The Talisman, by George Borrow

The Project Gutenberg eBook, The Talisman, by George Borrow

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever.  You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at

Title: The Talisman

Author: George Borrow

Release Date: May 27, 2004  [eBook #12458]

Language: English

Character set encoding: US-ASCII


Transcribed by David Price, email



   The Talisman
   The Mermaid
   Ancient Russian Song
   Ancient Ballad
   The Renegade


From the Russian of Pushkin.

Where fierce the surge with awful bellow
Doth ever lash the rocky wall;
And where the moon most brightly mellow
Dost beam when mists of evening fall;
Where midst his harem’s countless blisses
The Moslem spends his vital span,
A Sorceress there with gentle kisses
Presented me a Talisman.

And said: until thy latest minute
Preserve, preserve my Talisman;
A secret power it holds within it—
’Twas love, true love the gift did plan.
From pest on land, or death on ocean,
When hurricanes its surface fan,
O object of my fond devotion!
Thou scap’st not by my Talisman.

The gem in Eastern mine which slumbers,
Or ruddy gold ’twill not bestow;
’Twill not subdue the turban’d numbers,
Before the Prophet’s shrine which bow;
Nor high through air on friendly pinions
Can bear thee swift to home and clan,
From mournful climes and strange dominions—
From South to North—my Talisman.

But oh! when crafty eyes thy reason
With sorceries sudden seek to move,
And when in Night’s mysterious season
Lips cling to thine, but not in love—
From proving then, dear youth, a booty
To those who falsely would trepan
From new heart wounds, and lapse from duty,
Protect thee shall my Talisman.


From the Russian of Pushkin.

Close by a lake, begirt with forest,
To save his soul, a Monk intent,
In fasting, prayer and labours sorest
His days and nights, secluded, spent;
A grave already to receive him
He fashion’d, stooping, with his spade,
And speedy, speedy death to give him,
Was all that of the Saints he pray’d.

As once in summer’s time of beauty,
On bended knee, before his door,
To God he paid his fervent duty,
The woods grew more and more obscure:
Down o’er the lake a fog descended,
And slow the full moon, red as blood,
Midst threat’ning clouds up heaven wended—
Then gazed the Monk upon the flood.

He gaz’d, and, fear his mind surprising,
Himself no more the hermit knows:
He sees with foam the waters rising,
And then subsiding to repose,
And sudden, light as night-ghost wanders,
A female thence her form uprais’d,
Pale as the snow which winter squanders,
And on the bank herself she plac’d.

She gazes on the hermit hoary,
And combs her long hair, tress by tress;
The Monk he quakes, but on the glory
Looks wistful of her loveliness;
Now becks with hand that winsome creature,
And now she noddeth with her head,
Then sudden, like a fallen meteor,
She plunges in her watery bed.

No sleep that night the old man cheereth,
No prayer throughout next day he pray’d
Still, still, against his wish, appeareth
Before him that mysterious maid.
Darkness again the wood investeth,
The moon midst clouds is seen to sail,
And once more on the margin resteth
The maiden beautiful and pale.

With head she bow’d, with look she courted,
And kiss’d her hand repeatedly,
Splashed with the water, gaily sported,
And wept and laugh’d like infancy—
She names the monk, with tones heart-urging
Exclaims “O Monk, come, come to me!” {7}
Then sudden midst the waters merging
All, all is in tranquillity.

On the third night the hermit fated
Beside those shores of sorcery,
Sat and the damsel fair awaited,
And dark the woods began to be—
The beams of morn the night mists scatter,
No Monk is seen then, well a day!
And only, only in the water
The lasses view’d his beard of grey.



