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THE LAY OF IGOR'S RAID


I. INVOCATION

Might it not behove us, brethren, to commence in ancient strains the stern lay of Igor's campaign, Igor, son of Sviatoslav?

Then let this begin according to the events of our time and not according to the cunning of Boyan. For he, Boyan the Seer, when composing a song to someone, soared in his thoughts over the tree (of wisdom), ran as agrey wolf over the land, flew below the clouds as a blue-grey eagle.

When he recalled the feuds of former times he would let loose ten falcons upon a flock of swans. And the first swan overtaken was the first to sing a song to old Iaroslav, to brave Mstislav, who slew Rededia before the Kasog regiments, and to handsome Roman, son of Sviatoslav.

Boyan, however, did not let loose ten falcons upon the flock of swans. But rather he lay his wise fingers upon the living strings and they sounded lauds to the princes. Let us begin this narration, brethren, from the old times of Vladimir to this present time of lgor, who strengthened his mind with courage, who quickened his heart with valour and, thus imbued with martial spirit, led his valiant regiments against the Kuman land in defence of the Russian land

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II. PRINCE IGOR PREPARES HIS CAMPAIGN.

lgor looked up at the bright sun, and saw that all his warriors became enveloped in darkness. And Igor spoke to his army:

"Brethren and warriors! it is better to be killed in battle, than to become a captive. Let us mount our swift steeds, brethren! Let us view the blue river Don."

And the prince's mind was seized by ambition. And the desire to drink from the great river Don concealed the evil omens from him. And he spoke:

"I want to break a lance at the Kuman frontier. I want, oh, my Russians, either to drink with you Don (water) from my helmet, or to leave my head there.

Oh, Boyan, the nightingale of yore! If you were to sing the glory of the (Russian) campaign, like a nightingale would you soar over the tree (of wisdom), soaring in your mind up under the clouds and singing the glory of both these ages. You would race along the trail of Trojan, over the prairies and the mountains. And the god Veles' grandson would sing Igor's song (thus),

"It is not a storm that has driven the falcons over the wide prairies. It is a flock of jackdaws racing toward the great river Don."

Or you, Boyan the Seer, grandson of god Veles, would sing:

"Steeds neigh beyond the river Sula. Glory resounds in the city of Kiev. Trumpets blare in the city of Novgorod. Banners fly over the city of Putivl."

lgor awaits his dear brother, Vsevolod. This fierce auroch, Vsevolod, (comes to him and) speaks:

"My only brother, lgor, you are my only bright light. We are both the sons of Sviatoslav. Brother, order the saddling of your swift steeds, as my (swift steeds) are ready. They were already saddled at the city of Kursk. And my men of Kursk are famed as warriors. They were swaddled under trumpets. They were brought up under helmets. They were fed at lance point. The roads are known to them. The ravines are familiar to them. Their bows are taut, their quivers are open, their sabres have been sharpened. They race into the prairie like grey wolves, seeking honour for themselves and glory for their prince."

III. THE OMENS.

Then Prince Igor set his foot in the golden stirrup and rode into the open prairie. The sun barred his way with darkness and night, moaning with tempest, awoke the birds. The whistling of the beasts arose. And the Div arose and from the treetops it cried, enjoining unknown lands to listen: the land of the Volga, the land on the Azov Sea, the land at the river Sula, is the city of Surozh, the city of Kherson, and you, the idol of the city of Tmutorakan. The Kumans hastened by untrodden ways to the great river Don. Their carts squeak at midnight, one may say, as dispersed swans. lgor leads his warriors to the river Don. The birds in the forests of oak portend his misfortune. The wolves conjure the tempest in the ravines. The screeching eagles call the beasts to the feast of bones. Foxes bark at crimson shields. O! Russian land! You are already far beyond the hills.

