak. They rise and gird their arms to start for home. They marvel to see the aged Abbot still seated by the fire and talking in a low voice, counting his pearls and moving his lips in prayer. Arising, they come to him and kiss his hand with reverence, remembering his wise and beautiful words.)
Abbot, thou art not blind!
For thou art lit with Wisdom's gracious ray!
'Tis fools are blind, though they have eyes to see;
Have eyes to see, yet without insight stare;
Make use of them for bare necessity,
Like to some creatures of a lower breed!
O Serdar Nyégosh, tell me, dost thou think
That, having eyes, he would be as he is?
A lovely song doth sleep within the blind,
For oft impedeth sight both speeeh and mind.
Thou couldst begin a story to relate, —
On some great theme. I care not how sublime —
When 'fore thine eye comes some intrusive thing,
Taking from thy discourse its savour and its force;
The mind o'erclouds, and tangled is the tongue;
And so is lost what fain thou wouldest say;
Whereas the blind, they are not hindered by
This outward eye; they quietly do pass on,
As men in cups do hold the hedge along.
Our dreams let's tell as we proceed!
I've seen in dream what I ne'er saw before,
And omen good it may be for my arms!
This night in vision I saw Obilitch,
As he flew o'er Cettigné's plain,
On his white horse — a vila were not swifter! —
What vision splendid only God doth know!
(Thirty or forty friends relate their dreams. All of them tell how they, like Voivoda Batritch, have seen Milosh Obilitch in their dream. They all go gaily towards the church, to swear together to fight against the Turks of their own country. They are entering the church when Vuk Mitchunovitch unwinds the “shahl” (or head-cloth) from his head. The cloth is very long, each one takes hold of it, and they form a circle.)
How, now! Nicholas, Knez of Doupilт!
Puttest thou forth thy hand to swear the oath?
Thou art not strong, thou know'st in Tzrnmitza,
Which lieth near the threshold of the Turks:
Load not thine house with weight of oath unkept;
For it is strife indeed to strive with God!
Let it be known to thee, O Bishop!
And unto ye, O Montenegrins all:
Full well I know how things do go at home;
Three hundred men of Doupilт there are —
And let them all betray me if they will,
I swear to you, by my firm faith in God,
That we must fight the Turks unto the death,
E'en though all trace of us be blotted out!
When for my faith I do outpour my blood,
No fear have I 'bout, oaths or aught beside!
As soon as gun-shot lights on Cettigné,
With thund'rous echoes shall the hills resound;
Then happy he whose heart is true and sound,
And he who shall be yet not over-old;
Business enough, in truth, shall he behold!
Betray each other will we never; but we must bind
ourselves by oath; it will be sounder business.
Vuk Michunovich: Administer the form of oath, Serdar Voukota, for thou dost know it best, and we will all cry out, “Amen!”
Keep well in mind, O Montenegrins,
Who shall be strong in deeds he shall be best!
Who basely shall betray our leader,
Let each created thing to him be stone!
May mighty God by His great power
Change all the seed placed in his fields to stone,
Change, too, the forming babe in womb to stone,
Or let his progeny be lepers! —
Then shall the people point at them with finger!
Let every meanest trace of him be blotted out, —
E'en as we find no more a horse like to King Marko's!
Let ne'er within his room a rifle more be slung,
Nor any man of all his house e'er die on honour's field!
For manly head his kin shall vainly yearn!
Brothers, who plays false unto these heroes,
Heroes who 'gainst our foe the first stroke strike,
The shame of Brankovitch shall fall upon him,
For him our holy Fasts be but affair for dogs,
And let his tomb be grounded deep in hell!
Brothers, he who is false unto these heroes,
Nor Slava-wine nor consecrated bread shall e'er be his!
No Christian hope for him! a dog's creed be for him!
Let blood be pourиd out in place of wine
Upon his Yuletide log!
Let all the joy and pleasaunce of his Slava Day
In grief consume away!
Let him eat not of lamb, but his own kin
Upon his festal day!
Let wind of madness whirl him far astray
From Wisdom's pleasant way!
Brothers, he who is false unto these heroes,
May dirt and rust and squalor e'er possess his house!
Behind his stiff, cold body, and behind
The corses of his kinsfolk, may there follow
Mourners untrue and hearts all insincere,
Telling their lies alway!
(All together cry, “Amen!” Leaving the church, they make for home.)
Vladika Danilo and Abbot Stephen are sitting by the fire. Young Monastic Students are playing merrily around the house, and they place the logs upon the Christmas fire.
Have ye, my boys, put on the logs cross-wise
As sacred usage asketh us to do?
