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A Cloud of Darkness Has Appeared by Hristo Botev

A cloud of darkness

A Cloud of Darkness Has Appeared

A cloud of darkness has appeared
from the mountains and the forest:
does it mean a gentle drizzle
or a terrifying tempest?

Ah, granddad, these are troubled times.
Hard the dragging of the plough'
and behind the seeds you soul:
hail from your eyes, sweat from your brow.

Tell me, granddad, why you weep
upon this long, black furrow-lines.
Do you fear the cloud of darkness
or do your little children die?

Tell me, granddad - I remember
how you once walked brave and proud.
Granny Stoyna was alive then -
she was singing while you ploughed.

And - remember? - when I passed
through the forest, but last year,
you were seated among heroes,
a father to them, with your beard.

What a real man you were then.
Now you're weeping - granddad, why?
Is it that your heart grows old
or that your flag no longer flies.

"Ah, my son, why you ask?
Listen to the raven croak…
But when you go down to the village
you'll find out why the tears choke

an aged chieftain, following his plough.
For the village gathers all around,
in the square, to graze upon
my children, my young men.

Impaled on rows of poles
and stakes, you'll there discover
the heads of both of my sons
who banded up to kill each other.

Two brothers were opposing leaders,
two sons on whom I could depend:
they quarreled over who would now
be leader of their father's men.

As if the mountains were to small,
this band of rivalry to keep.
So today their heads stick up
and everyone who passes weeps.

God - strike me with thunderbolt.
Wind - like dust - then scatter me.
Not to look upon small children
and mothers in their misery

gathering round the stakes to wail -
raising hands to clasp their heads,
suffering in their deep despair,
barefoot, in rags, and filled with dread…"

Large raindrops have begun to fall,
ducks and geese fly up and call.
A terrifying tempest howls -
this is no gentle drizzle now.

Everyone through the village races,
but granddad won't unhitch the traces,
- Granddad, come along. Be fast.
- Wait, am help me die at last.


Hristo Botev (1848-1876) is arguably the greatest Bulgarian poet and considered a revolutionary hero. As part of his revolutionary involvement he translated some books into Bulgarian and smuggled revolutionary literature into Russia. His literary involvement expanded, when he started a newspaper called 'The Word of Bulgarian Emigrants' despite it only surviving for five issues. Ultimately, Botev was a huge influence in defining Bulgarian literature with his poetry having a huge focus on Bulgaria and its landscape.


  1. How is the granddad described through the poem?
  2. How is the general feel and tone of the poem captured through certain word choices and phrases?
  3. What message do you think Botev is trying to convey to the reader? What do you make of the ending of the poem?

Other Bulgarian Literature:

  1. Concerto for Sentence: An Exploration of the Musico-Erotic by Emiliya Dvoryanova
  2. The Peach Thief by Emiliyan Stanev
  3. September by Geo Milev
  4. Under the Yoke by Ivan Yazov
  5. Carts and Other Stories by Zdravka Evtimova

Original text


Зададе се облак темен

откъм гора, от Балкана;

дали ще е дъждец дребен,

или ще е буря страшна?

Ех, мой дядо, тежко време!

Ралото се едвам влачи

и след него сееш семе,

пот от чело, град от очи!

Кажи, дядо, защо плачеш

над тез дълги бразди черни;

от чер облак ли се плашиш,

или мрат ти деца дребни?

Кажи, дядо, че аз помня

какъв юнак напред беше;

бог да прости баба Стойна,

тя пееше, ти ореше.

Друг път - помниш? - лани беше:

аз заминах през гората,

сред юнаци ти седеше

като баща със брадата.

Какъв беше ти тогава!

Сега плачеш - защо, дядо?

Байряк ли се не развява,

или нямаш сърце младо?

"Ех, мой синко! Що ме питаш?

Чуй тоз гарван, де там грачи...

Но в село нели отиваш,

ще да видиш защо плаче

стар войвода след туй рало!

Там селото се е сбрало

на мегданя, за да гледа

мойте момци, мойте чеда!

Ти ще видиш там набити

на прътове, на върлини

на момците ми главите -

избиха се две дружини!

Двама братя воеводи,

двамата ми верни сина:

скарали се кой да води

бащината си дружина!

Тесни били планините

за несговорна дружина!

И стърчат им днес главите,

за да плаче кой как мине.

Боже, с гръм ти разсипи ме!

Ветре, в прах ти разнеси ме!

Да не гледам деца малки

и техните клети майки,

окол пръте как се късат -

ръце вдигат към главите,

и как после ще се мъчат

голи, боси и пребити."

Закапаха едри капки,

летят, крякат гъски, патки:

буря страшна ще да ревне,

нели не са капки дребни.

секи тича, в село бяга,

дядо не ще да разпряга.

- Хайде, дядо, да вървиме.

"Стой да умра, помогни ми!"

Original text can be found here.

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