THE TALE OF THREE BROTHERS AND THE WHITE EAGLE
Folklore story from Poland Translated in English by Szkoła Podstawowa nr 4 im. Orła Białego, Czechowice-Dziedzice , Poland
Once upon a time there was a beautiful country where Slavs lived. They were sincere and candid people. They were famous for their hospitality, bravery, great strength and diligence. Among Slavs there was a special tribe. It was ruled by an old grey-haired man who had three sons, Lech, Czech and Rus. They had a lot of virtues like their father and they were famous for their intelligence.One day the old father called for his three sons and said them: “My dearest sons!” “We are listening to you, father!” replied the sons.“I’m old and soon I’ll die. It’s time to nominate my heir, and it should be one of you …” “We are on your orders, father!” said Lech.“What should we do?” asked Czech.“So it will be this way, bring here your bows and arrows. Draw your bows and aim them in three different directions!” ordered the father.“Done!” replied the sons.“Now saddle your horses and go as fast as you can where your arrows flew. And when you will find them, look around and hunt for a big animal. And the one of you who will come back with the greatest hunting trophy will be my heir. Go!” The young men rushed in three different directions. Czech found his arrow as the first one. He looked around and suddenly … He saw a huge auroch. They fought hard and Czech strained every nerve to break its neck. He won! Lech found his arrow high on a great royal fir tree. He climbed it fast. Suddenly, he saw a herd of Polish bison running toward him. Lech jumped down and the herd stopped. A huge bison came forward and they fought hard. The animal fell down at Lech’s feet. He won! Rus’s arrow lay in front of a big bear’s den. Rus had no choice – a bear barred his way to the arrow. They looked deeply into each others eyes and then the bear stood on its legs. It seemed that it would tear Rus to shreds but he didn’t give up. He won and went home. “I have to admit that you trophies are impressive.” said the father. “It is hard to name the winner. So you will share the power.” “But father, you said that only one of us could rule our tribe.” said Rus. “Yes, I said so and I still believe it, but it will be wise and fair if all of you are my heirs. Your arrows flew in different directions and you will go these ways too. It is there you will create your countries which you will rule according to your will.” replied the father. “And what about you, father?” asked Czech. “And what about our home?” asked Lech. “I will stay here alone. Forever.” said the father. “Father …” said the sons. “No, my dearest sons, it is not the right time for sorrow and tears. I’m asking you for one more thing. Be kind to each other, respect each other and support each other. Now go and remember what I taught you. Be well Czech, my dear son and go your way!” said the father. “Be well my father. I will always think about you.” replied Czech. “Goodbye Rus and be happy!” said the father. “Goodbye father!” replied Rus. “And you, Lech – live and rule wisely and in peace!” “Be well father! Goodbye forever!” said Lech.Three brothers: Lech, Czech and Rus looked deeply in each others eyes and they shook their strong hands for a long time in silence. As their old father ordered, they went their ways with their people and property. Czech’s people went south. After a long journey they stopped in wide land. There were huge fields and high mountains. Rus went in different direction, he went west. He went with his people through forests, swamps and endless steppes. One day he said to his people: “Here is our land. This land is cold and icy, but it’s our dearest land!” Lech was a bit different from his brothers. You could recognize his thick fair hair and linen clothes. His people weren’t similar to his brothers’ people either. Lech’s arrow flew where the sun sets. His people went there looking for their own land. But it wasn’t that easy for Lech to find his place. He walked for long months; he lost his way and found many obstacles. He and his people were very tired and dissatisfied too. So Lech stood in front of them and said: “We will bear it!” During a council of elders, Lech put his head in his hands and thought. He dreamt that a strange power lifted him up and he flew in unknown direction for a long time until he saw broad fertile valleys and blue rivers full of fishes. Yes, it was their dream land! “Wake up! Wake up!” shouted the night guards. Soon they woke up the whole camp. Prince Lech wiped his eyes and reminded himself about his dream. This huge bird, these huge wings … Suddenly, he saw a large eagle which gave him a sign to follow it. Yes! It was the bird from his dream! The white eagle, the royal eagle gave him a sign! “Come here my friends! Come here Bolko, Przemko and you, Ziemko!” said Lech. “We are with you and your people are ready!” said Lech’s friends. “Let’s go right now! We’ll follow the eagle!” shouted Lech. Lech’s people went through thick forest. The white eagle flew over them all the time, and it led them in one direction. Suddenly, they found themselves by a beautiful lake. The water was crystal clear. They set up a camp. Lech sat down under an old oak, which grew by the lake and he looked for the eagle. Suddenly, Bolko shouted: “Look over there! The eagle is in the oak!” “He’s got the nest there!” said Przemko. “I can see royal eaglets in the nest.” said Ziemko. “Thank you eagle! You led my people to this place. I will build my nest here, as you did. Near the lake we will build a town, which we will call Gniezno. And your image will be on our standards.” said Lech proudly. “Vivat Lech! Vivat the white eagle, our symbol forever!” shouted the people. “Vivat Poles!” Lech’s people settled down and build a town called Gniezno. The town was the first capital city of Poland, and the white eagle is still our national symbol.