Give Us Something Big, A Folk Song

Folk Songs, LCL fr. 848 (=Athen. 8. 360b–d)

“The swallow has come, has come,
Bringing us the best weather
The most wonderful time of the year,
White on its stomach and
White on its back–
Why don’t you toss out
From your well-stocked house
A cup of wine,
And a basket of cheese and wheat?
That bird won’t decline
A bit of flatbread either.

Should we leave or take something?
If you’re going to give us something, great!
If not, we won’t leave you alone.
We will steal your door
Or maybe your threshold or
Your wife who is sitting indoors.
She’s small. We’ll carry her easily.

Would you give us something? Could you give us something big?
Open up, open the door to the swallow.
We aren’t old men, but little kids.”

ἦλθ᾿ ἦλθε χελιδὼν
καλὰς ὥρας ἄγουσα
καὶ καλοὺς ἐνιαυτούς,
ἐπὶ γαστέρα λευκά
κἀπὶ νῶτα μέλαινα.
παλάθαν οὐ προκυκλεῖς
ἐκ πίονος οἴκου
οἴνου τε δέπαστρον
τυροῦ τε κάνυστρον
καὶ πυρῶν; ἁ χελιδών
καὶ λεκιθίταν οὐκ ἀπωθεῖται.
πότερ᾿ ἀπίωμες ἢ λαβώμεθα;
εἰ μέν τι δώσεις· εἰ δὲ μή, οὐκ ἐάσομες·
ἢ τὰν θύραν φέρωμες;ἢ τὸ ὑπέρθυρον
ἢ τὰν γυναῖκα τὰν ἔσω καθημέναν·
μικρὰ μέν ἐστι, ῥᾳδίως νιν οἴσομες.
ἂν δή τι φέρῃς, μέγα δή τι φέροις·
ἄνοιγ᾿ ἄνοιγε τὰν θύραν χελιδόνι·
οὐ γὰρ γέροντές ἐσμεν, ἀλλὰ παιδία.

A close up of a swallow sitting on a twig