Sunbirds.comUnique & Exquisite Russian Art


Search by:






Subscribe to news

Your E-mail

Comes out once a month!

We accept PayPal

We accept PayPal


The Lay of the Campaign of Igor:Igor, Campaign, Lay of, Song of Igor, Polovets

The Beginning of the Song: About Boyan Would it not be fitting, brothers, To begin with ancient words The sorrowful tale of the campaign of Igor, Igor Svyatoslavich. Now let us begin this song In the manner of tale of today, And not according to the notions of Boyan. Now the wizard Boyan, If he wanted to make a song to someone, His thought would range through the trees; It would range like a gray wolf across the land, Like a blue eagle against the clouds. His words would recall the Early years of princely wars: Then he would release then falcons Onto a flock of swans; The first swan to be touched, It would be the first to sing: To old Yaroslav, to brave Mstislav, Who cut down Rededya before the Armies of the Kasogians, To the handsome Roman Svyatoslavich. Now Boyan, brothers, would not Release ten falcons Onto a flock of swans, But his magic fingers would He place on the living strings, And they themselves would Sound forth praises to the princes. This tale from old Vladimir to the present-day Igor, Who armed his thoughts with fortitude And sharpened his heart with manliness, And, filled with the spirit of war, Led his brave troops Against the Polovetsian Land For the Russian Land. O Boyan, you nightingale of olden times! When you trilled the glory of these armies, Darting as a nightingale about the tree of thought, Flying in your mind against the clouds, As you wove a song of glory To days of yore and present days, Loping along the Troyan path, Across the plains and into the mountains. Then the song to Igor, grandson of Oleg, Would go like this: "It is not a storm that carries the falcons across the broad plains; Flocks of ravens flee to the Great Don." Or your song, Wise Boyan, grandson of Veles, Might go like this: "Horses neigh beyond the Sula; Glory rings out in Kiev. Trumpets blare in Novgorod; Banners flutter in Putivl. And Igor awaits his dear brother Vsevolod." And Vsevolod, the Wild Ox, said to him: "My only brother, my only Bright Light, You, Igor, and I are both sons Saddle, brother, your swift steeds, For mine are ready, they are Already saddled at Kursk; And my men of Kursk are skilled warriors; Under trumpets were they swaddled, Under helmets were they cradled, And they were suckled at the end of a spear. They have traveled all the paths, The ravines to them are known. Their bows are drawn tight, And their quivers are open, Their sabers are sharp, And they ride like gray wolves across the plains, Seeking for themselves honor And for their Prince, glory." Then Igor looked up at the bright sun, And saw that from it all his troops Were covered with darkness. And Igor said to his retinue: "O, brothers and friends, It is better to die then be slaves. So brothers, let us mount our swift steeds, And take a look at the Blue Don." Desire to taste the Great Don Flamed within the Prince's heart, And him from him the meaning of the sign. "I wish," he said, "to break My spear with you, O men of Rus,' At the far end of the Polovetsian plain. I shall lay down my head or Drink with my helmet from the Don." Then Prince Igor set his foot in the golden stirrup And rode out into the open plain. The sun barred his way with its darkness; The moaning night awoke the birds With its ominous sounds; There rose the howl of wild beasts; Div screams from the top of a tree, Bidding the Unknown Land be on guard: The Volga, the Pomor'ye, and Posul'ye, and Surozh, and Korsun', And you, Idol of Tmutarakan'! And the Polovetsians by untrod paths Flee to the Great Don; Their carts screech at midnight Like, say, a flock of startled swans. Igor leads his troops towards the Don; Like a mother bird he keeps them from harm; Like wolves they court danger in the ravines, Like eagles screaming over the bones of dead animals; The foxes make their way behind red shields. O Russian Land, you are Already behind the hill! The night was long in falling. Slowly the light of the sunset faded And dark mist covered the plain. The nightingales fell quiet and the call of the ravens was heard. The men of Rus' barred the great plains with their red shields, Seeking honor for themselves, And for their Prince, glory. THE FIRST DAY OF BATTLE A NIGHT OF REST AND ANOTHER BATTLE From early morning of the fifth day, They trampled under foot the army of pagan Polovetsians. And, sowing the field of battle with their arrows, They carried off the beautiful Polovetsian maidens, And with them gold, and silken cloth, And thick red and violet velvet, with ornaments. And