Maria Luisa Spaziani: “Et in splendore”

Al tempo in cui speravo ciò che avevo
con me sperava il cielo
e il nostro centro era in ogni cuore.
Suggevan le radici dolcemente
acqua di vita in umbra et in splendore.
Ora cammino lungo il tuo Tamigi,
piange la pioggia sulle mani belle.
Butto la rete a morbide emozioni,
cerco nel cielo povero di stelle
presagi e direzioni.
Ho bisogno di te, sento strappare
da neri gorghi le snervate viole.
Mi ostino nella nebbia amando il sole.
Il canto che son nata per cantare
Forse non ha parole.

While I hoped for everything I had
the sky hoped with me
and our centre was in every heart.
The roots gently suggested
water of life in umbra et in splendore.
Now I make my way along your Thames,
The rain weeps on my lovely hands.
I cast the net over soft emotions,
seek in the star-impoverished sky
omens and directions.
I need you, I feel the worn-out violets
torn up by black eddies.
I remain in the fog loving the sun.
The song that arises to be song
perhaps doesn’t have any words.

From Utilità della memoria (1966)

Fragments of Heraclitus

1 (Sextus Adv. math. 7.132)

τοῦ δὲ λόγου τοῦδ’ ἑόντος αἰεὶ ἀξύνετοι γίγνονται ἄνθρωποι καὶ πρόσθεν ἢ ἀκοῦσαι καὶ ἀκούσαντες τὸ πρῶτον· γινομένων γὰρ πάντων κατὰ τὸν λόγον τόνδε ἀπείροισιν ἑοίκασι, πειρώμενος καὶ ἐπέων καὶ ἔργων τοιούτων, ὁκοίων ἐγὼ διηγεῦμαι, κατὰ φύσιν διαιρέων ἕκαστον καὶ φράζων ὅκως ἔχει. τοὺς δὲ ἄλλους ἀνθρώπους λανθάνει ὁκόσα ἐγερθέντες ποιοῦσιν, ὅκωσπερ ὁκόσα εὕδοντες ἐπιλανθάνονται.

Though the logos perpetually exists, men become insensitive to it, both before they have heard it and after they have heard it for the first time; for although all things come about according to the logos, men seem to have no experience of it when they examine the kinds of words and deeds which I have set forth, dividing each thing according to its nature and explaining what it is like. Other men do not realise what they are doing when they are awake, just as they do not know what they are doing when asleep.

2 (Sextus Adv. math. 7.133)

τοῦ λόγου δ’ ἐόντος ξυνοῦ ζώουσιν οἱ πολλοὶ ὡς ἰδίαν ἔχοντες φρόνησιν.

Although the logos is common to all, most people live as if they have a rationality of their own.

7 (Aristotle De sensu 443.21)

εἰ πάντα τὰ ὄντα καπνὸς γένοιτο, ῥῖνες ἂν διαγνοῖεν.

If everything became smoke, one’s nose could distinguish things.

24 (Clement Strom. 5.59)

ἀρῃφάτους θεοὶ τιμῶσι καὶ ἄνθρωποι.

Gods as well as men honour those slain in battle.

27 (Clement Strom. 4.144)

ἀνθρώπους μένει ἀποθανόντας ἄσσα οὐκ ἐλπονται οὐδὲ δοκέουσιν.

What lies in store for the dead is something they neither expect nor imagine.

30 (Clement Strom. 5.104)

κόσμον τόνδε, τὸν αὐτὸν ἀπάντων, οὔτε τις θεῶν οὔτε ἀνθρώπων ἐποίησεν, ἀλλ’ ἦν ἀεὶ καὶ ἔσται πῦρ ἀείζωον, ἀπτόμενον μέτρα καὶ ἀποσβεννύμενον μέτρα.

No one either of the gods or of men made this universe, but it has always been and will be, an ever-living fire, igniting and extinguishing itself in measure.

50 (Hippolytus Ref. 9.9.1)

οὐκ ἐμοῦ ἀλλὰ τοῦ λόγου ἀκούσαντας ὁμολογεῖν σοφόν ἐστιν ἓν πάντα εἶναι.

