Hadji Dimitar

By Darina Rossier | Culture

Oct 02

Recently Bulgaria celebrated its Independence (September 22) and Unification (September 6) national holidays. It is a time of appreciation of freedom and what that freedom cost Bulgaria. In this sense we would like to share with you one of the most beloved poems in Bulgarian literature. It is about the last hour of a dying hero and praises the bravery and heroic deeds of the ones who fought for their country’s welfare.

Hadji Dimitar is a ballad-like poem written by the famous author, revolutionary and national hero Hristo Botev. It was published in 1873 in a revolutionary newspaper called “Independence”.  The author wrote a lot of poems, but the poem about his fellow-revolutionary Dimitar is surely the greatest of all.

The poem was translated to English by Henry Baerlein at 1904. Despite the complexity of the original poem, the translation is remarkably good. It is not completely literal but the translator tried to be as close as possible to the original. Below, you can find both the original text and the translated equivalent. You can use it for study purposes.

[av_one_half first]

Хаджи Димитър

Жив е той, жив е! Там на Балкана,
потънал в кърви, лежи и пъшка
юнак с дълбока на гърди рана,
юнак във младост и в сила мъжка.

 

На една страна захвърлил пушка,
на друга сабля на две строшена;
очи темнеят, глава се люшка,
уста проклинат цяла вселена!

 

Лежи юнакът, а на небето
слънцето спряно сърдито пече;
жътварка пее нейде в полето,
и кръвта още по-силно тече!

 

Жътва е сега… Пейте, робини,
тез тъжни песни! Грей и ти, слънце,
в таз робска земя! Ще да загине и тоя юнак…
Но млъкни, сърце!

 

Тоз, който падне в бой за свобода,
той не умира: него жалеят
земя и небо, звяр и природа
и певци песни за него пеят…

 

Денем му сянка пази орлица
и вълк му кротко раната ближе;
над него сокол, юнашка птица,
и тя се за брат, за юнак грижи!

 

Настане вечер – месец изгрее,
звезди обсипят сводът небесен;
гора зашуми, вятър повее, –
Балканът пее хайдушка песен!

 

И самодиви в бяла премена,
чудни, прекрасни, песен поемнат, –
тихо нагазят трева зелена
и при юнакът дойдат та седнат.

 

Една му с билки раната върже,
друга го пръсне с вода студена,
третя го в уста целуне бърже –
и той я гледа, – мила, зесмена!

 

“Кажи ми, сестро, де – Караджата?
Де е и мойта вярна дружина?
Кажи ми, пък ми вземи душата, –
аз искам, сестро, тук да загина!”

 

И плеснат с ръце, па се прегърнат,
и с песни хвръкнат те в небесата, –
летят и пеят, дорде осъмнат,
и търсят духът на Караджата…

 

Но съмна вече! И на Балкана
юнакът лежи, кръвта му тече, –
вълкът му ближе лютата рана,
и слънцето пак пече ли – пече!

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Hadji Dimitar

He lives yet! he lives yet! there on the Balkan –
The blood has run dark from his bosom to die.
Behold the young hero whose bosom was throbbing,
Whose blood ever shouted as dawn in the sky.

There on the ground has he thrown the long rifle,
too and broken his sabre is hurled,
Over his eyes now the darkness is spreading,
On his lip trembles a curse for the world.

Silent he lies there and in the heavens
Has the sun halted and angrily glows,
Far down in the meadow some worker is singing
And faster and faster thet hero-blood flows.

It is the harvest. Sing, you slave-worker,
Sing the sad songs! You are shining, O sun,
Over a slave-land; ’twill die with our hero –
Have done with your tempests, my bosom, have done.

He that has fallen fighting for freedom
Chooses not death – to that hero belong
The tears of the sky and of earth and her children
And of the voice of the maker of song.

An eagle is spreading her wing for a shadow,
A grey wolf is licking the wound and above,
Above them the falcon, that bird of the heroes,
Floats over his brother, for sorrow and love.

Now falls the twilight and the moon clambers
Into that arch where the happy stars dance,
Now the wood rustles, now the wind hisses,
Now chants the Balkan a robber’s romance.

And all the white arrayed elves of the forest
Trumpet their wondering, silvery strain,
Softly they float thro’ the shadows above him,
Till they alight as the summer-sweet rain.

One of them brings the keen herbs of the woodland,
Another brings water to quicken his brow,
Another one calls him to life with her kisses,
So that he turns like a wind-embraced bough.

„Tell, me, where is my comrade Karadja?
Where are the faithfull who followed my sword?
Tell me and I shall sleep sweetly, my sisters,
Where yhe sweet blood from my body has poured.”

They clap with their hands, they embrace one another
And singing they fly on the back of the wind,
Fly to the dim region where ghosts have assembled
But never the ghost of Karadja they find.

Now dawn has leaped to the mountains;
the hero on the Balkan. Ah! see, the blood flows,
The grey wolf is licking his wound and the poison,
Scarlet the sun is and angrily glows.[/av_one_half]

Note: “Hadji” in old Bulgaria was a title for someone who went to a religious journey to Jerusalem and back. 

Here is a video where you can hear the original in well-spoken Bulgarian. The actual reading starts a bit later.