Father rever'd, the logs are placed cross-wise,
On them we've handfuls thrown of finest wheat,
And we have sprinkled them with ruby wine!
Now give me, lads, a glass of red, red wine,
Of wine the very best in cup the biggest,
And I, a father old, will richly drink
Into this Christmas-time!
(They give The Abbot a large goblet of wine; he gives the Christmas toast and drinks the wine.)
ABBOT STEPHEN (wiping his moustache)
God's blessing on this joyous Feast!
Now bring me, boys, the gouslé, —
My soul doth long to hear its strains —
For I would sing some little while;
'Tis many a day since I have sung;
Regard it not, O God, as sin;
For I am old, and with the years the habit grew!
(The Student Youths hand him the gouslé.).
ABBOT STEPHEN (singing to the gouslé)
Would any man enjoy the day,
Then surely he must taste its light;
He who would make a merry feast,
Must also know what Yuletide means!
In Bethl'em Yuletide I have kept,
And in Mount Athos Christmas I have kept,
In Holy Kieff, too, NoР»l I've kept;
But quite apart this Yuletide stands
For merriment and good simplicity.
The hearth's bright flame burns best of all the year,
The straw is spread upon the household floor,
While crosswise flame the logs on cheery fire;
The rifles crack, and roasts on spits do turn.
The kolo sings: they strike the gouslé's chord;
Grandchildren with their grandsires play,
Join in the kolo — generations three! —
And yet they dance with perfect harmony,
Equal all in this bright mirth and gaiety,
And that which pleaseth me 'bove all is this:
To toast all round — a general health to call!
Is it not well, good Abbot Stephen,
That thou art blest with mirthful disposition?
Young son of mine, and goodly Bishop,
This night is gay for all the world;
My soul is gladden'd by the ruby drop,
My time-worn soul, it dances o'er the wine,
As o'er good brandy leaps the licking flame.
Life wakes within my aged bones,
And brings to mind the days of youth!
What is there jollier in the world
Than countenance of radiant mirth,
Above all when that face is thine! —
With silvery beard down to the waist,
And silver locks upon thy shoulder,
And brow so clear, without a wrinkle —
All blessings surely from our God Most High!
Through sieve I've passed and colander,
And much inquired into this weary world;
Drunk to the noxious dregs its poison cup.
And made acquaintance with life's bitterness;
With all that is, with all that still can be.
To my experience is there nothing strange,
For come what may, I am not unprepared!
All trials and ills of every kind
Are to man down in this world.
Youth is still thine and small experience:
The first drops of a poisonous cup
Are the most bitter and most hard to drink;
Oh, that thou knewest what awaiteth thee!
Unto the Tyrant, tyrant is this world;
Unto a noble soul much greater tyrant!
This world's a complex of discords infernal.
Where strives the flesh with soul,
Where strives the sea 'gainst rockbound coast,
Where striveth heat with cold,
Where striveth wind with wind,
Where creature strives with creature,
Where nation strives with nation,
Where man doth strive with man,
Where striveth day 'gainst night,
Where spirits dark do strive against the light;
Where bodies groan beneath the spirit's power;
The soul attains not equipoise in flesh;
Under the vault of heaven unresting sighs the sea,
O'er which there spy cloud-navies of the sky;
Without surcease wild wave doth loss at wave,
Yet both are broken on the rocky shore!
No one is happy, and no one content;
No one hath quiet, and no one hath calm;
Man laugheth scornfully at man;
And yet his fellow ape is mirror of himself!
Good fire is here, but better still the wine;
Thou hast a little warmed thyself, my Sire,
And thy philosophy dost sift the world!
Where hast thou been, i' faith, to-day,
That thou art come so late at home?
Upon the chase so long thou hast not roam'd,
Earlier from hunting ever dost thou come,
And, tell me, where may be thy body-guard? —
Thy flagman, Pima, and the Novak twain?
It were not well they should be far away:
Till Christmas over, better close to thee,
These sons of aged Martin, — two or three;
For I have always fear for thee, my boy,
That somewhere by the Turks thou slain mayst be:
Should five-and-twenty thee this night attack. —
Mind thee how lone and isolate thy house! —
They could do what they would — could burn and slay sack!
Grandsire, fear not for me, by God's good will!
The Turks just now are thinking not of this;
It is with evil thoughts they have to fight!
But even should there come five score of them,
I have by me a group of students ten;
Into the house we'd go; ourselves entrench therein;
To us would fall the fighting; — thou the while wouldst sing!
Save me, O God, from such a song!
It would come harder to me than to weep —
Weeping is song with tears!
