Away, away it goes,
Over the green meadows,
Black, black the walls arose!
“O lady, O turn back,
To thy walls so sad and black.
“O walls, ye dreary walls!
So sad and black are you,
Because your lord they slew!
“Because your lord is slain,
Your lady is dragged away
A slave for life to be,
Far, far in Tartary!”
Among the ballads of almost all nations we find some that illustrate the mournful and destitute state of motherless orphans. There seems to be hardly any feeling, which comes more directly home to the affectionate compassion of the human heart, than the pitiable and touching condition of helpless little beings left to the tender mercies of a stepmother; who, with her traditional severity, may be called a kind of standing bugbear of the popular imagination. The Danes have a beautiful ballad, in which the ghost of a mother is roused by the wailings and sufferings of her deserted offspring, to break with supernatural power the gravestone, and to re-enter, in the stillness of the night, the neglected nursery, in order to cheer, to nurse, to comb and wash the dear seven little ones, whom God once intrusted to her care. It is one of the most affecting pieces of popular poetry we ever have met with. The Slavic nations have nothing that can be compared with it in beauty; but most of them have several ballads on the same subject; and in a general collection, the “Orphan Ballads” would fill a whole chapter. The simple ditty which we give here as another specimen of Polish popular poetry, exceedingly rude as it is in its form, and even defective in rhyme and metre, cannot but please and touch us by its very simplicity.
POOR ORPHAN CHILD.
Poor little orphan is wandering about,
Seeking its mother and weeping aloud.
Jesus Christ met it, mildly to it spake:
“Where art thou roaming, poor little babe?
“Go not, go not, babe, too far thou
And goest e’er so far, not to thy mother come.
“Now turn and go, dear babe, to
the green cemetery,
From out her deep grave thy mother will speak to thee.”
“Wo! at my grave who’s knocking
“Mother! dear mother! it’s I, thy poor child!
“Take me to thee, take
Ill I fare without thee!”
“Go home, my babe, and thy strange
She’ll wash thy tattered shirt and comb and clean thee well!”
“When my shirt she washes,
Sprinkles it with ashes.
“When she puts it on
Scolds so grim and bitterly!
“When she combs my head,
Runs the blood so red.
“When she braids my
Pulls me here and there!”
“Go thee home, my babe, the Lord
thy tears will dry!”
And the babe went home, laid her down to cry.