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p. 60


TSAR LAZAR sat at dinner; and with him at the wine
Sat Mílitsa, the Tsáritsa, beside her lord to dine.
Unto her lord said Mílitsa: 
“O Servia’s king and crown,
To-morrow unto Kósovo the army goeth down,
Thy voývodas and captains. No man thou leavest at home
With a letter to go to Kósovo and hither again to come.
Thou leadest my nine brethren, Yug Bogdan’s children nine.—
Leave me one brother of them all to cheer this heart of mine.”
 To her spake Lazar of the Serbs: “Which wilt thou have with thee
In the palace?” And she made answer: “Let Boshko stay with me.”
Then spake Tsar Lazar: 
“Lady, to-morrow, when day comes on,
And the white dawn breaketh, and the world is warmed of the great sun,
And they open the gates of the city, go thou unto the arch,
Wherethrough unto the muster my hosts begin to march.
The spears shine over the chargers: before them will Boshko ride,

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And he carries high the standard with a great cross glorified.
Bless him! Let give the standard to whomsoever he will;
But let him back to the palace, abiding with thee still.”
 Now when the gates were opened, what time the morning shone,
Then forth unto the gateway Queen Mílitsa came down,
And stood beneath the portal in the shadow of the arch,
What time unto the muster the host began to march.
The spears shone over the chargers: before them Boshko rode
On a bay steed, and his rich weed with shining goldwork glowed,
And the standard that he carried swept round him fold on fold;
Over the steed it bellied; thereon was an apple of gold;
From the apple rose gilded crosses, and tassels from them did hang,
And brushed against his shoulders as in the wind they swang.
Queen Mílitsa sprang forward to the bay stallion’s head,
And she clasped arms round her brother, and unto him she said:
 “My brother Boshko, thou art become the tsar his gift to me.

p. 62

Thou shalt not go to Kósovo; he gives his blessing to thee;
Thou shalt give the golden banner to the hero of thy will,
And be my brother in Krúshevats, that I may have thee still.”
 Boshko answered her straightway: 
“Get back to thy hall this tide!
I would not turn nor give up the flag with the great cross glorified,
Though the tsar should give me Krúshevats for ever and a day;
For the remnant of the army concerning me would say:
 “ ‘Where is the captain, Boshko—that same I that dared not go
To perish for Christ his Cross and Faith on the field of Kósovo?’ ”
 And forthwith he rode the stallion abroad beneath the arch;
And lo, Yug Bogdan and seven sons began thereby to march!
She stopped each of the seven to whom her heart did yearn,
But none of all the seven aside for her would turn.
With the tsar’s chargers Voin, her brother, came that way;
All covered with a panoply of shining gold were they.
She seized the dun steed under him, and took him by the head;

p. 63

She took her brother in her arms, and unto him she said:
 “My brother Voin, thou art become the tsar his gift to me;
Thou shalt not go to Kósovo; he gives his blessing to thee.
Thou shalt give the tsar’s war horses to the hero of thy will,
And be my brother in Krúshevats, that I may have thee still.”
 Voin answered her straightway: 
“Get back to thy hall this tide!
I would not turn nor give over the steeds that the tsar shall ride;
What though in wisdom I foresaw all of my overthrow,
I would ride to death for the Cross and the Faith on level Kósovo.”
 Forthwith right through the gateway he spurred the charger well;
And when the queen that sight had seen, on the stone in a swoon she fell.
And when King Lazar saw it, the tears ran down his face;
And he looked and called Golúban, his henchman, from his place:
 “Golúban, my good henchman, dismount thee in this hour,
And bear thy lady in thine arms up to the slender tower.

p. 64

For this the deed of my command God’s pardon shalt thou find;
Thou shalt not go to Kósovo, but linger here behind.”
 Weeping, Golúban heard it. He dismounted in that hour;
He bore his lady in his arms up to the slender tower;
But his will he could not overcome, nor bear to linger so,
But steed bestrode, and hard he rode away to Kósovo.
 When rose up the white morning, from Kósovo there wheeled
A pair of great black ravens from the broad battlefield;
They perched on the white palace whence Lazar issued forth;
The one cawed loud and vainly, the one spake words of worth:
 “Is this Tsar Lazar’s palace, where he was wont to dwell?
Is there no man or woman within the citadel?”
 None heard but the Queen Mílitsa; she came before the wall,
And unto those two ravens her voice aloud did call:
 “I conjure you, black ravens, sitting upon the coign,
From whence come ye this morning? Did ye see the armies join?
Have the armies smitten together in the field of Kósovo?

p. 65

In God his name I conjure you, who hath the overthrow?”
 And the black ravens answered: 
“At Kósovo, O queen,
Two hosts that smote at Kósovo, we saw them fight yestreen.
Both tsars are down; and of the Turks a remnant doth remain,
But all the Serbs are slaughtered, or wounded on the plain.”
 They spoke; and lo, Milútin came before the queen to stand!
Wounded full sore, the henchman bore one hand in the other hand;
Seventeen wounds were on him; his steed with blood was red.
And unto him the weeping queen rough words in anger said:
“What treachery, Milútin, is this unto the tsar?”
 But he said: 
“Help me down, lady, from the great steed of war;
Lave me with the cool water, and with the ruddy wine,
Do thou, O royal lady, anoint these wounds of mine.”
 Queen Mílitsa she lifted him down from the steed of war;
She laved him with white water, and red wine from the jar.

p. 66

And when he was himself again, she questioned him withal:
 “Ah, what betid at Kósovo? Did the Tsar Lazar fall?
My father and my brethren, are they fallen on the plain?
Lord Milosh, and Vuk Bránkovich, and Strahin, are they slain?”
 The servant spake: 
“My lady, they are dead at Kósovo,
Where Lazar the tsar glorious fell in the overthrow.
The Turk and Servian lances lie shattered everywhere,
But many more of Christian spears, alas, were broken there,
Defending good Tsar Lazar in the fury of the fray.
But Yug Bogdan perished, lady, in the fight of the first day;
Eight of his sons, those champions, were slaughtered side by side;
For they would not use treachery, and by each other died.
Still Boshko’s banner of the cross hurled back the Turks in droves,
To and fro over Kósovo, as a falcon harries doves.
Where the blood flowed up to the knee died Stráhinya the ban;
By Sítnitsa fell Milosh, where the cool waters ran.
There perished many Turks amain; and Milosh in his ire

p. 67

Hath slain the Sultan Murad—God be gracious to his sire!—
And a good twelve thousand Turks that tide. And aye the Serbs will know
His deeds of war while men are left to tell of Kósovo.
But ask not of the cursèd Vuk! May God’s damnation burst
Upon his sire and all his tribe, and the whole house accurst!
’Twas he betrayed the tsar in war unto the Turkish spear,
And fled with his twelve thousand men, the traitor cavalier!”