(They go off to rest. Before dawn they go to church; nervier over, they leave the church.)
In front of the church, A Pupil relates something to The Abbot.
Grandsire, give ear, while unto thee I speak!
When the first bells rang out at dawn
I rose from sleep to go into the church, —
When lo! from somewhere I did hear an echo,
And hastened to the green marge of the field;
Although the dawn was wondrous fresh and fair,
It seem'd that water plung'd to some abyss.
When I sate down a space, beside the field,
The sound, it was not what I thought;
Resounding echoes came from hill and vale,
Echoes that seem'd to rend the clouds apart;
Rifles did thunder, skies were rent in twain.
While warriors young all furiously did shout.
Then I at better speed hied o'er the plain;
But as I came to Djinov hill
Nought I anywhere could find
Though stiff fight was somewhere raging,
Whereof the hills gave echo back as answer.
Hold thy tongue, thou silly boy!
Bethink thyself; is it not Christmas morn?
Have not already three cocks sung;
And Yuletide shooting 's in full swing,
Now too the hillside, like a pumpkin empty,
Resounds with noises everywhere;
Just now it serves for nothing else
Than to give back each single sound it hears,
Like that gay bird men bring from overseas!
Sire, by Christ's Birth, it surely is not so!
Slaughter there is, and bloody slaughter too;
For one whole hour I joyously have heard it.
Black smoke is curling over Baitze,
Thick as the thickest autumn fog!
Go to, go to! Thou hast an old wives' tale!
Smoke curls at Yuletide, is that any wonder! —
Were a whole people being sacrificed,
That could not be without great clouds of smoke!
(Gun-shots are heard below. Vadika Danilo jumps on his horse and rides off; and, lo! down the field are five or six hundred men; he spurs on his horse to reach them. On his arrival they gather round him. The Vladika, seeing five of the Martinovitch family, Vuk Borilovitch, and three of his servants blood-sprinkled, begins to question them.)
Relate me now! Say what hath taken place;
What kind of men are ye — or wolves or foxes?
The news is nought but good, my lord!
We bow the knee to God and to the Holy Child!
Bui first of all we give thee Christmas Greetings,
To thee and to all Montenegro!
We brothers five of clan Martinovitch,
And servants three of thine — most trusty three —
With Borilovitch-Vuk, the falcon-hearted,
Did last night fall a-fighting with the Turks.
All those who heard ran fast unto our help;
As quick as water fighters ran together; —
But why do I spin out the story? —
Though broad enough Cettigné's Plain,
No single seeing eye, no tongue of Turk,
Escap'd to tell his tale another day!
We put them all unto the sword,
All those who would not be baptiz'd;
But who paid homage to the Holy Child
Were all baptiz'd with sign of Christian Cross,
And as brother each was hail'd and greeted.
We put to fire the Turkish houses,
That there might be nor stick nor trace
Of these true servants of the Devil!
From Cettigné to Tcheklitche we hied,
There in full flight the Turks espied;
A certain number were by us mow'd down,
And all their houses we did set ablaze;
Of all their mosques both great and small
We left but one accursРёd heap,
For passing folk to cast their glance of scorn.
Great gladness this for me, my falcons,
Great joy for me! Heroic liberty
Has resurrection morn to-day,
From every tomb of our ancestors dear!
(The Vladika dismounts and embraces the heroes who began the struggle with the Turks, and they go together down the field, singing and firing off their rifles in sheer overflow of good spirits. When they come up to the church Abbot Stephen is there at the door with another monk, who holds in hand the Cup of Holy Communion.)
Though I see not, good enough's my hearing.
Brethren, come in and take the Holy Meal,
From fasting and confession I absolve —
I with my soul will answer for it all.
(Those who had not eaten that morning draw near and take the Holy Communion; after the Sacrament, they put the roasts upon the spits and begin to dance the kolo. The Vladika comes into the house, along with the five Martinovitch brothers, also Vuk Borilovitch and his three faithful servants.)
They turn the spits, the youths play various games, and The Kolo sings.
Black clouds had veil'd our kindly sun;
Upon our hills had darkness come;
Before our Altar flicker'd faint the lamp,
And broken every gouslé's tuneful string.
The woodland nymphs had hidden in dark caves,
In fear and dread of either moon or sun.
In many a breast was aspiration fled,
Brave hearts were mourning Liberty as dead —
Gone as the sun's red glow forsakes the mountain crest,
Or sinks beneath dark waves far down the west!
Dear God, what solemn festival!
