Silent Kolo

The edict forbids our music.
Not one voice is permitted to sing,
not one finger allowed to pluck
even the gusle's single string.

Obeying the rule, we move
without melody,
the soles of our boots
the clink of our coins

We start so softly
only those blinded
can hear our steps.

Picking up speed, we hope
they confuse the brush
of our unhushed footfalls
with galloping horses bearing
soldiers through the night.

Anxiously we
the first beat
with our left feet,
then double the pound
without diminishing
pace or sound.

Louder and louder we dance without fear,
thumping hearts adding timpani's cheer.
Faster and faster our dance without key
brings closer the time we all shall leap free.

– judith laura

This dance dates to the aftermath of the 1369 Battle of Kosovo, when the victorious Ottoman Turks forbid the Serbs, to, among other things, use musical instruments. The punishment for defying the order, even by playing the single-stringed gusle, was being blinded. The Serbs invented a silent kolo (kolo, which means circle, is a type of dance), that used the jingling coins on the women's aprons and the pounding of feet as "music."