Serbian Epic Poetry

The Death of the Mother of the Jugovitch

Lord of Hosts, how passing great the marvel!

When the army camps upon Kossovo
In its ranks the Jugovitch—nine brothers,
And the tenth, the Jug Bogdan, their father.
Unto God then prays the agéd mother:
“Give me, God, the keen eyes of a falcon,
Give to me, oh God, the swan’s white pinions;
I would seek the wide plain of Kossovo,
I would see the Jugovitch—nine brothers,
And the tenth, the Jug Bogdan, their father.”

Thus she prays to God—her prayer is granted.
God gives her the keen eyes of the falcon
And He gives to her the swan’s white pinions,
And she seeks the wide plain of Kossovo.
Dead she finds the Jugovitch—nine brothers
And the tenth, the Jug Bogdan, their father.
At their sides nine battle-spears are lying,
On the spears are perched nine keen-eyed falcons,
Round the spears stand nine good battle-horses,
And nine lions [6] lie beside their masters.
And there roar their grief the nine grim lions,
And there mourn the nine good battle-horses,
And nine keen-eyed falcons scream in sorrow.
But the mother’s heart is hard within her,
Hard the mother’s heart, and dry her eyelids.
And she leads away the nine good horses,
Leads away with them the nine grim lions,
Calls to follow her nine keen-eyed falcons—
Thus returns she to her fair white castle.

From afar her sons’ nine wives beheld her,
As she nearer came they walked to meet her—
Cried aloud to God the nine fair widows,
And there wept with them the nine young orphans,
And there mourned their grief the nine grim lions,
And nine keen-eyed falcons screamed in sorrow.
But the mother’s heart is hard within her,
Hard the mother’s heart, and dry her eyelids.

When the night is at the hour of midnight
Whinnies low the battle-horse of Damian,
And the mother asks of Damian’s loved one:
“Oh my daughter, thou belov’d of Damian
Wherefore whinnies Damian’s horse thus sadly?
Doth he hunger for the silver wheat-fields?
Doth he thirst for Zvechan’s cooling waters?”
Slowly answers her then Damian’s loved one:
“Oh my mother, mother thou of Damian,
Not for silver wheat-fields is he hungry,
Not for Zvechan’s waters is he thirsty
Long since learnt he from his master Damian
Until midnight on fine oats to feast him,
After midnight many roads to travel;
Therefore now laments he for his master
Sorrows that he left his lord behind him
There upon the wide plain of Kossovo.”
But the mother’s heart is hard within her,
Hard the mother’s heart, and dry her eyelids.

On the morrow as the dawn is breaking,
Lo, there fly two ravens, two black ravens [2];
Bloody are their wings up to the shoulders,
From their beaks the blood-flecked foam is falling.
’Tis a hero’s severed hand they carry,
On the hand a golden ring is shining.

See, they drop it in the mother’s bosom,
From her bosom then the mother takes it,
Turns and turns it slowly as she gazes.
Then again she calls to Damian’s loved one:
“Oh my daughter, thou belov’d of Damian,
Tell me, whose this hand that I am holding!”
To the mother answers Damian’s loved one:
“Oh my mother, mother thou of Damian,
’Tis our Damian’s hand that thou art holding,
For I know the golden ring, oh mother,
This gold ring I gave him at our marriage.”
And the mother holds the hand of Damian,
Turns and turns it slowly as she gazes;
To the hero’s hand the mother whispers:
“Thou dear hand, oh thou my fair green apple,
Where didst blossom? Where has fate now plucked thee?
Woe is me! thou blossomed on my bosom,
Thou wast plucked, alas, upon Kossovo!”
And the mother’s heart swelled big with anguish,
Swelled the mother’s heart, and broke with sorrow
For her dead, the Jugovitch—nine brothers
And the tenth, the Jug Bogdan, their father.