IV. THE FIRST DAY OF BATTLE: THE RUSSIANS ARE VICTORIOUS.

Evening was fading late into the night. Finally the glow of dawn faded. Mist enveloped the prairie. The song of the nightingale had died out. The daws have begun to caw. Russian warriors barred the wide prairie with their crimson shields. They seek honour for themselves and glory for their prince. Early in the morning of Friday the Russians trampled the infidel Kuman armies, and, spreading like arrows over the prairie, they galloped away with beautiful Kuman maidens. And with them they took: gold and brocades, and costly velvets. With cloaks and coats and fur mantles and with all kinds of Kuman garments they began to bridge their way over the swarnps and marshes. The crimson banner, the white gonfalon, the scarlet panache, and the silver lance were taken to brave Igor, son of Sviatoslav. Brave Oleg's clan slumbers in the prairie. They have strayed far, flying. They were born to be offended neither by the falcon, nor by the gyrfalcon, nor by you, the black ravens, the infidel Kumans. Khan Gza flees like a grey wolf. Khan Konchak shows him the way to the great river Don.

V. THE SECOND DAY OF BATTLE: THE VICT0RY OF THE KUMANS.

Very early on the second morn bloody dawn announced the day. Black clouds arise from the sea and want to envelop the four suns. Blue lightning shows through the clouds. There is to be a mighty thundering. The rain of arrows will come from the great river Don. Here, on the river Kaiala, here, on the great river Don, lances will be broken and swords will be dulled on Kuman helmets. O Russian land! You are already far beyond the hills.

Here the winds, grandsons of god Stribog, blow the arrows from the sea against the regiments of brave Igor. The earth groans. the rivers become turbid. Dust covers the prairie. The pennants announce:

"The Kumans have come from the river Don and from the sea. They encircle the Russian regiments from all sides."

The devil's children bar the prairie with their battle cries. The brave Russians bar it with their crimson shields. Fierce auroch Vsevolod! Your defence is firm, Your arrows rain down upon Kuman warriors. Your Frankish swords clang on Kuman helmets. Where you, fierce auroch, gallop gleaming in your golden helmet, there will lie the heads of infidel Kumans. There Avar helmets are cloven at your hands, fierce auroch Vsevolod. What wound can matter, brethren, to one who has forgotten honours and fortune, and his father's golden throne in the city of Chernigov, and the habits and ways of his dearly beloved and beautiful wife, the daughter of Prince Gleb?

VI. CENSURE OF THE PRINCES' FEUDS

There were the eras of Trojan. There passed the years of Iaroslav. And there were the campaigns of Oleg, Oleg, son of Sviatoslav. That Oleg fostered feuds with his sword and sowed the Russian lands with arrows. In the city of Tmutorakan he used to put his foot in the golden stirrup and its clinking could be heard by great Iaroslav, who lived long ago. And Prince Vladimir, son of Vsevolod, would stop his ears in the city of Chernigov. And the dubious glory of Prince Boris, son of Viacheslav, brought him to his final judgment, and he remained in eternal sleep on a burial shroud of green grass for offending brave and young Prince Oleg.

On the river Kaiala Sviatopolk ordered that his father be taken between two ambling Hungarian horses to be buried in the Cathedral of St. Sofiia in Kiev. Then, in the era of Oleg, son of misfortune, the feuding spread and grew. The fortune of god Dazhbog's grandson was destroyed. Human lives became shortened through the princes' discord. In those days the ploughman spoke but rarely, and the ravens often cawed, dividing corpses among themselves. And the daws talked in their own tongue, before flying to feed on corpses.

VII. THE RUSSIAN DEFEAT

And so it used to be. There were battles and campaigns, but there had never been such battle as this. From early morning to night, from evening to dawn there flew tempered arrows, swords rained down upon helmets, Frankish lances resound, and all this in the unknown prairie, in the Kuman land. The black earth under the hooves was strewn with bones, was covered with blood. Grief overwhelmed the Russian land.

What noise do I hear? What clinking comes to my ears so early in the morning, before the dawn? Igor turns about his troops. He is saddened by the fate of his brother, Vsevolod. They fought for one day. They fought for another day. At noon on the third day Igor's banners fell. Here, on the shores of the swift river Kaiala, the brothers parted. The wine of this bloody banquet was drunk to the last. The Russians gave their guests to drink from the same cup. They died for the Russian land. The grass withered from sorrow, and the saddened trees drooped earthward.

