DEER AND VILA
A YOUNG deer track'd his way through the lone forest
One lonely day--another came in sadness--
And the third dawn'd, and brought him sighs and sorrow;
Then he address'd him to the forest Vila:
"Young deer" she said, "thou wild one of the forest!
Now tell me what great sorrow has oppress'd thee;
Why wanderest thou thus in the forest lonely:
Lonely one day--another day in sadness--
And the third day with sighs and anguish groaning?"
And thus the young deer to the Vila answered:
"O thou sweet sister! Vila of the forest!
Me has indeed a heavy grief befallen;
For I once had a fawn, mine own beloved,
And one sad day she sought the running water;
She enter'd it, but came not back to bless me.
Then, tell me, has she lost her way and. wander'd?
Was she pursued and captured by the huntsman?
Or has she left me?--has she wholly left me--
Loving some other deer--and I forgotten?
Oh, if she has but lost her way, and wanders,
Teach her to find it--bring her back to love me!
Oh, if she has been captured by the huntsman,
Then may a fate as sad as mine await him!
But if she has forsaken me--if, faithless,
She loves another deer and I forgotten--
Then may the huntsman speedily o' ertake her." [a]
We have already observed how almost all nations compare female beauty to that of the beings of their legendary creed. With the Servians the object of comparison is the lovely Vila. "She is fairer than the mountain-Vila," is the highest praise of woman's beauty. In the ballad of The Sister of the Kapitan Leka, it is said of the heroine Rossandra, that in no country, either Turkey, or the land of the Kauran, or Jewrs, was her fellow to be found. No white Bula (Mohammedan), no Vlachin (Greek), no slender Latiness (Roman Catholic), could compare with her,
And who on the hills hath seen the Vila--
E'en the Vila, brother, must to her yield.
The swiftness of the Vila also affords a subject of comparison: a fleet horse is said to be "Vilaish" or "swift as a Vita."
The Morlacchi of Dalmatia, as Sir Gardner Wilkinson informs us, [b] believe also in the Vila. They describe her as a handsome female, who accompanies the, man who is her favourite everywhere he goes, and causes all his undertakings to prosper. One thus favoured is termed Vilénik. Another of their objects of belief is the Maçieh, who appears in the form of a boy, with a cap on his head, and is always laughing. Any one to whom he appears gets the power of commanding him. If ordered to bring money, he usually steals it from one of the neighbours, and if taxed with his dishonesty, he goes to the sea and comes back dripping and with money.
[a] Bowring, This version differs considerably from the German one of Talvi. We feel quite convinced that the English translator has mistaken the sense.
[b] Dalmatia and Montenegro, etc.