The Singer Resumes the Tale

  Use the following persistent identifier:

2. Oral Traditional Lyric Poetry

In this chapter we seek to understand the composition and transmission of some oral traditional nonnarrative songs, which would be classed as lyrics. They are generally short and could be easily memorized. I should like to stress that what I am using is primary material from “pure” tradition, from living tradition, untouched, or comparatively untouched, by “outside” influences. Such material is not now easy to find. One of the important principles to note at the outset is the necessity to understand where, on the scale of pure oral tradition → transitional stages → written tradition, any body of material or any given song is to be placed. Its value for comparative study, I believe, resides in part on that determination.

I have been especially interested in the fact that there are so many variants of the dainas. With these poems two questions arose: If these are ritual songs—and many of them are—they should, as we are sometimes told, be word-for-word exact in order to satisfy the ritual requirements. They should be like incantations, which are supposed not to work unless repeated exactly. Then how come the variants? The second question: If it is true that short forms are easily memorized, one would expect that eight lines would be stable, so how come the variants? Something else seems to be at work here, and one has to ask the questions again: Is it necessary to postulate word-for-word exactness, or is that making an untrue assumption with reference not to reality but only to a guesswork theory based on a misunderstanding of what the practitioners of the form have said under inept questioning? Is shortness a real criterion for memorization, or is another process of transmission at work here?

Uriah Katzenelenbogen gives more detailed accounts of the people who sang the dainas and of the occasions on which they were sung: [9]

To celebrations (as weddings and baptisms), there came two groups of girl-singers of which each sought to surpass the other in singing—not only the songs they chose, but also in the cleverness of their choice of dainas—especially when there were guests from afar. They sang in turn; when one group finished a daina, the other would continue. The married women and the young girls stood apart. One girl was chosen as the reciter, who was proud to be thus selected. She stood in the centre; the others accompanied her.

The following daina, Katzenelenbogen’s No. 174, appears to have been sung by two girls, one singing among her in-laws at some distance from the other, who is at her brother’s farm.

Ld 244.1  
Dziedi, dziedi, tautas meita,
Es pretim gavilēju;
Tu dziedāji tautiņās,
Es brālīšu laukmalā.
Sing, sing, young maiden!
I answer you with joy;
You are singing afar among your husband’s kin, {24|25}
While I am here at the edge of my brother’s field.

Katzenelenbogen continues:

Into the darkly-lit room in the peasant hut, each girl would come with her work; one with her spinning, a second with her sewing, a third with her knitting … They would also gather in the bath. Each person would bring meat, groats, milk. The girls would cook the supper, while the others would do their work. Then there would be much singing. Or they would gather in the inn for dancing and singing to make one another’s acquaintance.

The Lithuanian and Latvian girls used to keep among their most prized possessions note-books in which were written the dainos which pleased them. Though they themselves might not write, they asked to have their favourite dainas written in.

The dainas are short and for the most part nonnarrative. The quatrain is their favored form. An excellent example of a daina is the following, Ltd 1148:

Stallī dzima kumeliņis
No dzeltena auzu salma;
Pirtī dzima arājiņis
No slotiņu lapiņam.
In the stable a colt is born
From the yellow oat-straw.
In the bathhouse a ploughman is born
From the whisk’s leaves.

The parallelisms between the two distichs are typical of daina structure. There is a variant of this daina, Ltd 1148.1:

Pirtī dzima kaŗavīrs
No slotiņas žagariem;
Stallī kaŗa kumeliņš
No dzeltenas auzu skaras.
In the bathhouse a warrior is born
From the besom twigs;
In the stable his war-steed is born
From the panicles of the yellow oats.

The parallelisms of the distichs tie the quatrain closely together.

As an illustration of a six-line daina I have chosen one with many variants. It is usually included in the mythological cycle.

Ltd 33857  
Mēnestiņis zvaigznes skaita,
Vai ir visas vakarā.
Ira visas vakarā,
Auseklīša vien nevaid;
Auseklītis aiztecēja
Saules meitas lūkoties.
Moon counts the stars
Whether all are out at nightfall;
All the stars are there,
All except the morning star;
For the morning star has gone
To court the daughters of the sun.

Nos. 33855-59 begin with essentially the same quatrain.

Mēnesnīce zvaigznes skaita,
Irīg visas vakarā?
Visas ira, visas ira,
Auseklīša vien nebij;
Moon counts the stars.
Are all there at nightfall? {26|27}
All are there, all are there,
Only the morning star was not there.

Mēnesnīca zvaigznes skaita
Vai ir visas vakarā.
Iraid visas, iraid visas,
Auseklīša vien nevaid;
Moon counts the stars
Whether all are out at nightfall;
All are there, all are there,
All except the morning star.

Mēnesitis zvaigznes skaita,
Vai ir visas vakarā.
Visas zvaigznes vakarā,
Auseklīša vien nebij;
Moon counts the stars
Whether all are out at nightfall;
All the stars are there at nightfall,
Only the morning star was not there.

Mēnesniņis zvaigznes skaita,
Vai ir visas vakarā.
Visas zvaigznes vakarā,
Ausekliņa vien nevaid;
Moon counts the stars
Whether all are out at nightfall.
All the stars are there at nightfall,
All except the morning star.

The variations appear in the last couplet of the six-line stanza (or in the last quatrain of No. 33859), a fact that may explain the star’s absence. Barons considered these four dainas as type-songs, but we would class them as variants of one another, or simply variants.

Auseklītis jūriņā
Baltā putu gabalā.
The morning star is at sea
In a white piece of foam.

Auseklītis Vāczemē
Zelta naudu kaldināja.
The morning star is in Germany,
Minting gold coins.

Auseklītis Vāczemē
Zelta svārkus šūdināja.
The morning star is in Germany,
Sewing a golden skirt.

Ausekliņš Vāczemē
Saulītei svārkus šuva,
Vienu strīpi zelta lika,
Otru tīra sudrabiņa.
The morning star is in Germany,
Sewing the sun a skirt;
One stripe he fashions of gold,
The other of pure silver. {27|28}

The five dainas just cited demonstrate the importance of sound patterns in the Latvian oral traditional songs, a trait they share with all other traditional poetry. Note for example the persistent v alliteration, as in lines two and three, “vai ir visas vakarā. / Ira visas vakarā,” where it is also coupled with i and a assonance. The v alliteration had begun actually in the first line in zvaigznes ‘stars’, the key word for the daina, as does the assonance; and it continues in line four in vien nevaid, and in 33856, 33858, and 33859 it appears again in Vāczemē, perhaps even having some influence in the choice of that word. In 33859 it is carried along for two additional lines, “Saulītei svārkus šuva [where it combines with the “sun” word saulītei] / Vienu strīpi zelta lika.”

Vīķis-Freibergs has since that writing provided a very succinct description of the daina and its structure and the history of its collection and publication. There she treats the distinction between oral and written poetics and discerns that psychologists have the possibility of making valuable contributions in this area, namely, in describing just how the traditional poet creates songs. I take the liberty of quoting her at some length, because what she says is central to the ideas of this book.

The folk poet differs from the modern poet in several ways. First, she or he had a functional role to play in everyday occurrences and did not cater to a selected elite of the population. In this role, they were expected to exhibit a high degree of skill in performance, but there were no demands from society that they be original or necessarily different from other singers. Second, the skills the poet was expected to acquire were highly technical ones, allowing them to function within a rigorously defined metrical and stylistic framework. This, of course, is something that modern poetry has turned its back on. The folk poet was thus expected to acquire something like a poetic metalanguage, a process {28|29} probably not unlike that of learning a second language … Finally, the traditional poet of the Latvian dainas, although using the poetic convention of the “lyrical I,” is much more intent on expressing folk wisdom and beliefs about various aspects of the human condition than on giving vent to any personalized, individually subjective feelings. The folk poet thus functions within a very regulated and partially redundant system which directs poetic expression in predetermined, well-worn channels. This does not mean, however, that the folk singer has no other choice than to memorize and repeat songs heard from others. This certainly happens, and forms part of the training of a singer, but it need not stop there. The structure of the tradition is open-ended enough so that the mature singer who has mastered the tradition may, if he has enough talent, introduce entirely new elements into the common repertoire of ideas, images and expressions. [13]

One might add that the tradition itself, created as it had been by talented singers in some degree of competition with one another, has an abundance of possibilities of continual combination and recombination of its elements into ever changing mosaics and has little need for the entirely new.

The second line of the distich 27307-17, Es vairs ilgi nedzīvošu, “I shall not live long any more,” is used in 27307-12, and with Nu es (now I) substituted for Es vairs in 27313-16, and with Nu vairs (now) in 27317. It also has a variant, Ka es (that I), which is used in either the second or the fourth line of a quatrain:


Kam, Laimiņa nesacīji
Ka es ilgi nedzīvošu?

Why, Laima, didn’t you tell
That I shall not live long any more?



Grūti pūta līgaviņa
Uz rociņas gulēdama,
Vai tā bija paredzējsi,
Ka es ilgi nedzīvošu?

My bride sighed heavily
Lying on my arm;
Alas, did she foresee
That I shall not live long?

The dainas are oral traditional formulaic compositions that exist in many variants. They have their own traditional diction and style, and when someone composes a daina not in that style, the resulting song is not felt to be “right.”

If one looks at a type-song and its variants, one is struck by the fact that they frequently share a more or less stable core of lines, or even of couplets, which themselves can be varied within given limits and to which other lines and couplets are added. Although Barons recorded the places in which his {30|31} songs were collected and published a list of people who sent them to him, we do not know from whom the individual songs were collected; it is patent that they are not from one individual singer. The variations, therefore, are not in the singing of the same song by the same singer. It is correct to say that the song as we see it in available variants has a more or less stable core, provided that we realize that there is no implication that this statement is necessarily true for the song as it exists in the practice of any one singer.