VIII. THE AUTHOR'S LAMENTS

And now, brethren, unhappy times have arrived. The prairie overwhelmed the Russian forces. Grief reigned over the forces of god Dazhbog's grandsons. Grief, like a maiden, entered the land of Trojan. She splashed her swan wings at the river Don, by the blue sea, and splashing, she put an end to the times of good fortune. The princes' fight against the infidel came to an end. And brother said to brother:

"This is mine, and that also is mine."

And the princes began to argue about trifles, calling them important matters, and began to create discord among themselves. The infidels from all lands began to invade the Russian land and to win victory. Oh, too far toward the sea has the falcon flown, slaying birds! And lgor's valiant regiments cannot be resurrected! He is mourned by Grief and Sorrow, and they spread across the Russian land. Shaking the embers in the flaming horn, the Russian women begin to lament, saying:

"No more, our dear husbands, can you be envisioned in our thoughts,nor can you reappear in our dreams, nor can you be seen with our eyes, and never again shall we jingle gold and silver"

And, brethren, the city of Kiev began to groan from grief, and the city of Chemigov also, from their misfortune. Anguish spread over the Russian land. Deep sadness flew through the Russian land. And the princes created discord among themselves. The infidels, victoriously invading the Russian land, levied a tribute of one vair from each household.

All this happened because Igor and Vsevolod, two valiant sons of Sviatoslay, once more revived evil forces which were curbed by their cousin, (another) Prince Sviatoslav. This stern prince of Kiev held (everyone) in fear and awe, for, as a tempest, his powerful regiments and his Frankish swords defeated and attacked the Kuman lands. They trampled under Kuman hills and ravines, made turbid Kuman rivers and lakes, dried out Kuman streams and marshes. Like a tornado, he seized Khan Kobiak from amongst his great iron regiments on the shore of the sea bay. And Kobiak fell in the city of Kiev, in the hall of Prince Sviatoslav. Now the Germans and the Venetians, the Greeks and the Moravians sing the glory of Prince Sviatoslav and reproach Prince Igor, who has lost his fortune on the bottom of the river Kaiala and filled the Kuman rivers with Russian gold. And here Prince Igor exchanged his golden saddle of a prince for the saddle of a slave. And the cities became saddened and joy vanished.

IX. THE DREAM OF PRINCE SVIATOSLAV OF KIEV

Sviatoslav had a troubled dream in Kiev, on the hills:

"Early this night I was clothed in a black shroud upon a bed of yew. They ladled out for me a blue wine mixed with sorrow. From the empty quivers of the infidel strangers there poured large pearls into my lap. They comforted me. And the beams of my gold-roofed palace were already without girding. During the entire night, since evening, the gray-blue ravens were croaking. And at the foothills of the city of Plesensk appeared a sledge, and this sledge was racing to the blue sea."

And the boyars told the prince:

"O Prince, sorrow has seized your mind. There were two falcons who flew From their father's golden throne, either to conquer the city of Tmutorakan or to drink the water of the river Don with their helmets. But their wings were clipped by the sabers of the infidels, and they themselves were put in irons. It became dark on the third day. The two suns were eclipsed. Two purple columns faded into the sea. Two young moons-Oleg and Sviatoslav became enveloped in darkness. On the river Kaiala darkness overcame the light, and the Kumans, like a brood of panthers, spread across the Russian land. And great violence came from the nomads. Already shame has eclipsed glory. Already violence has defeated freedom. Already the Div has descended to earth. And now beautiful Gothic maidens have begun their song on the shore of the blue sea. They jingle Russian gold. They sing of the foreboding time. They glorify the revenge of Sharokan. And we, the army, are without joy."

