A prince is to be wed
to a dark-eyed bride whose folk sought refuge here.
His bride-to-be’s from uprooted stock,
little refugee I weep for thee.
When his mother heard the news
she uprooted trees, dearest dark-eyed maid,
she uprooted trees, uprooted maid I weep for thee.
She took two live snakes and fried them crisp.
– Come, bride, eat, I’ve fried you fish.
And the first bite poisoned her soul.
– Water, mother dear, for I am parched. Water or I shall die.
– I am grown old, daughter dear, no well can I recall.
– Water, my husband, for I am parched. Water or I shall die.
He went to fetch water but found her dead on his return.
– Mother, if you have another son,
marry him to a nobleman’s daughter.
And he took out his knife and thrust it in his heart.
Translated by Michael Eleftheriou
Τα κακά πεθερικά
Αρχοντογιός, αρχοντογιός παντρεύεται
και παίρνει προσφυγούλα, προσφυγούλα μαυρομάτα μου,
και παίρνει προσφυγούλα, προσφυγούλα σε κλαίν’ τα μάτια μου.
Η μάνα του σαν τ’ άκουσε τα δέντρα ξεριζώνει.
Πιάνει δυο φίδια ζωντανά, τα ξεροτηγανίζει.
– Έλα νύφη να φας φαΐ, ψάρια τηγανισμένα.
Την πρώτη βούκα πο’ ’βαλε ψυχή της φαρμακώθη.
– Νερό μανούλα μ’ κι έσκασα, νεράκι, θα πεθάνω.
– Εγώ νύφη μου γέρασα, τη βρύση δεν την ξέρω.
– Νεράκι ταίρι μ’ κι έσκασα, έσκασα, θα πεθάνω.
Όσου να πάει και να ’ρθει τη βρήκε πεθαμένη.
– Μάνα μ’ αν έχεις άλλο γιο δώσ’ του αρχοντοπούλα.
Και το μαχαίρι έβγαλε και στην καρδιά το μπήγει.
One more of those songs whose poetic scenario so clearly echoes the mores dictating social and family life, and the dark laws which govern the human soul. It is through songs like this that the folk poet –in practice, everyone who sings and hears the song– expresses their view on good and evil, justice and injustice and the unholy acts committed or suffered by their imaginary heroes, victims and villains.
The song of the Uprooted Maid is found across the entire Greek world. Its narrative develops against the background of a tightly-knit, strictly hierarchical patriarchal family and deals with a mother’s deadly opposition to her son’s bride – a prime theme in every form of folk literature the world over. The bride –who is sometimes a refugee and sometimes an orphan or Bulgarian, both qualities which symbolically underscore the Otherness that already marks her– arrives at her husband’s home accompanied by a mythically lavish procession. Her mother-in-law is immediately seized by brutal, criminal urges. She prepares the bride a venomous snake for a meal, and when her daughter-in-law, poisoned and in pain, requests water, she and the other members of the household refuse to give her any. When the son/family-rushes to help her, it is too late: she is already dead… In some variations – this one included – the son then commits suicide. Dependent on the family and low down in its hierarchy, he is quite powerless to make a stand against his family’s united criminal stance. Suicide, an irrevocable gesture, is the only way in which he can posthumously punish the family for his mother’s execrable deed. Miranda Terzopoulou (2008)
Studio recording, 2006.
Domna Samiou taped the song in Nea Moudania, Chalkidiki sung by Zoe Lionti (79 years old), a refugee from Katirli, near Nicomedea, Asia Minor, in 1982.
In Domna Samiou archive there is another version of the song recorded in 1986 by Eleonora Mosialou, in Aghios Akakios, Karditsa, sung by Eleni Mosialou (78 years old).