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Lullaby "Sleep, Child, Sleep, if Your Lids Are Heavy"

  • etnologija duhovna kultura uspavanka


Lullabies are songs sung to children to lull them to sleep while rocking the cradle or soothing the baby in some other way, as by rocking it in one’s arms or on one’s legs. They often contain motifs which, it is believed, have the power to ward off spells or protect the child from the evil eye. Considered an important part of traditional life and an important spiritual practice, they were first recorded in handwritten collections as early as the second half of the 19th and first half of the 20th century.

We have the transcript of the lullaby "Sleep, Child, Sleep, if Your Lids Are Heavy" thanks to informant Katarina Kvesić from Kraljeva Sutjeska. The song is part of the Croat oral tradition, and it is composed in epic decasyllabic metre. It contains motifs that should ward off the evil eye, such as the ornate cradle made by wondrous artisans who only dwell on the shore of the sea, near the great waters that will carry all harm and trouble away from the child. The power and magic of gemstones and the golden apple should ensure that the child’s sleep will be free of dark and heavy dreams and will bring the child good fortune in the future. 

The lyrics:

Spavaj, spavaj, ako ti se drijema,
Jer od sanka ništa ljepše nema!
Anđeli ti na san dolazili,
I lijepu ti pjesmu zapjevali.
Spavaj, spavaj, u džidžanoj beši!
Beša ti se na moru kovala – 
Kovala je četir' kujundžije.
Jedan kuje, drugi pozlaćuje
Treći meće alem kamen zlatni,
A četvrti jabuku od zlata.
Spavaj, spavaj, ako ti se drijema,
Jer od sanka ništa ljepše nema.
Tebi majka tri košulje kroji,
Koše kroji, godinice broji.

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The transcript is kept in the Folklore Archive of the Ethnology Department, where it may be accessed by prior arrangement with department staff.
  • etnologija duhovna kultura uspavanka