The windel-straw nor grass so shook and trembled;
As the good and gallant stripling shook and trembled;
A linen shirt so fine his frame invested,
O’er the shirt was drawn a bright pelisse of scarlet
The sleeves of that pelisse depended backward,
The lappets of its front were button’d backward,
And were spotted with the blood of unbelievers;
See the good and gallant stripling reeling goeth,
From his eyeballs hot and briny tears distilling;
On his bended bow his figure he supporteth,
Till his bended bow has lost its goodly gilding;
Not a single soul the stripling good encounter’d,
Till encounter’d he the mother dear who bore him:
O my boy, O my treasure, and my darling!
By what mean hast thou render’d thee so drunken,
To the clay that thou bowest down thy figure,
And the grass and the windel-straws art grasping?
To his Mother thus the gallant youth made answer:
’Twas not I, O mother dear, who made me drunken,
But the Sultan of the Turks has made me drunken
With three potent, various potations;
The first of them his keenly cutting sabre;
The next of them his never failing jav’lin;
The third of them his pistol’s leaden bullet.


O rustle not, ye verdant oaken branches!
Whilst I tell the gallant stripling’s tale of daring;
When this morn they led the gallant youth to judgment
Before the dread tribunal of the grand Tsar,
Then our Tsar and Gosudar began to question:
Tell me, tell me, little lad, and peasant bantling!
Who assisted thee to ravage and to plunder;
I trow thou hadst full many wicked comrades.
I’ll tell thee, Tsar! our country’s hope and glory,
I’ll tell thee all the truth, without a falsehood:
Thou must know that I had comrades, four in number;
Of my comrades four the first was gloomy midnight;
The second was a steely dudgeon dagger;
The third it was a swift and speedy courser;
The fourth of my companions was a bent bow;
My messengers were furnace-harden’d arrows.
Replied the Tsar, our country’s hope and glory:
Of a truth, thou little lad, and peasant’s bantling!
In thieving thou art skill’d and giving answers;
For thy answers and thy thieving I’ll reward thee
With a house upon the windy plain constructed
Of two pillars high, surmounted by a cross-beam.


O thou field of my delight so fair and verdant!
Thou scene of all my happiness and pleasure!
O how charmingly Nature hath array’d thee
With the soft green grass and juicy clover,
And with corn-flowers blooming and luxuriant.
One thing there is alone, that doth deform thee;
In the midst of thee, O field, so fair and verdant!
A clump of bushes stands—a clump of hazels,
Upon their very top there sits an eagle,
And upon the bushes’ top—upon the hazels,
Compress’d within his claw he holds a raven,
And its hot blood he sprinkles on the dry ground;
And beneath the bushes’ clump—beneath the hazels,
Lies void of life the good and gallant stripling;
All wounded, pierc’d and mangled is his body.
As the little tiny swallow or the chaffinch,
Round their warm and cosey nest are seen to hover,
So hovers there the mother dear who bore him;
And aye she weeps, as flows a river’s water;
His sister weeps as flows a streamlet’s water;
His youthful wife, as falls the dew from heaven—
The Sun, arising, dries the dew of heaven.


From the Malo Russian.

From the wood a sound is gliding,
Vapours dense the plain are hiding,
How yon Dame her son is chiding.
“Son, away! nor longer tarry!
Would the Turks thee off would carry!”
“Ha; the Turkmen know and heed me;
Coursers good the Turkmen breed me.”

From the wood a sound is gliding,
Vapours dense the plain are hiding,
Still that Dame her son is chiding:
“Hence, begone! nor longer tarry!
Would the Horde {11} thee off would carry!”
“Ha! the Horde has learnt to prize me;
“’Tis the Horde with gold supplies me.”

Brings his horse his eldest sister,
And the next his arms, which glister,
Whilst the third, with childish prattle,
Cries, “when wilt return from battle?”

“Fill thy hand with sands, ray blossom!
Sow them on the rock’s rude bosom,
Night and morning stroll to view them,
With thy briny tears bedew them,
And when they shall sprout in glory
I’ll return me from the foray.”

From the wood a sound is gliding,
Vapours dense the plain are hiding,
Cries the Dame in anxious measure:
“Stay, I’ll wash thy head, my treasure!”
“Me shall wash the rains which splash me,
Me shall comb the thorns which gash me,
Me shall dry the winds which lash me.”


From the Polish of Mickiewicz.

Now pay ye the heed that is fitting,
Whilst I sing ye the Iran adventure;
The Pasha on sofa was sitting
In his harem’s glorious centre.

Greek sang and Tcherkass for his pleasure,
And Kergeesian captive is dancing;
In the eyes of the first heaven’s azure,
And in those black of Eblis is glancing.

