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THE BUILDING OF RAVÁNITSA
To celebrate the holy tide, Tsar Lazarus is gone
To Krúshevats, the fortress of many-colored stone;
To the birthfeast of St. Amos he summons all the lords
By letter and salutation that with their rank accords.
And all the lords of Servia were gathered at that place.
He set them at the tables, by greatness and by grace.
At the head of the good table the good Tsar Lazar sat;
The lords were set beside him to drink the wine thereat;
And they spake of all good tidings what time the wine ran free.
Tsáritsa Mílitsa stepped forth, and through the hall came she.
Girded was she with girdles nine, nine chains her neck did fold,
Nine pendants hung about her brows from the coronet of gold,
And the three summits of the crown were set with a precious stone
That shone by night as broad and bright as in the day the sun.
|And she spoke to the glorious Lazarus: |
|“Abashed am I to-day|
Only to look on thee, Lazarus; and more this word to say—
I cannot help it, I must speak forth. Némanya’s sons of old,
They were our tsars in word and deed, and all their days are told.
They heaped not treasure up in hills, but to God reared many a fane;
They builded their good monasteries on the mountain and the plain;
They reared o’er Jákovitsa Déchani on the height,
The Patriarch’s Place at level Pech,1 and in Drénitsa the white
Did they raise the Devich; near Pazar St. Peter’s Church they set,
And the great Pillars of St. George on the mount, higher yet;
They builded Sópochani over the Rashka cold,
And the Cathedral of St. Anne they wrought in Vlah the Old;
Studénitsa ’neath Brivenik; ’neath Yádovnik, St. Paul;
O’er Káranovats the fair church that Zhicha men do call.
The Chapel of Good Friday on Prizrend did they bestow;
And they reared Gráchanitsa on level Kósovo.
All these are their foundations. In their place thou reignest now;
No churches hast thou founded, yet a treasure of gold hast thou.
The treasure availeth nothing to help us or to heal;
Neither for soul or body will treasure work our weal.”
What saith my queen, that nowhere a church builded have we!
| Then rose up Lazar the glorious: |
|“My great lords, harken ye|
Ravánitsa in Résava by the Ravan will I rear,
For treasure in my treasuries whate’er I need is here.
Leaden shall be the corner stones, and the walls of silver white;
I will cover the walls of it with the gold burnished bright.
And moreover, by God’s mercy, shall pearls be set thereon,
And the gateways of the chapels shall glow with precious stone.”
The Servian lords rose lightly; they bowed down one and all:
“Build for the sake of thine own soul and the health of Stevan the Tall.”1
But Milosh Óbilich sat there at the table foot to dine,
And naught he said; and Lazar saw, and pledged him in the wine:
“Hail to thee, Milosh the voývoda! What then to me wilt thou say?
For I think to build to our Lord God a mighty church this day.”
Milosh rose up and doffed the cap with the plumes and sable fine,
And he made obeisance to the tsar, and they gave him the cup of wine.
Milosh took up the golden cup, and gave his health again:
“Glory to thee, prince, for thy speech, but for building of the fane—
This is no time for building. In faith, it cannot be!
My lord, but look in the ancient book what it shall say to thee.
The last hour is upon us; swift it cometh apace.
The Turks will take the kingdom and rule it in our place.
They will sack church and convent, and Ravánitsa likewise.
The foundations of Ravánitsa, they will dig them for a prize,
And melt them into cannon balls, to beat and batter down
The bulwarks of our churches and the rampart of the town.
For trappings the whitesilver walls shall be molten in the flames;
They will overthrow the church roof for necklets for their dames;
For these same necklaces, I wot, they will wrench away the pearls;
For their sword hilts will they take the gems, and for rings for Turkish girls.
But hark to me, Tsar Lazar! Let us quarry out the stone
And build a church of marble. For the Turks will seize the throne,
And our church shall serve forever, unto God’s Judgment Day!
There is no profit in the stone, to carry it away.”
Then spake the great Tsar Lazarus, when he that speech had heard:
“Now glory to thee, Milosh, for truth is in thy word!”
1 “The popular name of the son of Prince Lazar, who ruled after the battle of Kósovo, and who built the monastery of Manásiya.” Karájich, Servian Dictionary.