The Wine Bearer
Εγώ είμαι ορφανό παιδί
No father had I, my mother was a widow.
My mother was a widow and sold me,
sold me into service to a good master.
My master was joyful, his son was to wed,
and bade me serve his guests from a golden jug.
With all the pouring, the singing and the dancing,
my arms grew weak and the jug slipped from my grasp.
It hit no stone, no cobble,
but smashed into smithereens in my lady’s lap.
They locked me up for five long months,
mislaid the keys for five long years.
I planted a hazel at my prison door
and tasted of its fruit, though not of freedom.
Translated by Michael Eleftheriou
Εγώ είμαι ορφανό παιδί
Εγώ είμαι ο- εγώ είμαι ορφανό πιδί,
είχα και χήρα μάνα, είχα και χήρα μάνα,
και η μάνα μου, και η μάνα μου μι στοίχησι1
σ’ έναν καλό αφέντη, σ’ έναν καλό αφέντη.
Κι αφέντης μου είχι χαρά, παντρεύει τουν υγιό του
και μ’ έβαλαν για να κιρνώ μ’ ένα χρυσό ποτήρι.
’Πού του πουλύ του κέρασμα, ’πού του πουλύ του γλέντι,
συντρόμαξαν2 τα χέρια μου κι ίπεσι του ποτήρι.
Ούτι σι πέτρα χτύπησι, ούτι σι καλντιρίμι,
μες στης κυράς μου την πουδιά χίλια κουμμάτια γίν’κι.
Μι βάλανι στη φυλακή να κάμου πέντι μήνις
κι παραπέσαν τα κλειδιά κι κάμου πέντι χρόνια.
Λεφτοκαρυά εφύτεψα στης φυλακής την πόρτα,
λεφτοκαράκια έφαγα μα λεφτεριά δεν είδγια.
1μι στοίχησι: με μίσθωσε στην υπηρεσία
One of the fundamental features of a fable is the critique it can express through the narration of myths, and through the values the tale embodies. This song belongs to one of the oldest types of imprisonment songs. At its heart is the criticism of justice, not as a moral stance adopted by an individual, but as an institution. Here, a child to whom fate has already been far from kind, he has been sold into the service of a rich master by his widowed mother, is condemned for a trifle (‘my arms grew weak and the jug slipped from my grasp’) and ends up imprisoned for life due to the inefficiency, indifference or weakness of the system (‘mislaid the keys for five long years’). The motif of the hazel (in Greek, ‘hazel’ leftokarya symbolically echoes freedom lefteria) which germinates when he enters the jail and whose fruit he ends up eating underscores the incommensurate length of his incarceration and the feeling of unbearable injustice which can only be conveyed in song. Song’s power to bring deliverance is revealed in variants in which a princess hears him, is moved and orders the release of the prisoner everyone has forgotten. Miranda Terzopoulou (2008)
Studio recording, 2006.
It was collected in the 1970s by Yiorgos Amarantidis from Traiani and Theodor Pitsanis, a married couple, during their stay in Athens in order to make some appearances at the Dora Stratou Theatre. Traiani and Theodor Pitsanis, residents of the village of Kitros in Pieria, were refugees from Bana, Eastern Rumelia. Yiorgos Amarantidis handed the tape with the collected songs to Domna Samiou for inclusion in her archive.