All beatific souls of our ancestors dear
Shall joyous vigil hold o'er Cettigné to-day,
And celebrate high carnival in shining clouds;
Poiséd in the azure, like to snow-white swans,
When under cloudless skies they proudly sail
On gently-heaving bosom of blue lake.
The five Martinovitch, those falcons five —
At one maternal breast all fondly nourishéd,
All lull'd to sleep by the same cradle songs —
The Novak twin, with Pimo, their flag-bearer,
And Vuk-Borilovitch, the valiant knight, —
All ye who first did set upon the Turks!
Who shall ye wreathe fair garland crowns? —
Memorial to these lustrous deeds
Be Montenegro's Liberty.
(Abbot Stephen goes amongst the people, two lads bearing behind him a large dish, on which is 20 okas of prepared wheat, with which is wagoning of pomegranate seed, and wine and honey. The people are astonished, make a circle round him, and watch what he will do. The lads place the cooked wheat in the middle of the big threshing-floor, and The Abbot begins to speak.)[*]
*) The wheat which the lads place in the middle of the big threshing-floor is, of course, the cooked wheat brought as offering to the souls of the dead.
Listen people, and take off your caps,
Memorial service I now hold
For all our valiant knightly souls;
To-day to them shall be most sweet,
Since Kossovo not such a day!
(They all take off their caps with mirth and laughter.)
ABBOT STEPHEN (repeating by heart)
Thy mercy, Lord, upon Thy servants true;
Rulers o'er men, but yet Thy bondslaves too:
Young Dushan, the Invincible,
Obilitch, George Kastriotitch,
Zrinovitch, Ivan, Milan;
Strahinitch and winged Rélia;
Ivan-beg Tzrnoyevitch and Urosh;
Smilianitch and Voivoda Momtchil;
Yankovitch and the nine Yougovitch,
And Novak, too, for sake of his attack,
And all our other valiant knights!
In heaven may their souls now reign,
As upon earth their names still rule!
(They eat of the festive wheat-honeycake, fake a meal, and depart each one for his own house.)
After leaving the church, they are seated around the fire. The Abbot being rather thoughfull.
Father, thou art sunk in thought;
Or maybe thou wouldst take a nap?
I am not drowsy, but in thoughlful mood:
I wonder me concerning this “New Year”,
And why to-day it should upon us fall?
Why should “New Year” not be with new first buds
Of Spring, when comes again from south the sun,
And day begins to make advance on night;
When all the earth doth don her garb of green,
When Mother Nature makes her garments clean,
And every thing in Spring's new light is bright?
'Tis all the same, or now or then
Old Father Time must run his course,
'Tis by the ancients so ordained!
Be that so, there might have been a better way!
(Young Man comes up to them. He kisses first the hand of The Vladika and then that of The Abbot.)
What is it, lad? Whence comest thou?
Art going to tell us something good?
I am from Rijeka come;
Serdar Yanko sent me to thee,
That I might tell thee what with us has been!
Then tell, my lad, as quickly as thou know'st!
Of how we heard of what befell, I tell:
At Cettigné, how when the Turks all fell,
Brave Serdar Yanko sent at once
Unto Rijeka's Turks two youths:
Who wisheth not to spit upon the Koran,
“Let him take flight, nor hesitate too long!”
These Envoy-youths the Turks enticed,
And both at Obod them did hang.
Whereon the Serdar called the country-side,
And to Rijeka all made haste: —
Vi'hat use? — the Turks had gone,
Made off by water, far as white ScutР°ri;
Bogdan it was, who did outrun us all;
'Twas he who killed the Kadi of Rijeka;
To thee the Serdar would with chieftains come,
To tell to thee how everything fell out,
But time was not, and so they stayed behind;
Obod they raz'd unto the ground,
And Mosques and towers are no more to be found,
So that no more our Market reeks of Infidels!
(The Young Man bows again, kisses the hand of The Vladika, puts a letter on his knee, and departs.)
Vladika Danilo calls one of his pupils to read the letter, that Iguman Stephen may hear too. The pupil taking the letter.
“Knez Nicholas and all the Doupiliani
“Do greeting send unto our Vladika!
“We now make known to thee what did befall:
“When news we got of what at Cetinje had been.
“There was a blood struggle with our Turks;
“One day and one whole night the slaughter lasted;
“Tzrmnitza stream was filled with Turkish corses,
“With tithe-collectors, lords, and common plunderers!
“Little of succour could there come to us;
“Heaps of our dead were lying strewn around;
“A half of us have fallen in the fight;
“We could not find more graves about the church;
“By six and six we laid them under ground!
