Marko Kraljević and Alil-Aga

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Marko Kraljević and General Vuča
Unknown, translated by D. H. Low
[Tappan Introduction] Marko Kraljević is the half-mythical hero of the Serbians, and they delight in the old ballads composed about his victories over Turks and Magyars. After he was slain in battle, his people still believed that some time he would appear and would rescue them from oppression.

Marko Kraljević and Alil-Aga

Two sworn brothers rode together
Through the fair city Tsarigrad.
The one was Kraljević Marko,
The other Kostadin Beg.
And Marko began to speak on this wise:
"Pobratim, Kostadin Beg,
Now that I go forth of Tsarigrad,
I might well meet with an errant knight
That should bid me have ado with him.
Therefore will I feign to be passing sore sick
Of the flux, an evil sickness and a terrible!"
So Marko feigned sickness,
Not being sick, but of his craftiness.
On stout Sharatz he bowed him down.
That he pressed on the saddle with his heart.
And so went forth of Tsarigrad.
And a worshipful adventure befell in the way!
There met him Alil-Aga, the Sultan's man.
With thirty janissaries with him,
And said Alil-Aga to Marko:
"Sir Knight, Kraljević Marko,
Come, let us prove whether of us hath more skill

of bow and arrow.
And if God and fortune will well
That ye should outshoot me this day,
Then shall ye take my white manor,
And all the appurtenance thereof.
And the lady, my faithful wife.
But if I outshoot you this day,
I ask not your house not yet your wife,
But right so I will hang you.
And possess me of valiant Sharatz."
Kraljević Marko made answer:
"Leave me in peace, accursed Turk!

I assent not to this arrow-shooting,
For that a heavy sickness is upon me,
Even the flux, a sore sickness and a terrible!
Scarce may I hold me on horseback.
And how should I shoot with arrows?"
But the Turk would not depart from him,
But laid hold on the lappet of Marko's cloak on the
right hand,
And Marko drew knife from girdle,
And cut off the right lappet of his mantle.
"Hence, villain," quoth Marko, "be ye accursed!"
But the Turk would not let be,
But laid hold on the left lappet of his cloak,
And Marko drew knife from girdle
And cut off the left lappet also:
"Hence, villain, God smite thee!"
But the Turk would not let be.
He laid hold on Sharatz by the bridle,
With his right hand he laid hold on the bridle of Sharatz,
With his left hand he seized Marko by the breast.
Then did Marko's wrath blaze forth like living fire;
Upright he sat on valiant Sharatz,
And drew in the reins to him,
That Sharatz danced as he had been mad.
And so sprang over horses and horsemen.
Then Marko called to him Kostadin Beg:
" Brother, Beg Kostadin," quoth he,
" Get thee to my house, brother,
Bring me thence a Tartar arrow,
In the which Tartar arrow
There be nine white falcon feathers:
As for me, I go with the Aga to the Kadi,
For to confirm our covenant in the tribunal.
That afterwards there be no strife betwixt us."
Then the Beg returned to the house
And Marko went with the Aga to the Kadi.
As he entered in, Alil-Aga, the Sultan's man.
Put off his shoon and sate him down by the Kadi.
He drew forth twelve ducats,
And set them under the knees of the Kadi.
"Effendi," saith he, "here be ducats.
Give not unto Marko a true judgment."
Now the Turkish tongue was understanded of Marko,
But he had no ducats.
So he set his mace across his knees
And, "Hearken to me," saith he, " Kadi-Effendi !
Give thou me true judgment.
For thou seest my gilded six-ribbed mace.
An I go for to smite thee therewith
No leech shall do thee none avail.
But thou shalt forget thy judgment seat
And nevermore shalt thou behold ducats ! "
An ague gat hold on the Effendi
When he looked upon the golden-studded mace.
He gave true judgment and his hands shook.
Now when the heroes departed to the field,
With the Aga went thirty janissaries.
But there followed none after Marko,
Save only certain Greeks and Bulgars.
And when they were come to the field
Alii- Aga, the Sultan's man, saith to Marko:
"Fair Knight, come, loose thine arrows,
Thou vauntest thyself for a good knight of prowess.
Thou didst boast in the Sultan's Divan
How with an arrow thou mayst smite the eagle-bird^,
Thou shootest with an arrow the cruciform eagle,
Even the eagle that leadeth the clouds!"
Kraljevic Marko answered him again:
"Well I wot, Turk, I am a good knight of prowess loo
But here art thou preferred before me,
For here art thou in thine own domain,
And on the field thou hast preference before me,
For it is thou that hast challenged me.
Therefore, Turk, do thou first loose an arrow."
The Turk loosed a white arrow.
He loosed an arrow, they measured by ells.
And behold, he had sent the arrow an hundred and twenty.
Then did Marko loose his first white arrow
And sent it ells two hundred. no
The Turk loosed his second white arrow,
Three hundred ells he sped it.
Marko loosed his second white arrow.
Five hundred ells he sped it.
The Turk loosed his third white arrow.
Six hundred ells he sped it.
Therewithal came Kostadin to Marko
Bearing the Tartar arrow.
In the which Tartar arrow
Were nine white falcon feathers. 120
Right so Marko loosed the Tartar arrow
And so it flew into the mist and stour.
That with the eyes none might follow it.
And how should his flight be meted?
Then the Turk wept and made great dole,
And began to beseech Marko:
" Brother-in-God, Kraljević Marko,
By the most high God and by Saint John,
And by thy fair religion.
Thou hast won upon me my white manor 130
And the lady, my faithful wife.
But hang me not, brother, I pray thee."
Quoth Kraljević Marko:
" O Turk, may the living God smite thee !
Thou callest me brother, and givest me thy wife!
But I have no need of thy wife,
For with us it is not like as with the Turks,
A brother's wife to us is as a sister.
In mine own house I have a faithful wife.
The lady Jelitsa — of noble stock.
And I would forgive thee all the despite thou hast done me.
Without thou hadst rent my cloak
So do thou give me three charges of gold,
That I may let mend the lappets of my cloak."
The Turk skipped of joy and gladness.
He embraced Marko and kissed him,
And took him to his lordly manor.
For three white days he made him good cheer out of
measure.
And gave him three charges of gold.
The lady, also, gave a gold-embroidered shirt,
And with the shirt a kerchief silver-wrought.
Also he gave him three hundred horsemen that should go with him,
That should go with him even to his lordly dwelling.
And ever from that day forth the days of their life,
They held the lands for the worshipful Sultan;
And wheresoever the enemies made mighty war on the land.
There Alil-Aga and Marko drave them back,
And wheresoever cities were taken,
Alil-Aga and Marko were at the taking.


This is a translation and has a separate copyright status from the original text. The license for the translation applies to this edition only.
Original:
This work published before January 1, 1923 is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.
 
Translation:
This work published before January 1, 1923 is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.