Dear God - thanks be to Thee for Thy gift! -
is it thunder, or earthquake,
or is the sea pounding on the cliffs?
It is not thunder, nor earthquake,
nor is the sea pounding on the cliffs, 5
but rather cannon fire from the city
- from the bright city of Varadin -
where General Vucha makes merry,
having captured three Serbian warlords
and cast them down into his prison 10
- one of them was Milan Toplica,
another was Ivan Kosachich,
and the third was Milosh Obilich.
There they lay confined for a week.
At the break of day on Sunday 15
poor Milosh Obilich began to weep,
and leaned upon the window-frame
to look outside and see whom he might recognize.
God granted - as his luck would have it -
that just then the courier Tosha was passing by. 20
Milosh Obilich called to him:
"I beseech thee as a brother, courier Tosha,
bring me a sheet of white paper
for me to write a scribbled letter on,
and for you to carry to Marko Kraljevich. 25
In it I shall include high praise of you
so that Marko may reward you handsomely."
Tosha accepted the claim of brotherhood
and went away to the new market
where he obtained pen and paper 30
which he brought to Milosh Obilich.
Milosh Obilich thanked him:
"Thank you, courier Tosha
- may God in turn grant what you desire of Him!
Now wait a few moments 35
while I write the scribbled letter."
Then he sat down on the cold stone,
stuck the pen into his cheek
until he drew blood,
and with the blood he wrote in fine cursive 40
to his friend Marko Kraljevich.
In this wise did Milosh address him:
"Fictive brother Marko Kraljevich,
have you not heard the news, or do you not care about me?
- can it be, brother, that you do not know 45
I have been made a prisoner in the dark prison
of the misfortunate General Vucha
where I have been for lo these eight days!
Fictive brother of mine, Marko Kraljevich,
rescue me from this dark prison, 50
whether for the sake of ransom or your own heroic reputation!
Here with me in the same plight are Ivan Kosanchich
and the man Milan Toplica,
all of us lamenting together in the dark prison
- in the unusual dwelling-place of prison. 55
Rescue me from the dark prison,
and I shall never forget you!"
When Milosh had made the letter,
he gave the letter to the courier Tosha,
and added this instruction orally: 60
"Give my greetings to my brother,
and tell Marko Kraljevich
what calamity has befallen me
- Marko will pay you well for it -
since I have neither dinar nor penny 65
to pay your travelling fee."
So Todor went away over hill and dale.
Whichever way he went and wheresoever the road led him,
he came at last to Prilep town,
before the very castle of Marko Kraljevich. 70
He arrived at a good time of day
- the dawn was just whitening into day
and the first rays of bright daylight were upon the heights
as he reached the hard-paved courtyard.
When Tosha reached the gates, 75
he rapped on the gates with the knocker.
It was a heavy knocker that could be heard far away,
and Marko heard it high in the castle.
Marko had just arisen
- arisen and crossed himself, 80
and performed the Christian rites,
and laid a fire on the hearth.
When he heard the knocking at the gate,
he called from the bright castle:
"Who is that rapping the knocker at the gate? 85
May the knocker break itself rapping on your head!
But if perchance you are some courier,
lift the four latches
- the gate will open for you of its own accord -
and bring me the scribbled letter." 90
When Tosha had understood him,
he lifted the four latches,
whereupon the gate opened for him of its own accord
and he went ahead up through the castle.
Ninety was the number of the steps he trod on the staircase 95
by the time he came Marko Kraljevich,
before whom he bowed himself to the ground;
then he kissed the hem of Marko's garment and Marko's hand
and gave him the scribbled letter.
When Marko had taken the letter, 100
and broken the seal on it,
and when he saw what was written in the fine cursive,
tears streamed down his cheeks
and Marko spoke thus:
"As God is my witness, Milosh Obilich, 105
I shall see that you are rescued!"
He walked to his own room...
put his hand in his pocket
and took out twelve ducats,
which he gave to the courier Tosha: 110
"Here, Tosha, buy yourself some wine to drink!"
Tosha the courier thanked him:
"Thank you, Marko Kraljevich
- God grant thee good health and happiness.
Whithersoever thy path may lead thee, 115
may good fortune attend thee;
may you tread upon your enemies
as your horse treads upon the nails of its shoes!"
Then he left Kraljevich's palace
and went back to Varadin. 120
Marko called his agèd mother:
"Dear mother, old parent of mine,
take and read this sheet of white paper
from the man Milosh Obilich.
He lies in a dark prison 125
in the bright city of Varadin;
I must rescue him.
Bake me some wheaten cakes
- make them thin and light, suitable for a long journey -
whilst I go to prepare my piebald." 130
When Marko had prepared his horse,
lo, his agèd mother came
bearing the light wheatcakes.
Marko went into the lower cellar
to fill a bag of wine 135
which he loaded onto the piebald
- the winesack on one side
and his heavy club on the other
to balance each other -
then he kissed his agèd mother 140
and, stalwart as he was, he mounted on the piebald
and set out straight for Varadin.
As he came onto the green meadow
next to General Vucha's court,
the sun was just rising; 145
There he pitched a white tent,
drove his lance into the turf,
hitched the piebald to the lance,
and gave it oats to eat from its nosebag;
then he sat himself down on the green grass 150
and began to drink red wine.
He drank copiously, and was fatigued moreover,
so that sleep soon overcame him.