Collectors in this century are meticulous in recording information about the informants, the storytellers and singers, from whose creative minds they have taken down stories and songs. This careful concern for method makes it possible for scholars to investigate the workings of the individual artist as well as of the tradition as a whole. The Milman Parry Collection, like other modern collections, set down such information, and it is to it, and to other collections like it in its rigorous methodology, that we must turn for evidence of the practice of individual singers in varying or not varying the songs they have heard.

In the preface, written in 1823, to the 1824 edition of Narodne srpske pjesme, Vuk Karadžić wrote:

He goes on to note that the heroic, gusle songs were found in his day mainly in Bosnia, Herzegovina, Montenegro, and in the “southern, mountainous regions of Serbia.” There was a gusle in almost every house. As one goes further north, he observed, around the Sava and the Danube, one sees fewer gusle. In Srem, the Banat, and Bačka only blind singers had them, and they used them for begging. Others were ashamed of the “blind beggar’s gusle (slepačke gusle).” In contrast, according to Karadžić, the women’s songs were sung mostly where the heroic songs were sung least, as well as in the towns of Bosnia. In those regions the women and girls live more in society. But in the towns in Srem, Bačka, and Banat not even women’s songs are sung but “some sort of new ones, which educated people, school children, and merchants’ apprentices compose.” [

It is usually assumed that, because they are short, lyric songs are memorized verbatim. But as with the Latvian dainas, the number of variants would seem to indicate that the texts are not as fixed as memorization would suggest. I pay particular attention here to the concept of textuality as a means of determining whether the South Slavic songs are fixed textually and hence {33|34} memorized, with or without writing, or whether their texts are fluid and the result of composition in performance. I note the degree of verbal correspondence among the variants of the lyric songs, as I have earlier, in The Singer of Tales, among the variants of a “theme,” or repeated passage, in the investigation of the composition and transmission of the South Slavic epic songs. For we seek to discover whether or not there is a principle of composition and transmission which is to some extent shared by both oral traditional epic and oral traditional lyric songs in the South Slavic poetries.

In some of the songs and variants the first part of the song is comparatively stable and the variants diverge in their endings. Take, for example, Mladenović 155:

“Djevojčice, ružičice,
     Ružo rumena,
Što ti sa mnom ne govoriš,
     Usta medena?”
“Ja bih s tobom govorila,
     Al’ mi ne dadu!”
“Ko to ne da, ko l’ to smeta?
     Ubio ga Bog!”
“O maiden, little rose,
     Red rose,
Why do you not speak to me,
     Honeyed lips?”
“I would speak with you,
     But they do not let me!”
“Who does not let you, who interferes?
     May God strike him down!”

There are two variants of this song in Karadžić Vol. 1. The first is 1.590:

“Devojčice, ružičice,
     Ružo rumena,
Što ti sa mnom ne besediš,
     Usta medena?”
“Ja bi’ s tobom besedila.
     Ne smem od majke.”
“A gdi ti je tvoja majka?
     Ne bilo ti je!”
“Eno mi je u gradini,
     Gdi neven bere.”
“Uvenulo njeno srce,
     K’o što je moje!”
“A moje je uvenulo.
     Većma ne može.”
“O maiden, little rose,
     Red rose,
Why will you not speak with me,
     Honeyed lips?”
“I would speak with you.
     I dare not because of mother.”
“Where is your mother?
     May she never be!”
“She is there in the garden,
     Picking a carnation.”
“May her heart wither,
     As has mine!”
“And mine has withered.
     It can do no more.”

I have underlined the differences in the first six lines between Nos. 590 and 155. After line six they diverge considerably.

The second variant is 1.591: {34|35}

“Djevojčice, ljubičice, ružo rumena!
Što ti sa mnom ne besjediš, usta medena?”
“Ja bih s tobom besjedila, al’ mi ne daju.”
“Ko to ne da, ko l’ to smeta? Bog nam ga smeo!”
“Bogme, tajko, braća moja, i mila majka,
Veleći mi da ne ljubim nikog tuđina,
Nego moju rodnu braću i roditelje,
I onoga koga Bog mi u sreću dadne.”
“O maiden, little violet, red rose!
Why will you not speak with me, honeyed lips?”
“I would speak with you, but they do not let me.”
“Who does not let you, who interferes? May God take him away!”
“Well, daddy, my brothers, and my dear mother,
Saying I should love no outsider,
But my own brothers and parents,
And him who God gave me for my happiness.”

The underlinings are of the differences in the first four (or eight, respectively) lines between 591 and 155. The songs diverge greatly after line four (or eight). In the first part of the song the differences between the variants are negligible—ljubičice ‘violet’ in 591 instead of ružičice ‘rose’ in 155 and 590; besediš (besjediš) and besedila (besjedila) in 590 and 591 instead of govoriš and govorila. Song 155 and the first half of song 591 end abruptly with a one-line curse. In 590 and 591 the singer develops the theme of “mother” (590) or (591) elaborates on who the “they” are who are either forbidding or allowing her to speak, as mentioned in 155. There is, then, a stable part of the song which may be continued in different ways. In this case the stable part of the song is the beginning. A sense of textuality belongs to that part but not to the rest of the song.

In the second part of the song, Mladenović 155 and Karadžić 1.591 add to the opening six lines, which end in each case with al’ mi ne daju ‘but they do not let me,’ ko to ne da, ko l’ to smeta ‘who does not let you,’ ‘who interferes,’ and they diverge only in the final five-syllable coda: Bog nam ga smeo! ‘May God take him away!’ in 591 and Ubioga Bog! ‘May God strike him down!” in 155. That is where Mladenović 155 ends; undoubtedly Karadžić did not publish it for this reason, considering the other two fuller and, hence, better.

Karadžić 591 answers the question who will not allow the girl to speak. Vuk Karadžić 590 does not ask the question at all, because the girl states ne smem od majke ‘I dare not because of my mother’. The two endings have nothing in common. There is a sense of textuality in the openings, but the second parts are different songs, and one would have to look elsewhere, in some other songs, for their counterparts. One can speak here of the mixing of songs. {35|36}

In our next example the stable part of the song comprises its middle and final sections, whereas the beginnings exhibit considerable variety, as was the case with the endings in the previous example. Mladenović 143 has four variants—Mladenović 144 and Karadžić 1.285, 1.286, and 5.379. The stable parts consist of a series of questions and the answers to them. The settings of the questions and answers vary from song to song. Here are the questions and answers in Mladenović 143 and 144.

143 (lines 6-18) 144 (lines 6-18)
“O, Bože, moj mili Bože,
Što li je šire od polja?
Što li je dublje od mora?
Što lije brže od konja?
Što li je sv’jetlje od mača?
Što li je milije od brata?”
To junak sluša i gleda.
“Djevojko, mlada, razumna!
Sad da te vadim iz urna. [25]
Šire je more no polje.
Zmaje je brži od konja. [
Sv’jetlje je sunce od mača.
Milij’je dragi od brata.”
“Ustaj, Ano, da te nesto pitam!
Šta je šire od sinjega mora?
Šta je dulje od zelena polja?
Šta je brže od siva sokola?
Šta je slađe od dulbe šećera?
Šta je draže od mile matere?”
Progovara plemenita Ana:
“Lako ti se mogu dosetiti.
Šire nebo od sinjega mora.
Dulje more od zelena polja.
Draži dragi od mile matere.
Brže oči od siva sokola.
Slađa draga od đulbe šećera.”
“O God, my dear God!
What is wider than a field?
What is deeper than the sea?
What is swifter than a horse?
What is brighter than a sword?
What is dearer than a brother?
A hero listens and watches.
. . . . . . . . . . .
“O maiden, young, prudent.
The sea is wider than a field.
A dragon is swifter than a horse.
Brighter is the sun than a sword.
Dearer is one’s beloved than a brother.”
“Arise, Ana, that I ask you something!
What is wider than the blue sea?
What is longer than a green field?
What is swifter than a gray falcon?
What is sweeter than rose conserve?
What is dearer than a dear mother?”
Noble Ana spoke:
“I can easily think of an answer.
The sky is wider than the blue sea.
The sea is longer than a green field.
One’s beloved is dearer than a dear mother.
Swifter are the eyes than a gray falcon.
Sweeter is one’s beloved than rose conserve.” [27] {36|37}

One of the differences between these two texts is that Mladenović 143 is in octosyllables (3-2-3) and 144 is in decasyllables (4-6). Of the five questions asked in 143 only four are answered. ‘Wider’ (sire), ‘deeper’ (dublje), and ‘swifter’ (brže), in that order, form three of the five questions in both. ‘Dearer’ (milije) in 143 is represented by draže in 144, and it characteristically ends the series. The fourth question is different in each—’brighter’ (sv’jetlje) in 143 and ‘sweeter’ (slađe) in 144. Of the objects in the questions, only ‘field’ (polje) and ‘sea’ (more) are found in both songs, but in reverse order. The object in the fifth question is always a member of the family—’brother’ (brat) in 143 and ‘mother’ (mater) in 144. ‘Swifter than a horse’ (brže od konja) in 143 is matched by ‘swifter than a gray falcon’ (brže od siva sokola) in 144. ‘Brighter than a sword’ (sv’jetlje od mača) in 143 and ‘sweeter than rose conserve’ (slađe od đulbe šećera) in 144 have no counterparts in the other song. Some of these differences result from the difference of meters.

The answers vary more than the questions. In the following translations I have underlined the same or similar objects that are wider, deeper, swifter, brighter, sweeter, or dearer than another object.

Mladenović 143 Mladenović 144
The sea is wider than a field.
A dragon is faster than a horse.
The sun is brighter than a sword.
One’s beloved is dearer than one’s brother.
The sky is wider than the blue sea.
The sea is longer than a green field.
One’s beloved is dearer than one’s dear mother.
The eyes are swifter than a gray falcon.
One’s beloved is sweeter than rose conserve.