Not by listening to me, but to the logos, it is wise to agree that all things are one.

53 (Hippolytus Ref. 9.10.4)

πόλεμος πάντων μὲν πατήρ ἐστι, πάντων δὲ βασιλεύς, καὶ τοὺς μὲν θεοὺς ἐδειξε τοὺς δὲ ἀνθρώπους, τοὺς μὲν δούλους ἐποίησε τοὺς δὲ ἐλευθέρους.

War is the father of all, and the king of all, and it shows men as gods and makes slaves out of the free.

60 (Hippolytus Ref. 9.9.5)

ὁδὸς ἄνω κάτω μία καὶ ὡυτή.

The way up and the way down are one and the same.

80 (Origen Contra Celsum 6.12)

εἰδέναι δὲ χρὴ τὸν πόλεμον ἐόντα ξυνόν, καὶ δίκη ἐριν, καὶ γινόμενα πάντα κατ᾿ ἔριν καὶ χρεωμενα.

One must understand that war is universal, that order is strife, and that all things come about and are ordained by strife.

85 (Plutarch Coriolanus 22)

θυμῷ μάχεσθαι χαελπόν· ὃ γαρ ἂν θέλῃ, ψυχῆς ὠνεῖται.

It is difficult to fight against the urge to act, for whatever it wants, it takes at the expense of the soul.

93 (Plutarch De Pyth. or. 404d)

ὁ ἄναξ, οὗ τὸ μαντεῖόν ἐστι ἐν Δελφοῖς, οὔτε λέγει οὔτε κρύπτει, ἀλλὰ σημαίνει.

The lord whose oracle is in Delphi neither speaks nor conceals, but gives a sign.

94 (Plutarch De exil. 604a)

ἥλιος οὐκ ὑπερβήσεται μέτρα· εί δὲ μή, Ἐρινύες μιν Δίκης ἐπίκουροι ἐξευρήσουσιν.

The sun will not overstep its bounds, but if it does, the Erinyes, handmaidens of Justice, will find him.

103 (Porphyry Quaest. Hom. ad Il. 14.200)

ξυνὸν ἀρχὴ καὶ πέρας ἐπὶ κύκλου [περιφέρειας].

On the circumference of a circle a beginning and end are the same.

118 (Stobaeus 3.5.8)

αὔη ψυχὴ σοφωτάτη καὶ ἀρίστη.

The dry soul is wisest and most virtuous.

126 (Tzetzes Schol. ad exeg. Il. 126)

τὰ ψυχρὰ θέρμεται, θερμὸν ψύχεται, ὑγρὸν αὐαίνεται, καρφαλέον νοτίζεται.

Cold things warm up, hot things cool down, wet things dry up, dry things become wet.

Jorge Luis Borges: ‘Argumentum Ornithologicum’

Cierro los ojos y veo una bandada de pájaros. La visión dura un segundo o acaso menos; no sé cuántos pájaros vi. ¿Era definido o indefinido su número? El problema involucra el de la existencia de Dios. Si Dios existe, el número es definido, porque Dios sabe cuántos pájaros vi. Si Dios no existe, el número es indefinido, porque nadie pudo llevar la cuenta. En tal caso, vi menos de diez pájaros (digamos) y más de uno, pero no vi nueve, ocho, siete, seis, cinco, cuatro, tres o dos pájaros. Vi un número entre diez y uno, que no es nueve, ocho, siete, seis, cinco, etcétera. Ese número entero es inconcebible, ergo, Dios existe.

I close my eyes and see a flock of birds. The vision lasts for a second or maybe less; I do not know how many birds I saw. Was its number definite or indefinite? The problem involves the existence of God. If God exists, the number is definite, because God knows how many birds I saw. If God does not exist, the number is indefinite, because no one could have kept count. In this case, let’s say I saw less than ten birds and more than one, but I did not see nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, or two birds. I saw a number between ten and one, which is not nine, eight, seven, six, five, etc. That integer is inconceivable, ergo, God exists.

