Miorița (English: The Little Ewe) is an old Romanian pastoral ballad and is considered to be one of the most important pieces of Romanian folklore. It has several versions with quite different content. One of these was selected by Vasile Alecsandri to form the textbook reference.
The setting is a simple one: three shepherds (a Moldavian, a Transylvanian and a Vrâncean) meet while looking after their flocks. An apparently enchanted ewe belonging to the Moldavian tells its master that the other two are plotting to murder him and steal his goods.
The shepherd replies that, were this to happen, the ewe is to ask his killers to bury his body by the sheep's pen. She is to then tell the rest of his sheep that he had married a princess during a ceremony attended by the elements of nature, and marked by the falling of a star. However, there is no rite of passage metaphor with heavenly manifestations in the version of the story the ewe is to tell the shepherd's mother: she is to hear only of her son having married a princess.
This poem was quoted extensively by Patrick Leigh Fermor in his account of the second part of a journey on foot from Holland to Constantinople in 1933-34. He includes a partial translation which he refers to as "ramshackle but pretty accurate". This was actually made later during an extended stay prior to September 1939 in eastern Romania.
- Miorița was the name of the state-owned milk company during the Nicolae Ceaușescu régime.
- The first two verses of Miorița are written on all the banknotes of the Republic of Moldova.
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