with horse cloths, and capes, and cloaks, They began to lay roads Across the swamps, across the muddy places. This they did with all The precious brocades of the Polovetsians. The crimson banner, The white pennon, The crimson horse-tail ensign, And the silver lance: All-to brave Svytoslavich. Oleg's brave nest slumbers In the field; far has it flown! Yet it was not born to suffer wrong From hawk, or from falcon, Or from you, black raven, Pagan Polovetsian! And Czak flees like a gray wolf; Konchak, following him, heads for the Great Don. The second day, very early, The blood-red sky heralds the dawn. And black clouds move in From the sea to cover the Four Suns. And in these clouds the Blue lighting glitters. There will be great thunder And rain will fall like arrows from the Great Don. O Russian Land, you are Already behind the hill! Lo the winds, grandsons of Stribog, Blow as arrows from the sea Against the brave troops of Igor. The Earth hums a warning, The rivers run muddy, And dust covers the fields. The banners speak: The Polovetsians come from the Don, And from the sea, And from all sides They encircle the Russian troops. The devils' sons have sealed off the steppe with their shouts, And the brave Russians have barried it with their red shields. O Wild Ox Vsevolod! You stand ahead of all, Flinging arrows at the enemy, Striking their helmets with your kharalug swords. Wherever, Ox, you gallop, Your golden helmet flashing, There lie pagan Polovetsian heads. Slashed are the Avar helmets By your sabers of cold steel, O Wild Ox Vsevolod! What to such a one are wounds, O brothers, Who thinks not of life, Or of honor, Or of the town of Chernigov, OR of the ways of his Sweet Desire, the Beautiful Glebovna! Gone is the age of Troyan, And passed are the years of Yaroslav. Gone are the wars of Oleg, Oleg Svyatoslavich. Now Oleg forged discord with his sword And sowed arrows throughout the land: He would step into his golden stirrup In the town of Tmutaraken; And Vsevolod, son of Yaroslav old and great, Would hear that sound; And Vladimir each morning Would stop his ears in Chernigov. And the search for glory Led Boris Vsacheslavich, brave and young, To his shame of Oleg! And from that same Kayala Svyatopolk bade them carry his father Between Hungarian pacers, To Saint Sofiya in Kiev. And so it was in the days of Oleg Gorislavich: Civil wars were sown and grew, And in them perished The patrimony of the grandsons of Dazhbog; In the princely wars The lives of men were cut short. And then throughout the Russian Land, Seldom did the plowmen Shout to one another. But often did the crows caw, Dividing among themselves the corpses. And the jackdaws would speak in their own tongue, As they flew out after prey. Thus it was in those battles And in those campaigns, But such a battle as this Had never been heard of before. THE DEFEAT OF THE RUSSIANS AND THE GREAT SORROW OF THE RUSSIANS LAND From early morning unto evening And form evening unto morning The tempered arrows fly. Sabers ring against helmets And kharalug lances crash On an unknown plain Amidst the Polovetsian Land. And the black earth under horses' hooves Was sown with bones, And watered with blood, And from these bones There sprang up sorrow Throughout the Russian Land. What sound do I hear, What rings in my ears, Far away, early, before the dawn? Igor turns back his troops; He fears for his dear brother Vsevolod. They fought for a day, They fought for another, And on the third day, towards noon, Igor's banners fell. Here brothers were parted from one another, On the shore of the swift-running Kayala. And here the blood-red wine ran out, Here the brave Russians finished their feast: Having brought their kin to drunkenness, They themselves lay down For the Russian Land. The grass bows in pity And the trees, in sorrow, Bend to the ground. For now, O brothers, A time of sorrow has come, And desolation covers our troops. Obida has risen up In the army of the grandson of Dazhbog. As a maiden she stepped forth Into the Troyan Land; With her swan's wings She splashed the Blue Sea by the Don. And, splashing, she banished The times that were fat. The wars of the princes Against the heathen Have ended. For brother said to brother: "This is mine, and this too is mine." And the princes began to say of small things: "This is great." And they began, among themselves, Discord to forge. And the heathen, from all directions, Came into the Russian Land in war. O far has the falcon flown, Killing birds, to the sea! But Igor's brave army will not be raised! Lamentation shrieks for it, And Sorrow gallops through the Russian Land, Hurling fire at the people from flaming horns. THE TALE OF THE CAMPAIGN OF IGOR And