The Queen's Court Manuscript with Other Ancient Bohemian Poems/Zbyhon


From tree to tree a pigeon flew,
And his woeful grief to the wood did coo:
“Thou forest wide, I roam’d in thee
“With the dove, that dearest was to me,
“But cruel Zbyhon doth seize and keep
“My dove in yon castle strong and steep.”
A youth round the castle strong doth go,
And sighs for his own true-love in woe;
Then on to the rock; and sitting there
With the dumb wood mourns in mute despair.
Sad coos the pigeon, as up he flies,
The youth to him lifts his head and cries:
“Thou woeful pigeon, that lone dost mourn,
“A hawk perchance thy mate hath torn.

“Thou, Zbyhon, in yon castle steep,
“My dear, my darling love dost keep,
“In yon castle strong, yon castle steep.
“Thou, pigeon, with the hawk had'st striven,
“Had a valiant heart to thee been given,
“Thou had’st reft from the hawk thy mate with might,
“Had’st thou had talons sharp to fight;
“Thou had’st slain the cruel hawk, I ween,
“Had thine a beak flesh-rending been.
“Up, woeful youth! ’gainst Zbyhon go!
“Thine a brave heart against the foe!
“Thine weapons keen and strong for fight!
“An iron mace his head to smite!”
Down speeds the youth thro’ the darksome wood,
Shoulders his mace, dons his armour good,
Thro’ the dark wood hastes to the castle steep,
Arrives at night;—all, all asleep;
With strong fist knocks. “Who’s there?” they cried;
“A hunter benighted.” The gate spreads wide.
Knocks again. The next door is undone at his call;
“Where, where is Lord Zbyhon?”[2] “Beyond the great hall”—

Lustful Zbyhon is there, there the maid makes her moan—
“Ope, ope to the hunter!” The door’s not undone.
With his mace the strong youth breaks open the door,
’Neath his mace Lord Zbyhon lies dead on the floor.
He storms thro’ the castle, and all doth slay,
With his lovely maid till morn doth stay.
Thro’ the tree-tops cometh the morning sun,
New joy’s in the heart of the youth begun,
That his own bright maid in all her charms
He cradles fond in his mighty arms.
“Whose dove?” “Her Zbyhon did seize and keep,
“When he brought me here to the castle steep.”
“Away to the woods!” To the wood she flew,
And flutter’d here and there anew,
From tree to tree with her consort fleet,
And on one branch they slumber’d sweet.
Glad smiles the maid at her lover's side,
Together at will they wander wide,
The bridegroom and his rescued bride.

  1. This poem must be ascribed to an early period, if it be but on account of the mention of the mace (mlat, see Note B), which was no longer in use, as a weapon, in the thirteenth century. It is found in the Queen’s Court Manuscript, Book iii, chap. 28 , and headed, “Begins the 28th chapter of the third book about songs.”
  2. Vladyka Zbyhon. See Note C.