The textuality in the questions and answers sections of these two songs is not as taut as that in the beginning portions of our previous examples. Greater variety is allowed. But the textuality is real nevertheless.

Let us look at the other three variants. First Karadžić 5.379 (lines 19-29):

“Seko moja, tico mekušico! [28]
Šta je brže od konja viteza?
Šta je šire od mora sinjega?
Šta je bolje od đuli mehara? [
Šta je draže od oca i majke?”
Njoj govori tica mekušica.
“Luda li si, seko lastavice!
Brže oči od konja viteza.
Šire nebo od mora sinjega.
Bjelji snijeg od đuli mehara.
Sladji dragi od oca i majke.”
“My sister, delicate bird!
What is swifter than a noble horse? {37|38}
What is wider than the blue sea?
What is better than rose blossoms?
What is dearer than father and mother?”
The delicate bird answered her.
“You are daft, sister swallow!
The eyes are swifter than a noble horse.
The sky is wider than the blue sea.
Snow is whiter than rose blossoms.
One’s beloved is dearer than father and mother.”

I have underlined the elements found in the previous two variants. The order is different. The horse has an appositive/epithet. There is metathesis of noun and epithet in mora sinjega of this version with the more usual sinjega mora of Mladenović 144. The family members of the last question are “father and mother” rather than “brother” or “mother.” Only one line in the question-and-answer series is different from the other two, and in the question part, ‘better’ (bolje) is inappropriate—a mistake, in fact—as the answer, ‘whiter’ (bjelji) shows. In spite of these differences, the sense of textuality, of certain specific words, is strong in all three variants.

The last two variants in Karadžić are:

1.285 (3-15) 1.286 (10-20)
“Ah, mili Bože i dragi!
Ima l’ što šire od mora?
Ima l’ što duže od polja?
Ima l’ što brže od konja?
Ima l’ što sladje od meda?
Ima l’ što draže od brata?”
Govori riba iz vode—
“Djevojko, luda budalo!
Šire je nebo od mora,
Duže je more od polja,
Brže su oči od konja,
Sladji je šećer od meda,
Draži je dragi od brata.”
“Što je šire od mora sinjega?
Što l’ je brže od konja viteza?
Što l’ milije od brata jedina?”
Na grančici tica delkušica,
Te se ona mlada razgovara.
I od derta i od muhaneta.
Od srdaha jada velikoga: {38|39}
“Bre ne luduj, tico sevdelijo!
Šire nebo od mora sinjega,
Brže oči od konja viteza,
Milij’ dragi od brata jedina.”

“Oh, dear and kind God!
Is anything wider than the sea?
Is anything longer than a field?
Is anything swifter than a horse?
Is anything sweeter than honey?
Is anything dearer than a brother?”
The fish spoke from the water—
“O maiden, innocent fool!
The sky is wider than the sea.
The sea is longer than a field.
The eyes are swifter than a horse.
Sugar is sweeter than honey.
One’s beloved is dearer than a brother.”
“What is broader than the blue sea?
What is swifter than a noble horse?
What is dearer than an only brother?”
On the branch the nightingale,
The young one spoke
From sorrow and sadness,
From the heart of great sorrow—
“Do not be daft, love-sick bird!
The sky is wider than the blue sea.
The eyes are swifter than a noble horse.
One’s beloved is dearer than an only brother.”

No. 285, it is to be noted, is octosyllabic and has five questions and answers, whereas 286 is decasyllabic and has only three. In the other texts of this song in Karadžić, there is only one line between the two quotations, but 286 is an exception with four lines. The comparatives and the objects in 286 are, nonetheless, to be found in the other texts, each one of which, however, has some unique element. In 285, that element is “honey.”

There can be no doubt about a sense of textuality in these sections of the five variants, although it must be stressed that that does not argue for a fixed text and memorization. What it does exhibit is a remembering of a number of “more or less fixed” texts and a selection, conscious or unconscious—probably the latter—of elements from them.

The variables in the “more or less stable” text in the case of this “theme” (repeated passage) can be stated in the following way. The comparatives ‘wider’ (šire), ‘swifter’ (brže), and ‘dearer’ (either draže or milije) are the most likely to appear. ‘Sweeter’ (slađe), ‘longer’ (dulje), ‘higher’ (više), and ‘deeper’ (dublje) may also be found. ‘Brighter’ (sv’jetlje) and ‘whiter’ (bjelje) are used once each in our five texts, a fact that indicates that other less common comparatives are possible. Not only is there a choice of the usual comparatives as they may be known to a given singer, but there is also an opportunity for departing from the trodden path. The only obligatory elements are {39|40} ‘dearer’ (draže) and one other comparative to introduce it. These comparatives can be used whether the meter is octosyllabic or decasyllabic.

The nouns that follow the comparative are somewhat limited by meter as well as by traditional usage. For example, one cannot say ‘swifter than a falcon’ (brže od sokola) in the octosyllabic line (3-2-3) because od sokola has one syllable more than is allowed. Konj ‘horse’ is useful here, because od konja fits perfectly into the last position in the 3-2-3 line, whether it be “Što li je brže od konja” or “Ima ľ što brže od konja.” Majka ‘mother’ is possible in an octosyllabic line (although it is not used in our texts), but mater ‘mother’ is not possible, because its genitive, matere, produces an extra syllable. In our two octosyllabic songs, brat ‘brother’ is used for the family member. Med ‘honey’ does not, to the best of my knowledge, have a traditional epithet and cannot be used in the appropriate position, that is, in the second part, of a decasyllable, but it fits perfectly into the octosyllable. There is a rare noun going with ‘brighter’ (sv’jetlje) in the octosyllable, namely, ‘sword’ (mač). These are the “more or less stable” components in the octosyllable.

The variables in the decasyllable overlap with those in the octosyllable, because those found in the octosyllable can be adapted for the decasyllable by the use of an epithet. Thus we have the following:

more ‘sea’ od sinjega mora ‘than the blue sea’
polje ‘field’ od zelena polja ‘than a green field’
konj ‘horse’ od konja viteza ‘than a noble horse’
brat ‘brother’ od brata jedina ‘than an only brother’

There are four nouns in this position which are confined to the decasyllable.

soko ‘falcon’ od siva sokola ‘than a gray falcon’
mater ‘mother’ od mile matere ‘than one’s dear mother’
šećer ‘sugar’ od đulbe šećera ‘than rose conserve’
mehar ‘blossom’ od đuli mahara ‘than rose blossoms’ (used once with b’jelje, ‘whiter’)

These are some of the variables in this position in the decasyllable that define a “more or less stable” text.

Finally, what are the variables for the other noun, the object or person better, bigger, whiter, or swifter, for example, than something or someone else? What is needed is a two-syllable noun in the first part of the decasyllable (4-6) or the middle two syllables in the 3-2-3 octosyllable. The same noun {40|41} will fit either meter. The most common are more ‘sea’, nebo ‘sky’, oči ‘eyes’, and dragi ‘beloved’. The rare ones are:

zmaje ‘dragon’ zmaje je brži od konja ‘a dragon is swifter than a horse’
sunce ‘sun’ sv’jetlje je sunce od mača ‘the sun is brighter than a sword’
snijeg ‘snow’ b’jelji snijeg od đuli mehara ‘whiter is snow than rose blossoms’
šećer ‘sugar’ slađi je šećer od meda ‘sweeter is sugar than honey’.

The texts that we have seem to be the result of remembering known and used variables rather than of memorization of a fixed text.

If the questions and answers display textuality, that cannot be said for the beginnings of the songs, which describe the characters and the settings of the questioning. I shall review these before commenting on their meaning.

Karadžić 1.285 has the shortest introduction to the questions and answers of the five texts:

Djevojka sjedi kraj mora.
Pak sama sebi govori—

A girl is sitting beside the sea
And says to herself—

Later, in line nine, a fish in the water answers her soliloquy.

Mladenović 143 and 144, the two versions published by Karadžić, both open with five lines. The first has some kinship with Karadžić 1.285, which we have just seen:

Vrela je voda studena,
Na nju je mlada rumena.
Rumeno lice umiva,
A grozne suze prol’jeva,
A sama sobom govori.
The water of the spring is cold,
By it a young pink-cheeked girl.
She washes her pink-cheeked face,
And weeps great tears,
And says to herself.

In this case her questions are answered, not by a fish, but by an unnamed and hitherto unmentioned hero. Except for the last line, there is no verbal correspondence between this opening and that of Karadžić 285, but in both songs a girl is sitting by a body of water, a spring or the sea, and talking to herself. In 143 we do not know why she weeps; we are also puzzled by the sudden appearance of the riddle-answering hero. So also, it seems, was Karadžić, as he chose not to publish it. Mladenović 144 (in decasyllables) gives the girl some companions. {41|42}

U polju se al-čador viđaše,
Pod čadorom Ana i Maruša.
Mara sjedi, a Anuša spava,
Medu njima mlado neženjeno.
Još govori mlado neženjeno.
On the plain a red tent was seen,
Under the tent are Ana and Maruša.
Mara is sitting, but Anuša sleeps,
Between them an unmarried youth.
The unmarried youth spoke further.

In this text it is not a girl who asks the questions but an unmarried youth. His riddles were answered by Ana—who was sleeping! Probably it was this inconsistency that worried Karadžić and caused him not to publish the text. This opening has little in common with the others and seems to have been arbitrarily attached to the questions and answers. One cannot speak of textuality with reference to any of them.