And then great Sviatoslav let fall his golden words mixed with tears, saying:

"Oh, my young cousins, lgor and Vsevolod, too early did you begin to disturb the Kuman lands with your swords, seeking glory, but you won it without honour, for you spilled the blood of the infidels without winning glory for yourselves. Your valiant hearts are forged of Frankish steel and are tempered in valour. What have you done to my silver-grey hairs? No longer do I behold my powerful and wealthy, and well-girded brother, Iaroslav of Chernigov, nor his lords. With his Moguts and Tatrans, with his Shelbirs and Topchaks, with his Revugas and Olbers. They used to defeat the regiments (of the infidels), and without shields, only with their knives and ancestors' war cries. But you said:

'Let us be valiant. Let us assume the glory of the past. Let us divide amongst ourselves the glory of tomorrow.'

What is there to wonder, brethren, when an old man feels like a young one? When a falcon moults, he chases birds high and away and does not permit harm to come to his nest. But there is great misfortune, and the Russian princes are no help to me."

X. THE BARD APPEALS TO THE RUSSIAN PRINCES

APPEAL TO VLADIMIR, SON OF GLEB

Gloomy times have arrived. The Russians cry out at the city of Rim under the Kuman swords. Prince Vladimir is covered with wounds. Grief and sorrow to you Vladimir, son of Gleb.

THE APPEAL TO PRINCE IAROSLAV OF GALICH

O Iaroslav of Galich, the prince of eight senses! You sit high on your throne wrought of gold. Your iron regiments defend the Hungarian mountains. You bar the way to the (Hungarian) king. You close the gates of the river Danube. You hurl stones over the clouds. Your law reigns up to the river Danube. Your thunder resounds above the lands, You keep the gates of Kiev open. From your father's golden throne you shoot at the sultans beyond the (Russian) lands. Lord, shoot at Konchak, the infidel slave, for the revenge of the Russian land, for the wounds of Igor, the wounds of the valiant son of Sviatoslav.

THE APPEAL TO PRINCES ROMAN OF VOLYN, AND MSTISLAV OF GRODNO

And you, daring Roman and Mstislav, your courageous thoughts direct your minds to action. In your bravery you soar to valiant deeds, like a falcon over the winds, which desires, in its daring, to surpass the bird. Your iron men are under Latin helmets and they make the earth tremble, and (they make) many nations (tremble): the Nomads, the Lithuanians, the Deremelas, the Iatvags, the Kumans have dropped their lances and have bowed their heads under your Frankish swords. But Prince Igor, the sunlight has already dimmed for you. And, by misfortune, the tree lost its foliage. The enemies have already divided amongst themselves the cities of the rivers Ross and Sula. The valiant regiments of lgor will not be resurrected. The river Don appeals to you, Prince, and summons the princes to victory. 0 valiant princes, grandsons of Oleg, you are ready for the battle.

THE APPEAL TO VSEVOLOD, PRINCE OF SUZDAL

Great Prince Vsevolod! Do you not intend to come from far away to watch over your paternal golden -throne? For you, with the oars of your fleet, can scatter the river Volga into droplets. With the helmets of your army you can pour out the river Don. If you were here, then Kuman slave girls would go for a nogata, and Kuman male slaves for only a rezana. And you can shoot over the dry land with the fiery arrows, with the courageous sons of Gleb.

THE APPEAL TO PRINCES RURIK AND DAVID

O valiant Rurik and David! Was it not your warriors who swam through blood under the gilded helmets? Was it not your army that roared like aurochs, wounded by tempered swords in the unknown prairie? Lords, set your feet in the golden stirrups to avenge the outrage of the present day, of the Russian land, of Igor's wounds, wounds of the daring son of Sviatoslav.

THE APPEAL TO MSTISLAV'S SONS

Ingvar and Vsevolod and you three sons of Mstislav You are six-winged falcons of no mean nest. You have not won your patrimonies by deeds of victory. To what avail are your golden helmets, your Polish lances and shields? Bar the gates of the prairie with your sharp arrows for the Russian lands, for the wounds of lgor, the wounds of the daring son of Sviatoslav.