“But every living Turk was killed in Tzrmnitza,
“And BРёsatz Fort we levelled to the earth,
“And now for thee throughout our parts
“Is not a trace of e'en one single Turk —
“At least thou 'lt find not any Turkish ear —
“Bodies headless, ruins, ashes views man here!”
(Vladika Danilo is weeping, but Iguman Stephen is laughing.)
Thou hast not, Abbot, understood the letter;
Or thou wouldst also weep for them:
Laid by sixes under Mother Earth!
I understood it, but I cannot weep;
Did I know how to weep for joy.
Weeping should be my sole employ!
But, as for me, when sings my soul,
My tears evaporate in joy!
(Someone knocks on the kitchen door, as if to break it; they think he is mad.)
Help us, O Lord, and help, thou new-born Year!
For joyous news comes in from every side,
If there be clown, let him come in as well,
That he may fill the house with glee and mirth!
(The Young Men open the door. Behold, Vuk Mandushitch
in a sullen temper, his great black moustaches drooping on his
broken breastplates, his jeferdar also broken in his hand!
Bloodstained he sits down by the fire; to no one does he even
say “Good-day”. All are astonished at seeing him thus.)
What hast thou, Vuk? thy mien indeed is sad!
'Tis clear thou comest from a bloodstain'd field,
And thou hast walk'd on red-hot fire;
Sure only God and He alone does know
If any man save thee got off alive!
No broken breastplates save in desperate strife,
Nor jeferdars as thine, I trow,
Made with such pliant threads of steel!
VUK MANDUSHITCH (with knitted brow)
'Twas on St. Stephen's Day a cousin came
From Shtitari; — last summer she was wed —
Who to me said: “Collectors quickly come
“To Shtitari to gainer from us tithes!”
So fifty youths I straightway did collect;
Near Shtitari in ambush did them hide,
For these voracious Turks my time to bide!
Rifles crack'd sharp o'er all Lieshan's fields;
Methought, these Turks are come for tithes,
To strike new terror into ray a eyes!
Fighting I nearer heard by Prog'novitch;
And thither ran with comrades newly come.
Arriving there, what trouble and disaster! —
Two hundred taxers come upon the place,
Two hundred taxers — Albanian Moslems wild —
Attacking Radun's bloodstain'd towers; —
Radun at bay within his tower,
And with him too his wife Liubitsa,
A youngish wife and falcon-hearted,
Loading rifles for her lord;
She from the window calmly took good aim,
And seven soon lay dead about the yard!
But his last moment near was come:
Around his white and gleaming tower
The Turks heap'd up the straw and hay;
Set it on fire from every side;
Flames curl'd high into the sky,
Radun's white lower began to burn;
He without ceasing plies his gun,
Singing in clear, high-sounding voice.
Of Baio sings he, and of Novak,
Sings of Voukota and Drashko,
And of those twain, the Vuks of Terniné,
Of Markovitch he sings, and of Tomanovitch.
He calls upon the living and the dead;
His last hour grim is now before his eyes!
Our heaving breasts were torn in twain:
We all rushed up to Radun's tower,
And there around we grappled with the Turks;
From the tower we rescued Radun,
The tower itself the flames destroyed.
Yet from somewhere sprang some help,
And from that spot we chas'd the Turks
To the village of Kokoti,
On the height of Lieshko Field;
Eighty-three of them we killed.
So fighting round Radun's white tower,
The bullets broke the tokés on my breast,
And when the bloody strife was nigh at end,
The last shot that the Turks did fire, —
The very last! — cut through my jeferdar,
Which I was holdin to my eye! —
May it ne'er have another lord! — (He weeps.)
And cut it right in two, as 'twere a reed!
I mourn far more my jeferdar,
Than I would mourn a lost right hand;
I mourn it as I would a son,
I mourn it as I would a brother,
'Twos a rifle far beyond all other;
It brought good luck; it never fail'd;
There was no need to clean it ever,
It always shone bright as a mirror;
Amidst a thousand other guns
Thou mightest know it when I fired!
So Vladika I come to thee:
Are there no gunsmiths oversea,
Men of skill of wondrous sort,
To make it right again for me?
O scowling Vuk, again lift thy moustaches!
And let me see the tokés on thy chest,
That I may count the bullets of the rifles,
To see how many broke upon thy breast.
A head once dead doth not rise from its grave:
No gunsmith can thy shining weapon save!
Thy head slay whole upon thy shoulders;
Sure thou shalt have another gun,
For in Vuk Mandushitch's hand
Rifle unsound can ne'er be found.
(The Vladika goes to his room to give Vuk Mandushitch a good jeferdar.)
~ THE END ~