Dezső Kosztolányi: ‘Caligula’

Dezső Kosztolányi’s short story ‘Caligula’ was published in 1934. Written after the rise of Hitler and Mussolini to power, the work is as much about events then contemporary in Europe as it is about the mad Roman emperor who reigned AD 37–41.


The statue of Jupiter, when the workers wanted to break it up into pieces, began to laugh. The conspirators took this as a good sign. At that moment Caligula turned toward the oracle of Antium and received from Fortune’s temple this warning:

‘Beware of Cassius.’


Cassius Charea, the captain of the bodyguards and the leader of the revolutionaries, palely stood up among his followers. Every eye fell on him. They felt that Caligula’s glance too rested on the old centurion without seeing him, and suspicion burned in their hearts and minds.

News soon reached them that Caligula had executed Cassius Longinus instead, the governor of Asia.

Is he crazy? Cassius thought. Or is he joking with some of us? It seems to me like he has lost control of himself.

Caligua hadn’t lost control of himself. The next morning he called Cassius to an audience at six o’clock in the morning.

Cassius said goodbye to his wife and children. He hastened to the palace as one who is about to die would, whether by the sword, by the dagger, by poison.


Caligula was already awake by three o’clock. He could never sleep any later. Nightmares and terrible dreams tormented him. After a few hours of troubled sleep he got up and ordered that he be borne to the halls of the palace by torch and lamplight. He dismissed his servants and wandered around alone here and there with a hunched back, as if a monster in a terrible nightmare, supported by spindly legs. He waited for dawn.

He rested his elbow on the windowsill. In the frosty leaden-grey January sky was his glorious love, whom he always longed to hold in his arms, the Moon, but it wasn’t visible, for it rose above Rome among filthy green clouds. He spoke to it, soundlessly, in a constantly stammering tone.

In the meantime day broke.


Cassius, he greeted his guest, throwing open his hairy, bare arms to him. Come to me, he shouted and embraced Cassius.

Cassius obeyed, horrified.

Cassius was prepared for all sorts of things. He had heard that years before Caligua had invited the conspirators and, putting his swordpoint against his breast, offered like a sappy bad actor to die if they wished.

He heard that Caligula ordered an aristocrat to the palace at night and danced before him. He heard that Caligula had not punished a cobbler who called him a cheat. But this was a suprise.


Help me, Cassius, he continued. I trust you. I am surrounded by dangers. The Palatine games begin today. I am assigning you Cassius, you, to be the commander of my bodyguard.

He nervously glanced with fiery eyes, and then he laughed heartily. Cassius bowed, hestitating. He fell into a chair, because he could no longer stand on his weak, scrawny legs. His legs soon collapsed, as if his boots were empty.


Sit down, he reassured him. How old are you?


I am twenty-nine, he jabbered. Still young. What, are you an old skirt-chaser? But how I suffer, Cassius. Indeed, a lot. My uncle Tiberius looked after me, that old, bloodthirsty tiger. He wiped out my entire family. He exiled my mother and forced her to commit suicide. He locked my brother Brutus away in prison and let him starve to death. He wanted to kill me too. I was still a little boy, and he constantly kept watch over me with spies and moles so that I wouldn’t turn against him or denounce him. When I slept, they bent over me and waited for what I would say in my sleep. They could have put poison into my food at any time. But I kept silent both awake and sleeping. I lied. I held a mask over my face. I played my part even better than a sombre, taciturn old man. I won. I saved my life. After than everything immediately opened up. I tried to live. I couldn’t manage. I wanted to tear off my mask. I couldn’t manage this either. Drusilla, my little sister, a goddess, died from a high fever. I was left all alone. In mourning I grew a beard and looked around me at the world. At first I laughed about how I could kill whoever I wanted. I adored gold. When I wasn’t content with what I had, I stripped off my clothes and had a roll in bed, so that I could feel blood flowing through my skin. I made faces at the mirror to scare myself. I made some great jokes too. I ripped out people’s tongues or cut them in half. I threw hundreds of foreigners into the sea and delighted how they floundered until they died. I starved the Romans, though my barns and storehouses were full. I destroyed the manuscripts of famous authors. Every day I dressed the statue of the god in Mars Field with the same as I was wearing, and then I struck off their heads and set my own portrait there. I had a marble stable built for my horse, with an ivory trough, and dined together with him in the stable, and I almost succeeded in making him a consul. I was loved once. The soldiers nicknamed me ‘little chick’ or ‘star’. In the joy of ascending the Roman throne I killed 160,000 beasts in three months. Now it all bores me. I can’t sleep. My eyelids droop. They say the problem is here. He tapped his forehead with a golden rod. Give me sleep, some sleep-inducing drink.


