What is the Greek translation of the poem in Michael Herzfeld’s book, “ours once more”?

By: | Post date: 2017-01-23 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: Literature, Modern Greek

Ah, that’s a famous ballad, integral to nation formation, and Herzfeld did right to focus on it. I do think you’re quoting my translation of it too!

Nick Nicholas’ answer to Do modern Greek people feel that Istanbul/Constantinople belongs to them?

Θρήνοι της Αλώσεως (29-05-1453). My translation into English.

Σημαίνει ὁ Θεός, σημαίνει ἡ γῆς, σημαίνουν τὰ ἐπουράνια,
σημαίνει κι ἡ Ἁγιά-Σοφιά, τὸ μέγα μοναστήρι,
μὲ τετρακόσια σήμαντρα κι ἑξήντα δυὸ καμπάνες,
κάθε καμπάνα καὶ παπᾶς, κάθε παπᾶς καὶ διάκος.

Ψάλλει ζερβὰ ὁ βασιλιάς, δεξιὰ ὁ πατριάρχης,
κι ἀπ᾿ τὴν πολλὴ τὴν ψαλμουδιὰ ἐσειόντανε οἱ κολόνες.
Νὰ μποῦνε στὸ χερουβικὸ καὶ νά ῾βγει ὁ βασιλέας,
φωνὴ τοὺς ἦρθε ἐξ οὐρανοῦ κι ἀπ᾿ ἀρχαγγέλου στόμα:
«Πάψετε τὸ χερουβικὸ κι ἂς χαμηλώσουν τ᾿ Ἅγια,
παπάδες πᾶρτε τὰ ἱερὰ καὶ σεῖς κεριὰ σβηστῆτε,
γιατί ῾ναι θέλημα Θεοῦ ἡ Πόλη νὰ τουρκέψει.

Μόν᾿ στεῖλτε λόγο στὴ Φραγκιά, νὰ ῾ρθοῦν τρία καράβια,
τό ῾να νὰ πάρει τὸ σταυρὸ καὶ τ᾿ ἄλλο τὸ βαγγέλιο,
τὸ τρίτο τὸ καλύτερο, τὴν ἅγια Τράπεζά μας,
μὴ μᾶς τὴν πάρουν τὰ σκυλιὰ καὶ μᾶς τὴ μαγαρίσουν».

Ἡ Δέσποινα ταράχτηκε καὶ δάκρυσαν οἱ εἰκόνες.
«Σώπασε κυρὰ Δέσποινα, καὶ μὴ πολυδακρύζῃς,
πάλι μὲ χρόνους, μὲ καιρούς, πάλι δικά μας θά ῾ναι».

God sounds; the earth sounds; and the heavens sound;
Haghia Sophia sounds, that mighty church,
with two-and-sixty bells, four hundred woodblocks.
For every bell: a priest; each priest: a deacon.

The King chants left, the Patriarch chants right.
They chant so loud, the very columns shake.
And when the Cherub hymn was coming in,
And when the King of All was coming out,
[allusion to the Cherubic hymn, which concludes with “welcoming the King of All”—i.e. Christ]
a voice came from an archangel in Heaven.
“Stop with the Cherubs, and take down the Holies.
Priests, take the sacred things. Go out, ye candles.
For God now wills the City to turn Turk.

Send word, then, to the West, to send three ships.
The first to take the Cross, the next the Bible,
the third and best to take our Holy Altar,
lest the curs take it from us and defile it.”

The Lady was upset; the icons wept.
“Quiet, Our Lady Mary, cry not so!
When times have passed, it will be ours once more.”

I discuss the ambiguity of the last verse in my previous answer.

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