Starína Novak and the Bold Rádivoye
Heroic Ballads of Serbia
George Rapall Noyes & Leonard Bacon
Starína Novak drank the wine on Romániya the green hill,
And Rádivoye, his brother, drank with him with a will;
And Grúitsa, Stárina’s son, Rádivoye sat before;
With Grúitsa was Tátomir and thirty hayduks more.
When the hayduks in good fellowship had drunk the liquor cold,
Then spake unto his brother Rádivoye, called the bold:
“Hearest thou, brother Novak? I will leave thee behind me now.
Thou canst not go a-raiding; too grievous old art thou.
Thou dost not love to gallop on the highway any more,
To lie in wait for traders that come from the seashore.”
So spake bold Rádivoye. He leaped from the ground to his feet,
He seized on Breshka by the waist; the thirty followed fleet.
Rado (1) went over the black mount; ’neath a green fir Novak lay,
With his two young sons. Brave Rado came to a crossing in the way.
A wretched chance befell him, for Mehmed the Moor rode there;
With thirty heroes and three great packs of treasure the Turks did fare.
When Mehmed saw the hayduks, he shouted to his men.
The champions drew their sabers and rushed on the outlaws then.
They had no chance in that short time their muskets to let drive.
The Turks smote thirty heads off, and Rado seized alive;
They bound his hands behind him; they led him o’er the hill,
With insult, but bold Rado sang to them with a will:
“God slay thee, Mount Romániya! Dost thou breed no hawk in thee?
Flew a flock of doves with a raven before their company;
A white swan led they, and treasure beneath their wings had they.”
Child Grúitsa heard Rado as he sang on the highway.
He spake to Starína Novak:
“My father, harken thou,
For out on the broad highway is some one singing now,
And speaks of Mount Romániya and the mountain-falcon gray.
It is like our Uncle Rado. He has gained a treasure this day,
Or else he has fallen on evil. Let us go to give him aid.”
He seized on his Damascus gun and went to the ambuscade
On the tsar’s highway, and after him young Tátomir lightly ran;
And after the children followed Novak the ancient man.
On the highway in the ambuscade, there Novak took his ground;
And beside him his two children. O’er the mountain came a sound,
And presently thirty champions before them did appear,
And every champion carried a hayduk’s head on his spear.
And Mehmed the Moor before him drove the bound Rado still,
And likewise three loads of treasure on the high road over the hill,
Till into the ambuscade he marched with the squadron of his might.
Novak shouted to his children. They fired the muskets light;
Mehmed the Moor they hit in the belt. He did not yell one yell—
Dead was Mehmed the mighty Moor, ere to the ground he fell.
The Moor fell there on the green grass. Stárina Novak sped,
And swung his saber in the air, and straight cut off his head,
And then he rushed to Rado; from his hand he cut the cord
And gave him the saber of a Moor. Now glory to God the Lord!
They made a rush upon the Turks, they cut them into bands,
And pursued them hither and yonder. Who ’scaped from Rado’s hands
Young Tátomir awaited. From him who got away,
Them awaited child Grúitsa in eagerness to slay;
And them who ’scaped from Grúitsa old Novak waited for.
They slew the thirty champions, and spoiled the Turks in war;
They won in that same hour three packs of treasure fine.
Then sat they down together to drink the yellow wine.
Said Novak: “Tell me truly, Rado, my brother bold,
Which is better—thirty hayduks, or Starína Novak the old?”
To him said Rado: “My brother, the thirty better were they—
The good friends; but thy fortune they had it not this day.”
It is ill for the hero who hears not what his elders have to say.
(1) An abbreviation for Rádivoye.