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There is a little all-powerful and very capricious body,called the Vila by the Servians. She appears in a great number of shapes, and seems to haunt the woods like a cuckoo. Whatever she commands must, however, be obeyed; there is no resisting her will; her power seems to be as indefinite as her motives and motions are uncertain and wayward. Three brothers, King Vukashin, the Voivode Uglesha, and the youngest Goiko, determine on rebuilding the fortress of Skadra (or Scutari). The Vila, unfortunately, demands a sacrifice; and, until a suitable one is found, she destroys every night the labours of the day. The Vila first demands that Vukashin shall find two persons, named Stojan and Stojana-a command we do not comprehend. When this is found impossible, she requires that the young wife of one of the brothers shall be built up in the walls of the tower, which-is to be settled by chance:—she who first brings food for the workmen in the morning is to be the one immured. The three brothers take an oath not to divulge the commands of the Vila to their wives, but to leave the determination of the event to accident. The two elder brothers violate their oaths; the third keeps his, and his young wife falls the victim. She visits the builders at noontide, to carry their meal. The rest of the story is thus told.
Then arose the youthful wife of Goiko;
Gave them the repast, and bade them forward.
Call’d around her all the serving maidens ;
When they reach'd Bojana's flowing river,
They were seen by Mrljavchevich Goiko,
On his youthful wife, heart-rent, he threw him ;
Flung his strong right arm around her body;
Kissd a thousand times her snowy forehead :
Burning tears stream'd swiftly from his eyelids,
As he spoke, in melancholy language:
“O my wife, my own! my full heart's-sorrow!
Didst thou never dream that thou must perish?
Why hast thou our little one abandoned?
Who will bathe our little one, thou absent?
Who will hare the breast to feed the nursling ? '
More, and more, and more, he fain would utter;
But the king allow'd it not. Vukashin,
By her white hand seizes her, and summons
Master Rado,-he the master builder;
And he summons his three hundred workmen.
But the young-espoused one smiles, and deems it
All a laughing jest, --
--no fear o'ercame her.
Gathering round her, the three hundred workmen
Pile the stones and pile the beams about her.
They have now immured her to the girdle.
Higher rose the walls and beams, and higher;
Then the wretch first saw the fate prepared,
And she shriek'd aloud in her despairing;
In her woe implored her husband's brothers :
“ Can ye think of God?—have ye no pity?
Can thus immure me, young and healthful ?”
But in vain, in vain were her entreaties;
And her brothers left her thus imploring.
Shame and fear succeeded then to censure,
And she piteously invoked her husband :
“ Can it, can it be, my lord and husband,
That so young, thou, reckless, would'st immure me?
Let us go and seek my aged mother :
Let us go-my mother she is wealthy:
She will buy a slave,--a man or woman,
To be buried in the walls' foundations."
When the mother-wife-the wife and mother,
Found her earnest plaints and prayers neglected,
She addressed herself to Neimar* Rado:
In God's name, my brother, Neimar Rado,
Leave a window for this snowy bosom,
Let this snowy bosom heave it freely ;
When my voiceless Jovo shall come near me,
When he comes, O let him drain my bosom,
Rado bade the work men all obey her,
Leave a window for that snowy bosom."
Let that snowy bosom heave it freely
When her voiceless Jovo shall come near her,
When he comes, he'll drink from out her bosom.
Once again she cried to Neimar Rado,
“ Neimar Rado! in God's name, my brother !
Leave for these mine eyes a little window,
That these eyes may see our own white dwelling,
When my Jovo shall be brought towards me,
When my Jovo shall be carried homeward."
Rado bade the workmen all obey her,
Leave for those bright eyes a little window,
That her eyes may see her own white dwelling,
When they bring her infant Jovo to her,
When they take the infant Jovo homeward.
So they built the heavy wall about her,
And then brought the infant in his cradle,
Which a long, long while his mother suckled.
Then her voice grew feeble--then was silent :
Still the stream flow'd forth and nursed the infant :
Full a year he hung upon her bosom ;
Still the stream flow'd forth-and still it floweth,t
Women, when the life-stream dries within them,
Thither come-the place retains its virtue-
Thither come, to still their crying infants.
We must now turn to the songs and the occasional poems.
The following poem is called by Goethe “won delful.” tainly a little piece of great delicacy and beauty.
Against white Buda's walls, a vine
Doth its white branches fondly twine :
0, no ! it was no vine-tree there;
It was a fond, a faithful pair,
Bound each to each in earliest vow-
And, O! they must be severed now !
And these their farewell words :-" We part-
Break from my bosom-break—my heart !
Neimar.--Master. + A small stream of liquid carbonate of lime is still shown on the walls of Scutari, as evidence of the truth of this story.
A translation of the poem by Grimm is to be found in the second part of the fifth volume of the Kunst und Altherthum, p. 24, and Goethe observes, that it is equally
emarkable for its polish and for its barbarously superstitious sentiment. It represents a human victim as murdered in its most disgusting shape. A young woman is immured in order that the fortress of Scutari may be built; and the sacrifice seems less accountable, since oriental usages have generally only required the entombment of consecrated pictures or talismans in order to make castles and asylums impregnable.
Go to a garden-go, and see,
Some rose-branch blushing on the tree;
And from that branch a rose-flower tear,
Then place it on thy bosom bare ;
And as its leavelets fade and pine,
So fades my sinking heart in thine.”
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 suow to rest
Upon thine heart within thy breast.
And as it melts unnoticed there,
So melts my heart in thine, my dear!” A more ornate translation occurs in the unpublished work reviewed in the Quarterly.
