Daliborka:  The Tale

Dalibor of Kozojedy was a knight who owned an estate in the Litomerice region. who was sentenced to death and imprisoned in the Prague Castle tower’s dungeon. What was his misdeed? Well, the crime he committed was to shelter some rebellious serfs. Such an act could not be pardoned and had to be paid for dearly. Dalibor could thus be seen as a kind of Robin Hood for the Czech kingdom under Vladislav Jagiello.

He waited for his sentence for a very long time and passed it playing the “violin”, which he supposedly built out of matches.

According to the legend he learnt to play the violin whilst waiting for his death in the dark inhospitable prison dungeon. Prague people heard him and his touching music awoke in them sympathy. They came to listen to his sad tones, took mercy on him and gave him food and drink. Some say that he was so popular that the authorities feared to announce the date of his execution. Either way one day the violin fell silent… You may have heard that famous Czech composer Smetana turned the idealised story into a famous opera.

For those, who do not believe in legends, there is a “logical” but rather dark explanation about the reasons, why Dalibor became to be associated with the play of the violin. The word violin had also another medieval meaning – it was a torturing device. It was called violin because of its shape with holes for head and arms. Once the procedures started, there was “music” produced by the prisoners. Nevertheless, it was hardly harmonious and miles away from the gentle soft sounds produced by the violin.

A couple snippets on the tower:

  • The tower was built in 1496 at the command of Vladislav Jagellon(czech: Vladislav Jagellonský) as a part of the fortification of the castle premises. In 1781 the tower burned down and due to fire damages it was reduced by one floor the following year. Since 1883 the tower has been open to public.
  • The tower was used as a prison from its very establishment. The area designed for cells was separated by wooden partitionsand even heated. Less serious culprits were imprisoned on higher floors. The prison also had a dungeon for especially tough criminals, which was situated in the basement. Another famous prisoner was the zealous patron of art, the Count Franz Anton from Sporck who had, among others, a merit in the introduction of French horn in Bohemia.





The Wolf of Ironwood


Please Listen:



Ho for the white of the withered bough
And the red of the wrinkled leaf!
Sir Arngrim sits in Ironwood,
And his heart is filled with grief.

The sun sinks down on Ironwood
Blood-red behind the trees;
Sir Arngrim stares upon the sword
That lies across his knees.

“Oh my father died a death of blood,
And my mother of wasting woe;
And their spirits dwell in the rocky fell
Where the trees of Ironwood grow.

“And still the guilt of the life-blood spilt
Doth unavenged remain;
And in the red of the wrinkled leaf
I read my father’s pain.

“Oh the kings were three, sailed o’er the sea
To wokr us havoc and harm;
And I see in the white of the wizened bough
My mother’s beckoning arm.”

Sir Arngrim stood with the sea beneath
And the rocky fell behind,
And there he saw three gallant ships
That sailed before the wind.

“Oh red of hand, they come to land
With a host and a mighty horde!
And how shall I wreak my father’s death
With the power of a single sword?”

When the writhen shadows in Ironwood
Grew long, and the fading rim
Of the sun sank low behind the fell,
The witch-wife came to him.

“Now hearken to me, thou goodly knight!
And, if thou grant me grace,
I’ll work a spell shall serve thee well
For love of thy fair young face.

“Oh a maid am I from dawn till dusk—
But by night of a magic rune,
And a weird of woe, a wolf I go
O’ nights beneath the moon.

“Thou shalt slay three hosts in Ironwood
That the wolf her fill may feed—
Then as lover true, when the fight is done,
Shalt pay the maiden’s meed.”

Sir Arngrim looked upon the witch,
And her face was fair to see.
He’s plighted her troth on his knightly oath
And sealed it with kisses three.

It was the first o’ the hosts came on
With the rush of a roaring gale—
But they might not stir the single sword
That bit through bone and mail.

Oh half o’ the host at eve were slain,
And half o’ the host were fled;
And all night long in Ironwood
The wolf howled o’er the dead.

It was the second host came on
As levin leaps from the sky;
But they might not quell the witch’s spell
And the sword of grammarye.

Oh half o’ the host at eve were fled,
And half in their blood lay still;
And all night long in Ironwood
The wolf did feed her fill.

It was the third o’ the hosts came on
Like the waves of a winter sea;
But they broke on the sword as billows break
Where the hidden skerries be.
Oh half o’ the host at eve were slain,
And half were fled away;
And like the dead, among the dead,
In a swoon Sir Arngrim lay.

The moon shone down on Ironwood
Above the trees so tall;
And lo! the red and wrinkled leaves
Upon his face did fall.

And lo! the shade of the withered bough
Across his face lay dim,
And the wolf she leapt, and seized, and tore
The warrior limb from limb.

Ho ho for the red of the wrinkled leaf!
His spirit has gone to dwell
With the grimly ghosts of the ancient hosts
That haunt the rocky fell!

Ho ho for the white of the withered bough!
The witch she wails full sore;
And Ironwood, for that deed of blood,
Is accursed evermore!

Come to me my body…

“I give you a year’s grace to grow your beard.  Twelve sweet, short months of life to do with as you will.

But when the seasons have come full circle, we shall meet again and you shall pay your debt to me.”



Nothing like Sean Connery in this piece of film.  Ah, nostalgia of youth.  We see things from such a distinct perspective as children.