As Cassius listened he was almost moved. Caligula suddenly stood up held out his hand in farewell. Cassius kissed it. Only then did he realize that the emperor showed him a fig and his lips touched the fingernail of his thumb.

He blushed.

You monkey, Caligula warned him. Don’t be angry. Be on guard. And he dismissed him.


Cassius returned to his comrades with news of what had happened.

Kill him! Cornelius Sabinus cried. Strike at him immediately, stab him.

The festival games began that afternoon. Augustus had initiated these as a monument to his eastern campaigns, on an improvised stage near the imperial palace, only for noble citizens, senators, aristocrats. Caligula arrived with an escort of German bodyguards.

When the emperor entered, these lanky young men closed all of the entrances and stood in a row. He signaled his favour of them. He had selected some of them along the Rhine during his German campaign, but since he didn’t capture enough prisoners of war, he enlisted Romans among them as well, who were obliged to dye their hair blond, learn German and speak German.

The emperor came before the altar in a long yellow gown, a green wreath on his head. As he carried out the sacrifice, the flamingo blood sputtered and threw red specks on the bottom of his gown. Cornelius Sabinus exchanged a knowing glance with Cassius.


The first day passed, and then the second, without the conspirators daring to act. Callistus, a rich citizen and once a libertine, foamed with raged that the idiot was still alive. Caligula came and went among them freely, he reassured the wrestlers and the gladiators, and he applauded the singers and equestrians. He led the conspirators into bafflement. They thought that he was mocking them, that he wanted to lead them into a trap.

On the afternoon of the third day, he unexpectedly notified Cassius that he would go to the palace and have a bath. He advanced through the crowd without his German bodyguards. Along the way he greeted people here and there. He facetiously pulled at Cornelius Sabinus’s toga and winked. Well, what will it be? They didn’t understand. He ordered the bearers of his sedan-chair that they not bring him to the main entrance of the palace, but to the side entrance, a narrow underground corridor, where the young Asian aristocrats were learning their lines for the festival dramas, and being sensitive easterners they hid away from the cold, because it was freezing that day.


He descended here and spoke with some guests, a black Ethiopian and a yellow Egyptian, whose lips were blue from cold. He delayed there for a long time. Finally he heard that they slammed the gate shut, and then from far off at the end of the corridor a few flames lit up and slowly, very slowly approached him. In front, like some old dream shape that comes upon a dreamer, was Cassius.

The password? Cassius asked with soldierly disciple and formality.

Jupiter, Caligula answered at the top of his voice.

Then die in his name, Cassius cried and thrust his sword between Caligula’s outstretched arms.

Caligula dropped completely to the floor. Blood bubbled from his side.

I’m alive, he cried, as if mocking them, or lamenting.

Cornelius Sabinus, Callistus and the others set upon him. Three swords then bathed in his blood.

Caligula was still moving.

I’m alive, he felt one last time.

But then he turned remarkably pale and felt only that the world was without him, the mountains, the rivers and the stars too and he was no more. His head fell back. He opened his eyes and gazed almost adoringly at what he had always and even now searched for: nothing.


He face was white, bloodless and plain. The demented mask had fallen away. Only his face remained.

A soldier studied it for a long time. He was pleased that he recognized him now. He thought to himself:

A man.