the Russian women, saying: "Now we cannot think of our dear husbands with our thoughts, Or dwell on them in our minds, Or gaze on them with our eyes. And gold and silver we shall never wear again." And Kiev, brothers, groaned in its sorrow, And Chernigov in its misfortune. Sadness flooded the Russian Land, Heavy sorrow flowed in the Russian Land. But the princes continued to sow discord among themselves, And the pagans roamed the Russian Land in war, Taking as tribute from each cottage A squirrel's skin. And so the two brave sons of Svyatoslav, Igor and Vsevolod, by their willfulness Awakened the evil that their father Svyatoslav, The awesome Grand Prince of Kiev, Had lulled by his might. He flailed with his mighty armies and kharalug swords. He invaded the Polovetsian Land, He trampled level the hills and ravines, He muddied the rivers and lakes, He dried up the streams and swamps. Like a whirlwind he plucked the pagan Kobyak From the midst of his great iron armies At the bend in the sea. And he was brought to Kiev city. To the Hall of Svyatoslav's Retainers. Then the Germans and the Venetians, The Greeks and the Moravians Sang the praises of Svyatoslav. Now, though pitying him, They condemn Prince Igor: For he sank his wealth To the depths of the Kayala, the Polovetsian river, Pouring into it the gold of Russia. Now Prince Igor has given up his golden saddle For the saddle of a slave. The walls of the cities have despaired And gaiety languishes. THE DREAM OF SVYATOSLAV AND HIS TALK WITH THE BOYARS And Svyatoslav had a troubled dream In Kiev, on the hills. "On the evening of that night They clothed me," he said, "In back shroud, on my cedar bed. They poured me blue wine mingled with bitterness. From empty Polovetsian quivers They sprinkled great pearls upon my breast, And they treated me tenderly. "And across the golden ceiling of my tower chamber There is no ridge-beam. And from evening through all the night, Grey crows cawed There at Plenksk, along the river, Where used to be the Kiyan thickets, And then they flew off to the Blue Sea." And the boyars said to the Prince: "Grief has taken your mind prisoner, O Prince. Lo, the two falcons have flown From the golden throne of their father To seek for themselves the city of Tmutarakan', Or drink with their helmets from the Don. "But the falcons' wings Have been brought to the ground By the swords of the pagans, And the falcons themselves Are bound in bonds of steel. "Now it was dark on the third day: The two Suns grew dim, Both crimson pillars burnt out, And with them the two young Moons, Oleg and Svyatoslav, Were clouded over with darkness And sank into the sea, And emboldened the men of Khinova. "On the river Kayala Darkness shrouded the light. And the Polovetsians spread across the Russian Land Like a brood of leopards. "Now shame has replaced glory And thundering violence has stunned freedom; Div has plunged to earth. And, lo, the beautiful Gothic maidens Are singing on the shore of the Blue Sea: Jingling their ornaments of Russian gold, They sing the praises of the days of Bus, And nurse the revenge of Sharukan. "But we, the retinue, In vain do we seek joy." THE GOLDEN WORD OF SVYATOSLAV AND HIS APPEALS FOR PRINCELY UNITY Then the Great Svyatoslav Spoke a golden word, Mixed with tears, and said: "O my sons, Igor and Vsevolod! Too soon dead you torment the Polovetsian Land with your swords To seek glory for yourselves. But with no glory to yourselves Did you gain victory; With no glory to yourselves Did you spill the blood of the pagans. "Your brave hearts were forged from strong steel And tempered in daring. But what have you done to my silver-gray hair! "And I do not see the armies Of my rich and mighty brother Yaroslav, With his multitude of warriors: With his Chernigov boyars, And with his commanders, And with his Tatrans, And his Shelbirs, And his Topchaks, And his Revugs, And his Olbers. They without shields, And with their daggers only, With a shout do overcome whole armies, Ringing out the glory of their fathers. "But you said: 'Let us take heart among ourselves. The glory of the past we too shall seize, And the glory of the future we shall share. "And is it indeed a marvel, brothers, For an old man to become young again! When the falcon loses his feathers He drives high the other birds, And does not permit his nest to suffer wrong. But this is the evil: The princes give me no aid; The times are turned inside out." Lo, in Rimov, they cry out Under Polovetsian sabers, And Vladimir from his wounds. Sorrow and anguish to the son of Gleb! O Grand Prince Vsevolod! Have you not thought to fly from afar, To guard the Golden Throne of your fathers? For you can splash the Volga with your