Sleep my baby, rock-a-bye,
On the edge you must not lie.
Wolf the Fluffy roams astray,
Will he grub you, drag away?
Into Furthest Darkest Woods,
Hide you under Willow roots?
There birdies chirp and squeak,
Will they let you fall asleep?
This short lullaby is so familiar to many Slavic-speaking people (of course it is sang with the intonations quite different than those I read it with). Inevitably, the question arises, why this one, and other folk songs, are so widely distributed, and why nobody have a smallest clue about who and when composed the poetry?
Many researches in the fields of philology, folklore, and mythology suggest this poetry is just a few, small, fragmented reminders of the big, backbone myth of those ancient people who were ancestors of the most European and many Asian people. We don’t exactly know when and where those Proto-Indo-European people, and their culture emerged – 5 (or maybe 7-9, or even 10-13) thousand years ago somewhere in between Europe, Anatolia, Caucasus Mountains, Volga steppes, or Hindustan peninsula.
However, we know the exact date and place when and where the idea of the ancient unity of the languages, cultures and mythologies, now known as Indo-European, had entered scientific circulation. That happened on February 2nd, 1786 in Calcutta, where British philologist Sir William “Oriental” Jones gave a lecture to the members of the Asiatick Society of Bengal. Since then, many bright scientists have worked in the field of reconstructing that culture which, although long gone, had affected our world so much.
The literary reconstruction of one of the Proto-Indo-European myths presented here is inspired largely by the work of Vladimir Toporov and Viacheslav Ivanov, as well as Vitomir Belaj and Radoslav Katičić who continued developing the “basic myth” theory.
The contemporary, fantasy style of the story is chosen for a simple and obvious reason, – in an attempt to reconstruct not only the text, but also the whole experience. Imagine that, so many thousand years ago, you are among those people who sat in front of the camping fires during the dark and cold nights in the prairies and mountains of the Indo-European motherland, and loved to listen to those ancient stories. What authors would you read, listen to, and watch today? Most likely that would be someone like J. R. R. Tolkien, J. K. Rowling or Ursula K. Le Guin. And for this audience, we offer our reconstruction.
Please, enjoy the reconstruction, loose translations of those folk songs and verses it is based on, and the wonderful illustrations of the very talented artist Cristiana Rodrigues.
You are welcome to support Handsome Yeva on Kickstarter 🙂