Chavain’s ‘In the Forest’

Sergei Chavain’s 1907 short story ‘In the Forest’ (Чодыраште) does everything it can to make the Tatars seem like the cruelest foes of the Mari. Surely these attitudes were wholly due to the influence of the Russians. In the Russian national mythos, the Muslim Tatars were a diabolic people whose ‘yoke’ was thrown off by the divinely favoured tsar. Though there is no Mari documentation from the time of Tatar supremacy, the Tatars were surely better neighbours for the Mari than the Russians, as the Mari were able to keep their language, traditional religion, and sense of identity. But Chavain harboured a deep hatred of Russia under the Tsars, and for all its Tatar presence, this seemingly innocuous story—like so much of his work—may well be a metaphor of how the Mari have suffered under Russian domination.


Шукерте ожно Виче вӱд воктене илен ик марий. Тудын лумжӧ Тойка улмаш. Пеш шуко улмаш тудын погыжо. Чыла погыж дечат шергакан тудын кок икшывыже – ӱдыржӧ да эргыже – улмаш. Ӱдыржын лӱмжӧ – Чази, эргыжын – Ози. Шоҥго Тойкан Чазиже ынде вуеш шуын, Озиже акажым поктен шуын. Чази ден Ози вольнаште, чодыра лоҥгаште, кушкыт. Шоҥго Тойкан, нуным ончен, чонжо нӧлталт шога.

Акаж ден шольыжо пеш келшен илат. Нуно коктын ик ганат вурседылын огытыл. Ози ден Чази коклан чодыраш коштыт. Ози пикш ден йоҥежым налеш. Чазиже саска погаш куршым налеш.

Тыгеракын, икана Ози ден Чази чодыраш каятат, ятыр коштыт. Вара Виче вӱд воктеке лектыт, кугу тумо йымалан канаш шинчыт.

Кече шокшо. Йырым-йыр пеледыш вуйышто мӱкш, ошымшӱлыш ызгат. Пушеҥге вуйышто кайык-влак мурат. Умбалнырак, чашкерлаште, шӱшпык шергылтарен шӱшкалта. Виче вӱдыштӧ кол-влак йылт-йолт тӧршталтен модыт.

Чази ден Ози, пӱтынь тӱням монден, вӱдыш ончен шинчат. Вӱдшӧ йога чарныде, колжо модеш каныде, шӱшпык йӱклана куанен!…

Ой, Чазиэм, Озиэм! Вашке тышеч те кайыза, шеҥгек ончалде куржса! Вашке гына ачада дек пӧртылза! Чодыраште суас ханын сарзе еҥже-влак коштыт… Ок, Чазиэм, Озиэм, мыйын йӱкем ода кол, чакракат ода тол!

Виче вӱд ӱмбачын кугу пуш толеш. Тойкан икшывыже-влак шеҥгечын суас тӱшка коеш.

Теве суас сарзе-влак толынат шуыч. Теве Ози ден Чазим кучыштат, пидын, пушышкышт наҥгайышт…

Ойган Тойка! Эрычым, ӱдыретым ынде от уж! Виче вӱдшӧ йор-йор йогалеш, йоҥлен кайыше Чази ден Озим пуш дене умбаке, йот мландышке, наҥгая.

Шуко ойгыра пиалдыме Тойка. Чумыр чодырам шерын пытара. Чодырашке лектын кычкыра — нимат уке. Южгунам мӱндырнӧ «ау!» манмыла ваштареш шокта. Тойка тиде йӱк-йӱан шоктымашке куржеш — адак нигӧат уке!…


Чази ден Озин осал хан кидыште илымыштым ойлаш тӱҥалат гын, пеш шуко возаш кӱлеш. Мый иктаж кок мут дене гына каласынем.

Ози, кул лиймекыже, ала-куш йомын. Чази тидым шинченат огыл. Чазижым ик мурза ватыжым ыштен.

Чазин кок эргыже шочын. Туге гынат Чази сай илышым ужын огыл. Эргыже-влакым тудлан ончыктенат огытыл. Кок эргыжат шкеныштым суас улына манын шоненыт. Коклан нуно ханын моло сарзыже-влак дене пырля марийым, рушым толаш коштыныт. Чазим нуно аваштланат шотлен огытыл. А суас вате-влак Чазим «Эй, чермыш кафирь!» манын вурсеныт.