But the Pasha’s attention is failing,
O’er his visage his fair turban stealeth;
From tchebouk {13a} he sleep is inhaling
Whilst round him sweet vapours he dealeth.

What rumour without is there breeding?
Ye fair ranks asunder why wend ye?
Kyslar Aga {13b}, a strange captive leading,
Cometh forward and crieth.  “Efendy!

Whose face has the power when present
Midst the stars in divan which do muster,
Which amidst the gems of night’s crescent
Has the blaze of Aldeboran’s lustre.

Glance nearer, bright star!  I have tiding,
Glad tiding, behold how in duty
From far Lehistan the wind, gliding.
Has brought this fresh tribute of beauty.

In the Padishaw’s garden there bloometh,
In proud Istambul, no such blossom;
From the wintry regions she cometh
Whose memory so lives in thy bosom.”

Then the gauzes removes he which shade her,
At her beauty all wonder intensely;
One moment the Pasha survey’d her,
And, dropping his tchebouk, without sense lay.

His turban has fallen from his forehead,
To assist him the bystanders started—
His mouth foams, his face blackens horrid—
See the Renegade’s soul has departed.


{7}  In the book the opening double-quotes are double commas.  These have been replaced by opening quotes in this eBook - DP.

{11}  The Tartar Horde,—generally known by the appellation of “The Golden,” which, some centuries since, was the dreaded and terrible scourge of Southern Russia.

{13a}  Turkish pipe.

{13b}  Keeper of the women.


***** This file should be named 12458-h.htm or******

This and all associated files of various formats will be found in:

Updated editions will replace the previous one--the old editions
will be renamed.

Creating the works from public domain print editions means that no
one owns a United States copyright in these works, so the Foundation
(and you!) can copy and distribute it in the United States without
permission and without paying copyright royalties.  Special rules,
set forth in the General Terms of Use part of this license, apply to
copying and distributing Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works to
protect the PROJECT GUTENBERG-tm concept and trademark.  Project
Gutenberg is a registered trademark, and may not be used if you
charge for the eBooks, unless you receive specific permission.  If you
do not charge anything for copies of this eBook, complying with the
rules is very easy.  You may use this eBook for nearly any purpose
such as creation of derivative works, reports, performances and
research.  They may be modified and printed and given away--you may do
practically ANYTHING with public domain eBooks.  Redistribution is
subject to the trademark license, especially commercial



To protect the Project Gutenberg-tm mission of promoting the free
distribution of electronic works, by using or distributing this work
(or any other work associated in any way with the phrase "Project
Gutenberg"), you agree to comply with all the terms of the Full Project
Gutenberg-tm License (available with this file or online at

Section 1.  General Terms of Use and Redistributing Project Gutenberg-tm
electronic works

1.A.  By reading or using any part of this Project Gutenberg-tm
electronic work, you indicate that you have read, understand, agree to
and accept all the terms of this license and intellectual property
(trademark/copyright) agreement.  If you do not agree to abide by all
the terms of this agreement, you must cease using and return or destroy
all copies of Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works in your possession.
If you paid a fee for obtaining a copy of or access to a Project
Gutenberg-tm electronic work and you do not agree to be bound by the
terms of this agreement, you may obtain a refund from the person or
entity to whom you paid the fee as set forth in paragraph 1.E.8.

1.B.  "Project Gutenberg" is a registered trademark.  It may only be
used on or associated in any way with an electronic work by people who
agree to be bound by the terms of this agreement.  There are a few
things that you can do with most Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works
even without complying with the full terms of this agreement.  See
paragraph 1.C below.  There are a lot of things you can do with Project
Gutenberg-tm electronic works if you follow the terms of this agreement
and help preserve free future access to Project Gutenberg-tm electronic
works.  See paragraph 1.E below.

