The Death of Ivo of Senye
Heroic Ballads of Serbia
George Rapall Noyes & Leonard Bacon
Ivo’s mother dreamed that darkness was risen Senye (1) around,
That the clear sky was broken and the bright moon fell to the ground
On Rúzhitsa church in Senye, and the stars fled far and wide,
And the daystar rose up bloody, and the cuckoo to her cried—
In Senye’s midst on the holy roof of Rúzhitsa did he perch.
The woman awoke and took her crutch and hastened to the church,
And told the Archpriest Nédelko what dream was come to her,
And to her the priest made clear the dream as an interpreter:
“Hearest thou, mother! Ill hast thou dreamed and evil soon will be.
In that darkness rose round Senye, ’twill be desolate for thee.
In that the sky was broken and the bright moon fell to the ground
On Rúzhitsa, Ivo will perish; he hath reached his term and bound.
In that the stars fled far and wide, will many a widow moan.
In that bloody rose the daystar, thou wilt be as a cuckoo alone.
In that it sang on the Rúzhitsa, the Turks will overthrow
Rúzhitsa, and, though old I be, the Turks will lay me low.”
Hardly had he done speaking, when before them Ivo stood.
The great black steed he rode upon was soaked with the dark blood;
He had seventeen wounds; in his left hand his cleft right hand he bore.
He drove the black steed onward the great white church before.
To his mother he spake: “From the black steed take me down, mother mine,
And wash me with cold water and purify with wine.”
Swift she obeyed: she took him down from the steed fierce and fine;
She washed him with cold water, and o’er him poured the wine.
His mother asked him: “What, my son, in Italy befell?”
“Mother, in Italy all things went swift and well;
Enough slaves we took, mother, and enough of treasure bright;
Safe we turned home. When we were at the camp of the first night,
A first pursuit o’ertook us, black warriors that sped
Upon black steeds; black turbans they wore about the head.
We fired one volley, mother, we slew them all in fight;
Of us none perished, mother. At the camp of the second night
The second pursuit o’ertook us; the furious heroes sped
Upon white steeds, white turbans they wore about the head.
We fired one volley, mother; we slew them all in fight.
Of us none perished, mother. At the camp of the third night
The third pursuit o’ertook us; black cloaks, long guns did they bear.
We fired a single volley, and began to fight them there;
Of them none perished, mother; of us all fell in the fray,
Excepting thy son Ivo, at last that got away.
And he is wounded; in his left hand his right hand hath he brought.”
So Ivo spake, and forthwith with his dear soul he fought;
He breathed, and released from prison thereby was the spirit light.
He died, and his ancient mother—O evil was her plight!
May God give him a dwelling place in pleasant paradise,
And health to us, my brethren, and merriment likewise!