oars And lade the Don with your helmets. Had you been there, then Would a female slave sell at a nogata And a male at a rezana. Across the dry land You can hurl living spears: the daring sons of Gleb! You, wild Ryurik and David! Is it not your brave warriors Who, wounded by tempered sabers, Scream like wild oxen on an unknown plain! Step then, lords, into your golden stirrups, For the wrong of our times, For the Russian Land, For the wounds of Igor, the wild son of Svyatoslav! Prince Yaroslav Osmomysl of Galich! High do you sit on your gold-bossed throne. You propped the Hungarian mountains With your iron armies, Barring the path to the king, Blocking the Danube gates, Hurling supplies across the clouds, Meting justice unto the Danube. Fear of you might flows throughout the lands. You force the gates of Kiev, And from the Golden Throne of your fathers You shoot at the sultan in a distant land. So, lord, shoot at Konchak, the pagan slave, For the Russian Land, For the wounds of Igor, the wild son of Svyatoslav! And you, wild Roman, an Mstislav! Bold thoughts drive your minds to brave deeds. High do you soar to these daring exploits, Like a falcon sailing the winds: But you would surpass the falcon In your daring. For you have stout lads or iron Under helmets of Latin steel: THE TALE OF CAMPAIGN OF IGOR The earth shook because of them, And many lands Khinova, Lithuania, The Yatvyagi, the Deremela, And the Polovetsians Threw down their spears And bowed their heads, Under your kharalug swords. But, O Prince, For Igor the sun's light has dimmed And the trees, to no good, Have dropped their leaves. Along the Ros, Along the Sula, The towns have been portioned; But Igor's brave army will not be raised. The Don calls you, O Prince, And summons the princes to war; For the sons of Oleg, Brave princes, Have already done battle. Ingvar and Vsevolod and all three sons of Mstislav: Six-winged ones of a not bad nest! Did you not gain your lands By the fortunes of war? Then where now are your golden helmets, And your Polish spears and shields? Guard the gates of the plains With your sharp arrows, For the Russian Land, For the wounds of Igor, the wild son of Svyatoslav! For now the Sula no longer flows With its streams of gold For the city of Pereyaslavl; And the Dvina flows as a swamp, To those dread men of Polotsk, To the shouts of the pagans. Alone did Izyalav, the son of Vasil'ko, Ring his sharp swords against the helmets of the Lithuanians, Smiting the glory of his grandfather Vseslav, But was himself, on the bloodstained grass, under his red shields, Smote by Lithuanian swords. And, with his beloved on his couch beside him, He said: "The birds, O Prince, have softly covered Your retinue with their feathers, And wild beasts have licked their blood." And his brother Bryachislav was not there, Nor was the other, Vsevolod. Alone did he give up his pearly soul from his brave body, Through his neckpiece of gold. Voices are saddened, Mirth is wilted, Trumpets do not blare in Goroden. O Yaroslav, and all the grandsons of Vseslav! Lower your banners, THE TALE OF THE CAMPAIGN OF IGOR Put away your blunted swords! For you have already fallen from the glory of your grandfathers! For with your sedition you began to bring The pagans into the Russian Land, the patrimony of Vseslav. In your discord violence came from the Polovetsian Land! THE SONG OF VSESLAV In the seventh age of Troyan, Vseslav cast lots for his beloved maiden. Sustained by slyness he saddled maiden. And galloped to Kiev city, And with his spear touched the Golden Throne of Kiev. But he galloped away from Belgrad As a wild beast, at midnight, Shrouded in blue mist. He snatched success on the third try, And forced the gates of Novgorod, Shattering the glory of Yaroslav. And he raced as a wolf, From Dudutki to the Nemiga. On the Nemiga They scattered heads like sheaves of grain, And threshed them with kharalug flails; On the threshing floor they placed men's lives, And winnowed their souls from their bodies. On the bloody shores of the Nemiga On the bloody shores of the Nemiga The sowing was to no good: They sowed the bones of Russian sons. Prince Vseslav judged the people, And gave out cities to the princes; But at night he loped like a wolf: From Kiev he loped to Tmutarakan', Arriving before the cock crowed, Cutting the path of the mighty Khors. The bells of morning service rang for him in Polotsk, Early, in Saint Sofiya, And in Kiev he heard the sound. Though his wizard's soul was in a brave body, Yet often did he suffer misfortune. The wizard Boyan long ago sang of him wisely: "Not the clever one, Nor the skillful one, Nor skillful bird, Shall escape the judgment of God." O moan, Russian Land! Recalling