When I Was a Lad
Αντά ’μαν παλικάρι
When I was a lad, twelve years of age
l walked on iron and turned it to water,
I walked on marble and turned it to dust.
They took me for a Janissary, they took me far away
to learn of bows and of war.
But I learned nothing of bows and of war,
I only learned of love, heart-aching love.
Translated by Michael Eleftheriou
Αντά ’μαν παλικάρι
Αντά ’μαν παλικάρι δώδεκα χρονώ
στα σίδερα πατούσα κι έβγαζα νερό,
στα μάρμαρα πατούσα και κουρνιάχτιζαν1.
Γιανίτσαρο μι πήραν πέρα στη Φραγκιά2
να μάθω το δοξάρι3 και τον πόλεμο.
Kι ούδε δοξάρι ’μάθα κι ούδε πόλεμο
μόν’ ’μαθα την αγάπη την παντέρημη.
1 Κουρνιαχτίζω: σηκώνω, δημιουργώ σκόνη.
2 Στη λαϊκή ποίηση, με τη λέξη Φραγκιά υποδηλώνεται αόριστα η Δύση ή ακόμα και οι φραγκοκρατούμενες περιοχές της Ανατολικής Μεσογείου, αλλά και γενικότερα τα μακρινά, τα άγνωστα και επικίνδυνα «ξένα».
A song-hymn to the vigour of youth and an initiation into the heartache of love, widespread in Thrace and sung to various melodies. The outstanding lyrics and the reference to the Ottoman practice of forcing young Christian boys into service in the Janissary corps are most likely indicative of the song’s age. This variation comes from Soufli, where it is sung to accompany the pappisio, a circle dance unique to the area, which is danced to a slow, ritualistic 4/4 rhythm with the dancers holding on to each other’s elbows or belts. It is one of only a few dances that start on the left foot. The rhythm is marked by the daouli.
The daouli (davul in Turkish) is the drum favoured by folk ensembles. Its volume and bass tone makes it suitable for outdoor fairs and celebrations. It consists of a wooden cylinder whose ends are covered in goat skin which is stretched and tuned by means of ropes. The daouli varies in size in accordance both with local tradition and the stature of the player. It is played with two specially-made drum sticks: one thick and heavy for the dominant hand, which accentuates the beat, and a thinner switch for the other hand, which produces a sharper sound for the unaccented beats.
Miranda Terzopoulou (2018)
Studio recording, 1979.
Domna Samiou taped the song in Soufli, Thrace, sung by Eleni Kakali, 84 years old, in 1973.