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Kosovo Maiden” and “The Death of the Mother of the jugovići” hover between history and daydreaming. in “The Kosovo Maiden” it is quite clear, from the beginning, that we are faced with a retrospective evocation of death. The tragic utterance makes its impact owing to the implicit, natural resistance to and rebellion against what it seems to convey. For what is the nature of life and history which dooms a young girl to walk around the battlefield turning over one bleeding hero after the other? in this vision of youth and girlhood all the emblems of glamour and great- ness are described in order to express what she has lost on the threshold of her life. Here are the gifts which she received on the eve of the battle from Miloš Obilić, Ko- sančić ivan, and her fiancé Toplica Milan—“the gown with circular ornamentation,” “the gilded ring,” and “the veil of gold.”44 These emblems of splendor and love function as omens of deprivation and devastation and express a trag- ic order of things in which the inner imaginative instincts rebel against the logic of triumphant cruelty. as the poem expresses the devastation of the life of a girl who has hard- ly started to live, the simplest and the most innocent line is perhaps the most disarming summing up of her fate: “and the three warrior Lords went away.”45 We are remind- ed of isidora Sekulić’s remarks on Lady Macbeth’s words after the resolution to kill Duncan: “The ultimate state- ments, the climaxes in poetry must be expressed in a spo- ken phrase, a natural phrase, so to say: a human phrase.”46
This is why such a simple line reflects so richly the con- nection of a personal fate with the total epic landscape of Kosovo. The Kosovo maiden has no possibility of choice or of a commitment proportionate to the approaching di- saster; for her everything ends before anything begins, and the poem comes to rest in the two final simple lines:
Unhappy, if i were to grasp a green pine.
even the green pine would wither.47
in the most moving decasyllabic songs about patriar-
chal family life and relations (“God Leaves No Debt Un- paid,” “Momir the Foundling,” and others) the moral ho- rizons of human life and death are outlined against a back- ground of natural imagery of “slim-topped firs” and “green pines,” “the immortelle and the basil,” “the thorns and the nettles,”48 “leaves of vine” and “withered firs.”49 in a similar way in “The Kosovo Maiden” a major feature of the legend is established by the identification of an unfulfilled love with an historical catastrophe, by the devastation of natu- ral order. The vision of frustrated love in the image of a withered pine expresses an unnatural absurdity and hor-
44 Karadžić, ii, No 51, 11. 83, 104.
45 Karadžić, ii, No 51, 1. 117.
46 isidora Sekulić, “O prevodjenju, o zbirci partizanskih pesama,
o prevodu anice Savić Rebac tih pesama na engleski jezik,” Govor i jezik—Mir i Nemir, Sabrana dela, X, edited by Živorad Stojković (Bel- grade, 1977), 53.
47 Karadžić, ii, No 51, 11. 135–36.
48 Karadžić, ii, No 5, 11. 2, 33, 88, 119.
49 Karadžić, ii, No 30, 11. 14, 380.
The Battle of Kosovo
ror; and, as usual in a tragic climax (as, for instance, when Macbeth tells us that “life is a story told by an idiot”50), an outcry of utter despair implies a protest against what the outcry states or declares. For if it happens that an ever- green withers under the touch of a girl’s hand, then this is against all the laws of nature and against all the expec- tations of humanity. But even when all human conscious- ness is reduced to a sense of misery and damnation, the expression of such an awareness of personal and nation- al fate implies again a tragic serenity, a brighter assump- tion of what life and history could and should be.
“The Kosovo Maiden” is significant because it moves toward its symbolic abyss with innocent epic structures which correspond to the heroine’s naiveté. However, “The Death of the Mother of the jugovići,” although composed in the same mythic setting of national and personal ca- lamity, is different in its poetic composition. To begin with it is the clearest example of tragic structure in Karadžić’s collections of heroic songs because it has absolutely no story, because nothing happens in it until the very end, and because everything has already happened before it starts. it embodies a pure symbolic drama of conscious- ness, given in an interplay of retrospective and dark fore- bodings. it takes place in a world in which human thought fights its lonely battles. This is a world in which there are no points of outer support, so that it puts greater strain on the heroic spirit than any real battlefield. The mother wages her lonely and final battle after all the other battles have been fought and lost; and her devotion and love for her husband and her nine sons are her ultimate enemy which will eventually, literally and metaphorically, break her heart.
Moreover, this battle, in which victory could bring only a greater human disaster, is described with biblical, apoc- alyptic simplicity: everything is unfathomable, but nothing is strange. The poem opens with the mother’s prayer for a pair of “hawk’s eyes” and a pair of “swan’s white wings,”51 which is at the same time a reaching after the impossible and an expression of an elementary outcry for any kind of news about her husband and her sons. The simple way in which the prayer is granted and the miracle takes place cor- responds to the fantastic form of this basic human need:
God granted her prayer,
God gave her the eyes of a hawk
and the white wings of a swan.52
Of course, there is nothing strange in the mother’s care
for her husband and her children, or in the mercy of God which reveals the scene of death and which is analogous to Duke Vladeta’s description of the Battle of Kosovo to Carica Milica. Here again are riderless horses and hawks and battle-lances without their masters. The sounds are deafening:
50 Macbeth, V, 5.
51 Karadžić, ii, No 48, 11.6.7.
52 Karadžić, ii, No 48, 11. 11–13.

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