The openings of Karadžić 1.286 and 5.379 are related to one another, but one is fuller than the other, twice as full to be exact. The former has nine lines, the latter eighteen. It turns out that both the riddlers and the answerers in each case are birds:

286 (lines 1-9) 379 (lines 1-18)
Tica i djevojka (iz Bosne), Plač za dragijem,
“The Bird and the Girl (from Bosnia)” “Lament for One Beloved”
Sevdi, bego, tvoje sevdisanje.
Ubilo te moje uzdisanje!
Je ľ ti druga vezen jagluk dala?
Ja sam ti ga i ljepšega dala,
Što na njemu trides’t i tri lava,
Na srijedi sofa od merdžana,
I na sofi drvce bademovo,
Na grančici tica sevdelija.
Turski sjedi, a Turski besjedi.

Sajvan’ vodo, suva žeđo moja!
Moj dragane, živa željo moja!
Živom li se željom poželjesmo,
Kano majka sina u tamnici,
Sestra brata sa daleka puta!
Da si mi se uželio dragi,
Ti bi mene po kim poručio,
Al’ po suncu ali po mjesecu,
Al’ po onoj danici zvijezdi,
Po putniku ali namjerniku.
Ako sam ja drugog pogledala,
Nijesam ga srcem srdisala.
Ako sam mu vezen jagluk dala,
Ja sam tebe ljepši ostavila.
Na njemu su trides’t i tri grane,
Na srijedi grana bademova,
Na grančici tica mekušica.
K njoj dolazi s mora lastavica.
“Pine, o bey, your pining!
May my sighing destroy you!
Has another given you an embroidered pillow?
I gave you an even finer one,
With thirty-three lions on it,
In the center a pavilion of coral,
In the pavilion an almond tree,
On a branch a love-sick bird.
It sits in Turkish fashion and speaks in Turkish.

“O Sajvan stream, my dry thirst!
My beloved, my living desire! {42|43}
We desired one another with a living desire,
As a mother a son in prison,
Or a sister a brother on a distant journey!
If you really desired me, beloved,
You would send word by someone,
By the sun or by the moon,
By the day-star,
By a traveler or by a chance encounter
If I have looked at another,
I have not loved him in my heart.
If I have given him an embroidered pillow,
I have left a finer one for you.
On it are thirty-three branches,
In the middle an almond branch,
On the branch a delicate bird.
To it comes a swallow from the sea.

The first section of these songs (lines 1-2 of 1.286 and lines 1-12 of 5.379) is a bitter kind of lament, as it were, for a love that has passed, by a girl who has lost her lover. This section is elaborated in 379. In line 11 that variant turns its attention to what was evidently the lover’s complaint, that the girl has looked at someone else and embroidered a pillow for him. Even if she has, she says, she did not love him and she had embroidered a finer one for her lover. This is where the two versions meet, although in 286 the girl asks her lover if some other girl has given him an embroidered pillow. If so, she says that she has given him a finer one.

A degree of textuality, that is, of textual or verbal correspondence, actually begins at line 3 of 286 and at line 13 of 379, with the mention in both songs of an embroidered pillow, with the phrase vezen jagluk dala ‘given an embroidered pillow’ and with ja sam (ti ga) i ljepšega (dala) ‘I (gave) (you) an even finer one’ in 286 compared with ja sam (tebe) ljepši (ostavila) ‘I have (left) a finer one (for you)’ in 379. The descriptions of the figures embroidered on the pillows are somewhat different, but there are several elements and words common to both songs. In 286 there are thirty-three lions depicted, in the midst of which is a pavilion of coral, in which is an almond tree; in 379 there are thirty-three branches, in the midst of which is a branch of an almond tree. In both poems a bird is perched on a branch; in 286 it is a tica sevdelija, which I have translated as “a love-sick bird”; in 379 it is a tica mekušica, which {43|44} I have translated “a delicate bird,” No. 286 closes this section with the line Turski sjedi, a turski besjedi, “It sits in Turkish fashion and speaks in Turkish.” In 379 the bird on the branch is joined by a swallow, which comes from the sea and addresses the other bird with the questions that form the core of the song in all its variants.

In sum, then, this song has in the riddle section, as we saw, a more or less stable core, which exhibits a clear sense of textuality, including variables. It is preceded by a section (Karadžić 1.286, lines 3-8; 5.379,lines 13-17) that also has some degree of textuality, but the lines that lead into it vary considerably in the variants. We can speak here of the textuality of certain parts of the song.

With these five variants of a song in mind, let us now look at some other settings for the riddles. There is a group of them in which a lover awakes his beloved and asks the riddles; at least one of these also illustrates another aspect of the South Slavic women’s songs. From the appearance on the printed page of the songs in Karadžić’s collection (and that of others as well) one can form no idea of stanzaic shape or even whether they had any at all. Fortunately, in the Parry collection we have versions on the phonograph records of some of the songs in Karadžić. Although there is, of course, no way of telling whether the melody to which the songs are now sung was the one used in the nineteenth century, we can see what music the words were sung to in the twentieth. For example, Rabija Zvizdić in Gacko, Herzegovina, in 1935 sang a version of the riddle song in stanzas as follows:

Parry Text No. 6353, Record No. 3099
Aj, Dragi dragu alkatmerom budi,
Aj, alkatmerom budi.
Aj, “Ustaj, dragi, aman, da te nešto pitam!

Aj, Šta je šire od sinjega mora,
Aj, od sinjega mora?
Aj, Šta je draže, aman, od đulbe šećera?

Aj, Šta je draže od oca i majke,
Aj, od oca i majke?
Aj, Šta je brže, aman, od sivog sokola?”

Aj, “Draže dragi od oca i majke,
Aj, od oca i majke.
Aj, Šire nebo, aman, od sinjega mora.

Aj, Brže oči od sivog sokola, {44|45}
Aj, od sivog sokola.
Aj, slađe dragi, aman, od oca i majke.”

Aj, A lover awoke his beloved with a red carnation,
Aj, awoke with a red carnation.
Aj, “Arise, beloved, that I may ask you something!

Aj, What is wider than the blue sea,
Aj, than the blue sea?
Aj, What is dearer, aman, than rose conserve?

Aj, What is dearer than father and mother,
Aj, than father and mother?
Aj, What is swifter, aman, than a gray falcon?”

Aj, “Dearer is one’s beloved than father and mother,
Aj, than father and mother.
Aj, Wider is the sky than the blue sea.

Aj, The eyes are swifter than the gray falcon,
Aj, than the gray falcon.
Aj, Sweeter is one’s beloved, aman, than father and mother.”

The song is sung in stanzas consisting of couplets with a repetition of the last six syllables of the first line and the use of interjections, such as “Aj” and “aman,” at the beginning or the middle of a line. It is worth stressing that we are dealing for the most part, it would seem, with couplets. This is the same building block of composition that we saw in the Latvian dainas, and we will note it again and again as we proceed with further lyric material, also notably in English and Scottish ballads and even to some extent in South Slavic epic.

There are two other texts of this song in the Parry collection (Nos. 1577 and 2809) beginning with the same line, Dragi dragu alkatmerom budi, “A lover awoke his beloved with a red carnation.” They exhibit the same types of variation we have seen in the Karadžić variants. There are four texts in the collection (Nos. 9347, 9819, 10198, and 11176a) that begin with

Beg Alibeg vjernu ljubu budi.
“Ustaj, ljubo, da te nešto pitam!”

Ali Bey awoke his true love.
“Arise, love, that I ask you something!”

and proceed with questions and answers as in the preceding texts. There are sixteen texts in the collection (Nos. 1294, 2264, 4040, 4227, 4645a, 7903, {45|46} 8641, 8667, 9157, 10289, 10453, 10490, 10511, 10548, 10580, and 12238) that begin with

Dvoje mlado sitno smilje bralo.
Đe je bralo, tu je i zaspalo.
Dragi dragu alkatmerom budi.
“Ustaj, drago, da te nešto pitam!”
Two young people were gathering everlastings.
Where they gathered them they fell asleep.
The lover awoke his beloved with a red carnation.
“Arise, beloved, that I may ask you something!”

and proceed as in other versions.

As an example of the latter opening, I quote one by Šerifa Zvizdić of Gacko. It so happens that we have two versions of the same riddle song from her, Texts Nos. 1577 and 10490. Because they begin with different lines they are listed as separate songs.

1577   10490

Dragi dragu alkatmerom budi.
“Ustaj, draga, da te nešto pitam!”
Šta je šire od sinjeg mora?
Šta je brže od sivog sokola?
Šta je slađe od đulber šećera?
Šta je draže od oca i majke?”

Šire nebo od sinjeg mora.
Brže oči od sivog sokola.
Slađe ljuba od đulber šećera.
Mil’i dragi od oca i majke.”

“Kad me pitaš, pravo ću ti kazat’.”

Dvoje mlado sitno smilje bralo.
Đe je bralo, onđe je zaspalo.
Dragi dragu alkatmerom budi.
“Ustaj, draga, da te nešto pitam!”
Što je šire od sinjeg mora?
Što je brže od sivoga sokola?
Što je draže od oca i majke?
Što je slađe od đulbeg šećera?”

Sire nebo od sinjega mora.
Brže oko od sivoga sokola.
Drazi dragi od oca i majke.
Slađa draga od đulbehar šećera.
Da sam, Bog dō, kutija šećera,
Ja bi’ znala đe bi’ se prosulo;
U krevetu đe mi dragi spava.
Kad se prenem, neka šećer jede!
Kad se budi, neka mene ljubi!”

What is sweeter than rose conserve?
What is dearer than father and mother?”

The eyes are swifter than the gray falcon.
One’s love is sweeter than rose conserve.
One’s beloved is dearer than father and mother.”

The lover awoke his beloved with a red carnation.
“Arise, beloved, that I may ask you something!
What is wider than the blue sky?
What is swifter than a gray falcon?

“Since you ask me I shall tell you truly.
The sky is wider than the blue sea.

Two young people were gathering everlastings.
Where they gathered them there they fell asleep. {46|47}

What is dearer than father and mother?
What is sweeter than rose conserve?