EVOCATION OF PRINCE IZIASLAV'S DEATH IN THE BATTLE OF GORODETS (1162)

No more do the silver Streams of the River Sula protect the city of Pereiaslavl. And the river Dvina, which flows to Polotsk, that city of stern men, became turbid under the cries of the infidels. Only lziaslav, son of Vasilko, rained his sharp arrows upon Lithuanian helmets and tarnished the glory of his grandfather Vseslav. And, having been worsted by the Lithuanian swords, he fell upon the bloody grass as upon a marriage bed, under the crimson shields. And Boyan said:

"Prince, the wings of birds cover your warriors and the beasts already have begun to lick their blood."

Neither his brother, Briachislav, nor the other brother, Vsevolod, was there (in battle). And (you, Iziaslav) remained alone. And you let drop from your valiant body, through the golden necklace of a prince, the pearl of your soul, and voices became saddened, and joy ceased to be, And the trumpets mournfully resound at the city of Gorodets.

THE APPEAL TO PRINCE IAROSLAV OF CHERNIGOV AND VSESLAV'S HEIRS

O sons of Iaroslav and the grandsons of Vseslav, lower your banners! Put your dented swords into their sheaths! You do not deserve the glory of your ancestors, since, through your feuding, you brought the infidels into the Russian land, into the domain of Vseslav. Your warring brought Kuman violence (into Russia).

THE EVOCATION OF PRINCE VSESLAV THE SORCERER

During the seventh age of Trojan Vseslav cast lots for the maiden he desired, and, cunningly leaning on the lance, he leaped to the city of Kiev and touched the golden throne of Kiev with the staff of his lance. Like a fierce beast he leaped from Belgorod at midnight, under the cover of blue mist. He managed to cast thrice a lucky lot: he opened the gate of the city of Novgorod, he tarnished the glory of Prince Iaroslav, and he leapt like a wolf to Nemiga from Dudutki. On the river Nemiga they built haystacks of heads. They are threshed with steel flails and lives are left behind on the threshing floor. Souls abandon their bodies. The bloody shores of the river Nemiga were sown with misfortune, were strewn with the bones of Russia's sons. Prince Vseslav used to judge the people. And, as prince, he ruled over the cities. But, in the night, he prowled like a werewolf. He was able to go from Kiev to Tmutorakan before the cock could crow. And, prowling as a werewolf, he crossed the way of great god Hors. At the Church of St. Sofiia of Polotsk the bells tolled the matins for him, and he could hear them in Kiev. His magician's soul lived in a valiant body, but he still often suffered miseries. Of him Boyan the Seer said wisely in his refrains:

"Neither a crafty man, nor a clever man, nor a clever bird, can escape divine judgment."

O Russian land, you must mourn, remembering your early age, your early princes. And Vladimir of yore could not be retained by the hills of Kiev. But now Prince Rurik's banners stand in readiness, and so do Prince David's (his brother's). Thus, they are blown (by the wind) in different directions.

XI. IGOR'S WIFE, EUPHROSINIA, DAUGHTER OF PRINCE IAROSLAV OF GALICH, LAMENTS OF THE WALLS OF PUTIVL

At the river Danube lances sing their song, but it is the voice of Iaroslavna which is heard. Since morning, she sings like an unknown seagull:

"Like a seagull I will fly along the river Danube. I will dip my beaver-trimmed sleeve into the river Kaiala. I will cleanse the bloody wounds of my prince, on his mighty body."

Since morning Euphrosinia has lamented on the walls of the city of Putivl, saying:

"O wind, why do you, my lord wind, blow so fiercely? Why do you bring on your light wings Kuman arrows against the warriors of my beloved? Isn't it enough for you to blow under the clouds, to loll the ships on the blue sea? Why, my lord, did you scatter my joy over the feathergrass of the prairie?"