So Marko slept there on the green grass
- he slept and dreamt nothing - 155
until after daybreak next morning.
In the morning the General's lady arose betimes
and walked out of the mansion
to see what the serving men and women were doing.
She happened to glance 160
towards green Varadin Field,
and there she saw the silken tent
with the piebald horse hitched before it.
Quickly she went to the master's suite
where she said to her lord: 165
"Down in the green meadow
there is a silken tent pitched in the green grass,
and a piebald warhorse stands before it!
Dear God, I wonder who it may be?
General Vucha then said to her: 170
"Fear not, true wife of mine;
whoever it is, no good will come of it.
I'll send Phillip the Magyar."
So he called Phillip the Magyar,
to whom he spoke in this wise: 175
"Phillip the Magyar, faithful servant of mine,
there on the green meadow
is none other than the man Marko Kraljevich.
Fetch him into my dark prison
- fetch him into it, or else cut him down!" 180
It is not meet that a junior person should gainsay orders,
so he went quickly onto the green meadow.
When he came near Marko
he found that Marko was still asleep in the green grass,
but his piebald warhorse was not sleeping: 185
the piebald's whinny was fierce as an adder's hiss
- it pricked its ears and ground its teeth
and lashed out with its hooves as if to knock an enemy's eyes out -
and thus it awakened Marko Kraljevich.
When Marko awoke 190
he saw Phillip the Magyar,
who was not a welcome sight to him,
and so he said to Phillip the Magyar:
"Magyar Phillip, you bastard,
have you come to do combat with me?" 195
Then he sprang to his quick feet,
mounted his sturdy piebald,
and rode forth to face Phillip.
They chased each other about for a time,
then Marko drew his heavy club 200
and struck Phillip the Magyar with it.
So lightly did he tap him
that he knocked him clean out of the saddle;
Phillip fell to the ground, whereupon Marko fell upon him
and tied his hands behind his back. 205
General Vucha observed all this
and called his two only sons [sic]:
"My children - my own right wing! -
go and avenge your old father
and the man Phillip the Magyar; 210
take three hundred horse-troopers with you
and take Marko Kraljevich prisoner
- cast him into the dark prison!"
Both his sons obeyed him;
they assembled three hundred cavalrymen 215
and hurried away towards the piebald in the meadow.
When Marko caught sight of them,
he mounted on his piebald horse,
hugged his club,
and charged into the midst of the horse-troopers. 220
After he had driven them this way and that a few times
the Hungarian cavalrymen fled,
and so did Vuk's two sons,
whom Marko chased across the meadow on his piebald.
Marko captured both of them 225
and tied their hands behind their backs.
When General Vucha had observed all this,
he leapt to his quick feet
and bestrode his lithe Bedouin mare,
while the General's lady wept: 230
"Alas, my two dear sons,
I shall never again see you alive!"
But General Vucha comforted her:
"Fear not, my faithful wife!
I'll rescue the children immediately, 235
and saber Marko Kraljevich,
or else take him alive
and cast him into the dark prison."
Then he drove his lithe Bedouin mare
straight at Marko Kraljevich's tent. 240
When Marko caught sight of him,
he rode his piebald forth to meet him.
Vucha greeted him in God's name
and spoke thus to him:
"Marko Kraljevich, my friend, 245
release my two young sons
and Phillip the Magyar;
do it as between two men of honor!"
"But Marko said this to him:
General Vucha, you whoreson! 250
What have you done with my three brothers?
Release them from prison
or I'll cut off your head!"
Whereupon he drew forth his heavy club
and rushed at General Vucha. 255
But the lithe Bedouin mare was too fast
and the piebald could not overtake it.
When the mighty Kraljevich realized that,
he let fly with his heavy club
- it was made of heavy iron, but it flew fast enough 260
quickly to overtook General Vucha,
hitting him squarely at the waist.
Vucha fell onto the green grass,
and so Marko on the piebald caught up with him
and bound his hands behind his back. 265
When the General's lady had observed all this,
she took paper and pen
and wrote a letter to Marko Kraljevich:
"Milord Marko Kraljevich,
send me my two young sons 270
and my husband, General Vucha.
I in turn shall release the three Serbian warlords."
Marko Kraljevich read the letter
- read it and laughed -
and then he wrote a letter to the lady: 275
"Milady consort of the General,
send me the three Serbian warlords,
each with untold treasure;
make ready the silver coach
drawn by the twelve black horses 280
which Vucha keeps in his stable
to convey him to the bright church;
and to the man Milosh Obilich
you are to present a manly suit of clothes
and panoply." 285
When Marko had written the letter
he sent it along it the General's lady,
who read it, shedding tears all the while.
She thought for a time what she should do and how,
but having thought it over, 290
she released the three Serbian warlords,
and gave them everything Marko demanded.
But when Milosh found himself set free at the court
and caught sight of his own black raven mount,
he danced a jig for joy. 295
Then he saw Marko's tent
and lashed his horse across the green meadow
where he entered Marko's pavilion. 300
Spreading their arms, they embraced and kissed each other
- and at that same moment up rode Ivan Kosanchich
with Milan Toplica right behind him
in General Vucha's coach;
they brought with them the untold treasure 305
which the General's lady had given them.
Then they released General Vucha
and his two young sons,
and the man Phillip the Magyar;
and off they went to Marko's palace 310
singing and discharging their firearms,
giving thanks to Marko Kraljevich
- and so may we be well and full of joy!