Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Ballad of the Loss of Alhama

The Moorish king was passing
Through the city of Granada
From the gate known as Elvira
To the one called Vivarrambla
Ay de mi, Alhama!

Alhama has been taken!
The letters bore the news
He threw the letters in the fire
The messengers he slew
Ay de mi, Alhama!

So from his mule he dismounts
And mounts his fastest steed
To make his way to the Alhambra
Through the street of Zacatin
Ay de mi, Alhama!

Once he's in the Alhambra
At once he gives the word
To sound the horns and trumpets
The bugles to be heard
Ay de mi, Alhama!

And orders that the war drums
At once begin to play
That all his Moors may hear them
In Granada or on the plain
Ay de mi, Alhama!

The Moors who heard them sounding
Their loud call to bloody Mars
By ones and twos united
And prepared for mighty wars
Ay de mi, Alhama!

And then there spoke an elder Moor
Now hear what he did say:
Why have you called us here, oh King?
What brings us here today?
Ay de mi, Alhama!

My friends, you all must hear the news
Of this great loss I'll tell:
To Christians, in their bravery
Today Alhama fell
Ay de mi, Alhama!

And then there spoke an Alfaqui
With cane and beard of white:
Well you have earned this loss, my King
This news does fit you right
Ay de mi, Alhama!

You slew the Bencerrajes
Who were Granada's flower
And to inconstant traitors
From Cordoba gave power
Ay de mi, Alhama!

For this, my King, do you deserve
A double pain and strife,
Granada's next, and you shall lose
Your realm, your reign, your life.
Ay de mi, Alhama!

 - Anonymous Spanish ballad,ca. 1500. Trans. Craig B. Daniel, 2012. Alhama de Granada fell to Castilian forces in 1482; the phrase Ay de mi is an exclamation of regret which is not well-attested prior to this poem but is commonly used in contemporary Spanish.

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