The eye is swifter than the gray falcon.
One’s beloved is dearer than father and mother.
One’s beloved is sweeter than rose-petal conserve.
Were I, God grant, a box of sugar,
I know where I would wish to be strewn;
In the bed where my beloved sleeps.
When I start up, let him eat sugar!
When he awakes, let him love me!”

The core of the riddle section of the song is practically the same in both texts, but—discounting errors such as sinjeg for sinjega, as the meter would require, and which resulted from the dictation process, errors I have faithfully preserved—they are not identical. There are a few words that are different: ljuba instead of draga, mil’i instead of draže, and đulber or đulbeg instead of đulbehar. [
30] And there is a typical metathesis of slađe and draže in the two versions. In spite of the similarities, there are sufficient differences even in the riddle part of the song to make it clear that Šerifa Zvizdić did not have a fixed, memorized text in her mind. It is, rather, a “more or less stable core” that she remembers. Most of the difference, as a matter of fact, is in the beginning and the ending, especially the latter, which is in reality a different song, although it is not written as such in the manuscript. One can surmise that this particular song was suggested by its association with ‘sugarconserve’ (šećer) in the riddles. It belongs in the tradition of such songs as Da sam, Bog d’o, studena vodica, Ja bi’ znala gdje bi’ izvirala (Parry Texts Nos. 2488, 7638b, 8701, and 9054). Here are two examples: {47|48}

8701   7638b
Da sam, Bog d’o, studena vodica,
Ja bi’ znala gdje bi’ izvirala,
Pred bijele draganove dvore.
Nek’ me nose draganove seke.
Nek me pije draganova majka,
Ne bi li me u vodi popila.
Ne be li mi sina poklonila!
  Da sam, Bog, d’o, studena vodica,
Da nijesam Salkova rodica,
Ne bi l’, Bog d’o, Salke nahodio,
Ne bi li se vodu napojio,
Ne bi l’ mene u vodi popio.
Žir zobala, s lista vodu pila,
I u žiru guju sazobala,
I u vodi stonogu popila!
I know where I would flow forth,
Before my beloved’s white dwelling.
Let my beloved’s sisters carry me!
Let my beloved’s mother drink me,
That she might drink me in the water,
That she might give her son to me.
Were I, God grant, a cool stream,

And were I not Salko’s relative,
That, God grant, Salko might come upon me,
That he might drink the water.
That he might drink me in the water.
I have eaten mast and drunk water from the leaves,
Amidst the mast I ate a snake,
I drank a centipede in the water.

In the Parry collection there is yet another set of texts with the same questions and answers but with a different opening and setting than what we have seen so far. They are No. 1497 from Anda Grubačić and No. 4381 from Derviša Hrustanović, both of Gacko. No. 1497 goes as follows:

Pod onorn gorom zelenom
Vrani se konji igrahu,
Pod sobom zemlju kopahu,
A zlatne uzde trgahu,
Na moru curu gledaju,
Đe bijelo lice umiva,
A crne oči ispira.
Sama sobom govori:
“Ima li šta lepše od mene?
Ima li šta brže od konja?
Ima li šta šire od polja?
Ima li šta milije od brata?
Ima li šta dublje od mora?
Ima li šta slađe od meda?”
Iz gore vila govori:
“I ja sam lepša od tebe.
Šire je nebo od polja.
Brže je oko od konja.
Dublji je sevdah od mora.
Mili je drago od brata.
Slađe je drago od meda.”
Beneath that green hill
Black horses were prancing,
Digging up the ground under them,
And tugging at their golden bits.
They were looking at a girl by the sea
Washing her white face,
And rinsing her black eyes.
She said to herself:
“Is there anything lovelier than I? {48|49}
Is there anything swifter than a horse?
Is there anything wider than a field?
Is there anything dearer than a brother?
Is there anything deeper than the sea?
Is there anything sweeter than honey?”
A vila spoke from the wooded hill:
“I am lovelier than you.
Wider is the sky than a field.
Swifter is the eye than a horse.
Deeper is longing than the sea.
Dearer is one’s beloved than a brother.
Sweeter is one’s beloved than honey.”

No. 4381 uses a present rather than a past tense in the second, third, and fourth lines, and the form of the question is “Ima li išta lepše od mene? / Ima li išta brže od konja?” The version is interesting because once again we find the girl beside a body of water, washing her face and soliloquizing. A new figure, however, appears, the vila. [
32] The horses in some other songs are indicative of weddings, being the horses sent to bring the bride to her future husband’s house.

Other South Slavic settings for the riddles are more puzzling. Some of them place the girl by the sea or by a spring, and in them it is she who asks the riddles in a soliloquy. Sometimes she is weeping, and sometimes she is washing her face. In one song she is answered by a man, hitherto unmentioned. It is possible that this song is simply the result of confusion on the part of the singer. But there might perhaps be an implication that the girl is testing him to see what his caliber or intentions may be. Because, as remarked by Child, the Devil or another otherworldly figure sometimes appears in these songs, the testing of the man might not be inappropriate.

There are a number of separate songs that begin with Pod onom gorom zelenom, and it is in their context that we must try to evaluate our text. As we look at some of them, it is immediately apparent that the riddles are not found in them. The group that employ Vrani se konji igraju, “Black horses are prancing,” in an early line are of most interest to us, because that is the second line of our Gacko text. Karadžić 1.414 is an example:

Pod onom gorom zelenom
I pod najvišom planinom
Vrani se konji igraju,
Pod sobom jame kopaju,
Srebrna sedla lomljaju,
Zlaćene uzde trgaju;
Dalek’ se putu nadaju
Po lepu Janu devojku,
A Jani sedi, te plače;
Teši je mila snašica:
“Ne plači, Jano, zaovo!
Kada su mene gledali,
Onda su višnje sađene;
Kada su mene prosili,
Onda su višnje cvatile;
Kada su mene vodili,
Onda su višnje zobane.”
Beneath that green hill
And beneath the highest mountain
Black horses are prancing,
Pawing up pits beneath them,
Breaking their silver saddles,
Tugging at their golden bits;
They hope for a distant journey
To fetch the lovely maid Jana,
But Jana sits and weeps;
Her dear sister-in-law comforts her:
“Weep not, sister-in-law, Jana!
When they came to look upon me,
Then were the cherries planted;
When they asked for me,
Then the cherries blossomed; {52|53}
When they led me away from home as a bride,
Then were the cherries eaten.”

Similar to this song are Karadžić 1.415 and 5.39. Except for the impatient horses and the weeping girl, these songs seem to have nothing to do with our riddles. An interesting variant is found in Mladenović 220:

Pod onom gorom zelenom
I pod najvišom planinom,
Moja lepa Janjo,
Moja zeferinko,
Moja čarna oka,
Ubava Janjo devojko!
Vrani se konji igraju,
Pod sobom zemlju kopaju,
Zlaćene uzde kidaju,
Srebrna sedla krškaju,
Lepom se putu nadaju
Po lepu Janju devojku.
Kada su Janju prosili,
Redom su dgunje sadili;
Kad su joj prsten davali,
Redom su dgunje cvetale;
Kada su Janju vodili,
Redom se dgunje žutile.
Brala ji Janja devojka,
Pa nosi babi na krilo,
Babo ji s krila na zemlju:
“Nit’ moja Janja nit’ dgunje,
Već moja trava zelena!”
Kupi ji Janja devojka,
Pa nosi majci na krilo.
Majka ji s krila na zemlju:
“Nit’ moja Janja nit’ dgunje,
Već moja trava zelena!”
Kupi ji Janja devojka,
Pa nosi dragom na krila,
A dragi s krila u njedra:
“Moja je Janja i dgunje!”
Beneath that green hill
And beneath the highest mountain
My lovely Janja,
My zephyr,
My black eye,
Pretty maid Janja!
Black horses are prancing,
Pawing the earth beneath them,
Champing their golden bits,
Breaking their silver saddles,
Hoping for a fine journey
To fetch the lovely maid Janja.
When they asked for Janja,
They planted the quinces;
When they gave her the ring,
All the quinces blossomed;
When they led Janja away from home as a bride,
The quinces turned yellow.
The maid Janja gathered them,
And put them in her father’s lap,
Her father put them from his lap onto the ground:
“Neither Janja nor the quinces are mine,
But mine is the green grass!”
The maid Janja picked them up,
And put them in her mother’s lap.
Her mother put them from her lap onto the ground:
“Neither Janja nor the quinces are mine,
But mine is the green grass!”
The maid Janja picked them up, {53|54}
And put them in her beloved’s lap.
And her beloved raised them from his lap into his bosom.
“Both Janja and the quinces are mine!”

This song adds a new scene to the preceding. Like Karadžić 5.39 it tells what happened to the fruit that was growing to maturity. Although the following song, Karadžić 1.291, does not belong in the Vrani se konji igraju, “Black horses are prancing,” group of the Pod onom gorom zelenom texts, it does have a relationship to the last section of the above.

