The Epic Lay of Kossovo, sung from generation to generation by peasant bards to the strains of the stringed guzla in the remotest mountain glens and the busiest market places, has still been a common heirloom of the whole people. It has kept alive the tradition of national unity and green the memory of heroic deeds, and held up withal the traitors of the past to perpetual obloquy. The lesson brought homer by it is one which all members of the Southern Slav race take to heart to-day. It is summed up in the Serbian motto “Samo Sloga Srbina Spasava” — “Union only saves the Serbs”.
Sir Arthur John Evans
The Times (1914)
There was a battle long ago,
Before America was dreamed and found
A battle fought and lost on Serbian ground
And known as Kossovo.
There was a Serbian king, Lazar,
Who, when offered earth or heaven by the Lord,
Led Serbians against the Turkish horde.
Chose an undying star.
Kossovo for five hundred years,
Was a battle never finished, till at last,
The mountains free, agony seemed to have passed
The place of skulls and tears.
But no, not yet may freedom go Redeemed.
Once more the Turks and heathen come
Across the broken bridge of Christendom
On the day of Kossovo.
Once more the hero calls to his men
And to unimagined armies from afar
And, by his death and by the undying star
Oh heaven, signals again.
And all the free have now one foe
And every freeman is a freeman’s friend
We come Lazar, to fight and win and end
Your battle, Kosovo.*
* Kossovo Day was widely celebrated in the West during the First World War.