Page 364 - Kosovo Metohija Heritage
P. 364

Sima M. Ćirković
 at Chenonceau, one of the most beautiful castles
of the Loire Valley, walking down the halls,
one encounters one of the tapestries from the 16th century. The name of the tapestry is Battle of Kosovo.
“The Serbian Tsar Stefan / Drank wine in fertile Prizren, / By him sat the old patriarchs, / Four of them, the old pa- triarchs; / Next to them were nine bishops / And a score of three-tailed vezirs / And the ranks of Serbian nobles / Wine was served by Michael the cupbearer / And on the breast of the sister Kandosia / Shone the light of precious stones ...”
andrić concludes his illustration of this scenery with the following rendition: “The peasants pressed closer and closer around the singer but without making the slightest noise; their very breathing could be heard. They half closed their eyes, carried away with wonder. Thrills ran up and down their spines, their backs straightened up, their breasts expanded, their eyes shone, their fingers opened and shut and their jaw muscles tightened. The Montenegrin devel- oped his melody more and more rapidly, even more beau- tiful and bolder, while the wet and sleepless workmen, car- ried away and insensible to all else, followed the tale as if it were their own more beautiful and more glorious destiny.”
So the folk poet, having invested the complexity of the vision, for which the Kosovo Cycle is famous, goes beyond philosophy and poetry, beyond transient glory and exis- tence. although some critics take the sound of the gusle as the sound of defeat (Stanislav Vinaver), the image and emo- tion of defeat is inadequate to describe the true nobility and heroism of the people’s genius. The folk poet of the Kosovo Cycle does not want a mere earthly triumph. He knows that we win when others win (Nicholas Cabasilas), and de- feat can be justified as wiser than victory.
as the well-known German translator of the Serbian songs, Miss Talvj (Therese von jakob, later Mrs. Robin- son), emphasized: “indeed, what epic popular poetry is, how it is produced and propagated, what powers of inven- tion it naturally exhibits — powers which no art can com- mand — we may learn from this multitude of simple leg- ends and fables. The Serbians stand in this respect quite
isolated; there is no modern nation that can be compared to them in epic productiveness; and a new light seems to be thrown over the grand compositions of the ancients. Thus, without presumption, we may pronounce the publi- cation of these poems one of the most remarkable literary events in modern times.”
Charles Simić wrote that everyone in the West who has known these poems has proclaimed them to be literature of the highest order which ought to be known better. and, of course, there have been many translations since the mid- nineteenth century. except for one or two recent excep- tions, they do not resemble the originals at all. Perhaps the main stumbling block is prosody. The ten-syllable line in Serbian is a mighty force. each syllable is audible and dis- tinct. The trochaic beat sets a fairly regular and steady pace. in the Kosovo Cycle there’s an absolute minimum of ver- bosity and epic posturing. The clarity, the narrative inevi- tability, and the eloquence and poetry of the Kosovo Cycle come through in these translations. if the Serbian heroic ballads are indeed great poetry, as people keep saying, you will get a good taste of that greatness here.
“Poems about Kosovo are a Serbian classic, the one and only,” writes Vasko Popa, and they are true classics of euro- pean epic literature as well.
Mother of Jugović, Ljubinka jovanović, 1953

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