Pod onom gorom visokom
Crljeno cv’jeće i modro,
Brala ga Mare vjerena,
Na skut ga babu metala,
Babo ga ne će, ter ne će:
“Ni moja Mare, ni cv’jeće.”
Pod onom gorom visokom
Crljeno cv’jeće i modro,
Brala ga Mare vjerena,
Na skut ga majci metala,
Majka ga ne će, ter ne će:
“Ni moja Mare, ni cv’jeće.”
Pod onom gorom visokom
Crljeno cv’jeće i modro,
Brala ga Mare vjerena,
Na skut ga bratu metala,
A brat ga ne će, ter ne će:
“Ni moja Mare, ni cv’jeće.”
Pod onom gorom visokom
Crljeno cv’jeće i modro,
Brala ga Mare vjerena,
Na skut ga sestri metala,
Sestra ga ne će, ter ne će:
“Ni moja Mare, ni cv’jeće.”
Pod onom gorom visokom
Crljeno cv’jeće i modro,
Brala ga Mare vjerena,
Na skut ga dragu metala,
Dragi ga hoće, ter hoće:
“I moja Mare i cv’jeće.”
Beneath that high hill
Are red and blue flowers,
Betrothed Mare gathered them,
Put them in her father’s lap,
Her father did not want them:
“Neither Mare nor the flowers are mine.”
Beneath that high hill
Are red and blue flowers,
Betrothed Mare gathered them,
Put them in her mother’s lap,
Her mother did not want them:
“Neither Mare nor the flowers are mine.”
Beneath that high hill
Are red and blue flowers,
Betrothed Mare gathered them,
Put them in her brother’s lap,
But her brother did not want them:
“Neither Mare nor the flowers are mine.”
Beneath that high hill
Are red and blue flowers,
Betrothed Mare gathered them,
Put them in her sister’s lap,
Her sister did not want them:
“Neither Mare nor the flowers are mine.”
Beneath that high hill
Are red and blue flowers,
Betrothed Mare gathered them,
Put them in her beloved’s lap, {54|55}
Her beloved wanted them:
“Both Mare and the flowers are mine.”

Only the two Parry songs Pod onom gorom zelenom with which we began associate that beginning and the impatient horses with the riddle song. When the horses are described as watching a girl sitting beside the sea, the link is made with such songs as Đevojka sjedi kraj mora, “A girl is sitting beside the sea,” and we suddenly find her uttering riddles. Her first line, Ima li išta lepše od mene? “Is there anyone more beautiful than I?” leads her into a connection with a group of boasting songs, to which the riddles tenuously belong simply by the form of question and comparison. An example of such a song is Parry No. 4457 from Dzemila Pošković of Gacko:

Falijo se žuti limun kraj mora:
“Ima ľ danas išta ljepše od mene?”
To začula senabija jabuka:
A govori senabija jabuka:
“A i ja sam, bolan, ljepša od tebe.
Tebe pije svaka sorta šerbeta.
Mene bere sva gospoda pešćeša.
Koliko je u Efice avlija,
S kraj do na kraj senabija jabuka.”
The yellow lemon tree beside the sea boasted:
“Is there anything today more lovely than I?”
The autumn apple tree heard this,
And the autumn apple tree spoke:
“My poor fellow, I am lovelier than you.
All sorts of people drink you in sherbet.
All the gentry choose me for gifts.
As large as Efica’s courtyard is,
From one end to the other are autumn apple trees.”

One could undoubtedly discover links to other songs from this group of boasting songs, and so on from group to group in a seemingly never-ending network of associations. Thus songs modulate from one to another by means of associations of various kinds.

In the case of the Pod onom gorom zelenom songs adduced above, we can note not only the variations of the fruit parallel but also the addition to it of an account of what is done with the fruits, a normal progression of narrative. Finally, however, we saw a song in which flowers were treated in the same way as the fruits, but what was only a section of a song in one case is a completely independent song in the other. There is no green hill, there are no impatient horses, simply a girl picking flowers and offering them to father, mother, sister, and brother, all of whom refuse them. At last her lover accepts both the girl and the flowers. Here is a dramatic example of some of the ways in which songs are augmented and interrelated in tradition. The {55|56} riddles led us from “awaking” songs, to weeping maidens by bodies of water, to impatient horses, all of which are elements associated with marriage: choosing a bride (or bridegroom?) by means of riddles, maidens weeping because they do not wish to leave home, horses eager to set out to fetch the bride from her home. Tradition in the case of the lyric songs, at least, consists of a mass of interrelated and interwoven motifs and their formulaic expressions in discernible themes, or repeated passages, centered in the various stages of wedding ritual.

To return to the riddle songs, finally, in a class very much by themselves are Tica i djevojka, “The Bird and the Girl” (Karadžić 1.286) and Plač za dragijem, “Lament for One Beloved” (5.379) with their settings of a disappointed, and apparently unfaithful, girl trying to explain to her departed lover that she had always loved him more than the other man. To prove this, she cites the embroidered pillow she gave him, which was finer than the one she had given his rival. The pillow is described elaborately. On it, among other things, is a tree with branches on one of which sits a bird, representing the lover. He asks another bird the riddles, and she answers them, proving that she is worthy to marry him. In the other version the girl bird is sitting on the branch and a swallow from afar asks the riddles. Bird imagery is not uncommon in this poetic tradition, but the elaboration of the setting for the riddles is indeed unusual. The question of marriage is still the point of the riddling test.

We have seen that in some lyric songs in the South Slavic tradition there may be a section of the song at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end, which shows clear signs of a sense of textuality on the part of the singer, whereas other parts of the song may seem independent of textuality. There are some songs, of course, whose textuality embraces the whole song. I turn now to an example of such a song. Mladenović 316 has two variants, Karadžić 1.693 and 5.577. Here are the three texts:

Mladenović 316  
Dok sam bio mlado momče,
Đevojke me bratom zvaše,
Udovice, “Moj brajane!”
A ka’ sam se oženio,
Stare babe, “Drago d’jete!”
Đevojke me vragom zovu,
Udovice, “Vragolane!”
Stare babe, “Ćut’, magare!”
While I was a little boy,
The girls called me brother,
Widows, “My big brother!”
But when I was married,
Old babas, “Dear child!”
The girls called me a devil,
Widows, “You joker!”
Old babas, “Shut up! ass!” {56|57}
Karadžić 1.693  
Kad sam bio mlado momče,
Đevojke me bracom zvaše,
A nevjeste, “Mlado momče!”
Stare babe, “Majkin sine!”
A kada se ja oženih,
Svakog dobra ja poželih.
Đevojke me vragom zovu,
A nevjeste, “Vragolome!”
Stare babe, “Kurvin sine!”
When I was a little boy,
The girls called me brother,
Brides, “Little boy!”
Old grannies, “Mother’s son!”
But when I married,
I lost every good thing.
The girls called me a devil,
Brides, “Devilish one!”
Old grannies, “Son of a bitch!”
Karadžić 5.577  
Dokle mene ne oženi majka,
Đevojke me Bogom bratimjahu,
Udovice uzdanicom zvahu,
Desno krilo, sve nevjeste mlade,
Stare bake, “Odi k meni, sinko!”
A od kad se ja oženih, druže,
Đevojke me zovu izdajnikom,
Udovice: “Naš nevjerni druže!”
A nevjeste, “U nevolji druže!”
Stare babe ni “Oklen si, sinko?”
Until my mother married me off,
The girls called me brother-in-God,
Widows called me their trusted friend,
All young brides, their right wing.
Old grannies, “Come and see me, sonny!”
But after I married, friend,
The girls called me traitor,
Widows, “Our faithless friend!”
Brides, “Friend in need!”
Old grannies don’t even ask, “Where have you been, sonny?”

Here is a humorous and satiric song, of which the South Slavic tradition has many, a parody, an inversion, of the usual love song. The young man complains that he was much sought for before he married but not desirable afterward.

In spite of the differences among the variants, including the fact that the first two are octosyllabic and the third decasyllabic, this whole song has textuality. Line six in Karadžić 1.693 is unique and breaks up the symmetry of introductory line plus the naming, which is repeated, of three female groups of acquaintances. In Mladenović 316 the singer has reversed lines four and five, also breaking the symmetry. It was probably for this reason that Karadžić did not publish the text. Only Karadžić 5.577 maintains the balanced structure and includes both udovice ‘widows’, otherwise only in 316, and nevjeste ‘brides’, otherwise only in 693.

The structure of this satiric song makes it easy to remember. The “before” and “after” lines are followed by a series of classes of women with a typical comment for each. It is remembered. There is no need to memorize the {57|58} song, because it can be put together readily enough from ordinary memory, and there is no fixed text to memorize anyway. The lines and half-lines of this song are made up of traditional formulas. The song, or the “theme” (that is, a repeated passage), is not improvised, nor is it memorized. Improvisation would mean that it was made up extempore of mainly nontraditional elements. The materials of the song are traditional, the structure is traditional, and it provides a plan that is easily followed. I believe that one might well say that the song is composed in performance. The stable opening of our first example of South Slavic lyric songs (Mladenović 155, Karadžić 1.590, 591) is also held together by its structure reinforced by such devices of sound as rhyme and alliteration. Its structure is a simple one of vocative plus question and answer. The form is that of a stylized dialogue. The alliteration of ružičice, ružo, and rumena is clear enough, as are the internal rhyme of djevojčice and ružičice and the end rhyme of rumena and medena. These are all structural elements that make both remembering and recomposing easy. So do the parallelisms in the riddle song. In the case of some lyric songs, then, composition in performance is the proper descriptive term for the process.

The Parry collection has forty-four texts of this song. A version of it from Halima Hrvo in Gacko was published in Serbo-Croatian Folk Songs: [39]

Puhni mi, puhni, ladane!
Dođi mi, dođi, dragane.
U moje dvore bijele!
Dovedi đoga za sobom!
Sveži ga ruži za grane!
Neka mu ruža miriše!
Neka mu duša uzdiše!
Blow, blow, cold wind!
Come to me, beloved, {58|59}
Into my white dwelling!
Bring your white horse with you!
Tie him to a branch of the rose tree!
Let the rose envelop him in its fragrance!
Let his spirit sigh with longing!

A transcription by Bela Bartók of the music of this song can be found in the above mentioned publication. [
40] In performance, Halima repeats each line. It should be noted in passing that this song text is made up of three couplets, of which the first is extended by one line. The first couplet is identical with the first couplet in the Karadžić text, but the extended lines are different. In one case the beloved is to come to her house, in the other, to her green garden. We have two versions of this song from Đula Hrustanović of Gacko, Parry Nos. 9467 and 12100:

9467   12100
Puhni mi, puhni, ladane,
Šalaj, ladane!