Тыгай кугу орлыкым чытенак, Чази суас мурза дене кумло ий илен. Вара шоҥгемын, пашалан йӧрдымӧ лийын. Ынде тудо нигӧлан кӱлын огылат, опкын мурза Чазим мӧҥгеш Виче вӱд воктеке намиен шуэн.

Чази Виче вӱд тӱрыштӧ шуко шортын шога. Йырымйыр ончыштеш: шып… Кече шукерте ожно Чази ден Озин тумо йымалне шинчымышт гаяк мотор!

Виче вӱдшӧ йога чарныде, шӱшпыкшӧ мура куанен! Чазин шӱмжӧ чот пыртка.

— Мом ынде ышташ? Куш пураш?! — Чази шӱм ойгыж дене шона да сер деке тошкалеш. Виче вӱдыштӧ шыве-шово шоктыш, вара вӱд ӱмбал оҥгешталте да — Чази серыште укеат!… Ойган, орлыкан Чазим Виче вӱд помышкыжо нале.

Вӱдшӧ йога чарныде, колжо модеш вӱдыштӧ… А шӱшпык мура куанен…

Умбалнырак, вӱд серыште, вуйжым луктын, шке шотшылан ужава магыра…


Кас. Тылзе кӱшычын онча, Виче вӱдым волгалтара. Йырым-йыр тымык. Чодыраш кодшо марий содор шке декше кая. Кол кучымо еҥ гына мурдаже-влакым ончеден коштеш.

Ах, могай сылнын, тамлын чучеш чонлан чодыраште, кугу вӱд воктене тылзан йӱдым! Йырым-йыр чыла чонан мала. Тылзе гына кӱшычын сылне-шучко чодырам волгалтара.

Кол кучымо марий, чӱчкыдын тошкен, омашышкыже кая. Кӧргыж дене тудо шона: «Тыште сай верак огыл… Ожно тышан ик ӱдырамаш вӱдыш пурен каен, маныт… Вашкерак тулым олташ кӱлеш…»

Марий омашыште шинча, йыл-йыл-йыл тул йӱла.

Йӱд ынде ятыр лийын. Лач пелйӱд гутлаште Виче велне шыве-шово шокта да вӱд ӱмбаке айдеме вуй лектеш. Ӱпшӧ ошалге, кужу. Тылзе волгалтарат, вӱд ӱмбалне пуш коеш. Пушыштыжо еҥ-влак ӱмыл гай вудакан койыт. Нунын коклаште — ик ӱдырамаш ӱмыл… Кӧ ок пале гын, каласена: тиде ӱдырамашет — Тойкан ӱдыржӧ, Чази. Тудым хан-тушман вӱдыш пуртен колтен. Чази ынде вӱд ия лийын. Южгунам тудо вӱд ӱмбаке лектын кычкыра:

— Тушман!… Утарыза… Ачий!… Ози!… Пикшет…

Южгунам муралта:

Мардеж южшо пуалеш,
Пу лышташым тарвата.
Виче вӱдшӧ йогалеш,
Изи пушым йоктара.
Тудо пушын кӧргыштыжӧ
Чевер ӱдыр шинчалеш.
Ачаж ден аваж деке
Сай саламым колталеш…

Адак шортмо, осал мурзам вурсымо йӱк шокта. Умбалне эр пагытлан агытан мура. Вӱдыштӧ шыве-шово шокта… Да адак чыла вере шыплана.

Ӱжараже кече лекме верыште йошкарга. Колызо марий, помыжалтын, мурдажым ончаш кая.


Long ago a man lived next to the Viče River. His name was Tojka. His holdings were very large, but dearest of all he had were his two children, a son and a daughter. The daughter’s name was Čazi, and the son’s Ozi. Old Tojka’s Čazi was almost grown up, and Ozi was fond of his older sister. Čazi and Ozi grew up in the dense forest. Watching them, old Tojka’s spirits were lifted.

The brother and sister lived very happily. They never ever fought with one another. Ozi and Čazi walked around together in the forest. Ozi would take his bow and arrow, and Čazi would take a basket for collecting fruit.

Thus one day Ozi and Čazi went into the forest and walked around a lot. When they come out next to the Viče River, they sat down under a big oak tree to rest.