the earlier years And the first princes! One could not nail old Vladimir to the hills of Kiev! But of his banners, Some are Ryurik's, others are David's; But their banners flutter apart, And their spears sing. THE LAMENT OF YAROSLAVNA The voice of Yaroslavna is heard on the Danube: An unseen cuckoo, she sings at dawn: THE TALE OF THE CAMPAIGN OF IGOR "I shall fly," she says, "As a cuckoo, along the Danube. I shall wash my sleeves of beaver In the river Kayala. I shall cleanse the bleeding wounds On the mighty body of my prince." Yaroslavna weeps at dawn On the walls of Purivl', saying: "O Wind, O Sailing Wind! Why, O Lord, do you blow so strongly! Why do you drive the arrows of Khinova On your peaceful wings Against the troops of my Beloved! Is it not enough for you, Flying on high beneath the clouds, To rock the ships upon the Blue Sea! Why then, O Lord, did you scatter My happiness about the feather-grass!" Yaroslavna weeps at dawn On the walls of Purivl' city saying: "O Dnepr, Son of Renown! You cut through the mountains of stone, Through the Polovetsian Land! You cradled the long boats of Svyatoslav Till they reached the army of Kobyak. Then cradle, O Lord, my Beloved to me, That I may not soon send my tears to him, To the Sea." Yaroslavna weeps at dawn On the walls of Purivl' city, saying: "O Bright and Thrice-Bright Sun! For all you are warm and beautiful! Then why, O Lord, did you send Your hot rays onto the troops Of my Beloved! On the waterless plain, Why did you warp their bows with thirst And close their quivers with sorrow!" Igor's Escape The sea tosses at midnight, The whirlwind comes in clouds. And God shows Prince Igor the way From the Russian Land, To the Golden Throne of his fathers. The dusk of evening is gone: Igor sleeps, Igor wakes, Igor, in his thoughts, measures the plain From the Great Don to the Little Donates. And Ovlur whistled beyond the river for a horse, Warning the prince: "Prince Igor should not delay!" Ovlur shouted, the earth shook, The grass quivered, and Polovetsian tents began to move. And Prince Igor sped as an ermine to the rushes, Like a white duck to the water. He leapt on the swift horse And leapt from it, like a gray wolf. And he fled toward the bend of the Donets; He flew like a falcon through the mists, Killing geese and swans morning, noon and night. If Igor flew like a falcon, Then Ovlue ran like a wolf, Shaking from himself the cold dew. And both harrowed their swift horses. And the Donets said: " O Prince Igor! Great is your praise, And great is the chagrin of Konchak And the joy of the Russian Land! And Igor said: "O Donets! Great is your praise, Who cradled a prince on your waves, Spreading our green grass for him On your silver shores; Clothing him with warm mists In the shadow of a green tree. You watched over him As golden-eyes on your waters, As sea gulls on your waves, As black ducks on your winds." "Not like this," he said, "Was the river Stugna with its shallow flow, Devouring foreign streams and currents, And widening toward its mouth. It core away Prince Rostislav And imprisoned him in the depths, Near the dark shore. Rostislav's mother wept For the youth, Prince Rostislav. The flowers were despondent in pity, And the trees, in sadness, bent to the ground." It is not magpies that chatter! It is Gzak and Konchak who pursue Igor! Now the crows do not caw, The jackdaws are silent, And the magpies do not chatter. Only the snakes slither. The woodpeckers, with their river, And the nightingales tell of the dawn with happy songs. Gzak speaks to Konchak: "If the falcon flies to his nest, Let us shoot the little falcon With a beautiful maiden." And Gzak says to Konchak: "If we entangle him with a beautiful maiden, We will have neither the little falcon Nor the beautiful maiden; And the birds will make war against us On the Polovetsian Plain." FINAL PRAISE FOR IGOR AND HIS MEN Boyan and Khodyna, Svyatoslav's songmakers From the olden times of Yaroslav, And favorites of Oleg, said" "It is difficult for the head to be without shoulders And the body to be without a head." So is it for the Russian Land without Igor. The sun shines in the sky! Prince Igor is in the Russian Land! Maidens sing on the Danube, And their voices waft across the sea to Kiev. Igor rides up the Borichev Slope To the Holy Mother of God Pirogozhchey. The lands are happy, The cities are gay. Having sung a song to the old princes, Then to the young ones, sing: "Glory to Igor Svyatoslavich, To Wild Ox Vsevolod, THE TALE OF THE CAMPAIGN OF IGOR And to Vladimir Igorevich! Health to the princes And to their retinues, Who fight for Christians Against the armies of the pagans! Glory to the princes and their retinues!" Amen.