Marko Drinks Wine in Ramazán

Marko Drinks Wine in Ramazán

Heroic Ballads of Serbia

translated by

George Rapall Noyes & Leonard Bacon

There was an edict sent abroad by the Tsar Suleymán
That none should drink the yellow wine in the month of Ramazán,
That none should wear green tunics, nor silver-inlaid dirks,
And that none should dance, moreover, with the women of the Turks.
But Marko dances among them, and inlaid with silver wan
Is his blade, and green is his tunic, and he tipples in Ramazán.
And the Turkish priests and pilgrims, he maketh them drink likewise.
And the Turks go to the palace unto Suleymán’s assize:
 “Father and mother of us an art thou, Tsar Suleymán.
Saith not thine edict: none shall drink liquor in Ramazán;
And that none shall wear green tunics, nor silver-inlaid dirks;
And that none shall dance, moreover, with the women of the Turks?
Now Marko dances among them; and inlaid with silver wan
Is his blade; and green is his tunic; and he tipples in Ramazán.
Wine he may drink and welcome, if it seem good in his eyes,

But the Turkish priests and pilgrirns, he maketh them drink likewise.”
 When the tsar heard their story, he summoned his heralds twain:
“Go, heralds, to Prince Marko, bid him come hither amain.”
Forth issued the two heralds; upon their way they went,
And they found Prince Marko drinking in the shadow of his tent.
And a cup that held twelve measures is ready to his hand.
The heralds twain gave unto him the word of the tsar’s command:
 “Dost thou then hear, Prince Marko? It is good in the tsar’s eyes
That thou come to his council, and the court of his assize.”
 O, angry was Prince Marko! He snatched the goblet up,
And he smote the tsars two heralds in his anger, with the cup.
The cup rang and the head rang; the blood and wine ran free.
And Marko went to the tsars assize, and sat at the tsar’s right knee.
And the black cap of sable fur he pulled across his face,
And he laid his saber across his breast, and his hand upon his mace:
 “My foster child, Prince Marko,” said the Tsar Suleymán,

Mine edict saith: none shall drink wine in the month of Ramazán;
And none shall wear green tunics, nor silver-inlaid dirks,
And none shall dance, moreover, with the women of the Turks.
Now here be worthy Moslems that have spoken evilly.
Alas, my poor son Marko, I wot they have slandered thee!
That thou dancest with Turkish matrons, and inlaid with silver wan
Is thy blade; and green is thy tunic; and thou tipplest in Ramazán;
And the Turkish priests and pilgrims, thou makest them drink likewise!
Now wherefore pullest thou, my son, thy cap across thine eyes?
Why is thy mace beside thee, and thy saber across thy breast?”
 And forthwith strong Prince Marko Tsar Suleymán addressed:
 “O thou, my foster father, the great Tsar Suleymán,
It is permitted of my faith to drink in Ramazán.
And for the priests and pilgrims, my honor would be gone,
If they should look upon me, and I should drink alone.
If I wear a good green tunic, I am young; it becomes my youth.

If I gird an inlaid saber, I paid my money in sooth,
If I dance with the Turkish women, O tsar, I am yet unwed,
And once, O tsar, a woman had come not to thy bed,
If I pull my cap on my forehead, it burns, for I speak with the tsar,
And for the freeing of my mace, and drawing the scimitar,
O tsar, in my heart I fear me that battle is hard at hand:
It is ill in battle the nearest to Marko, the Prince, to stand,”
 The tsar looked in all quarters another man to see,
But nearer to Prince Marko there was no man than he;
Nearest was the Tsar Suleymán. He drew back in the hall,
But Marko followed onward, and drove him to the wall,
From his pouch drew Tsar Suleymán an hundred ducats fine,
And gave them to Marko, saying: “Marko, go drink the wine.”