1.C.  The Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation ("the Foundation"
or PGLAF), owns a compilation copyright in the collection of Project
Gutenberg-tm electronic works.  Nearly all the individual works in the
collection are in the public domain in the United States.  If an
individual work is in the public domain in the United States and you are
located in the United States, we do not claim a right to prevent you from
copying, distributing, performing, displaying or creating derivative
works based on the work as long as all references to Project Gutenberg
are removed.  Of course, we hope that you will support the Project
Gutenberg-tm mission of promoting free access to electronic works by
freely sharing Project Gutenberg-tm works in compliance with the terms of
this agreement for keeping the Project Gutenberg-tm name associated with
the work.  You can easily comply with the terms of this agreement by
keeping this work in the same format with its attached full Project
Gutenberg-tm License when you share it without charge with others.

1.D.  The copyright laws of the place where you are located also govern
what you can do with this work.  Copyright laws in most countries are in
a constant state of change.  If you are outside the United States, check
the laws of your country in addition to the terms of this agreement
before downloading, copying, displaying, performing, distributing or
creating derivative works based on this work or any other Project
Gutenberg-tm work.  The Foundation makes no representations concerning
the copyright status of any work in any country outside the United

1.E.  Unless you have removed all references to Project Gutenberg:

1.E.1.  The following sentence, with active links to, or other immediate
access to, the full Project Gutenberg-tm License must appear prominently
whenever any copy of a Project Gutenberg-tm work (any work on which the
phrase "Project Gutenberg" appears, or with which the phrase "Project
Gutenberg" is associated) is accessed, displayed, performed, viewed,
copied or distributed:

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever.  You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at

1.E.2.  If an individual Project Gutenberg-tm electronic work is derived
from the public domain (does not contain a notice indicating that it is
posted with permission of the copyright holder), the work can be copied
and distributed to anyone in the United States without paying any fees
or charges.  If you are redistributing or providing access to a work
with the phrase "Project Gutenberg" associated with or appearing on the
work, you must comply either with the requirements of paragraphs 1.E.1
through 1.E.7 or obtain permission for the use of the work and the
Project Gutenberg-tm trademark as set forth in paragraphs 1.E.8 or

1.E.3.  If an individual Project Gutenberg-tm electronic work is posted
with the permission of the copyright holder, your use and distribution
must comply with both paragraphs 1.E.1 through 1.E.7 and any additional
terms imposed by the copyright holder.  Additional terms will be linked
to the Project Gutenberg-tm License for all works posted with the
permission of the copyright holder found at the beginning of this work.

1.E.4.  Do not unlink or detach or remove the full Project Gutenberg-tm
License terms from this work, or any files containing a part of this
work or any other work associated with Project Gutenberg-tm.

1.E.5.  Do not copy, display, perform, distribute or redistribute this
electronic work, or any part of this electronic work, without
prominently displaying the sentence set forth in paragraph 1.E.1 with
active links or immediate access to the full terms of the Project
Gutenberg-tm License.

1.E.6.  You may convert to and distribute this work in any binary,
compressed, marked up, nonproprietary or proprietary form, including any
word processing or hypertext form.  However, if you provide access to or
distribute copies of a Project Gutenberg-tm work in a format other than
"Plain Vanilla ASCII" or other format used in the official version
posted on the official Project Gutenberg-tm web site (,
you must, at no additional cost, fee or expense to the user, provide a
copy, a means of exporting a copy, or a means of obtaining a copy upon
request, of the work in its original "Plain Vanilla ASCII" or other
form.  Any alternate format must include the full Project Gutenberg-tm
License as specified in paragraph 1.E.1.

1.E.7.  Do not charge a fee for access to, viewing, displaying,
performing, copying or distributing any Project Gutenberg-tm works
unless you comply with paragraph 1.E.8 or 1.E.9.

1.E.8.  You may charge a reasonable fee for copies of or providing
access to or distributing Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works provided

- You pay a royalty fee of 20% of the gross profits you derive from
     the use of Project Gutenberg-tm works calculated using the method
     you already use to calculate your applicable taxes.  The fee is
     owed to the owner of the Project Gutenberg-tm trademark, but he
     has agreed to donate royalties under this paragraph to the
     Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation.  Royalty payments
     must be paid within 60 days following each date on which you
     prepare (or are legally required to prepare) your periodic tax
     returns.  Royalty payments should be clearly marked as such and
     sent to the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation at the
     address specified in Section 4, "Information about donations to
     the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation."

