The Song of Attabiscar

I found this in Eclectic Magazine Foreign Literature By John Holmes Agnew, Walter Hilliard Bidwell. I imagine it is a well-known song in Euskadi, but I hadn’t come across it before. This is the Basque perspective of the events portrayed in the Song of Roland. I don’t know how old this is, but I thought it was interesting.

The Song of Attabiscar

A cry is heard
In the Basque mountains.
Every etcheco-javna [master of a house], standing before his door,
Listens and cries, Who is there, and what seek they?
The hound which was sleeping at his master’s feet,
Rises; and his deep baying resounds through Attabiscar.

There is a noise on the hill of Ibaneta;
It echoes, as it draws near, between the rocks.
It is the dull murmur of a coming host.
Our men have answered it on the mountain-tops,
The warning of their horns has been heard,
And the etcheco-jauna sharpens his weapons for the fight.

They come, they come! What a hedge of spears!
Banners of all hues float in the midst,
And a dazzling light flashes from their arms.
How many are they? Comrade, count them well.
One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve,
Thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, twenty.

Twenty! aye, and thousands more.
It would be a waste of time to count them.
Let hand join with hand, to uproot the rocks,
And hurl them down from the mountain-summits
On their heads,
Till they lie crushed and dead.

What would they with our hills, these men of the North?
Wherefore have they come to vex our peace?
When God made these mountains, it was that men should not pass them.
But the rocks fall, and smite down their hosts.
The blood flows in streams, the mangled limbs quiver.
Ha! for the crushing of bones! Ha! for the sea of blood!

Fly, ye who have strength; fly, ye who have horses!
Fly, King Carloman, with thy sable plumes and scarlet mantle?
Roland the Brave, thy loved nephew, lies dead;
Thy bravery hath been of no avail for him.
Now, ye Basques, leave these rocks,
And shoot down your enemies in their flight with your arrows.

They fly, they fly! Where is the hedge of spears?
Where are the banners of all hues that floated above them?
No dazzling light flashes from their blood- soiled armor.
How many are they? Comrade, count them with care.
Twenty, nineteen, eighteen, seventeen, sixteen, fifteen, fourteen, thirteen,
Twelve, eleven, ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one.

One! there is not even one remaining.
All is over. Etcheco-jauna, thou mayest go back with thy hound,
Embrace thy wife and thy children,
Furbish thy weapons, hang them up with the horn, and then lie down to sleep beneath them.
The eagles will come in the night to feed on mangled flesh,
And the bones shall bleach on the ground for evermore.

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