Was it a vine, with clusters white,
That clung round Buda's stateliest towers?
O no; it was a lady bright,
That hung upon an armed knight,-
It was their parting hour.
They had been wedded in their youth ;
Together they had spent their bloom;
That hearts so long entwined in truth,
Asunder should be torn in ruth,
It was a cruel doom.
“ Go forth,” she said ; “ pursue thy way;
But some fair garden shouldst thou see,
Alone among the arbours stray,
And pluck a rose-leaf from the spray,
The freshest there may be.
Unclasp thy mail when none is by,
That leaf upon thy breast to lay,
How soon 'twill wither, fade, and die,
Observe—for that poor leaf am I,
From thee, my stem, away."
“ And thou, my soul," the soldier said,
“ When I am wandering faint and far,
Go thou to our own greenward shade,
Where I the marble fountain made,
And placed the golden jar.
At noon I filled my jar with wine,
And dropp'd therein a fall of snow,
Lay that on this warm heart of thine,
And while it melts behold me pine
In solitary woe.”
Quarterly Review, p. 81, No. 69. There is also another short poem translated in the Quarterly, and we shall give our readers an opportunity of making a comparison.
Upon the silent Danube's shore,
When ev'ning wastes, 'tis sweet to see (Their golden wine-cups flowing o'er)
Our heroes in their revelry.
A youthful beauty pours the wine,
And each will pledge a cup to her;
And each of charms that seem divine,
Would fain become a worshiper.
Nay! heroes, nay !" the virgin cried,
“ My service-not my love, I give :
For one alone—for none beside :
For one alone I love and live."
Servian Popular Poetry.
The translation in the Quarterly is as follows:
O lovely was the sight I saw
By moonlight o'er the still Danan,
When heroes lay on tented ground,
And golden wine went round and round.
A beautiful and gentle maid
From hand to hand the cup conveyed,
And ever as she poured the wine
She heard the whispered prayer, " Be mine!"
“ Ah noble lords !" the damsel said,
“ Take lowly service, gladly paid ;
But know the heart of love is frozen
For all but one, the dear, the chosen."
Quarterly Review, p. 80, No. 69. Mr. Bowring's translation bears marks on the face of it of greater closeness, and it is moreover more natural and forcible in its expressions. The idea in the two last lines in the Quarterly is frittered away by introducing the metaphorical expression “ frozen;" but then, the « Be mine” at the end of the second stanza is better than the “ would fain become a worshiper" of Mr. Bowring's translation. And then again the phrases of “ ev'ning wastes," "'tis sweet to see,” and “ seem divine,” are blemishes which so facile a pen as the translator's should not have left.
The gentleness and tenderness of many of these little breathings of love, would certainly do honour to more civilized people, and give a very pleasant idea of the girls of Servia. Of these qualities, the few lines termed “ Anxiety" are an example.
I fain would sing—but will be silent now,
For pain is sitting on my lover's brow ;
And he would hear me-and, though silent, deem
I pleased myself, but little thought of him,
While of nought else I think; to him I give
My spirit—and for him alone I live :
Bear him within my heart, as mothers bear
The last and youngest object of their care. These specimens will probably be sufficient to create a desire for the perusal of morc-we shall, in some measure, satisfy this longing by adding, at the end of these remarks, a few more of the pieces which we like the best, or think the most curious, and then refer the reader to the volume itself, for an abundant supply of similar flowers.
Thick fell the snow upon St. George's day ;
The little birds all left their cloudy bed ;
The maiden wander'd bare-foot on her way;
Her brother bore her sandals, and he said:
“O sister mine ! cold, cold thy feet must be.” “No! not my feet, sweet brother! not my feetBut my poor heart is cold with misery. There's nought to chill me in the snowy sleet: My mother— 'tis my mother who hath chill’d me, Bound me to one who with disgust hath fill’d me.”
How captivating is to me,
Sweet flower ! thine own young modesty!
Though I did pluck thee from thy stem,
There's done 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.
The maiden sat upon the hill,
Upon the hill and far away,
Her fingers wore a silken cord,
And thus I heard the maiden say :
“ O with what joy, what ready will,
If some fond youth, some youth adored,
Might wear thee, should I weave thee now!
The finest gold I'd interblend,
The richest pearls as white as snow.
But if I knew, my silken friend,
That an old man should wear thee, I
The coarsest worsted would inweave,
Thy finest silk for dog-grass leave,
And all thy knots with nettles tie.”
Lo! the maid her rosy cheeks is laving.
Listen! while she bathes ber snowy forehead:
“Forehead! if I thought an old man's kisses
Would be stamp'd upon thee, I would hasten
In the forest, and would gather wormwood :
Into boiling water press its bitters :
With it steep my forehead ev'ry morning,
That the old man's kiss might taste of wormwood.
But, if some fair youth should come to kiss me,
I would hurry to the verdant garden :
I would gather all its sweetest roses,
Would condense their fragrance,--and at morning,
Every morning, would perfume my forehead :
So the youth's sweet kiss would breathe of fragrance,
And his heart be gladden'd with the odour.
Better dwell with youth upon the mountains,
Than with age in luxury's richest palace :
Better sleep with youth on naked granite,
Than with old on silks howe'er voluptuous.”
O that I were a little stream,
That I might flow to him—to him !
How should I dance with joy, when knowing
To whom my sparkling wave was flowing !
Beneath his window would I glide,
And linger there till morning-tide ;
When first he rouses him to dress
In comely garb his manliness,-