- You provide a full refund of any money paid by a user who notifies
     you in writing (or by e-mail) within 30 days of receipt that s/he
     does not agree to the terms of the full Project Gutenberg-tm
     License.  You must require such a user to return or
     destroy all copies of the works possessed in a physical medium
     and discontinue all use of and all access to other copies of
     Project Gutenberg-tm works.

- You provide, in accordance with paragraph 1.F.3, a full refund of any
     money paid for a work or a replacement copy, if a defect in the
     electronic work is discovered and reported to you within 90 days
     of receipt of the work.

- You comply with all other terms of this agreement for free
     distribution of Project Gutenberg-tm works.

1.E.9.  If you wish to charge a fee or distribute a Project Gutenberg-tm
electronic work or group of works on different terms than are set
forth in this agreement, you must obtain permission in writing from
both the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation and Michael
Hart, the owner of the Project Gutenberg-tm trademark.  Contact the
Foundation as set forth in Section 3 below.


1.F.1.  Project Gutenberg volunteers and employees expend considerable
effort to identify, do copyright research on, transcribe and proofread
public domain works in creating the Project Gutenberg-tm
collection.  Despite these efforts, Project Gutenberg-tm electronic
works, and the medium on which they may be stored, may contain
"Defects," such as, but not limited to, incomplete, inaccurate or
corrupt data, transcription errors, a copyright or other intellectual
property infringement, a defective or damaged disk or other medium, a
computer virus, or computer codes that damage or cannot be read by
your equipment.

of Replacement or Refund" described in paragraph 1.F.3, the Project
Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation, the owner of the Project
Gutenberg-tm trademark, and any other party distributing a Project
Gutenberg-tm electronic work under this agreement, disclaim all
liability to you for damages, costs and expenses, including legal

defect in this electronic work within 90 days of receiving it, you can
receive a refund of the money (if any) you paid for it by sending a
written explanation to the person you received the work from.  If you
received the work on a physical medium, you must return the medium with
your written explanation.  The person or entity that provided you with
the defective work may elect to provide a replacement copy in lieu of a
refund.  If you received the work electronically, the person or entity
providing it to you may choose to give you a second opportunity to
receive the work electronically in lieu of a refund.  If the second copy
is also defective, you may demand a refund in writing without further
opportunities to fix the problem.

1.F.4.  Except for the limited right of replacement or refund set forth
in paragraph 1.F.3, this work is provided to you 'AS-IS,' WITH NO OTHER

1.F.5.  Some states do not allow disclaimers of certain implied
warranties or the exclusion or limitation of certain types of damages.
If any disclaimer or limitation set forth in this agreement violates the
law of the state applicable to this agreement, the agreement shall be
interpreted to make the maximum disclaimer or limitation permitted by
the applicable state law.  The invalidity or unenforceability of any
provision of this agreement shall not void the remaining provisions.

1.F.6.  INDEMNITY - You agree to indemnify and hold the Foundation, the
trademark owner, any agent or employee of the Foundation, anyone
providing copies of Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works in accordance
with this agreement, and any volunteers associated with the production,
promotion and distribution of Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works,
harmless from all liability, costs and expenses, including legal fees,
that arise directly or indirectly from any of the following which you do
or cause to occur: (a) distribution of this or any Project Gutenberg-tm
work, (b) alteration, modification, or additions or deletions to any
Project Gutenberg-tm work, and (c) any Defect you cause.

Section  2.  Information about the Mission of Project Gutenberg-tm

Project Gutenberg-tm is synonymous with the free distribution of
electronic works in formats readable by the widest variety of computers
including obsolete, old, middle-aged and new computers.  It exists
because of the efforts of hundreds of volunteers and donations from
people in all walks of life.

