Marko Kraljevich was drinking wine
with his agèd mother,
with his faithful wife,
and with his one and only sister.
When Marko had grown mellow with the wine, 5
he poured himself a cup
and drank a toast to his agèd mother,
to his wife and his sister:
"Be of good hope that you shall again see the sun and moon,
but never again young Marko." 10
His agèd mother asked him,
"Where are you going, my only son Marko?"
Marko Kraljevich replied,
"I'm off to serve in the emperor's army
for seven years." 15
When Marko reported for duty in the army,
he bowed three times
as he approached the hand of the emperor,
which he then kissed.
The emperor immediately took away his saber 20
- took both his saber and his horse -
for the duration of his seven years' service;
when he had served the full seven years
the emperor would return them to him.
But during that time a letter came to Marko 25
from his agèd mother,
telling him that Mina of Kostur had come
and sacked his castle,
trodden his old mother under foot,
and carried off his faithful wife. 30
Marko fell despondently into despondency
and said to the emperor of Stambol:
"I beg of you, milord Emperor,
give me my saber and my piebald,
and my bosom companion Ali Agha, 35
and with him twelve fighting men
wherewith I may march against Mina of Kostur!"
The emperor gave Marko what he asked for:
he gave him his bosom companion Ali Agha,
and he gave him twelve fighting men 40
with twelve warhorses.
When Marko was thus wonderfully equipped,
he obtained also monks' cowls
for his twelve fighting men
and for his bosom companion Ali Agha, 45
and he dressed himself as their abbot.
They clapped monks' cylinders on their heads,
hid their weapons under their cowls,
and set off across the empire.
In all the places to which they came they rested for the night, 50
until they came into the vicinity of Kostur,
to the stream named Zloglava.
There they found a dozen washer-women
washing gleaming white linen,
and amongst them was Kraljevich's wife, 55
who recognized Marko's piebald mount,
though she did not recognize Marko Kraljevich.
She let the tears run down her white face
as she asked the abbot:
"As God is your witness, black-clad monk, 60
how came you by that piebald warhorse
- how came you to possess the piebald of my lord,
my lord Marko Kraljevich?"
The abbot answered her:
"Marko recently passed on. 65
For my benediction at his grave
he gave me his piebald warhorse.
And now I've come to Mina of Kostur
to perform the ceremony of his wedding with Kraljevich's widow,
bringing with me twelve of my monks. 70
If you're quick Mina will reward you for bringing him good news!
I mean to lodge with him this very night."
The washer-women took up their cloths
and went away to bright Kostur,
where they told the tidings to Mina of Kostur: 75
"Milord Mina of Kostur,
we've come to collect our rewards for good news!
On the banks of the Zloglava
we met with twelve monks
and their abbot. 80
The head-monk made us this speech:
`Give my greetings to Mina of Kostur!
Tonight I'll come to lodge with him
and perform the ceremony of his wedding with Kraljevich's widow
- because it so happens that Marko Kraljevich has died; 85
it was I who pronounced the benediction on his grave,
and he gave me his sturdy piebald
in consideration of my benedicton on his grave.'"
The washer-women were still a-telling their tale
when lo, the abbot himself arrived 90
with his twelve monks.
Mina welcomed them most graciously,
led them upstairs in his many-storied mansion,
seated them at his high table,
and regaled them with food and drink. 95
Marko's own wife poured the wine.
When they had all drunk largely of the wine,
Marko Kraljevich asked:
"Milord Mina of Kostur,
may I be permitted to dance a little 100
- to dance a little in the mincing monastic manner?"
Mina of Kostur said to him then:
"Dance freely, as much as ever you please!"
When Marko Kraljevich began to dance
the whole castle trembled on its foundation 105
and three of its wooden beams were split.
Mina of Kostur cried out,
"God damn you, abbot!
Strong men have danced here before,
and so have black-clad monks, 110
but never have any done such damage
as to split my wooden beams!"
Then the abbot shouted back at him:
"Mina of Kostur, you whoreson!
Black-clad monks may have danced here before, 115
but Marko Kraljevich never has!"
Whereupon Marko ran down the palace stairs [sic],
and out from under it [his cowl] his sword flashed,
and in an instant Mina's head went flying through the air.
He cut down several of the servants 120
whom he found on duty in the court and in front of it;
the others fled in all four directions.
Then Marko set fire to the castle,
and Mina's brothers fled too,
with Marko close behind them. 125
In the meadows he overtook Yasenko
and beheaded him
- for that reason the place is called Yasena.
Just beyond the meadows he overtook Shchepan
and beheaded him 130
- from that time on the place has been called Shchepan Krst.
In the meadows he overtook Radoye
and beheaded him
- from that time on the place has been called Radimlja.
Then Marko ran onward 135
into the ravines, where they turned to face him
and his comrade Ali Agha
and their twelve fighting men.
There his companion Ali Agha perished
together with all twelve fighting men, 140
where they left a memorial of themselves
- to this very day there are to be seen there the graves
of all his twelve fighting men
and his bosom companion Ali Agha.
But Marko Kraljevich himself remained unhurt 145
and pressed on from there in pursuit of them.
At each place where he overtook one of Mina's dear brothers
he beheaded that one too,
and left a memorial of the event at that place
- to this day each such memorial persists. 150
Then Marko Kraljevich went back
and claimed his faithful wife,
whom he led away to bright Prilep
to be his lady-love in his bright castle
- and may we too be well and full of joy! 155


  • main menu