Beatrice Louise Stevenson Stanoyevich.

An anthology of Jugoslav poetry; online

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All Rii^ts Reserved

Made in the United States of America

The Gorham Press, Boston, U. S. A.

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\ ^'S V I


a»a in father, garden

e—e in men, envoy

i *i in tin, ill

o**o in son, note

u — u in rule, rumor

j — y in yoke, yes

c*-ts in cats, lots

Ij «ly in William, million

dj = dy in endure, verdure

gj>=gy in George

nj«ny in Kenyon, opinion

JS^tchin watch, catch

d » ch in culture, literature

S^sh in ship, shade

2»zh in azure, seizure

dj(adzh in Badger, or j in James

The rest of the letters correspond to the English sounds.

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"Give me the making of a nation's songs, suid
let who will make their laws/' was the maxim of
a Scottish patriot. We would prefer to modify
this rule, and say, *^Give us the poems which the
people make for themselves, and then we shall
obtain a clear insight into the national character
and learn what customs and laws they are likely
to accept or reject." Folk-songs are the intimate
expressions of the ideas of the people. What the
comic drama is to the cultured, and the music-
hall to the ill-educated portions of urban popula-
tion, the popular song has been, and in some coun-
tries still IS, to the rural peasantry, a true expo-
nent of their sentiments, though too frequently in-
accurate in statements of facts. Critics, as is well
known, have censured Lord Macaulay for his indis-
criminate adoption of the vulgar and often malig-
nant rhapsodies sung in the streets of London.
But the Russian bylina, collected by Danilov,
Rybnikov, Sreznevsky and others, may be taken as
furnishing unimpeachable evidence of the state of
Russia during the invasions of the Mongols and
Turks. The Jacobite poems give us the real feel-
ings of the people of Scotland for nearly ^ entire
century. The popular and rustic strains which
are handed down from the reign of Henry III have
rehabilitated the memory of Simon de Montfort.

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Moore's Irish melodies, originally composed for the
delectation of English aristocrats, have been so gen-
erally admired in his native land that they exhibit
pretty clear indications of what the Irish patriots
would like to do if they had the power. And the
battle-hymn by Rouget de Lisle is not only popular
in France, but has recently been sung by the Rus-
sian bolsheviki when marching to occupy Tsarskoe
Selo and other imperial lands.

The songs to which the English form has been
given in the following volume have been taken
mostly from Vuk Karadzic's invaluable collec-
tion: Srpske Narodne Pjesme (Serbian National
Songs). Karadzic, of whom the literary world
has heard so much, is the father of modern Serbian
literature. He spent many years among the peas-
ants in collecting the national treasures: ballads,
tales, proverbs, anecdotes and other folklore. Be-
fore his time the songs had never been reduced to
written form, and were kept out of reach of the
public ear. He was only able to hear them partly
because of a ruse and partly in secret, when he
listened with inexhaustible patience to the girls
spinning, or the guslars (bards) trolling in taverns
and at fairs, or the reapers chanting at their work.
In the preface of his first book of Srpske Narodne
Pjesme Karadzic tells us that in Serbia two sorts
of popular poetry exist — the historical ballads, and
popular songs of a character which caused them to
be described as zenske pjesme (women's songs)
chanted by country folk, both men and women and
mostly in duet. It is the latter, zenske pjesme,
which having been translated into Engjlish are

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gathered together in the following anthology, Srr-
bian Lyrics.

Sir John Bowring, who unveiled to his country-
men the rich treasures of Slavic popular songs in
general, is also distinguished by being the pioneer
to point out the Serbian in particular. But the
claims, which we, at the present day, feel our-
selves entitled to make on a translator, are very
diflferent from those current in Bowring's time.
Correctness and fidelity are now considered neces-
sary requisites in a good translation, just as an-
tiquarian exactness is expected in the publication of
an old manuscript.

Jugoslav lyric poetry is divided into several
groups, as, for instance, one grouping contains
poems concerning marriage. These songs tell of
the beauty of the bride, of her joy and sorrow
before departure from the home of her parents, as
well as her feelings upon other occasions during
wedlock. There are poems belonging to the group
of bacchanalian songs, pronounced during the toast,
and resounding with many refrains. Then there
are lamentations (tuzbalice) which are mostly pro-
vincial, from Montenegro and Dalmatia. They
are also accompanied by refrains, expressing sorrow
after the death of some loved one, and extolling the
virtues of the deceased, or the great misfortune
felt by those left behind. All this emotion is de-
scribed very fitly and in a touching manner. Fur-
ther, there are poems commemorating the holy sea-
sons and "red-letter days," as svecarske pjesme
sung on the Slava celebtation of some svetac
(saint). To the same grouping belong Christmas

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poems hailing the glory of the Christ, and depict-
ing the customs of that season (koleJo). Saints,
such as Sts. John, George, Peter, and others, have
their own eulogies. There are besides poems ex-
alting the Holy Ghost (kraljicke pjesme). Dodole,
which originated from old customs of heathenism,
are sung during the summer droughts. Others are
reapers* songs, mostly sung at prelo time (social
gatherings). There are poems that are connected
neither with marriage, nor death, nor harvests, but
which treat of mythological or religious subjects;
they are called pobozne, describing the spiritual
virtues of the Virgin, or the Christ, or the apostles.
Here are also to be found humoristic and satirical
compositions, directed against women, or especially
against monks, widows, and old bachelors. They
are as a rule sprightly sohgs and piquant, pleasant
and witty.

Critics who have written of the Serbian national
songs declare that they are characterized by ex-
treme delicacy both of feeling and workmanship,
and that they are noble in their childlike purity,
simple treatment of, and sympathy with, every
phase of natural human experience. But these Ser-
bian songs have quite a peculiar character of their
own. They are directly, passionately, fiercely hu-
man, and rich with poetic sympathy. Love, glory,
sorrow, death — are the themes constantly handled
in a thousand weird and poetic phrases. There is
a strong Indian flavor of the joy of rest in Mother
Earth ; and again, a keen thirst for the fight which
smacks of the men who lived with Moslems around
them. Although these chants occasionally recall

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something of the martial lilt of old Spanish bal-
lads, they have an individual original turn which
cannot be compared with any extant popular
poetry. They have the uncanny mystery of the
Celtic tales of love in death, which is very rare.

The love songs of the Jugoslav lands have a
dreamy, calm and exalted sweetness that reminds
us of the Alps and the Cevennes. Among these
the Bosnian sevdalinke (love songs of Bosnia) are
especially worthy of remark, for they are full of
emotion, yearning and tender passion. The greater
warmth of the songs of Herzegovina and Monte-
negro is owing more to the sonorous language than
to any superiority in melody. Here are mostly to
be found tuibalice. As to Dalmatia, Croatia
and Slovenia, their melodies are chiefly marked by
simplicity and a feeling for the domestic side of
life. Backa and Banat, blessed with much open
air and sunshine, possess no love-songs in the strict
sense of the term; but they have serenade and
poskocice, although for these there is little or no
original melody. To the light-minded and bright-
witted singers of these provinces imagination is
easier than memory.

A country very rich in melody is Serbia. Here
one may find a truer and more intense musical
feeling, a stronger love of the soil, and more sin-
cere devotion to the beauty of nature, especially of
spring and summer, than in any other part of Jugo-
slavia. The love songs of Serbia seem to have a
special inspiration of their own. We may hear the
shepherds singing in green pastures and among the
fir-woods, or in the silence of the mountains. From

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the vineyards, from the fair and dances, and from
the daily round of work the strains arise. Every-
where that youth is seen a poem is heard, and every
occupation is accompanied by a song.

We cannot, however, leave this part of our sub-
ject without mentioning some of the burlesque
poems, which the Jugoslavs possess in great num-
ber, partly narrative and partly lyric. The Ameri-
cans are accustomed to think of the Jugoslavs and
their kinsmen as grave and sombre, or, when their
passions are excited, prone to deeds of tragic vio-
lence. Those who are better acquainted with them
know full well that they are as loquacious and
sarcastically sportive in their social gatherings as
any nation, and many of their verses are redolent
of these qualities. They display all the gradations
of the comic, from the diverting simplicity of the
innocent confession of an enamoured girl, together
with the ludicrous situation and disappointed van-
ity of her cheated lover, up to a strain of bitter
satire and merciless irony. Poems marked by that
simplicity which borders between the touching and
the humorous are also represented in this volume.
Such is the song, "Trouble with the Husband" :

I married last year,
This year I repent.
Bad husband have I,
With temper like nettle:
My lot I resent.

The frost kills the nettle,
But this husband of mine,
He thinks the frost fine:
By the stove all day long


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He does nothing but sit,
And says that the frost
He minds not one bit I

In Celovec 'tis market-day,
nris market-day to-morrow;
I will take my husband there,
And will either there him change,
Or else will sell him at the fair.

Not too cheap I'll let him go,
Because he was so hard to get;
Rather than too cheaply sell him,
Back home again I'll take the man,
And love him — howsomuch I can!

The western world has already heard of the
rich mine of Jugoslav folk-literature. Never-
theless, comparatively speaking, only a very small
number have been translated into English. The
extreme simplicity of these verses, the peculiar char-
acter of the Serbian language, with its melodiously
protracted words, its pompously sonorous sounds,
and its harmonious difiFuseness, all render it exceed-
ingly difficult to translate Serbian lyrics without
encoimtering the danger of making constant addi-
tions; especially when rendering it into a language
with so many monosyllabic words, and so philo-
sophically condensed, as the English.

MiLiVOY Stanoyevich.
New York, 1920.


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I. The Curse 21

II. Farewell 23

III. The Violet 24

rV. Smilia 24

V. Harvest Sono 25

VI. Maiden's Prater 25

VII. Kisses . 26

VIII. Harvest Song 27

IX. Curse 27

X. Salutation of the Morning Star . 28

XL The Knitter * . . . 29

XII. Royal Converse 30

XIII. Rosa 31

XIV. The Maiden and the Sun .... 31
XV. The Maiden's Wish 32

XVI. The Falcon . 33

XVII. Deer and Vila 34

XVIII. Virgin and Widow 35

XIX. Nightingales 36

XX. The Ring 37

XXI. Fratricide 38

XXII. Love 40

XXIII. Maple Tree 40

XXrV. Semendrian Beauty 41

XXV. Self-Admiration 42


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XXVI. Assignation 42

XXVII. Foolish Vow 43

XXVIII. Vilas 43

XXIX. Lepota 44

XXX. Imprecations 45

XXXI. Secrets Divulged 46

XXXII. Wishes 47

XXXIII. Lover Asleep 47

XXXIV. Early Sorrows 48

XXXV. The Young Shepherds 49

XXXVI. Thoughts of a Mother 51

XXXVII. Counsel 52

XXXVIII. Desolation 52

XXXIX. Apprehension 53

XL. Milica 54

XLI. The Choice 55

XLIL For Whom? . 55

XLIII. Liberty 56

XLIV. The Danqe 57

XLV. Elegy 58

XLVI. Incuiry 59

XLVII. Doubt 60

XLVIII. The Sultaness 61

XLIX. Betrothing 61

L. Cautions •. . 62

LI. Maiden's Cares 63

LII. Mohammedan Song 65

LIII. Mine Everywhere 65

LIV. Maid Awaking 67

LV. Mother's Love 67

LVI. The Greybeard ; . 68

LVII. Mohammedan Tale 69

LVIII. Love's Difficulties 71


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LIX. Witches 72

LX. Pledges . . . . , 72

LXI. Complaint 73

LXII. Song 74

LXIII. Mohammedan Song 74

LXIV. Brotherless Sisters 75

LXV. Misfortunes 76

LXVI. Timidity 77

LXVII. Youth Enamoured 78

LXVJII. Black Eyes and Blue 79

LXIX. The Widow 80

LXX. Alarms 80

LXXI. Fond Wife 81

LXXII. Unhappy Bride 81

LXXIII. Last Petition 82

LXXIV. Love for a Brother 83

LXXV. Rebuke 84

LXXVI. Man's Faith 85

LXXVII. Maiden's Affection 85

LXXVIII. Marriage Songs 86

LXXIX. Heroes Served 89

LXXX. Youth and Age 89

LXXXI. Choice 90

LXXXII. Anxiety 91

LXXXIII. Inquiry 91

LXXXIV. Frozen Heart 92

LXXXV. Union in Death 92



LXXXVI. Love and Sleep 93

LXXXVIL LovB Confers Nobility 95

LXXXVIII. a Soul's Sweetness 95


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LXXXIX. Reminiscences 96

XC. Sleep and Death 97


XCII. Emancipation 99

XCIII. Plucking a Flower ...... 100

XCIV. A Wish 102

XCV. A Serbian Beauty 102

XCVI. Sleeplessness 103

XCVII. A Message 104

XCVIII. Transplanting a Flower 104

XCIX. Isolation 105

C. Fatima and Mehmed 106



CI. MoRAVA Horses 107

CII. The Girl and the Grass .... 108

CIII. The Sun and the Girl 108

CIV. Curse and Blessing 109

CV. The Nicest Flower IN the World . . 110

CVI. The Pretty Tomb iii

CVII. ToDA AND Her Fate 112

CVIII. The Vila 113

CIX. Three Roses 113

ex. Her Dream 114

CXI. Trouble with the Husband . . . 115

CXn. The Peacock and the Nightingale . 116

CXni. The First Toast 116

CXIV. The Hodza 117

CXV. Woes 118

CXVI. Hard to Believe 119

CXVII. The Conditions 119

CXVIII. Prayer Before Going to Bed ... 120

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CXIX. Vision Before Sleep 120

CXX. Prayer in the Field 121

CXXI. A Child in Heaven 121

CXXII. Christmas 122

CXXIII. Christ Thinks of His Mother . . 123
CXXIV. The Blessed Mary and John the

Baptist . . .• 124

CXXV. The Holy Mother 125

CXXVL Dream of the Holy Virgin . . . 126

CXXVn. Mother at the Tomb of Her Son 127

CXXVni. Mother Over Her Dead Son ... 128

CXXIX. Mother's Lament for Her Son . . 129

CXXX. Greatest Grief for a Brother . . 130

CXXXI. The Death Chamber of Her Father

IN-LAW 131


CXXXni. A Horse's Complaint 133

CXXXIV. A Dance at Vidin 134

CXXXV. The Price 135

CXXXVI. Preferences 135

CXXXVn. A Bride's Devotion 136

CXXXVni. Fidelity 136

CXXXIX. A Sister's Lament ...:.. 137



CXL. The Prayer of Karageorge's Lady . 138

CXLL Thou Art Ever, Ever Mine . . . 139

CXLH. Sea Merchant .139

CXLHL Angela as Watchman 140

CXLIV. A Lad and His Betrothed .... 140

CXLV. Direful Sickness 141

CXLVL All as it Should Be 141

CXLVn. Beauty Preens Herself 141


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CXLVIII. Harvest Song 142

CXLIX. Long Nights 142

CL. Eyebrow Lure 143

CLI. Girlhood 143

CLII. Youth with Youth 144

CLIII. Comb my Lover, to Me 144

CLIV. Sighs 145

CLV. A Bouquet of Little Roses ... 145

CLVL Dream Interpretation 146

CLVIL With Sweetheart Nights are Shortest 146

CLVIIL Dawn Awakened Lazar 148

CLIX. A Devilish Young Matron . . . .148

CLX. Girl is Eternal Possession .. . . 149

CLXL Jovo AND Maria 150

CLXIL Rose Tree 150

CLXIIL Darling's Wrath 151

CLXIV. Lad Pierced wrra Arrow . . . . 151

CLXV. Nought but Kisses 152

CLXVL United 152

CLXVIL Girl Pleads wrra Jeweller ... 152

CLXVIIL Wife Dearer than Sister .... 153

CLXIX. Greatest Sorrow 154

CLXX. Youth and Girl 154


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I HEARD a sprightly swallow say
To a gray, cuckoo t'other day, —
"Thou art a happy bird indeed;
Thou dost not in the chimney breed,
Thou dost not hear the eternal jarring,
Of sisters and step-sisters warring;
Their woes and grievances rehearsing,
Cursing themselves, and others cursing.
A young step-sister once I saw,
Foul language at the elder throw;
"Perdition's daughter! hence depart;
Thou hast no fruit beneath thy heart."
And thus the elder one replied:
"Curse thy perverseness and thy pride!
Mihailo is a son of thine;
Now thou shalt bring forth daughters nine.
And madness shall their portion be.
Thy son shall cross the parting sea;
He never shall return to thee.
But, bathed in blood and wounded, pine!"
And thus she cursed ; — the curse was true ; *
Her sister's nine fair daughters grew;
And madness seized them, — seized them all:
Mihailo, — far away, and wounded.
By solitude and woe surrounded,
I heard him on his mother call:


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An Anthology of Jugoslav Poetry

"O mother! mother! send me now
A bandage of that snowy linen
Which you so thoughtlessly were spinning,
When curses wander'd to and fro.
In your rage you wove it, — ^now remove it;
Tear it for bandages, as you tore
Love and affection all asunder.
Where it was bleach'd thy son lies under;
With it cover his hot wounds o'er.
Rend it, mother; and send it, mother!
May it thy suffering son restore!"

S. J. B.


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

S. J. B.


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HOW captivating is to me,

Sweet flower! thine own young modesty!

Though did I pluck thee from thy stem,

There's none would wear thy purple gem.

I thought, perchance, that Ali Bey —

But he is proud and lofty — nay!

He would not prize thee — ^would not wear

A flower so feeble though so fair:

His turban for its decorations

Had full blown roses and carnations.

S. J. B.


SWEET Smilia-flowers did Smilia pull.
Her sleevelets and her bosom full;
By the cool stream she gathered them,
Aiid twined her many a diadem —
A diadem of flowery-wreaths; —
One round her brows its fragrance breathes;
One to her bosom-friend she throws;
The other where the streamlet flows
She flings, and says in gentlest tone —
"Swim on, thou odorous wreath! swim on.
Swim to my Juris* home, and there
O whisper in his mother's ear:

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An Anthology of Jugoslav Poetry

*Say, wilt thou not thy Juris wed ? —
Then give him not a widow's bed ;
But some sweet maiden, young and fair.' "

S. J. B.


TAKE hold of your xeeds, youths and maidens! and

Who the kissers and kiss'd of the reapers shall be.
Take hold of your reeds, till the secret be told,
If the old shall kiss young, and the young shall kiss

Take hold of your reeds, youths and maidens! and

What fortune and chance to the drawers decree :
And if any refuse, may God smite them — may they
Be cursed by Paraskeva, the saint of to-day!
Now loosen your hands — now loosen, and see
Who the kissers and kiss'd of the reapers shall be. •

S. J. B.



BEAUTY'S maiden thus invoked the Heavens:
"Send me down a whirlwind ! let it scatter
Yonder stony tower — its halls lay open !
Let me look on Gercic Manoilo.


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An Anthology of Jugoslav Poetry

If the otter on his knee is playing —
If the falcon sits upon his shoulder —
If the rose is blooming on his kalpak." ^
What she pray'd for speedily was granted:
And a storm-wind came across the ocean;

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Online LibraryBeatrice Louise Stevenson StanoyevichAn anthology of Jugoslav poetry; → online text (page 1 of 7)