Volunteers and financial support to provide volunteers with the
assistance they need, is critical to reaching Project Gutenberg-tm's
goals and ensuring that the Project Gutenberg-tm collection will
remain freely available for generations to come.  In 2001, the Project
Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation was created to provide a secure
and permanent future for Project Gutenberg-tm and future generations.
To learn more about the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation
and how your efforts and donations can help, see Sections 3 and 4
and the Foundation web page at

Section 3.  Information about the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive

The Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation is a non profit
501(c)(3) educational corporation organized under the laws of the
state of Mississippi and granted tax exempt status by the Internal
Revenue Service.  The Foundation's EIN or federal tax identification
number is 64-6221541.  Its 501(c)(3) letter is posted at  Contributions to the Project Gutenberg
Literary Archive Foundation are tax deductible to the full extent
permitted by U.S. federal laws and your state's laws.

The Foundation's principal office is located at 4557 Melan Dr. S.
Fairbanks, AK, 99712., but its volunteers and employees are scattered
throughout numerous locations.  Its business office is located at
809 North 1500 West, Salt Lake City, UT 84116, (801) 596-1887, email  Email contact links and up to date contact
information can be found at the Foundation's web site and official
page at

For additional contact information:
     Dr. Gregory B. Newby
     Chief Executive and Director

Section 4.  Information about Donations to the Project Gutenberg
Literary Archive Foundation

Project Gutenberg-tm depends upon and cannot survive without wide
spread public support and donations to carry out its mission of
increasing the number of public domain and licensed works that can be
freely distributed in machine readable form accessible by the widest
array of equipment including outdated equipment.  Many small donations
($1 to $5,000) are particularly important to maintaining tax exempt
status with the IRS.

The Foundation is committed to complying with the laws regulating
charities and charitable donations in all 50 states of the United
States.  Compliance requirements are not uniform and it takes a
considerable effort, much paperwork and many fees to meet and keep up
with these requirements.  We do not solicit donations in locations
where we have not received written confirmation of compliance.  To
SEND DONATIONS or determine the status of compliance for any
particular state visit

While we cannot and do not solicit contributions from states where we
have not met the solicitation requirements, we know of no prohibition
against accepting unsolicited donations from donors in such states who
approach us with offers to donate.

International donations are gratefully accepted, but we cannot make
any statements concerning tax treatment of donations received from
outside the United States.  U.S. laws alone swamp our small staff.

Please check the Project Gutenberg Web pages for current donation
methods and addresses.  Donations are accepted in a number of other
ways including including checks, online payments and credit card
donations.  To donate, please visit:

Section 5.  General Information About Project Gutenberg-tm electronic

Professor Michael S. Hart was the originator of the Project Gutenberg-tm
concept of a library of electronic works that could be freely shared
with anyone.  For thirty years, he produced and distributed Project
Gutenberg-tm eBooks with only a loose network of volunteer support.

Project Gutenberg-tm eBooks are often created from several printed
editions, all of which are confirmed as Public Domain in the U.S.
unless a copyright notice is included.  Thus, we do not necessarily
keep eBooks in compliance with any particular paper edition.

Each eBook is in a subdirectory of the same number as the eBook's
eBook number, often in several formats including plain vanilla ASCII,
compressed (zipped), HTML and others.

Corrected EDITIONS of our eBooks replace the old file and take over
the old filename and etext number.  The replaced older file is renamed.
VERSIONS based on separate sources are treated as new eBooks receiving
new filenames and etext numbers.

Most people start at our Web site which has the main PG search facility:

This Web site includes information about Project Gutenberg-tm,
including how to make donations to the Project Gutenberg Literary
Archive Foundation, how to help produce our new eBooks, and how to
subscribe to our email newsletter to hear about new eBooks.

EBooks posted prior to November 2003, with eBook numbers BELOW #10000,
are filed in directories based on their release date.  If you want to
download any of these eBooks directly, rather than using the regular
search system you may utilize the following addresses and just
download by the etext year.

    (Or /etext 05, 04, 03, 02, 01, 00, 99,
     98, 97, 96, 95, 94, 93, 92, 92, 91 or 90)

EBooks posted since November 2003, with etext numbers OVER #10000, are
filed in a different way.  The year of a release date is no longer part
of the directory path.  The path is based on the etext number (which is
identical to the filename).  The path to the file is made up of single
digits corresponding to all but the last digit in the filename.  For
example an eBook of filename 10234 would be found at:

or filename 24689 would be found at:

An alternative method of locating eBooks: