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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

The Death of Halili

Arnaut Osmani deceives Halili by telling him that the shkjas have murdered Mujo. Halili sets off to take revenge and kills three hundred shkja warriors before he himself is slain by Zadrani of Tetova. When Mujo returns from the mountain and learns that his brother is off fighting, he follows him and comes across Halili’s corpse. He pursues Zadrani, and the two warriors struggle with one another for three days of hand-to-hand combat. When he is about to be defeated, Mujo cries in Turkish to the zanas, who tell him of a poison dagger in his pocket. With the dagger, Mujo manages at last to slay Zadrani.

























Gathered Agas of Jutbina
In a crowd, three hundred fighters,
Halili slept and Mujo told them:
“When Halili finally wakes up,
Don’t reveal where Mujo’s gone to,
I’m off to the mountain pastures.”
What of Arnaut Osmani?
With a kick he woke Halili,
“Rise, Halili, now or never,
Mujo went to the Green Valleys,
Mujo there began a battle,
And the shkjas have slaughtered Mujo.”
To his feet now swiftly rising,
Halili jumped onto his courser,
The hero left for the Green Valleys,
Joined the fighting and did skirmish,
Three hundred shkjas did he encircle,
Three hundred shkjas the lad did slaughter,
Through the blood his courser waded.
When Halili ventured further,
He met Zadrani of Tetova,
Zadrani said then to Halili:
“Stop and tremble, damned Halili,
You’ve slain my two cousins fighting.”
Halili answered thus Zadrani:
“And you’ve slain Gjeto Basho Mujo.”
An oath by God did swear Zadrani:
“Mujo’s not in the Green Valleys.
Return, Halili, go no further,
I’ve a rifle to give warning,
You’ll die, should I aim it at you.”
Halili rode forth on his courser,
Zadrani turned on him the rifle,
And hit him in his belt of leather.
To the ground the lad fell lifeless.
What did Zadrani of Tetova?
A white shroud did he cast upon him,
And in the shade he laid the body,
With head and legs in proper order,
In loud lament did he bewail him:
“Woe to me and Sokol Halili!
How will I escape from Mujo?”
Mujo returned to his companions,
What said Arnaut Osmani
Who despised and hated Mujo?
“Damn you, Mujo, where’ve you gone now?
Halili’s left for the Green Valleys.”
For the Green Valleys set off Mujo,
Through the blood his courser waded.
Mujo met up with Halili,
“Get up now, Halili, damn you,
You’re giving a bad example,
Sleeping while the battle rages.”
He placed his hand upon Halili,
At once his hand in blood was covered,
Then he looked into his field glass,
Saw Zadrani of Tetova,
And in his rage and fury shouted:
“It’s easy work to beat up children,
But now try Gjeto Basho Mujo!”
Mujo rode towards Zadrani,
Leaving smoke and dust behind him,
“Wait, shkja!” he said to Zadrani,
“Go back, Mujo, or God damn you,
It’s not my fault Halili perished.”
“Zadrani, by the God who made me,
You’ll not escape from me alive now.”
“By the God who made me, Mujo,
If you come up any further,
I have a rifle to give warning,
Even crooked, it will get you!”
Mujo rode forth on his courser,
Zadrani turned on him the rifle,
And hit him in his belt of leather.
Mujo fell not from his courser,
Turned on Zadrani his rifle,
And hit him in his belt of leather.
Both the fighters did survive and
Grasped the throats of one another,
For three days and nights they struggled,
Mujo’d almost been defeated,
Zadrani threw him to the ground now,
Mujo uttered to Zadrani:
“May I say three words in Turkish?”
“Speak as you wish, Gjeto Basho Mujo”
To the cliff-dwelling zanas he cried out:
“Oh, Blessed of the Night, where are you?
You have been for me blood sisters.
Every time I was in danger,
Did you give me your assistance,
Zadrani now my soul is seizing!”
The zanas shouted from the cliff top:
“Put your hand into your pocket,
There you’ll find a poison dagger,
Thrust it right into his rib cage,
And Zadrani then will perish.”
He put his hand into his pocket,
From it pulled a poison dagger,
Thrust it to Zadrani’s rib cage,
And on Mujo did he perish.
Mujo could not roll him off,
So heavy was Zadrani’s body,
To the cliff-dwelling zanas he cried out:
“Zadrani’s weight is suffocating,
I can’t get the body off me,
Under him my soul is leaving.”
Off in flight set out three zanas                     
And rolled Zadrani off of Mujo,
Mujo slit the body open,
Found three serpents in its stomach,
Two were sleeping, one awakened,
“What misfortune!” cried out Mujo,  
“Had I known of your true nature,
I’d forgive you for Halili,
And we’d reign o’er Turk and Christian.”

shqip / Albanian


[Sung by Shan Zefi of Curraj i Epërm (District of Tropoja). Published in: Visaret e Kombit, vol. II. ed. Bernardin Palaj and Donat Kurti (Tirana 1937), p. 227-230; and Folklor shqiptar II, Epika legjendare (Cikli i kreshnikëve), Vellimi i parë. ed. Qemal Haxhihasani (Tirana 1966), p. 250-252. 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).]