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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Russia: Vol. XX. 1876–79.


Sir Sava and the Lesches

By From the Russian

  • Anonymous translation
  • “The Lesches are a kind of Satyrs; covered, like them, with hair, and of a peculiarly malicious nature. They steal children and women; and their approach operating to benumb the senses is always fatal. In the present instance, however, we may conjecture that ‘the brandy, the wine, and the mead’ had some preparatory influence.”—Translator’s Note.

  • WITH the Lord at Nemirov

    Sir Sava dined so gladly;

    Nor thought he that his life

    Would end so soon and sadly.

    Sir Sava he rode home

    To his own court with speed;

    And plenty of good oats

    He bids to give his steed.

    Sir Sava behind his table

    To write with care begun,

    His young wife she is rocking

    In the cradle her infant son.

    “Holloa! my lad, brisk butler,

    Bring now the brandy to me;

    My well-beloved lady,

    This glass I drink to thee.

    “Holloa! my lad, brisk butler,

    Now bring me the clear wine;

    This glass and this, I drink it

    To this dear son of mine.

    “Holloa! my lad, brisk butler,

    Now bring me the mead so fast;

    My head aches sore; I fear

    I ’ve rode and drunk my last!”

    Who knocks? who storms so fiercely?

    Sir Sava looks up to know;

    The Lesches stand before him,

    And quick accost him so:

    “We bow to thee, Sir Sava,

    How far’st thou, tell us now?

    To thy guests from the Ukraina,

    What welcome biddest thou?”

    “What could I bid you brethren,

    To-day in welcome’s stead?

    Well know I ye are come

    To take my poor sick head.”

    “And tell us first, Sir Sava,

    Where are thy daughters fair?”—

    “They are stolen by the Lesches,

    And wash their linen there.”

    “Now to the fight be ready!

    Sir Sava, meet thy lot!

    Thy head is lost! one moment,

    Death meets thee on the spot.”

    The sabre whizzes through the air,

    Like wild bees in the wood;

    The young wife of Sir Sava

    By him a widow stood.