Since morning Euphrosinia has lamented on the walls of the city of Putivl, saying:

"O river Dnepr, son of Slovuta, it is you who have broken through the stone mountains of the Kuman land. You rolled the boats of Sviatoslav (when he went to meet Khan Kobiak's army. O my lord wind, roll my beloved to me that I might not send him my tears to the sea so early in the morning, at dawn."

Since morning Euphrosinia has lamented on the walls of the city of Putivl, saying:

"O my bright and thrice bright sun! For everyone you are warm and beautiful. Why did you spread, my lord, your burning rays upon the warriors of my beloved? In the waterless prairie you parched their bows and closed their quivers with misfortune."

XII. PRINCE IGOR FLEES FROM KUMAN CAPTIVITY

The seas splashed at midnight and the tornado rushes through the mist. God shows the way to Igor, the way from the Kuman land, to the Russian land, to his father's golden throne.

The glow of the sunset had faded. lgor sleeps. lgor keeps his vigil. lgor's thoughts cross the prairie, from the great river Don to the small river Donets. Beyond the river, Ovlur whistles, having caught a horse. He warns the prince. Prince Igor will not remain a prisoner. The earth rumbled, the grass rustled, and the Kuman tents began to stir. Prince lgor raced to reeds like an ermine, like a white duck (he races) on the water. He leaps to his swift steed. He (later) springs from it, like a grey wolf. He rushed toward the curve of the river Donets. He flew under the clouds like a falcon which kills geese and swans for lunch, for dinner, and for supper. If Prince Igor flies like a falcon, then Ovlur races like a wolf, shaking off the chilling dew. And both of them exhausted their swift steeds.

XIII. IGOR SPEAKS WITH THE RIVER DONETS

The river Donets speaks:

"Oh, Prince Igor, there will be no small glory for you, but dislike for Konchak and joy for the Russian land."

And lgor spoke:

"Oh, my river Donets! There will be no small glory for you, for you have lolled the prince on your waves, for you have spread for him green grass on your silver shores, for you have enveloped him in your warm mists in the shadow of green trees, for your drakes watched over him on the water, and your seagulls on the streams, and your black ducks in the winds."

But different words came to him from the river Stugna. Its stream is weak. It has swallowed up other brooks and rivulets, and, therefore, has grown wide at its delta. It hid young Prince Rostislav. It concealed him on its bottom near its dark bank. And Rostislav's mother mourned the young prince. Flowers withered from sorrow, and the saddened trees dropped earthward.

XIV. THE KUMANS PURSUE IGOR

It is not the magpies which have begun croaking, it is Khans Gza and Konchak who search for Igor's path. At that time the crows did not caw. The daws became silent and the jackdaws did not chatter. Only the snakes were crawling, and the woodpeckers show the way to the river with their sounds. The nightingale announces the dawn with its gay song. And Khan Gza told Khan Konchak:

"If the falcon fly to his nest, we will shoot at the falconet with our gilded arrows."

And Khan Konchak replied to Khan Gza:

"If the falcon flies to his nest, we will enmesh the falconet with the charms of a beautiful maiden."

And Khan Gza said to Khan Konchak:

"If we enmesh him with the charms of a beautiful maiden, we will have neither the falconet nor the beautiful maiden, and (their) birds will start fighting us in the Kuman prairie. "

XV. APODOSIS

And Boyan, [the bard of olden times, said of the time of Sviatoslav, of Iaroslav, and of Kagan Oleg:

"it is difficult for a head to be without shoulders. But it is also a misfortune for the body to be without the head."

And so it is difficult for the Russian land to be without Prince lgor. The sun gleams in the sky. Prince Igor is in the Russian land. Maidens sing on the Danube. Their voices reach across the sea to Kiev. Igor rides along the Borichev to the Church of the Holy Virgin of Pirogoshch. The lands are jubilant. The cities rejoice. Once the glory of the princes of yore was sung, now glory will be sung for the young. Glory to lgor, son of Sviatoslav, to fierce auroch Vsevolod, and to Vladimir, son of lgor. Hail to the princes and the armies who fight for Christendom against the infidel hosts. Glory to the princes and to the army. Amen.