The Lament of the Virgin (Baidiri, Asia Minor)
Holy Week lament
The Virgin heard the awful news, she swooned and fell,
they fetched some water in a crock; three tumblers of flower-water
and four of rose they bathed her with, until they had revived her,
and once her senses were restored, she spoke despairingly:
– I have no crag from which to fall, to mourn my sole-begotten,
I have no knife to kill myself, to mourn my sole-begotten,
I have no rope to hang myself, to mourn my sole-begotten.
Then Christ began to plead with her, to plead with his dear mother:
– o mother, if you fall from high, then all the world must fall,
o mother, if you kill yourself, then all the world must die,
o mother, if you hang yourself, then all the world must hang,
be patient, mother, for a while, then all will be as patient.
There, mother, go back home in peace, your way will nought avail you,
abide till Holy Saturday, and on that day await me.
Translated by John Leatham
Το μοιρολόι της Παναγιάς (Mπαϊντίρι)
Η Παναΐα τ’ άκουσε, πέφτει λιγοθυμάει
νερό σταμνιά την περεχούν, τρία γυαλιά του μόσχου,
τέσσερα το ροδόσταμο, ώστε να συνεφέρει,
κι απάνω που συνέφερε τούτο το λόγο λέγει.
– Δεν έχ’ γκρεμό να γκρεμιστώ για το μονογενή μου
δεν έχ’ μαχαίρι να σφαγώ για το μονογενή μου
δεν έχ’ σκοινί να κρεμαστώ για το μονογενή μου.
Απολογιέται κι ο Χριστός της μάνας του και λέγει.
– Μάνα μ’ αν γκρεμιστείς εσύ, γκρεμιέται όλος ο κόσμος,
μάνα μου αν σφαγείς εσύ, σφάζετ’ όλος ο κόσμος,
μάνα μ’ αν κρεμαστείς εσύ, κρεμιέται όλος ο κόσμος.
Πάρτο μάνα μου υπομονή, να πάρ’ όλος ο κόσμος.
Άντε μάνα μου στο καλό και διάφορο δεν έχεις,
μόν’ το μεγάλο Σάββατο κάτσε να μ’ απαντέχεις.
The Moirolόϊ or Lament of the Virgin, very widely known throughout Greek lands, is a long medieval rhyming poem of literary origin, but impressively familiar to broad sections of the populace. Influenced by relevant passages in the Gospels and by Church hymnography, it is an anthropocentric narrative lament for the sufferings of Christ on the way to his crucifixion and death, as observed and felt by his tragic mother. Chanted by women around Christ’s tomb in the manner and style of the mundane dirges they know so well, it expresses their compassion and identification with the maternal, human nature of the Virgin. Nonetheless, the way in which it is ritually performed lays bare the custom’s pre-Christian origins.
While there are local differences in some features of the song or in its melodic treatment, the structure and form of the moirolόϊ as well as its performance bear impressive similarities to those sung in lands as far apart as Lower Italy, Pontos, and Cyprus. The continuity of its narrative flow is clearly evinced in the sequence we have dared to select here of passages occurring in versions of varied provenance. Miranda Terzopoulou (1998)
Studio recording, 1978.