Monday, December 13, 2004

The Bear's Rock

Thanks to a correspondent from Italy who contacted Andy Irvine, I now have the Macedonian lyrics and an English paraphrase for "Mechkin Kamen" ("The Bear's Rock"), which can be found on Andy Irvine & Davy Spillane's CD East Wind (where it is sung by Márta Sébestyen) as well as on Mozaik's Live from the Powerhouse (sung by Andy). Each line is sung twice; for the most part the second part of each line then becomes the first part of the following.
Vo Krushevo ogan gori, vo Krushevo gusta magla
Vo Krushevo, gusta magla, Mechkin Kamen krv se lele
Mechkin Kamen krv se lele, tam se bia tri voivodi
Tam se bia tri voivodi, Turska voiska tri illyardi
Prv voivoda Damé Gruev, vtor voivoda Pitu Guli
Vtor voivode Pitu Guli, a triti ot Ali Bakhov
Andy writes: “I cannot translate it but it means more or less — In Krushevo terrible fires and destruction. At the Bear's Rock there came three chieftains/leaders. Three leaders against 3,000 Turkish soldiers. The first chieftain was Dame Gruev, the second was Pitu Guli, and the third chieftain was Ali Bakhov. That's about it!”

There's a little more background in the liner notes to East Wind: “The Bear's Rock (Mechkin Kamen) is the site outside the town of Krushevo [or Kruševo — CK] where Pitu Guli and his men made one brave last stand against the Turkish forces during the Illinden rising in Macedonia in 1903. The people of Krushevo, who, along with the rest of Macedonia, had laboured under the brutal Ottoman Empire for over 500 years drove out the Turkish garrison at the start of the rising and proclaimed 'The Krushevo Republic.' It lasted for just ten days before the Turks sent in an army of 20,000 to exact retribution and the Krushevo Republic was drowned in blood."

The illustration at top is of the “Ilinden Spomenik,” a memorial to the heroes of the uprising (and to the antifascist partisans of World War II). From the looks of it the image may have been reproduced from a refrigerator magnet.