How Milosh Obilich Slew the Sultan Murad
Heroic Ballads of Serbia
George Rapall Noyes & Leonard Bacon
Tsar Murad sat beneath his tent with the pashas of his power
And his viziers, and counsel took what way to smite the Giaour
And win with least disaster; when lo there came from afar
The vizier Osman running to claim reward of the tsar.
He kissed the hand and the garment, himself to the earth he bowed,
And thus to Murad, the Turkish tsar, the vizier spake aloud:
“Murad, the Sun of all the East, holy Mahomet’s heir!
Rejoice! the Serbian empire thou hast conquered everywhere!
Here come three Serbian voývodas that have chiefly made us fear;
They come hither to surrender, for down have they turned the spear.”
It pleased the Sultan Murad; it was pleasant in his ears;
Woes plagued him not. He spake unto the pashas and viziers:
“Brave pashas, glorious viziers, my captains of command,
Shall I reach to the Wallachians my foot or my white hand?”
Said the viziers: “O glorious lord, put not thy hand to shame;
Shame were it to reach out to one of the Wallachian name!
Stretch out thy foot unto them, and let them kiss it sweet,
And let them be forever at all times ’neath thy feet.”
Outspake Vizier Ushtúgliya: “Tsar Murad, our crown of gold,
shall we go out before them?” Then answered Murad the bold:
“Go out to the field before them, and three great cloths unfold;
Stretch one of red, the second of white, the third green glorious.
When the slaves drive on their horses, if they come to fight with us,
All three of the cloths beneath their feet will they trample under here.
If they bring me the keys of the cities and the taxes for seven year,
On the red cloth will they trample, the red and the white beside,
But the green will they lift on their lances and thereunder will they ride.”
When the tsar’s troopers heard it, before the three they flew;
Before the Serbian voývodas the three great cloths they drew.
When the voývodas drove on the steeds, they trampled the cloths all three;
And when Ushtúgliya saw it, to Murad the tsar said he:
“Lo, tsar, the servants of Lazar have trampled every cloth!
Under foot have they trampled them, for a sign that they are wroth,
And desire to-day their quarrel to undertake with thee,
Tsar Murad; they bring not bither of any city the key.”
The bold Tsar Murad answered:
“Not so, my children brave!
Had they been eager to quarrel, long since had they drawn the glaive;
Drunk are the Giaours, and in drunkenness have trampled the cloth amain.”
Meanwhile with his brethren was Milosh come, on his steed, the Crane.
Down he got from the charger, and out the tsar’s grooms flew
To hold the Crane for Milosh; no rein to them he threw,
He gave him to Ivan Kósanchich. To the tent of Murad the strong
Forthwith Milosh the voývoda went hastily along.
Murad stretched out his foot to him over the tapestries,
And spoke, for he deemed that Milosh desired his face to kiss:
“Now fair and soft, now soft and fair, O Lazar’s follower;
Trample not on my garment’s edge, but kiss my boot and spur.”
Milosh flashed like a living fire, like a wolf on Murad he sprang;
Over him like a hayduk the biting blade he swang;
From the midriff to the milk-white throat the tsar alive he rent.
Murad gaped wordless on the ground; and underneath the tent
Flashing like lightning hither and yon the blade of Milosh went.
He slaughtered all the tsar’s viziers, Ushtúgliya he slew;
He smote the tsar’s twelve guardsmen and the tent ropes clove in two.
The bodyguard from Yedren, all of them had he slain;
Seventy heads had he smitten off ere he mounted his steed, the Crane.
Then mounted the three sworn brethren and charged through Kósovo.
Dear God, their onslaught on the Turk was no cheap overthrow!
When blood began a-flowing, ’twas good nearby to stand
And see how the Turkish heads split wide beneath the Serbian brand.
Fierce slashed the Serbian voývodas, they slashed the Turks like grass:
Whither went Milan Tóplitsa, was room for a wain to pass;
Whither went Ivan Kósanchich, lightly had two moved on;
Whither went Milosh Óbilich, abreast could three have gone.
The whole of the Turkish host boiled up, rushing to bar their track;
The voývodas trampled the army like the earth hard and black.
Shame to the Turks not to have ta’en their vengeance for the tsar!
’Neath the standard of Mahomet the whole host came in war;
The pashas and fierce warriors, they flew into the fight
Upon their faëry chargers, the heroes good to smite.
But Milosh and his comrades with the keen blade cut their way.
A saber cuts not a mountain down in the swift course of a day,
Nor the voývodas all the army—and Milan Tóplitsa cried:
“Avenge me, Milosh! At Kósovo have I failed to-day at thy side.”
But Milosh answered softly: “I forgive thee readily,
My brother Milan; quickly shall I lie there by thee.”
Furiously the Turks set on, till Ivan Kósanchich cried:
“Farewell, Milosh! At Kósovo have I perished at thy side.
Avenge me, Milosh, who swarest my brother sworn to be!”
But Milosh the good voývoda, O softly answered he!
“My brother, Ivan, for this gift I hope in perfect faith,
For never yet was gallant man but yearned for a gallant death.”
And the faëry steed he goaded, the battle-charger, the Crane;
He maddened on the maddened steed and smote the Turks again.
Like a dragon over Kósovo the voývoda did pass,
With the hot blood of the cursèd Turks he reddened all the grass.
Furious and shamefaced was the host, yet unavenged for the tsar
’Neath the standard of Mahomet the whole host came in war
On Milosh the weary hero. Of wounds he got no lack;
They beat him from his steed and bound his hands behind his back.
And unto the Tsar Murad, Milosh they led along:
“Here is Milosh the voývoda for thee, Tsar Murad the strong!
Do thou tell us, Lord Glorious, in what wise we shall him slay.”
Murad still lived; unto them in a soft voice did he say:
“Be ye not angry with him, and do not strike him down
For that he slew me; fortune of battle brought it on
That a good hero slew me. Now draw up the host to war,
And smite the Giaour! Let not his power outlive the Serbian tsar!”