It was a hot day. All around honeybees and bumblebees were humming among the tops of flowers. Birds sang in the treetops. Further away, in the thicket, a nightingale was loudly tweeting. In the Viče River, fish were playfully leaping about.

Čazi and Ozi, forgetting all about the world, sat looking at the river. The river flowed on without stopping, the fish played without a rest, and the nightingale sang joyfully.

Oh, my Čazi and Ozi, get away from here fast, run away and don’t look back! Just go back to your father quickly! The Tatar khan’s soldiers are walking in the forest. Oh, my Čazi and Ozi, you aren’t listening to me!

A big boat was coming up the Viče River. A band of Tatars appeared behind Tojka’s children.

Thus the Tatar soldiers came. Thus Ozi and Čazi were taken, tied up, and hauled off into their boat…

Alas, Tojka, now you cannot find your son and daughter! The Viče River flowed on, and it took Čazi and Ozi away into the oblivion of a foreign country.

Poor Tojka grieved for a long time. He utterly exhausted himself combing the forest. He went into the forest and shouted, but there was nothing. Occasionally a distant sound like someone saying ‘oh!’ was heard. Tojka hurried towards the source of this sound, but again there was nothing.


If you wanted to talk about Čazi and Ozi’s life in the hands of the evil khan, you would have a lot to write. I will say just a few words.

Ozi became a slave and disappeared off to somewhere. Čazi didn’t even know about it. A nobleman made Čazi his wife.

Čazi bore two sons. Nevertheless she did not have a happy life. Her sons were never even shown to her. They believed that they were Tatars. Together they joined the khan’s other soldiers in pillaging the Mari and the Russians. They didn’t consider Čazi their mother. The Tatar women cursed Čazi, saying, ‘Ugh, the Cheremis kafir!’

Thus enduring great torment, Čazi lived with the Tatar nobleman for 30 years. She grew old and was no longer fit to work. Now no one needed her and the mean nobleman sent her back to the Viče River.

Čazi wept along the Viče River for a long time. She looked around her, and there was nothing. It was a beautiful day, like when Čazi and Ozi had sat beneath the oak tree long ago.

The Viče River flowed on, and the nightingale gaily sang. Čazi’s heart was pounding. ‘What shall I do now? Where shall I go?’ She pondered this with a broken heart and walked towards the riverbank. A splash came up from the water and ripples spread on the surface. Čazi was no longer on the riverbank! Alas, the savage Viče River had taken Čazi to its bosom.

The river flowed on and fish played in the water, while the nightingale gaily sang. On the riverbank a frog raised its head and croaked to itself.


It was evening. The moon shone above and illuminated the Viče River. All around it was quiet. A man hastily made his way through the forest. It was only a fisherman coming with his bait.

Oh, how beautiful and sweet to one’s soul is the forest on a moonlit night along the great river! All about living things are sleeping. Only the eerily beautiful moon above illuminates the forest.

The fisherman, frequently stamping his feet, went into his hut. ‘This is not a good place,’ he thought to himself. ‘Once a woman went into the water here. I ought to light a fire quickly.’

The man sat in his hut, and the flames flickered.

It was now late at night. At the stroke of midnight a splash came from the Viče River and a person’s head rose from the water. Her hair was long and white. The moon illuminated what seemed to be a boat on the water. In the boat ghostly men appeared. Among them was the ghost of a woman, and if anyone doesn’t now, we will tell you: this woman was Tojka’s daughter Čazi. The fiendish khan had her cast into the water. Čazi was now a demon of the river. Sometimes she came out of the water, saying, ‘You fiend! Help! Daddy! Ozi!’

Sometimes she sang:

The wind blows about.
The tree shakes its leaves.
The Viče River flows on,
It brings a little boat.
In the middle of that boat
Sits a lovely girl.
To her mother and father
She sends her greetings.

Again a weeping voice cursed the evil nobleman. In the distance a cock crowed, for it was dawn. A splash came up from the water, and again all was silent.

The rising sun turned everywhere red. The fisherman woke up and went to check on his bait.