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PRINCE MARKO AND THE VILA
Two sworn brothers were riding over Miroch, the mountain fair;
Voývoda Milosh and Marko were the two heroes there.
Side by side the steeds did they ride as they bore the spears that day;
One kissed the face of the other: such loving brothers were they.
Then Marko on Dapple yearned to sleep; he spake to his brother sworn:
“Voývoda Milosh, heavily by sleep am I overborne.
Said Milosh, “I would sing to thee, but, Marko, I drank the wine
|Sing to me, brother, and cheer me.” |
|“Prince Marko, brother mine,”|
In the mountain with Ravíyoyla, the vila, yesternight.
She forbade me; if she hears me, my throat and heart will she smite.”
Prince Marko spake: “Sing brother, nor ever the vila fear,
While Dapple and I and the war-club with six gold knobs are here.”
Then sang Milosh, the voývoda, a great and beautiful song
Of our elders and our betters that held the kingdom long
In famous Macedonia, and the troop that with each did go.
The song was pleasing to Marko, and he bowed on the saddlebow.
Prince Marko slept in the saddle, and Milosh sang on the track;
And the vila Ravíyoyla heard him, and sang in answer back.
Milosh sang, and the vila again unto him sang.
The better voice had Milosh, and angrily she sprang
Away to the mountain Miroch; with two white arrows she smote
Voývoda Milosh through the heart and likewise in the throat.1
Alas, my brother, the vila has shot me through and through!
|Said Milosh: |
|“Alas, my mother! And woe unto Marko, too!|
Did I not tell thee I must not sing on Miroch in our course?”
Marko started from slumber, and sprang from the dappled horse.
Well did he stretch the girth-straps for Dapple the good gray;
He kissed him, and embraced him, and to the steed did he say:
“Ah, Dapple the steed, of all my strength the great right wing art thou;
Ravíyoyla, the vila, do thou overtake her now.
I will shoe thee with pure silver and gold of the seventh proof;
I will cover thee with silk to the knee, with tassels thence to the hoof;
And all thy mane, moreover, shall be mingled with the gold;
And I will deck thy trappings with small pearls manifold.
If thou dost not overtake her, I will put out both thine eyes;
I will break thy legs, all four of them, and leave thee in evil guise;
And thou shalt struggle from fir to fir, abandoned and forlorn,
Even as I, Prince Marko, without my brother sworn.”
Prince Marko on gray Dapple’s back forthwith himself he threw;
They raced across Mount Miroch. O’er the trees the vila flew,
And desperately Dapple galloped the midst of the forest through.
At first nowhere could the vila be seen or heard thereby;
But at last, when Dapple saw her, he leaped three spear-lengths high
And a full four spear-lengths forward. Dapple gained on her swift;
In her distress she leaped aloft amid the clouds and lift.
Up Marko hurled the golden mace, the weapon of great worth,
And smote her between the shoulders, and beat her to the earth.
Left and right he did her smite with the golden club that day.
“Why shottest thou my brother, vila? May the good God thee slay!
Give thou herbs for the hero. Ere long thou shalt lose thine head.”
The vila besought him in God’s name. Imploringly she said:
“Prince Marko, my sworn brother, God and St. John before,
Release me alive in the forest, to search Mount Miroch o’er
For herbs to heal the hero, and his fierce wounds abate.”
Marko harkened her prayer, for his heart was compassionate;
Alive into the forest he let the vila go.
She gathered herbs on Miroch, as she wandered to and fro,
And she called often: “My brother, I am coming from the field.”
The vila gathered many an herb, and the hero’s wounds she healed;
And the lordly throat of Milosh was better than before,
And the strong heart of the hero was stronger than of yore.
The vila went unto Miroch. With his sworn brother good,
Went Marko to Porech country, and forded Timok flood,
Till he came to the great town Brégovo and the Vidin country-side.
But Ravíyoyla, the vila, to the other vilas cried:
“Hear ye, my friends, the vilas, and harken, and give ear:
Shoot no hero on the mountain when Marko the Prince is near,
Or while Dapple and he and the war-club with six gold knobs are here.
What I have suffered at his hands, I have not strength to say,
And hardly out of them at last alive I got away.”
1 “They must have had a singing contest before this, and the vila have forbidden him to sing because his voice was better than hers.” (Note by Karájich.)