Another "Lobsters' Wedding"

Today we continue with the Bulgarian Folk Songs (which, as we know, are mostly Macedonian, in today's terms). Song 27, "Lobsters' Wedding" (where, in fact, it is a pair of tortoises who are marrying), recorded by the Miladinov Brothers in the Struga area, is followed by song No. 28, labeled Ednakvo ("the same"). So presumably its title for No. 28 is also "Свадба от ракоите" ("Lobsters' Wedding"), and it is also from Struga. The events in it, however, are quite different:

Свадба отъ ракови-те Свадба от ракоите Lobsters' Wedding
Рако’и-те свадба чинѣтъ,
А желки-те панагюрвѣтъ,
Ежо’и-те сеиръ чинѣтъ.
Ми сѣ спущи едно еже,
Ми целива една желка.

Ѣ догледа желюрок-отъ,
Тà сѣ спущи по еже-то:
„море еже пущарѫце,
Чіа жена си целивалъ.”

Рак-отъ му сѣ отго’орвитъ:
„Море еже пущарѫце!
Міе на бракъ те канифме,
Да ми ядишъ, да ми піешъ,
Големъ аинкъ да ми чинишъ,
Не да бацишъ чужа жена!”

Кутро еже с’ отго’орвитъ:
„Море раче осмокраче,
Море дѫлгомустакинче,
Море люто кавгадживче,
Ко ке ядишъ, ко ке піешъ,
Лели ке сѣ опіанишъ,
Тà ’се ке си забора’ишъ
Коӗ ѥ свое, коӗ ѥ чужо.”
Ракоите свадба чинет,
А желките панаѓурвет,
Ежоите сеир чинет,
Ми се спушти едно еже,
Ми целива една желка.

Је дoгледа жељурокот,
Та се спушти по ежето
„Море еже пуштар’це,
Чиа жена си целивал.”

Ракот му се одгоо’рвит:
„Море еже пуштар’це!
Мие на брак те канифме,
Да ми јадиш, да ми пиеш,
Голем аинк да ми чиниш,
Не да бациш чужа жена!”

Кутро еже с’ отгоорвит:
„Море раче асмокраче,
Море д’гомустакинче,
Море љуто кавгаџивче,
Ко ке јадиш, ко ке пиеш,
Лели ке се опианиш,
Та се ке си забораиш
Кое је свое, кое је чужо.”
Lobsters are celebrating a wedding,
Tortoises are feasting,
And hedgehogs are partying.
Here one hedgehog
Comes and kisses a [she-]tortoise.

The He-Tortoises sees it 
And turns to the hedgehog:
"Mr. Hedgehog - Letting your hands wander?
Whose wife are you kissing!?"

And the Lobster tells him:
"Mr. Hedgehog - Letting your hands wander?
We've invited you to the wedding,
To eat and drink with us,
To have a party with us,
And not to kiss others' wives!"

The poor Hedgehog is responding:
"My dear old Eight-Legged Lobster,  
Dear my Lobster Long-Antenna'ed,
You are such a crabby fellow!
As one is feasting and drinking,
It is so easy to get drunk 
And to forget altogether
What is yours and what is not!"

The first column is from the 1861 edition, the second is from the 1864 Macedonian edition (with the spelling modeled on the modern Macedonian orthography, the third is my attempt at a translation).

Another version of the song is Song No. 1236 in Kuzman Shapkarev's 1891 collection, where it is listed among the "funny wedding songs" (смешни свадбени песни):

Here there are no lobsters at the wedding, just hedgehogs and turtles; and the confrontation between the He-Turtle and the Hedgehog takes a deadly turn:

Ежовите и жельките The hedgehogs and the turtles
Ежовите сватби чинат, тарнана!
А жельките панагюрват, ой бобо!
Еже жельче надмигвеше,
го до гледа желькарчето,
та ми ойде у кадия,
ми донесе два музура.
Се налюти еже, меже,
та извади два кубура,
ми отепа два музура.
The hedgehogs are celebrating a wedding - Tar-na-na!
And the turtles are partying, - Oy-bo-bo!
A hedgehog winked to a [she-]turtle;
The he-turtle noticed that,
And went to a qadi,
[And] fetched two bailiffs.
The hedgehog became angry,
Pulled out two holsters,
And killed the two bailiffs.


  • The exclamations Tar-na-na! and Oy-bo-bo! are to be repeated after each line.
  • A qadi is a judge in a Muslim (Shari'a) court, and a muzur музур (which I rendered as "bailiff") is, according to Guerov's dictionary, an officer of such a court.
  • A kubur, two of which the hedgehog uses, is said by Guerov to be a "holster" (same as in Russian) or "quiver" (which, thinking of it, is a more appropriate piece of equipment for a hedgehog). I am not sure why the hedgehog uses a holster (or a quiver) rather than a gun or his own needles as a deadly weapon, but so the song says, if I understand it correctly.

Interestingly, the notion of a (male) hedgehog becoming interested in a (female) tortoise was not unique to Macedonian folk poetry. It also appears in a Greek folk song recorded by Panayiotis Aravantinos at around the same time in the Ioannina area, in Epirus, some 100 miles to the south of Struga. In Lucy Garnett's English translation it is rendered as follows:

And a giant of a hedgehog
At a tortoise eyes was making.
And the tortoise was quite shamefaced,
And within her hole she hid her.

(Quoted from: "Nursery Rhyme No. VI", based on Aravandinos' song No. 195, in Greek folk-songs from the Turkish provinces of Greece, 'Η δουλη 'Ελλασ: Albania, Thessaly (not yet wholly free), and Macedonia: literal and metrical translations by Lucy M. J. Garnett, classified, revised, and edited with an historical introduction on the survival of Paganism, by John S. Stuart Glennie, 1885, p. 173)

I know no Greek, but the original text of these four lines apparently runs as follows (I may have screwed up with the Greek diacritics):

κι' ὁ σκαντσόχοιροσ ὁ γίγασ
κάνει μάτι τῆς χελώνας,
κ' ἡ χελώνα καμαρόνει
καὶ 'ς τὴν τρύπα της τρυπόνει.
on page 137 of Aravantinos' book. As far as I can guess by looking at the Greek text, its meter appears to be the same as that of Lucy Garrett's English translation (as promised by the title of the latter), which seems to be the same of the Macedonian song from Struga recorded by the Miladinovs. I wonder if the Greeks in Epirus and Macedonia and the (Slavic) Macedonians in the same regions were actually singing their songs on the same tune! I wish I could attempt a metric translation like Garrett's...

(Incidentally, the Macedonian word for turtle, желка, which is based on the Common Slavic form, is apparently related to Greek χελώνα; at least Vasmer thinks so. It apparently is not shared (in that meaning) with other branches of the Indo-European family)

No comments:

Post a Comment