Luka Filipov

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Luka Filipov
by Jovan Jovanovic Zmaj, translated by Nikola Tesla


LUKA FILIPOV

(an incident of the montenegrin war of 1876-78)

One more hero to be part
    Of the Servians' glory!
Lute to lute and heart to heart
    Tell the homely story;
Let the Moslem hide for shame,
Trembling like the falcon's game,
Thinking on the falcon's name—
            Luka Filipov.

When he fought with sword and gun
    Doughty was he reckoned;
When he was the foremost, none
    Blushed to be the second.
But he tired of the taint
Of the Turk's blood, learned restraint
From his sated sword—the quaint
            Luka Filipov.

Thus he reasoned: Though they fall
    Like the grass in mowing,
Yet the dead Turks, after all,
    Make a sorry showing.
Foes that die remember not
How our [[w:Montenegrins|]] bought
Our unbroken freedom—thought
            Luka Filipov.

So, in last year's battle-storm
    Swooped our Servian falcon,
Chose the sleekest of the swarm
    From beyond the Balkan:
Plucked a pacha from his horse,
Carried him away by force,
While we cheered along his course:
            “Luka!” “Filipov!”

To the Prince his prize he bore
    Just as he had won him—
Laid him at the Prince's door,
    Not a scratch upon him.
“Prince, a present! And for fear
He should find it lonely here,
I will fetch his mate,” said queer
            Luka Filipov.

Back into the fight he rushed
    Where the Turks were flying,
Past his kinsmen boldly brushed,
    Leaping dead and dying:
Seized a stalwart infidel,
Wrenched his gun and, like a spell,
Marched him back—him heeding well
            Luka Filipov.

But the Moslems, catching breath
    Mid their helter-skelter,
Poured upon him hail of death
    From a rocky shelter,
Till a devil-guided ball
Striking one yet wounded all:
For there staggered, nigh to fall,
            Luka Filipov!

Paused the conflict—all intent
    On the two before us;
And the Turkish regiment
    Cheered in hideous chorus
As the prisoner, half afraid,
Turned and started up the glade,
Thinking—dullard!—to evade
            Luka Filipov.

We'd have fired but Luka's hand
    Rose in protestation,
While his pistol's mute command
    Needed no translation;
For the Turk retraced his track,
Knelt and took upon his back
(As a peddler shifts his pack)
            Luka Filipov!

How we cheered him as he passed
    Through the line, a-swinging
Gun and pistol—bleeding fast—
    Grim—but loudly singing:
“Lucky me to find a steed
Fit to give the Prince for speed!
Rein or saddle ne'er shall need
            Luka Filipov!”

So he urged him to the tent
    Where the Prince was resting—
Brought his captive, shamed and spent,
    To make true his jesting.
And as couriers came to say
That our friends had won the day,
Who should up and faint away?
            Luka Filipov.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1923. It may be copyrighted outside the U.S. (see Help:Public domain).