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Legends of Neamț Fortress

The Mother of Stephen the Great by Dimitrie Bolintineanu


On a dark old mountain, in an ancient keep

Where a brook flows rushing in the valley deep,

The young princess, sighing, weeping in her splendour

Sweet and oh-so-precious, like a flower, tender;

Because in the battle, her beloved prince

Went to lead his army, and he vanished since.


An old horologe chiming, splits the night in two

Who’s knocking at the gate, wanting to come through?

“It is I, dear mother, your beloved son;

Coming from the battle wounded and undone.

Our fate was harsh and cruel, merciless this time:

And my little army’s shattered, in the grime.

Open now the gate; the Turks are on my tail…

And the wind is chilly and my wounds are vile!”

Rushing to the window, is the princes, keen.

“What are you doing, young one?”, asks the grand old queen.

She would then descend toward the gate shut tight

With these words to utter through the silent night:

“Who are you, o stranger? Stephen is away;

His strong arm is hurling his rivals to dismay.

Surely I’m his mother, and he is my son;

But I’m not your mother, if you are this one!

Still, if God in Heaven – wishing me to mourn

And my days be saddened and my years so torn –

Had your soul, so noble, in this manner changed,

If indeed you’re Stephen and are thus deranged,

Know that without triumph and the foes repressing –

Here you cannot enter; not without my blessing.

Go back to your army! For your lands to die

And your tomb be crowned with flowers to the sky!”


Stephen then returns, and from his horn he roars

While his shattered army from dark valleys soars.

The battle is renewed and the foes are smitten

Like the ears of corn which by the scythe are bitten.


(from Testament – Four Hundred Years of Romanian Poetry – Daniel Ionita, Minerva Publishing – 2019)


The story of Lady Ruxandra


The fountain in the center of Neamț Fortress

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