'The Ballad of Lhepsch and Debech' Translation & Annotation by

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Historical Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: September 30, 2016

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Submitted: September 30, 2016




  1. The Ballad of Lhepsch and Debech

Kabardian text

The Narts blacksmith Debech,

Incessantly operates in his workshop,

His anvil a rock,

His fire burns the iron.

Debech labors with no tools,

An oak cane is his bellows’ handle,

The Ibex’s skin [1], inflating his fires,

His hearth, is in the shade of a dawns’ twilight,

The forest thorns, his coal,

Debech works his iron,

With no assistant or help,

Merry old age awaits Debech,

Debech searched among the Narts,

For a helper, that he found not,

None could surpass his skill,

Nor be his counterpart.

Thus, Debech remained alone,

Worry became his hearts’ guest,

The earth quivered once he worked,

The fire raged once he blew,

He fashioned the mightiest swords,

The irons’ soul illuminated the way to his heart

Swiftly worked, he did.

Debech noticed a young lad,

The lad watched him from the doorway of the workshop,

Once Debech begins addressing a question,

The lad would leap behind and disappear,

But one day, this lad,

Addressed Debech and said,

- Maf’ex’w Apschiy [2], Debech grandfather!

Thou whom thy old age is near,

Thou art the one whom steps are broad and thy breath sporadic,

I can benefit you with many things,

As of today, allow me to enter your workshop,

And I shall devotedly work with you.

The young lad was tall, his arms lengthy,

The width of his chest seven fists,

His muscles metallic,

His figure strong,

His broad limbs metallurgic,

His palms broad,

His gaze is as an intrepid eagle.

Debech looked at him courteously and said,

- I look at your face and I see a young lad,

I grasp your muscle I sense steel,

Your words rest in the corners of the heart,

Tell me your name.

- Grandfather Debech, my name is Lhepsch,

I am the son of the woman, who has never given birth,

The man who was destined to never breed a son, is my father,

The leader, of the ones born for the sake of the mallet, is I,

I am a lad awoken by the divine,

I long searched for you,

I come to you as a well-mannered helper,

Open the doors of your workshop for me,

My name is Lhepsch, grandfather Debech.

He said this, and began working as a blacksmith,

Assistor to Debech.

Thus, as he practiced black smithy, Lhepsch progressed,

And while he practiced black smithy, Debech napped,

While Debech was sleeping at night,

He saw the following vision:

Lhepsch entered into Debech’s workshop,

Conversing with pieces of steel,

Commanding them from the corner of his eye,

The steel pieces obeyed his orders.

They compiled into hills.

The pieces that he looked upon with anger,

Would redden and roast,

Once he fills them with air,

They would solidify into iron.

Once Debech enters,

The pieces would suddenly disappear

And so did Lhepsch.

Debech awoke from his sleep,

He thought and thought,

“My end is near”

Said Debech.

The next day,

He slowly entered his workshop,

Lhepsch working diligently without lifting his head,

Debech stealthily watched him.

- If you are able to hold the blazing steel,

With your bare hands, you shall become a grand black smith my son, - told him Debech.

Lhepsch held the blazing steel with his hands and bend it,

And fashioned all he desired from the bent steel.

As both were standing,

Two Narts carried their brother

Who broke his thigh,

- Debech, our blacksmith whom we pray our god to uphold his skill,

We are the three Nart brothers, today, as we were playing with horses,

Our game turned harsh, followed by chest horse clashing,

As we clashed, our middle brothers’ thigh broke,

If we have acted wrongly, forgive us, we are young,

We entreat you have joyous old age, do fix his thigh rapidly,

- My sons, the three Nart brothers, who appear like eight hundred beings,

I do not have spare time at present,

I found myself a skillful assistant, and he shall fix the thigh,

Said Debech, and departed the room,

The two Narts looked at Lhepsch’s face twice,

Then left the workshop angered, indifferent to his presence,

- What shame has Debech plunged upon us,

Can a boy fix a metallic thigh for a Narts?

It seems there is no longer a difference between the mentor and the student!

We pledge, that our heads will never enter their workshop,

The brothers said, and carried their injured brother to the mountains.

Debech lingers for a little while,

He returns overwhelmed with notions,

- If I perceive in reality the equivalence

Of my vision, I shall find the thigh already treated by Lhepsch,

That is why I departed the workshop, and left Lhepsch there.

The mentor returns and asks his assistant,

- Did you manage to repair the thigh?

- They underestimated my skills, and left.

There they are leaving, call upon them.

- Are you able to repair the thigh? They will return despite their anger.

Old Debech calls upon the three Nart brothers,

As they were ascending the mountain,

They hear the call and return

And enter the workshop,

Despite Debech’s effort,

He could not mend the Narts metallic thigh.

Once Debech would touch the pieces of steel,

Lhepsch would command the pieces of steel with his eyes,

Thus, the pieces of steel would rebel against Debech

The blacksmith mentor looked at Lhepsch and said:

- Lhepsch my apprentice,

Who gazes upon the face of steel,

I am loosing charge,

And cannot repair the thigh,

Since you stand near.

I no longer control my power,

And seem to fail in repairing,

Stand here instead of me, and mend it,

Although you are still not a master,

But you have come to know a great deal,

As of today, I proudly bequeath you

My workshop,

And gratifyingly entitle you as the Narts blacksmith,

I have spent a lifetime,

Searching for your equal.

You are god’s gift to me,

And a worthy assistant in my old age,

Said Debech,

Left the workshop and returned to his home,

In that moment,

Lhepsch repaired the thigh instantly.

Lhepsch became infamous.

The Nart council propelled three messengers

To call upon him,

Lhepsch attended the Narts meeting,

The Nart council bequeaths Lhepsch

With praising verses.

In the honor of the God of Forge,

They pronounce a toast,

They honor Lhepsch adequately.


(Hedeghel’e, 1968, Vol.I, p. 234)


*Iron making is a chief element in the progression and productivity of ancient civilizations. Equally, this saga portrays the significance of iron and smelting implemented at the time. Simultaneously, it narrates how Lhepsch mastered the profession from his mentor Debech, who was seeking to find an alternant blacksmith upon his retirement. It is quite clear that Lhepsch already possessed godly attributes; “the son of the woman, who has never given birth, the man who was destined to never breed a son, is my father, the leader, of the ones born for the sake of the mallet, is I, I am a lad awoken by the divine.”

 This asserts that he already embraced divine qualities as a demigod, and once he mastered the art of blacksmiths, he eventually becomes the god of forge. Passion, diligence, and skill for the profession were ultimately the reason of success in transplanting iron into the broken thigh.



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