Captive’s Lament (duma) ~ Невільницький плач (дума)


“Captive’s Lament is the sole epic song on this recording. It is one of a cycle of songs dating back to the sixteenth- and early seventeenth-centuries which focuses on the plight of Christians in Turkish captivity. Unlike many other dumy, a few of the songs from this cycle remained the kobzar repertoire as late as the 1920s. By this time, historical epics had mostly been supplanted by religious and moralistic songs, but Captive’s Lament continued to resonate, perhaps because it served as an allegory for the plight of the villagers who formed the kobzar’s audience – enserfed under the Tsars, economically marginalized in the new urbanizing world, and brutally repressed and eventually subjected to a genocidal induced famine under the Bolsheviks. At the moment I recorded this song, in early December of 2014, the image of the turncoat overseer ordering the janissaries to whip the slaves at their oars “to the yellow bone” was certainly all too precisely counterpointed by the images of student protesters being brutally beaten by President Yanukovych’s riot police on Maidan square…


In their musical structure, dumy are very different from strophic ballads. The text is grouped not into verses, but into tirades of varying lengths, and the line length and rhyme scheme is also irregular. As with other oral epic traditions, even texts collected from the same singer could vary considerably in length and might omit or include different episodes. Kobzari would sing all of the dumy they knew to roughly the same melody, which was actually a collection of melodic cells that could be strung together to fit a constantly varying text – an ‘epic song construction kit’.


I first heard this duma performed by my great-uncle Hryhory Kytasty in a version adapted for the concert stage. Later, I also studied Heorhiy Tkachenko’s (1898-1993) recorded performance, but I learned neither of these texts verbatim. My performance combines text as I remember it from both versions, and is influenced by my study of other versions as well. The melody I use for my dumy is patterned after Tkachenko’s, but incorporates some elements, especially ornamentation, from Ostap Veresai.” ~ Julian Kytasty, 2015


(English translation by Julian Kytasty below; Ukrainian text edited and prepared for publication by Olesya Nayduk’)

Ой у святу неділю
То не сивії орли клекотали,
А то біднії невольники
У тяжкій неволі турецькій плакали, стогнали.

У гору руки підіймали, кайданами бряжчали,
Та Господа милосердного прохали та благали.

«Ой подай же, подай же нам, Господи,
З неба дрібен дощик,
А чи з Низу да буйнесенький вітер!
Нехай же зірветься на Чорному морі бистра хвиля,
Нехай якорі позриває з каторги проклятої
да турецької!

Вже ж бо нам ця каторга турецька надоїла,
Кайдани залізні руки-ноги поз’їдали,
Біле тіло козацькеє, молодецькеє аж до жовтої
кости прошмугляли.

То вже краще нам, браття, в бурі на морі
на Чорному та потопати,
Ніж в неволі турецькій, да на каторзі бусурменській

А паша турецький бусурманський,
недовірок християнський
по чердаку походжає
Ой та він добре все теє зачуває,
Та й до слуг своїх, до турків-яниченьків,
Зо зла такими словами промовляє:

«Гей», – каже. – «Слуги мої, слуги,
да турки-яниченьки,
Та добре ви дбайте,
По три пучки тернини,
по чотири таволги червоної в руки набирайте,
Та по тричі в однім місці бідного невольника

Ой то ж як стали біднії невольники
Кров невинну християнську на тілі забачати,
Ой то стали землю турецькую,
віру бусурманську проклинати:

– Ой земле ти, земле турецькая,
Віра ти проклятая бусурменськая,
Розлуко ж бо ти християнськая!
Ой бо не одного вже розлучила з отцем
та матір’ю,

Або брата з сестрою,
А чи мужа з вірною жоною,
Ой чи кревного побратима військового з побратимом, гей!

Ой визволь нас, визволь нас, Господи,
З тяжкої турецької неволі
На тихії води, на яснії зорі,
В край веселий, в мир хрещений,
В города християнськії!

[Дай же, Боже, всім бідним невольникам,
По тюрмам безневинно перебувающим
Скоре визволення, а головам всім слухавшим
На многії літа до кінця віка. Амінь.]



Oh on Holy Sunday


It was not the shining eagles calling,
It was poor captives in hard Turkish captivity
Weeping and moaning.


They raised their hands to God in supplication,
Rattled their chains,
They begged and beseeched God the Merciful:
“Grant us, oh grant us, O Lord,
A light rain from heaven,
And a strong wind from the lowland Steppe!
Let a hard wave rise quickly on the Black Sea,
Let it tear this Turkish galley from its anchors!


For we have seen enough of this Turkish galley,
These iron shackles have eaten away our arms and legs,
Stripped our young Cossack flesh to the yellow bone.
Truly it is better, brothers, that we drown in the stormy sea,
Rather than live in Turkish slavery, under the infidel faith!”


Now the Turkish infidel pasha, a Christian traitor,
walks the decks,
And he hears all this, hears it well,
And thus he speaks to his servants, the Turkish janissaries:
“Oh servants, my servants, Turkish janissaries, take care,
Take hold of three bunches of the thorn bush and
four of the stinging vine,
And lash each poor captive three times in one place!”


Now when the poor captives began to see
The innocent Christian blood flowing from their wounds,
They began to curse the Turkish land, the infidel faith:
“Oh, you land, you Turkish land, you damned infidel faith!
Many a son you have parted from his father and mother,
Or a brother from a sister, or a husband from a faithful wife,
Or a blood brother, a comrade in arms from his comrade.”


Oh free us, free us, O Lord, all us poor captives,
To where the quiet waters flow and the bright stars shine,
In the happy land, amongst the baptized people,
in the Christian towns,
From now unto eternity, and to all of you –
many, many years.