Prince Marko and the Eagle
Heroic Ballads of Serbia
George Rapall Noyes & Leonard Bacon
Marko lay on the tsar’s highway, and green was all his gear.
A silver cloth was on his face; by his head was planted his spear.
By the spear stood Dapple, but on it a great white eagle stayed;
It spread its wings above the prince and gave the hero shade,
And water in its beak it bore, the wounded hero, to slake.
But a vila of the mountain unto the eagle spake:
“In the name of God, white eagle, how hath Marko stood thine aid,
That thou spreadest thy wings above him to give the hero shade,
And bringest water in thy beak, the wounded hero to slake?”
But thereupon the eagle unto the vila spake:
“Be silent, vila, and hold thy tongue. What, good hath come to me,
Hath aye come at Prince Marko’s hands. Keepest thou the memory
Of the day the army perished on the field of Kósovo,
And both tsars, Lazar and Murad, died in the overthrow?
Up to the stirrups of the steed that day the red blood ran,
Unto the silken girdle of many a fighting man;
Horses and heroes swam, steed by steed, and hero hero by,
And we flew up hungry and thirsty, the vultures of the sky;
We fed on human flesh, we drank our fill of human blood:
My wings were wet. Forth flamed the sun in heaven where he stood:
My wings grew stiff; my feathers in flight I could not wield;
My comrades flew, and I was left upon the level field.
Heroes and steeds rushed onward, and me they trampled o’er.
God sent Marko; he lifted me up from the heroes’ gore
And put me behind on Dapple. To the green wood amain
He bore me and tossed me into a fir; and down the gentle rain
Descended there upon me. My wings were washen clean,
That I might fly thereafter over the forest green;
And there I met my comrades.
“One more good deed to me
Did the good Marko Krályevich. Hast thou in memory
How the town burned at Kósovo? Burnt was Ajága’s tower:
Therein my little eaglets were hidden in that hour,
And Marko gathered all of them in his silken bosom fold,
And a full month he nourished them in the white house of his hold,
And let them go to the green wood, when a month and a week were told.
And this did Marko for me, that I met my eaglets dear.”
Prince Marko is remembered like a fair day in the year.