A strange and slightly sinister Bulgarian folk song

Above is a very short film (my batteries ran out) of people singing a Bulgarian folk song we all learned in a Singing Society Workshop of Bela Rechka Songs at the Goat Milk Festival.  Of course, we sang it in Bulgarian but the English translation really got me thinking.

The lyrics are pretty funny in a sort of sinister way.  They made me ask all sorts of questions in my head – were the narrator and the object of his affection involved in an affair?  Or, what creepily occurred to me, was he a total stranger/mild acquaintance to her?  Was she blissfully sailing through life, happy with her husband, unaware that this man silently watched them whilst they slept, plotting murder?  Is this song the narrator’s declaration of a fully requited love, or the moment some poor woman learns she’s being stalked by a psychopath? Have I watched too many thriller films? The mind boggles.

Todorka’s Song

Now you ask me in whose name
Last night to your place I came,
Why I jumped o’er your quickset,
What was there for me to get.

I am younger than your husband
And I’m not afraid of strife,
In my belt I keep my hardened
Trusty friend, my sharp-edged knife.

The night was dark, on top of that
I sneaked as slyly as a cat,
Through your window I did peep,
You and he were fast asleep.

There I sat down in your yard,
Knife in hand bot strong and hard
Waiting for your man to come
For to crush him like a crumb.

By your bed a candle’s burning,
You’re asleep, my stomach’s churning
With a flame so wild and hot
That I’ll burst there on the spot.

Gazing at your candlelight
I didn’t notice that the night,
Weakenig, had taken flight
And the dawn was shining bright.

The nightingale had just begun
Singing for the rising sun
And I saw your face again,
Smiling through the windowpane.

Recognizing your dear face
I stopped short and checked my pace:
“Next time, nightingale” I said,
Through the quickset back I fled.

That is why I came to you
Last night in the chilly dew.
Mind you, one of us will die –
It is either he or I.

(Translation: Kristin Dimitrova)


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