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Robert Elsie
Albanian Literature

Oral Verse


  Webdesign J. Groß

Songs of the Frontier Warriors

INTRODUCTION  8. Mujo’s Courser 16. Mujo and Jevrenija
 1. Mujo’s Strength  9. Young Omeri 17. Halili Avenges Mujo
 2. Marriage of Mujo 10. Zuku Bajraktar 18. Omer, Son of Mujo
 3. Mujo’s Oras 11. Osmani and Radoica 19. Death of Omer
 4. Mujo Visits the Sultan 12. Ali Bajraktari 20. Ajkuna Mourns Omer
 5. Marriage of Halili 13. Arnaut Osmani 21. Death of Halili
 6. Gjergj Elez Alia 14. Zuku Captures Rusha 22. Mujo Wounded
 7. Mujo and Behuri 15. Mujo’s Wife Kidnapped 23. After Mujo’s Death

Ajkuna Mourns Omer

Mujo tells his wife Ajkuna that their son Omer has been slain and lies buried in the mountains. Ajkuna begins wailing and Mujo expels her harshly from the house. Ajkuna drags herself up to the Green Valleys to visit her son’s grave. There she mourns him, wishing to be buried with him and begging him to come out of his dark grave. The mountain oras take pity on her, calm her down, dry her tears and return her to Jutbina.




















We worship you, oh God Almighty!
For we were nothing ‘til you made us.
The day had dawned, but little light shone,            
The sun came out, no warmth providing,
What was Gjeto Mujo doing?
Twelve companions he took with him
On the road to the Green Valleys,
For the shkjas his son had slaughtered,
Mujo for him started digging,
Dug a grave and made a tombstone,
No one noticed while he dug it
But the zanas who were keening,
But his fellows who were mourning,
But the stones and rocks upon it,
And the beech trees all surrounding.
Well the nightingales did mourn him,
Mujo turned and journeyed homewards.
The mother of the boy inquired:
“Have you found my son, oh Mujo?
Was he slain in the Green Valleys?”
“He was not slain in the Valleys,
He’s just gone to see his uncles.”
To Mujo did she swear, insisting:
“Tell me of my son, oh Mujo!”
The hero then turned to her, saying:
“Bewail him only in the forest,
I’ll tolerate no noise at home here,
For the shkjas your son have slaughtered!
Go and view in the Green Valleys,
There we’ve made the boy a tombstone.”
“What a fate, oh childless mother!”
Said the woman, started screaming,
Mujo swiftly did expel her,
Took the road herself, poor woman,
The cold stars listened to her weeping.
When she got to the Green Valleys
Did she curse the moon above her:
“May your beams of moonlight wither,
For you did not send a message
Call me up to the Green Valleys,
That I bury myself with him.
Perhaps the grave would not have held us,
Perhaps my son would not have let me,
But I’d have dug a grave beside him,
Begging space of the peaks’ beech trees,
Begging space of alpine boulders,
To the black earth I’d fall kneeling:
‘Ample are the mountain pastures,
Give me any space you choose from,
So that I can dig a grave, too.’
They’d have granted what I needed.
Moon, do I now damn and curse you,
How dare you leave me with no dear son?”
When she went to her son’s graveside,
Saw a three-hundred-year-old beech tree,
The beech tree had stretched out its branches,
O’er the grave it spread the fairest,
Well she leaned against the branches,
Tears were dripping on his tombstone.
The mountain birds did stop their singing,
Ceased their song so they could watch her.
“Don’t you know who’s come to see you,
Rise up now, come out and greet me,
Oh, my dear son, mother’s treasure...
Please, oh please, my son, I beg you,
Rise just once from that dark prison,
Speak now to the one who raised you,
Never have you kept me waiting.
The moonbeams have now touched the forest.
The stars now countless in the heavens
Ask the sun, ‘Have you yet seen him?’
‘A beech tree there has blocked my vision.’
Why, oh why did you let him perish?
With black earth your grave’s now covered,
So that no more light can enter.
That you not hear mother mourning,
Cannot see your mother’s teardrops,
Oh, my Omer, mother’s treasure,
Shall I bring to you your courser?
Come on out and frolic with it,
Ride now to the cool spring waters,
Or to the mountains with the zanas,
Your mother here will guard your tombstone,
Oh, my dear son, mother’s treasure.”
The mountain oras could not bear it,
They closed her mouth to stop her wailing,
Calmed her heart down, slowed the beating,
Dried the teardrops on her eyelids,
Wiped them off her face so gently,
And then returned her to Jutbina.

shqip / Albanian


[Sung by Mirash Gjoni of Curraj i Epërm (District of Tropoja). Published in: Visaret e Kombit, vol. II. ed. Bernardin Palaj and Donat Kurti (Tirana 1937), p. 224-226; and Folklor shqiptar II, Epika legjendare (Cikli i kreshnikëve), Vellimi i parë. ed. Qemal Haxhihasani (Tirana 1966), p. 247-249. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie and Janice Mathie-Heck, and first published in English in Songs of the Frontier Warriors (Këngë Kreshnikësh): Albanian Epic Verse in a Bilingual English-Albanian Edition (Wauconda, Illinois: Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers, 2004).]