Dođi mi, dođi, dragane,
Šalaj, dragane,

U moju bašču zelenu,
Šalaj, zelenu,

Pod moju ružu rumenu,
Šalaj, rumenu!

Majka mi nije kod kuće,
Šalaj, kod kuće.

A dica sitna mala,
Šalaj, pospala.

A đedo stari ne mari,
Šalaj, ne mari.

  Puhni mi, puhni, ladane!
Puhni mi, puhni, ladane,
Šalaj, ladane!
Dođi mi, dođi, dragane!
Dođi mi, dođi, dragane,
Šalaj, dragane,
U moju bašču zelenu,
U moju bašču zelenu,
Šalaj, zelenu,
Pod moju ružu rumenu,
Pod moju ružu rumenu
Šalaj, rumenu,
Povedi đoga za sobom!
Povedi đoga za sobom,
Šalaj, za sobom!
Sveži ga ruži za grane!
Sveži ga ruži za grane,
Šalaj, za grane!
Neka mu ruža miriše!
Neka mu ruža miriše,
Šalaj, miriše!
Neka mu duša uzdiše!
Neka mu duša uzdiše,
Šalaj, uzdiše! {59|60}
Ti dođi meni pod pendžer!
Ti dođi meni pod pendžer,
Šalaj, pod pendžer!
Ja ću te mlada ljubiti,
Ja ću te mlada ljubiti,
Šalaj, ljubiti,
A ti ćeš mene uzeti,
A ti ćeš mene uzeti,
Šalaj, uzeti.

My mother is not at home,
And the little children have fallen asleep,
And old grandfather does not care.

Blow, blow, cold wind!
Come to me, beloved,
Into my green garden,
Beneath my red rose-tree!

Bring your white horse with you!
Tie him to the branches of the rose-tree!
Let the rose envelop him in its fragrance,
And let his spirit sigh with longing!
Come beneath my window!
I shall love you, young as I am.
And you will take me!

Hrustanović’s first four lines are alike in both of her texts and they agree with the first four lines of Karadžić 298, although only the first couplet is shared with Hrvo’s text from the Bartók book. Beginning with line five, these three dictated versions tell different stories. In 298 the girl is embroidering a golden kerchief, to be finished by Christmas, which the lover may wear to remember his beloved. In 9467 the girl adds that her mother is not at home, the children are asleep, and old grandfather does not care. Đula’s other version, beginning with line 5, agrees with lines 4-7 of Halima’s Bartók text but continues the story to its culmination.

The Parry collection also has two dictated texts of this song from Đulsa Čampara (Nos. 4029 and 7323). They agree with Đula Hrustanović’s No. 12100 through the line Neka mu duša uzdiše! “Let his spirit sigh with longing!” No. 4029 ends there, but 7323 adds, in a different meter(!), lines suggested by the horse and obviously taken from another song:

Podajte mi đogi jedno kilo soli!
Podajte mi đogi jedno kilo soli!
Nek moj đogo znade, da mene imade!
Nek moj đogo znade, da mene imade!
Give my white horse a kilo of salt!

Let my white horse know that he has me! {60|61}

In the case of both of these singers there is a stable core of the song and a tendency to go beyond that core by adding several more lines.

Đula Dizdarević dictated three versions of this little song to Čedika Šaković (No. 10528) and to Halid Dizdarević (Nos. 11740 and 11752). The first of these is like the first of Đula Hrustanović’s texts, ending with

Majka mi nije kod kuće,
A deca sitna malena
Jesu mi sada zaspala,
A đedo stari ne mari.
Mother is not at home,
And the little children
Have now fallen asleep,
And old grandfather does not care.

No. 11740 begins with the two unexpected lines, then uses several familiar ones, and ends with new material, though an old subject:

“Puhni, vjetre, ne deri mi derte!
Puhni mi, hlade, razderi mi jade!
Puhni mi, puhni,hladane!
Dođi mi, dođi, dragane,
U moju bašču zelenu,
Pod moje dvore bijele!
Dođi mi, dragi, u bašču,
Pod moju ružu rumenu,
Pod moje dvore bijele!”
Zove ga cura na konak.
Lijepo ga cura dočekala.
Mehku mu stere postelju,
I gosposku večeru.
“Blow, wind, do not tear my grief!
Blow, cold one, tear apart my sorrows!
Blow, blow, cold wind!
Come to me, beloved,
Into my green garden,
To my white dwelling!
Come, beloved to the garden,
Beneath my red rose-tree,
To my white dwelling!”
The girl invited him in to spend the night.
The girl received him well.
She spread a soft bed for him,
And a lordly supper.

Once again we have a more or less stable core with surrounding variations. No. 11752 has more surprises:

Puhni mi, puhni, hladane!
Dođi mi, dođi, dragane,
U moju bašču zelenu,
Pod moju ružu rumenu,
Pod moj pendžer bijeli!
Ja ću tebe čekati,
Slatko šerbe mutit’.
Vrata ću ti otvorit’.
Kad ti bideš na vratima,
Nemoj plaho trupati!
Moj je tata mučna tabijata.
Blow, blow, cold wind!
Come to me, beloved,
Into my green garden,
Beneath my red rose-tree,
Beneath my white window!
I shall await you,
And mix sweet sherbet.
I shall open the door for you.
When you are at the door, {61|62}
Do not knock loudly!
My daddy has a bad temper.

Although for the analysis of variants I have chosen songs I knew and liked and of which, from my work on the Bartók book, I was aware that there were a number of texts available, I believe that they are typical of their genre. In working with traditional songs and stories, it does not matter where one begins, because all songs and stories of a given traditional genre are interconnected.

An oral traditional song, no matter what its length or “genre,” textually, consists of one or more groups, large or small, of lines forming a more or less stable core adapted to context. Both the core and the lines used to adapt it consist typically of blocks of lines of varying size, but normally between two and four lines, linked in various ways that result (although probably not consciously conceived of for this purpose) in their being “memorable” and easily recalled when needed—or, more properly, when association brings them to mind. “Tension of essences” is close to “free association.” There seems, then, to be a principle operative in the oral traditional material considered which says that, no matter what the size of the composition, the traditional singers work with comparatively small blocks of lines intermediate between the formula and the theme.

Whether dealing with versions from a single singer or from several, one thus frequently encounters the more or less stable core of lines to which new elements are added. Sometimes they are added at the beginning. When they are placed after the “core,” it is almost as if after a given point in the song the singer were filling out the song with familiar traditional ideas and formulas. It can truly be said that even with short lyric songs, which are erroneously thought to have a fixed text kept verbatim in the memory, the concept of a memorized text needs to be modified. The larger the sample with which one works, the less adequate is the concept of word-for-word memorization as a means of song transmission.

Editor’s Addendum

Lord has demonstrated the oral composition of two large bodies of lyric poetry, Latvian dainas and Serbo-Croatian women’s songs. His method was to show that these short, nonnarrative poems were not memorized but were composed in performance by combining familiar, oft repeated blocks of lines (a stable, but not fixed, core of wording) with new or additional poetic {62|63} material. Although formulas abound in such poems, his method depended not so much on showing the proliferation of formulas as on demonstrating the persistence of blocks of lines, belonging to or leading to the compositional device of the “theme,” or repeated passage. He thus advanced from an analysis of short repeated phrases to larger units of thought.

The question naturally arises whether Parry and Lord’s methods can be applied to ancient Greek lyric and elegiac poetry in an effort to determine whether such poetry could have been composed orally. Milman Parry had indeed considered the question. In this “excursus” I gather together the pertinent remarks of Parry and other scholars. I quote them at some length in order to present their views as precisely as possible.

In a letter to Albert Lord, dated May 19, 1971, Jesper Svenbro wrote to query the relationship between orality and lyric poetry and between epic and lyric poetry. He remarked:

In “Studies in the Epic Technique of Oral Verse-Making, I. Homer and Homeric Style,” under the heading “The Formula Outside Homer,” Parry cited studies dealing with elegiac poetry:

In a volume of essays edited by Thomas J. Figueira and Gregory Nagy, one finds frequent allusion to the elements of oral composition in the Theognidea , “about fourteen hundred verses in all,” representing “something more than the life’s work—however long that life may have been—of a single poet.” [45] Nagy discusses the Homeric poems in the context of pan-Hellenism, a process he applies also to Hesiod and to the Theognidean poetry. [46] In considering, moreover, the passages in the Theognidea which are believed to be excerpts from Solon and other writers of elegiac poetry, Nagy demonstrates that


[ back ] 1. The Milman Parry Collection has more than ten thousand lyric songs, mostly in manuscript, taken down from dictation; but there are some on the phonograph records from 1934-35 and a few on tape from later years. I was present at the singing and collecting of these songs. The great majority of them are from Moslem women in Gacko, Herzegovina. Some were published with musical transcriptions and a lengthy and important analysis of the music by Béla Bartók in Bartók and A. Lord, 1951.

[ back ] 2. Karadžić, 1932-36, vol. 1 (1932) and vol. 5 (1935). These are the editions from which I quote throughout this chapter. The edition of vol. 1, published by Prosveta, Belgrade, 1958, is based on the 1841 Vienna edition and is to be recommended.

[ back ] 3. Hrvatske narodne pjesme, 1896-1942 (vols. 1-4, 8-9, contain heroic songs); Andrić, 1909-42.

[ back ] 4. Barons and Visendorfs, 1894-1915. Material accumulated since 1915 was published by Šmits, 1936-39; he adds only 7,75 8 variants. Barons’s collection was printed in Gothic type; Šmits introduced Latin type. In this chapter, “Ld” (Latvju dainas) refers to the Barons edition, whereas “Ltd” (Latviešu tautas dziesmas) refers to the Copenhagen edition; see Švabe, Straubergs, and Hauzenberga-Šturma, 1952-56. For more details about dainas and their collecting, see Vīķis- Freibergs, 1981.

