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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

After Mujo’s Death

Mujo is stricken by pain in the mountains. Before dying, he tells Halili not to reveal to anyone that he has perished. Otherwise the shkjas would invade and take over the country. A sea baloz, however, informs the Slavic king of Mujo’s death and goes in search of the hero’s grave. Finding it, the baloz tears out the stake and pounds the grave with it. Taunted by the baloz, Mujo endeavours to rise from the grave but is impeded by the boards of the coffin. A bird informs Halili of the events. He sets off on his courser, slays the baloz and unearths Mujo, whom the zanas have brought back to life. The two heroes return safely to Jutbina to continue their lives of daring-do.


















The heroes Mujo and Halili
When alive, went to the mountains,
Mujo with great pain was stricken,
And he cried out to Halili:
“I am in great pain, oh brother,
On my legs I cannot stand up,
I must leave this life, Halili,
You must dig a wide grave for me,
In the grave then place my body,
And thereafter when you come home,
Tell no one that Mujo’s perished,
For if the Kingdom hears I’ve fallen,
They’ll not let you keep the country.”
Mujo perished on the spot there,
In a grave Halili put him,
The lad then went back to his household.
Seven days and nights did slip by,
Seven years did run their course, too,
No one knew of Mujo’s passing.
When people asked, Halili answered:
“Mujo’s off with his companions,
The young Agas have lost their valour,
No one speaks more of adventure,
The shkjas’ve begun to raise their heads now.”
Thus he spoke till the zanas asked him:
“Shall we go and search for Mujo?
For seven years have we not seen him,
And given to him our assistance.”
From the ocean rose a baloz,
To the king it paid a visit,
To the king the baloz uttered:
“Mujo is a clever bastard,
He died up in the mountain pastures,
And there requested of Halili
Not to tell a soul about him.
I’ll go now and find his tombstone.”
The baloz set off for the mountains,
Full three days and nights it spent there,
Searching for the grave, and found it,
From the grave he ripped the stake out,
Seized it, whacked the whole grave with it,
“Rise, Turk, face me in a duel.
You’ll renege your Muslim tenets
Or from the grave I’ll dig your bones out.”
Mujo tried to rise and face him,
But the coffin did impede him,
Then he heard a cuckoo singing,
Said to it: “I beg you, cuckoo,
Go and tell Sokol Halili,
From the ocean’s come a baloz,
Who forayed and found my tombstone,
From the grave he’s ripped the stake out,
Saying: rise, ‘Turk, face a duel,
From the grave I’ll dig your bones out,
Or you’ll renege on Muslim tenets.’”
On its flight set off the cuckoo,
Landing in Halili’s garden,
Halili gripped his gun to shoot it,
Till the cuckoo spoke out, saying:
“Do not shoot me, oh Halili,
For it’s Mujo who has sent me,
Of his sad news did he tell me
That from the sea has come a baloz,
And from the grave he’s ripped the stake out.”
Halili hearkened to the cuckoo,
Swiftly did he mount his courser,
Set off for the grave of Mujo,
Leaving smoke and dust behind him,
Struck the baloz with his sabre,
The monster’s head to earth did hurtle.
He uncovered Mujo’s grave and
Lo! The hero sat cross-legged!
The zanas had awakened Mujo,
They were worried for the hero,
For his body had been rotting.
Halili gave his hand to Mujo,
Grabbed the hero from his grave and
Mounted with him on the courser.
Safe and sound they reached Jutbina,
Full many a deed did they accomplish.

shqip / Albanian


[Sung by Dedë Zefi of Curraj i Epërm (District of Tropoja). Published in: Visaret e Kombit, vol. II. ed. Bernardin Palaj and Donat Kurti (Tirana 1937), p. 234-236; and Folklor shqiptar II, Epika legjendare (Cikli i kreshnikëve), Vellimi i parë. ed. Qemal Haxhihasani (Tirana 1966), p. 255-256. 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).]