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In Western Lands

The final part of “The Tale of Kutava,” continued from Part V

Having set out from our native shores upon a long and difficult voyage, we survived as best we could.聽 None of us were mariners (although we had gained some experience paddling down the Mikaluf), so we knew only vaguely the course our craft was taking, and we did our best to steer westward.聽 I believe we all had doubts about our chances of arriving at the ancestral home of the Kroats, but we maintained a spirit of optimism throughout.聽 However, by the time we sighted land after many months of roving the seas, we were thoroughly disgusted with our standard diet of fish and gulls, our supplies having run out long before.
Thou canst imagine our joy when we first sighted a stone turret jutting out of the mists, revealing our almost alarming proximity to land.聽 Our leather boat had indeed brought us across the ocean Sv么sivik with minimal repairs, and for this we were thankful, yet we thought only of solid ground and the benefits thereof as we paddled into a windless haven.

Disembarking, we secured the boat and examined our surroundings.

鈥楾roth, this is a dismal place!鈥 exclaimed Ferondei.聽 鈥業t doth not look like our homeland.鈥

鈥榃hen sawest thou the homeland before?鈥 said Ai臐if.聽 鈥業鈥檒l warrant thee that we are equally clueless in this respect.鈥 Read More

Thanks again, Google Books

Digenis AcritasAlthough you may have read with indifference my past post on the book Anthologia Graeca Carminum Christianorum, perhaps this will capture your fancy. Just today I was paging through the Google Books site when I discovered a classic favorite of mine, Digenis Acritas, which is an anonymous Byzantine epic written in Greek. I have read an English translation of it before, but the only full version I could find on Google Books was a side by side Greek poetry and French prose version.

If you know French, that’s great. If you know Greek, that’s even better. For me, I can read Greek a lot better than French, so I think I’ll just read the original this time. If you’d like to give it a shot as well, feel free to download this PDF of the book. All I did was take Google Books’ file and add PDF bookmarks for easier navigation, so here it is for free, only 13.7 MB: Les Exploits de Dig茅nis Akritas

This version of the poem is from the Trabzon manuscript, which is one of the lesser-known manuscripts, though not the oldest. For a free book, I am quite impressed!


In times past our fathers told
Great stories of serpents which fire breathed.
These dragons in caves dark would lie
Till roused by hunger, or want of sport.
Though by many forgotten, these 鈥渇airy tales鈥
Are echoes of ancient truth.
In days of yore the creatures were killed,
Thus here they are hardly seen.
Yet beyond the sea, across the sand,
There lies a land where dragons still dwell.
A fertile place the creatures found,
A lovely verdant land, and free
Of human population. However, a few men
Since discovered the spot, and now live there.
Should you ever venture thither, you shall find
A mountainous country, yet warm and kind.
The tongue of its people is understood by all
And the whole land is luscious green.
Yet do not expect to discover dragons,
For their very presence few may view.

Pluit Hodie

The loud roar of the thunder breaks through the damp air,
And a train whistle sounds from the valley below.
Then the torrent returns; raindrops fall everywhere.
A great bolt splits the sky, and the hostile wind blows.

Since the weather is inclement, homeward we fly.
In the stove crackling flames keep us toasty and warm,
And our roof (though it leaks) keeps us perfectly dry.
What a wonderful day just to wait out a storm.

As I sit in the house staying out of the cold,
I look up at the shelf and discover a book.
The covers are dusty, the pages are old,
But the story within it is worth a good look.

Flight Through the Mountains

The penultimate part of “The Tale of Kutava,” continued from Part IV

We departed from Krotil before dawn, to avoid any questionings from the townspeople. Our company consisted of Tae臐an, Ferondei and me, as well as the two boys Delko and Ai臐if, who had implored Ferondei to allow them to accompany us. We certainly were not planning for two extra travellers, but they had brought their own provisions as Ferondei had instructed, and for that we were thankful.

We were in the mountains by daybreak, and at length we stopped for a rest.

鈥楶rithee tell me again,鈥 quoth Delko, 鈥榳hither are we bound?鈥

鈥楾o seek a hiding place in the mountains, as we鈥檝e told thee thrice already,鈥 said Tae臐an, seeming a bit upset.

鈥楢h, that鈥檚 right; for some reason I thought we were going to Krotl.鈥

鈥榃ell, thou art mistaken this time,鈥 quoth I, 鈥榝or that is where Raheem is, assembling his great army against 臏imlu.

鈥極h, horrors! I detest fighting. I鈥檇 much rather hide in the mountains.鈥 He smiled strangely. Read More