Page 716 - Kosovo Metohija Heritage
P. 716

 Kulučari (Levies) Ivo Andrić
Before twilight, that relentless and implacable Vi- šegrad twilight, when the steep hills seemed to close in over the town and each night fell quickly, as heavy and
deaf as the last, abidaga’s fury rose to its height; and having no one left on whom to vent his wrath, he turned it on him- self and could not sleep for thinking of so much work not being done and so many people malingering and wasting time. He ground his teeth. He summoned the overseers and worked out how, from then on, it would be possible to make better use of the daylight and exploit the workers more ef- fectively.
The Cover Page of the English Editon of The Bridge on the Drina, novel by ivo andrić. andrić is a Sebian Nobel Prize winner for literature in 1961.
fiddle, clumsy and as small as
the palm of a man’s hand, and
a short bow. One of the peas-
ants went outside and mount-
ed guard before the stable lest
some Turk should chance to
come along. All looked at the Montenegrin as if they saw him for the first time and at the gusle which seemed to disappear in his huge hands. He bent over, the gusle in his lap, and pressed its head under his chin, greased the string with resin and breathed heavily on the bow; everything was moist and slack. While he occupied himself with these petty tasks, calmly and self-confidently as if he were alone in the world, they all looked at him without a movement. At last the first notes wailed out, sharp and uneven. The excitement rose. The Montenegrin found the key and be- gan to sing through his nose and accompany himself with the gusle.
Everyone was intent, awaiting the wonderful tale. Then, suddenly, after he had more or less attuned his voice to the gusle, the Montenegrin threw back his head proudly and violently so that his Adam’s apple stood out in his scrawny neck and his sharp profile was outlined in the firelight, and sang in a strangled and constrained voice: A-a-a-a-a- a-a-a- and then all at once in a clear and ringing tone:
The Serbian Tsar Stefan
Drank wine in fertile Prizren,
By him sat the old patriarchs,
Four of them, the old patriarchs;
Next 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...
The peasants pressed closer and closer around the sing- er but without making the slightest noise; their very breath- ing 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 developed his melo- dy more and more rapidly, even more beautiful and bold- er, while the wet and sleepless workmen, carried away and insensible to all else, followed the tale as if it were their own more beautiful and more glorious destiny.
 From the novel On the Bridge on the Drina, 1944
a Herzegovinian sings to the gusle (drawing from 1823). Herzegovinian epic poems were often sung to the accompa- niment of this traditional bowed string instrument.
The people were sleeping in their huts and stables, resting and restoring their forces. But all did not sleep; they too knew how to keep vigil to their own profit and in their own manner. In a dry and spacious stable a fire was burning, or more exactly had been burning, for now only a few embers glowing in the half-lit space remained. The whole stable was filled with smoke and the heavy, sour smell of wet clothes and sandals and the exha- lations of about thirteen human bodies. They were all pressed men, peasants from the neighborhood, Christian rayah. All were muddy and wet through, exhausted and careworn. They resented this un- paid and pointless forced labor while up there in the villages their fields awaited the autumn plough-
ing in vain. The greater number were still awake. They were drying their gaiters by the fire, plaiting sandals or only gazing at the embers. Among them was a certain Montenegrin, no one knew from where, whom the guards had seized on the road and
had pressed for labor for several days, though he kept tell- ing them and proving to them how wearisome and hard this work was for him and how his honor could not en- dure this work for slaves.
Most of the wakeful peasants, especially the younger ones, gathered around him. From the deep pocket of his cloak the Montenegrin drew out a gusle, a tiny primitive

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