The Wife of Hasan Aga

The Wife of Hasan Aga

Heroic Ballads of Serbia

translated by

George Rapall Noyes & Leonard Bacon

(1) What shows white in the wood? A flock of swans or a bank of snow?
Swans would have flown and a snow bank would have melted long ago.
It is not snow, nor a milk-white swan, but Hasan Aga’s tent;
Sore wounded was he. His mother and sister to him went;
For very shame his wife came not. (2) When his wounds were healed aright,

He charged his faithful wife withal:
“Come not into my sight;
Await me never, woman, my fair white house within;
Nor yet do thou abide me in the houses of my kin.”
When the faithful woman heard it, sad was her heart indeed.
Suddenly from the house she heard the trampling of the steed.
To the window she ran, to break her neck by leaping down from the tower;
But the daughters of Hasan Aga pursued her in that hour:
“Return to us, dear mother! Our father comes not,” said they;
“It is thy brother, our uncle, Pintórovich the Bey.”
The wife of Hasan Aga, to her brother’s breast she came:
“Ah, brother, from my children five doth he send me! It is shame!”
Naught said the bey; in his silken pouch forthwith his hand he thrust
For a bill of divorce that granted her her dower held in trust, (3)
And bade her go to her mother. When the purport thereof she wist,

The Serpent Bridegroom

The Serpent Bridegroom

Heroic Ballads of Serbia

translated by

George Rapall Noyes & Leonard Bacon

I will tell you a marvel, brethren, how the King of Budim was wed,
And nine full years passed over, yet there was no child to his bed.
Forth issued King Milútin; he went to the forest-close;
But God and fortune granted him not to strike the stags and does.
And his thirst was great; to a chilly spring Milútin went his way,
And drank the chilly water. Then down ’neath a fir he lay.
Three vilas of the hill came then, thereby their thirst to slake,
And gossip by the water; and the eldest of them spake:
 “Harken, belovèd daughters! Harken me now, and hear!
Since the King of Budim married, now is it full nine year;
And yet no child of his heart hath he to cherish and hold dear.”
 Said the vila also: “Of any herb doth either of you know,
By the virtue whereof, hereafter, his wife with child shall go?”
 But the younger twain said nothing. Only the eldest said:
 “If the king knew all my knowledge, he would gather every maid

The Miracle of St. Nicholas

The Miracle of St. Nicholas

Heroic Ballads of Serbia

translated by

George Rapall Noyes & Leonard Bacon

Dear God, great marvel is it unseen wonders to behold!
In St. Paul’s white monastery were tables of the gold,
And all the saints in order were seated. At the head
Was the Thunderer Elijah; where the midst of the board was spread,
Were Máriya and Sava; at the bottom of the board
Were Holy Friday and Sunday. To the glory of Christ the Lord
To drink, and begin the festival, St. Nicholas stood up,
But he fell asleep in a little and in slumber dropped the cup.
It fell on the golden table, but broke not, nor spilled the wine.
Elijah then rebuked him:
“Nicholas, brother mine,
We have not slumbered, brother, though we drank cool wine ere now,
Nor dropped cups from our fingers. Why dost thou slumber so?”
Said St. Nicholas:
“Elijah the Thunderer, let be!
I closed my eyes for a little and a strange dream came to me.

Muyo and Aliya

Muyo and Aliya

Heroic Ballads of Serbia

translated by

George Rapall Noyes & Leonard Bacon

MUYO and Áliya were brothers, and nobly did they live;
Their very steeds and armor to each other would they give.
They came unto a turbid lake, and a duck went swimming by,
With golden wings; and Muyo let his gray falcon fly,
And Áliya a tame lanneret. Them happed the duck to slay.
Said Muyo: “The falcon took it.” But Áliya said, “Nay,
’Twas the lanneret.”
Then was Muyo sore cast down in that place.
They seated them ’neath a green fir to drink the wine apace,
And sleep and the wine o’ercame them. They were seen of three vilas (1) white;
Then said the oldest:
“Here be now two noble heroes of fight.
I will give an hundred sequins to whomsoever of you
Shall make the heroes quarrel.”
Then forth the youngest flew

Sister and Brother

Sister and Brother

Heroic Ballads of Serbia

translated by

George Rapall Noyes & Leonard Bacon

Nine dear sons and a daughter, a mother bore and bred;
She reared them up till they were grown and the sons were ready to wed,
And the maiden ripe for marriage. And straightway asked for her
Three suitors, a ban, and a marshal, and a neighbor villager.
To the neighbor the mother would give her, but her brethren to the man
From over sea would give her. They said to her: “Marry the ban,
The great lord from beyond the sea. In every month of the year
We will come, and every week in the month, to see thee, sister dear.”
 The sister obeyed them, and the ban from over sea she wed.
But behold a marvel! God’s pestilence struck her nine brethren dead,
And the solitary mother was left. So passed three years.
In her grief little Yélitsa the sister mourned with tears:
 “Dear God, a mighty marvel! What great sin have I done
To my brethren, that of all of them cometh to me not one?”
 The wives of her lord’s brethren reviled her sharp enow:

Predrag and Nenad

Predrag and Nenad

Heroic Ballads of Serbia

translated by

George Rapall Noyes & Leonard Bacon

A mother reared two tender sons, in a hungry time and year,
At her left and right. And Predrag, that is to say, “Most Dear,”
She named the first with a fair name; also the second son
Nenad she named, that is to say, “the Sudden, Unlooked-for one.”
Predrag grew strong to wield the spear and the steed to ride upon:
He ran away from his mother; unto the wood he sped,
To the hayduks and the outlaws. Nenad his mother bred;
Nenad forgot his brother, nor pondered him upon.
Nenad grew strong to wield the spear and the steed to ride upon:
He ran away from his mother; unto the wood he sped,
To the hayduks and the outlaws. Three years that life he led.
He was a hero fortunate and lucky amid the spears;
His comrades made him their captain; he was their chief three years.
But woe was him for his mother; to his comrades all he spake:
 “Comrades,” said he, “now woe is me for my dear mother’s sake!