A dark tale from the Czech Republic
Interpreted and retold by Czech poet Jindrich Michl
Portrait by Teresa Maria

Ancient Mill

Jindrich Michl

A Macabre Bohemian Story

Behind the south-west mountains, and below the Black Hill,
Above a little village, there is an ancient mill.
The Miller he was wealthy, but well-known for his greed,
And his great money-grabbing, it was his only creed.

It happened in late evening, on one a-fateful day,
A young man came a-marching, in a very strenuous way.
Would you like to put me up on this dark rainy night?
He was unshaven, tired, but his sincere blue eyes smiled bright.

What a cheek! Dirty tramp, you’re as poor as a church mouse,
I’ll turn the dog loose if you don’t run quick, away from th’ house!
But the stranger didn’t go, he seemed a little bold,
He dipped into his pocket, and showed th’ Miller glittering gold.

The sight of golden coins, is pleasing to the eye,
Come in my house, the Miller said, while being on a high.
His guest lay down and fell asleep, for his way had been long,
He hadn’t faintest idea, that something might be wrong.

The sleeper could hear neither, the Miller nor his wife,
And couldn’t see them bringing, a large, sharp kitchen knife.
They stabbed him dead, and hid the body in a secret place,
They threw their overnight guest, in the deep mill-race.

Next morning a farmer from the village, carrying his load,
Friendly asking; Neighbour, what did you think about?
Your son came back, not feeling any tiredness nor pain,
And hurried here, with happy words, ‘I am at home again!’

The Miller stared without a word, with extremely pale face,
Then fell upon the ground, and his wife jumped to the mill-race.
The mill has been so calm and still, for many hundred years.
And maybe you will see a ghost; you must not have a fear!

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