Page 265 - Kosovo Metohija Heritage
P. 265

as Lazar knows that he will have to fight against hope- less odds—or at least the later Serbian patriarchal com- munities under Ottoman rule know it—he weeps as he reads “the book.”31 His tears mirror the inevitability of his honorable choice; and it is only against this tragic back- ground that “The Downfall of the Serbian empire” reveals its full pathos, shown in the scenes where Lazar makes his men take Holy Communion before leading them to fight a lost battle to its bitter end. in short, the choice of “the heavenly kingdom” is the choice of honorable death as opposed to the acceptance of dishonorable vassalage; it reflects the desperate hope of a threatened human com- munity that it can survive in spirit as long as its members keep their cultural and moral identity.
in several of the greatest Kosovo poems in Karadžić’s collections this issue is shaped in terms of a family drama of metaphysical significance. Thus, for instance, “Tsar La- zar and Carica Milica”—written down from Tešan Pod- rugović, an outlaw and a fighter in the Serbian Uprising who had bitter family experiences of Ottoman tax col- lecting—projects the patriarchal norms of family life in the historically grand setting of the approaching national
31 Karadžić, ii, No 50 (i), 1. 17.
catastrophe. Podrugović tells the story of the battle as a drama of conflicting feudal and patriarchal concepts of honor; for what is the approaching disaster and the na- tional calamity, compared to the destiny of the helpless sister who sees that she will be left alone, with no “broth- er to swear by”?32 How can Boško jugović disregard the sacred patriarchal call of his sister’s love? How can he— and all his brothers—refuse to stay behind with her even after their sovereign, Prince Lazar, absolves them from their feudal pledge to their friends “to spill the blood for the honorable cross”?33 and why does not a single one of the heroic brothers dare to look up at his sister when she tries to stop him on his way to death?
Finally, in this feudal and patriarchal drama the cross of honor grows into the all-embracing symbol of the choice of “the heavenly kingdom,” when Boško jugović appears with “the flag of the cross covering him,”34 when he decides that not even his sovereign can absolve him from his pledge, when he tells his sister to go back to her “white tower,”35 and when he is seen no more on the bat-
32 Karadžić, ii, No 45, 1.14. 33 Karadžić, ii. No 45, 1. 92. 34 Karadžić, ii, No 45, 1. 41. 35 Karadžić, ii, No 45, 1. 59.
The Battle of Kosovo
 Serbian Bard, playing songs of Kosovo Battle on gusle (one string violin), Paja jovanović, 1944

   263   264   265   266   267