[ back ] 5. See A. Lord, 1991, 76, 102, 130, 209.

[ back ] 6. Stender, 1783: “Kein Schmauss, keine Hochzeit, keine Johannis- und Erndtefeyer, kein Talkus (das ist, wo eine Menge Personen aus der Nachbarschaft, zu einer allgemeinen Tagesarbeit, zusammen gebeten und traktirt werden), keine Flachsarbeit und Spinnerey im Hofe, und desgleichen, kan ohne Gesang dieser Liederchen abgehen” (272).

[ back ] 7. Ibid.: “Nur Schade, dass sie bisweilen, insonderheit auf den Hochzeiten, die Gäste schimpflich zu besingen missbraucht werden, welches aber diese, als einen uralten Gebrauch gar nicht übel nehmen, sondern vielmehr steif darüber halten, dass dem urgrossvaterlichen Ceremoniell sein Recht wiederfahre.”

[ back ] 8. For more on the flyting, see Harris, 1979 and 1981a.

[ back ] 9. Katzenelenbogen, 1935, 111.

[ back ] 10. Ibid., 111-12.

[ back ] 11. Muižniece, 1981, 2.

[ back ] 12. Vīķis-Freibergs, V., and I. Freibergs, 1978, 338.

[ back ] 13. Vīķis-Freibergs, 1984, 341.

[ back ] 14. Muižniece, 1981, 224-60.

[ back ] 15. Ibid., 231.

[ back ] 16. See further my “Theories of Oral Literature and the Latvian Dainas,” A. Lord, 1989. I am much indebted to the Freibergs and to Kristine Konrad for providing me with copies of their work, advising on additional bibliography, and giving valuable assistance in translating Latvian dainas. [I am most grateful to Morris Hale of the Linguistics Department of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for checking the Latvian passages cited in this chapter.]

[ back ] 17. The gusle is a one-stringed, pear-shaped, bowed musical instrument.

[ back ] 18. Karadzic, 1824, xvii.

[ back ] 19. Ibid., xvii-xviii; “nego kojekake nove, što prave učeni ljudi i djaci i kalfe trgovačke.”

[ back ] 20. Ibid., xviii; “nego se samo kazuju.”

[ back ] 21. Andrić, 1909, xii-xiii.

[ back ] 22. Ibid., xiii.

[ back ] 23. Ibid., xiii-xiv.

[ back ] 24. Mladenović and Nedić, 1973.

[ back ] 25. [David E. Bynum offers the opinion that the verse Sad da te vadim iz uma is untraditional and is thought to have been interpolated by this text’s putative collector, Vuk Vrčević.]

[ back ] 26. The -e of zmaje is unexpected for the appropriate nominative case, zmaj, which is one syllable too short for the octosyllabic line.

[ back ] 27. I am grateful to Richard Janko for pointing out the parallel with the first stanza of Sappho, Fragment 16 (Lobel and Page, 1955): “Some say armies of horsemen are best, some say infantry, some say ships are loveliest, but I say that what one loves is.” For an earlier treatment of some of these riddling songs, see A. Lord, 1987a, 68-71.

[ back ] 28. [Mekušico, nom. mekušica, from the stem mek ‘soft’. Hirtz, 1941, vol. 2, fasc. 2, p. 274, s.v. mekušica, suggests as alternatives delkušica, dilkušìca. On delkušica, vol. 2, fasc. 1, p. 84, he comments: “A Turkish word, perhaps from Persian dilkuša (adj., meaning ‘opening or giving joy to the heart,’ ‘pleasant,’ ‘beautiful.’) ” He offers the possibility that delkušica is from the Turkish dilkuş, a noun, meaning “bird of the heart or soul.” Hirtz, p. 87, defines dilkuša as “bird that cheers the heart,” “avis magnum gaudium afferens, Nachtigall, luscinia,” Škaljić, 1966, s.v. dilkušica, reports that it is a diminutive of dilkuša, Persian, which he translates as “a bird of happiness.” He adds: “In our folk poetry probably a nightingale is understood.” Professor Sinasi Tekin, of the Harvard Department of Near Eastern Languages, kindly informs me that the form dilkuşa cannot mean “nightingale” in Turkish but that Turkish kuş means “bird” and that kuşçuk is a “tiny or lovely bird.” Hony, 1947, 78, defines dilkuşa, adj., as “pleasant,” “exhilarating.” Note that below, in Vuk Karadžić 1.286, line 13, a variant of 5.379, the words tica delkušica are actually used, and following Škaljić and Hirtz, I translate this expression as “nightingale.” Tica mekušica, which Lord originally rendered as “a bird of beauty,” is translated as “a delicate bird.” The Dictionary of the Yugoslav Academy, Budmani and Maretić, 1904-10, 6.27:596, gives as one of the definitions of mekušica, “some kind of imaginary bird.”]

[ back ] 29. Mehara, nom. mehar, is a variant of Turkish behar, in turn from Persian behar, meaning “springtime,” or “leaf, petal, blossom.” See Škaljić, 1966, s.v. behar.

[ back ] 30. Đulber and đulbeg (šećer), more properly đulbe šećer ‘rose conserve’, from Turkish gül-be-şeker, are alternatives for đulbehar (šećer), from Turkish gül-behar-şeker ‘rose-petal conserve’. Đulbehar, however, creates an eleven-syllable line, a fact that probably accounts for the use of đulber and đulbeg.

[ back ] 31. See below at n. 38.

[ back ] 32. A vila is a supernatural female with wings who inhabits mountain woods and lakes.

[ back ] 33. See A. Lord, 1960, 96-97. Here I have observed that the associations that attract one motif or element to another may be by the force of habit or of tradition. Where the association that is called forth is not necessarily linear or essential, the tension may be “submerged.” The association may be caused by the force of elements long existing in tradition and thus brought into the singer’s consciousness. Sometimes, as in the case of traditional epic narrative, a particular theme may by this tension of traditional elements automatically call forth a related theme. An example is when in South Slavic epic the theme of a long war or long absence of a hero brings into play the associated theme of deceptive story or recognition. See Alexander, 1995 and forthcoming.

[ back ] 34. Child, 1882, 1:4.

[ back ] 35. Ralston, 1872, quoted by Child, 1882, 1:2-3. Ralston’s text is taken from Buslaev, 1861, 33-34.

[ back ] 36. See above, after Parry Texts Nos. 9347, 9819, 10198, and 11176a.

[ back ] 37. [David E. Bynum sees an analogue to Karadžić 1.285 in “The Grey Selchie of Sule Skerry,” No. 27, in Kinsley, 1969, 91-93.]

[ back ] 38. See above, Parry Texts Nos. 1577 and 10490.

[ back ] 39. Bartók and Lord, 1951, No. 5, 262-63.

[ back ] 40. Ibid., 100-101.

[ back ] 41. Parry, 1971, 347.

[ back ] 42. See Svenbro, 1984, 65 and nn. 58 and 59; also Svenbro, 1988,163 and n. 7; and 1993,146-52 and nn. 7, 10.

[ back ] 43. Nagy, 1974, 131-34; see also pp. 120-35.

[ back ] 44. Parry, 1971, 280-81. See Riedy, 1903; Küllenberg, 1877. See Harrison, 1902, 100-134, with reference to “the many verses and passages in Theognis which some editors have given to Tyrtaeus, Mimnermus and Solon because they are found, in more or less the same form, in their work as well … If the small amount of poetry we have is typical, the common element in the elegy was very large” (cited by Parry, 1971, 281). For the view that much of the poetry of Archilochus is oral and largely Homeric in diction, whereas some of his poems exhibit transitional characteristics, see Page, 1963; also Notopoulos, 1966.

[ back ] 45. Figueira and Nagy, 1985, I. The editors date the Theognidea to the period 640-479 B.C.

[ back ] 46. Nagy, 1985, 35, n. 17.3. See also Nagy, 1982, 52, 60-62; and Parry, 1971, 279-80. For the orality of Hesiod, see Hoekstra, 1957; G. Edwards, 1971; Pavese, 1972, 111-96; Peabody, 1975; Hainsworth, 1981; Janko, 1982; and Thomas, 1992, 102 n. 1. For orality in the Homeric Hymns, see Brillante, Cantilena, and Pavese, 1981, esp. the following articles: Segal, on the Hymn to Demeter , 107-62; Kirk, on the Hymn to Apollo, 163-82; and Herter, on the Hymn to Hermes, 183-201. See also Janko, 1982, chap. 2, 18-41. On the Hymn to Aphrodite, see Preziosi, 1966.

[ back ] 47. Nagy, 1985, 48. See Giannini, 1973; and Nagy, I979b.

[ back ] 48. Nagy, 1985, 49-50.

[ back ] 49. Ford, 1985, 83.

[ back ] 50. In Figueira and Nagy, 1985, 256; for examples entailing contrasts of agathos and kakos, see 256-57. See Giannini, 1973.

[ back ] 51. Figueira and Nagy, 252.

[ back ] 52. Havelock, 1986; but see Havelock, 1982, 19: “Elegiac, like lyric, was a functional component of orally preservable communication.”

[ back ] 53. Havelock, 1986, 93.

[ back ] 54. See A. Lord, 1987b, 324-37, esp. 326-27; Finnegan, 1976, 137.

[ back ] 55. Parry, 1971, 281-98.

[ back ] 56. Ibid., 283. Havelock, 1982, 16 and n. 27, however, maintains, following Fennell, that “it is probable that [Pindar] did not write his odes.” He cites Fennell, 1893: “Metrical literature was not committed to writing for nearly a generation after the Persian Wars, i.e., not until Pindar was an old man” (xvii). See the remainder of Havelock’s note: “Internal evidence of the odes we have could support the view that the poet occasionally sent either a papyrus of the poem for performance overseas, or one or more musicians who had memorized the poem, or did both.”

[ back ] 57. Parry, 1971, 299.