Duke’s Curse

24 Jul 2017, Posted by Adam in Adam's Journal, DesignAR

Today I found facebook status on Marko Kon’s profile, asking how should part of lost poem known as Duke’s curse [Srb.or Kneževa kletva] be translated on English. Last vers of the original was most problematic because of implication and metaphore it contains. My first attempt was “Let rust drool while he’s on knees!” Suggesting some rust should overwhelm the cursed one from the inside. Than again, one should die from rust – coagulated blood, or rust of the sword. Or both. Regarding tradition of Sebian curses, it is never enough to punish single individual. In verses, conclusion of the curse has to be much more devestating, to reach the last living of his kin. That’s why final is so grotesque.

Decasyllable verses maintained. Serbian original in the column left, my translation to English on the right.

Ko je Srbin i srpskoga roda,
i od srpske krvi i kolena,
a ne došo na boj na Kosovo,
ne imao od srca poroda,
ni muškoga ni devojačkoga!
Od ruke mu ništa ne rodilo,
ni u polju pšenica belica,
ni u brdu vinova lozica!
Rđom kap’o dok mu je kolena!

Who is Serb and of Serbian kin,
Of Serbian blood and bone,
On Kosovo battle if he is not,
May he have of kindred none,
Nor manful nor maiden one!
May nothing grow on his hands,
Nor white wheat on fields,
Nor grapes or vine on hills!
May his kin drown drooling rust!


Special thanks to Marko Kon, one put-up the intelectual challenge, and Tea Puharic, who helped me with direction of translation.

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