In the repertoire of Transylvanian village bands working for the Hungarian-speaking population is a category known as the “dawn song”.
The bands normally consist of a virtuoso violin (or two) with a chordal viola (or two) and a string bass, and the players are traditionally gypsies. Their services are required mainly for weddings and a few other festive occasions, dominated by eating, drinking (mainly very potent home-brewed fruit spirits) and a great deal of dancing, and these events can be of great length, 48 hours or more, during which the musicians have to play almost continuously. The dawn songs mark, or are close to, the end of the festivities, or might also occupy an interval at the end of the first night. These people seem to be able to drink and dance and sustain festivity to almost superhuman lengths. But at a point just before dawn the dancing and noise stop, the musicians start playing preludial slow airs, and those who wish to sing approach them. One by one they step forward to face the musicians and sing a dawn song. The music may be played continuously, modulating from one song to another as each next singer comes forward. Sometimes a song may be taken up by a small group. This can go on for hours, perhaps sometimes involving some final dancing.
Other sources of information place the dawn songs differently. In this version they constitute the formal ending of the celebration, and involve only men. In the first light of dawn the men process out of the house or yard led by the musicians playing, and, holding onto each other by the shoulders, they walk down the village street singing together, and are thus escorted back to their homes and occupations. As the group arrives at each man’s door (or gate) he sings his dawn song facing the musicians and company, as a form of farewell, until there are none left. This can take hours.
We are talking about a large upland area, a small country, of plain, peneplain, hills, and mountains, most of it covered in large and scattered agricultural villages, and sometimes referred to, at least in parts, as one of the last true peasant societies left in Europe. This is half true in terms of land ownership and the sufficiency of the family smallholding, but it is very far from a ‘classic’ peasant society. There are a number of cities and market towns, but this music belongs to the villages, to landed smallholders living in clusters of farms with a sub-class of unlanded workers, often gypsies, living in small houses on the edges of the villages. In northern Transylvania much of the architecture was recently still of wood, including the churches. The surrounding land, usually hilly, is covered in cultivation strips except for the areas of pasture for each village, either attached to the village or situated above it on mountain slopes, maintained by professional shepherds. In mountainous areas the shepherds are transhumant, living through the summer on the high pastures with the sheep. The agriculture is self-sustaining and has only recently fallen short of ensuring self-sufficiency. The system of land tenure, which in every generation divides the family’s land equally among all children of both sexes, resists the formation of large capitalised farms and has in centuries past, in certain areas, protected the villages from the formation of aristocratic estates. State-enforced collectivisation was resisted for a long time, and abolished immediately Ceascescu fell. The work is constant and arduous, from daybreak to night at certain seasons, highly regulated in extended family units, and people undertake it in full knowledge, these days, of the alternatives, and with a certain resigned fatalism.
And surely sometimes, they live lives of great contentment and fulfilment which do not need to rest on any form of innovation but only on maintaining a set cycle of necessities against a shifting world with its own possibilities of improvement. Into this duration the two forms of observance, calendrical and occasional, are set as major stations, of which, as in other places, the wedding shows by far the greatest resilience. The leafy nuptial crown, punned with the death wreath and the birth coronet, remains the central node of a concentric economy, however eroded round the edges.
So it is at first light in these family farms, the larger gatherings out in the yards under temporary textile awnings with lanterns, the smaller ones inside the houses, that the enormous expenditure of festive energy and persistence for whatever occasion, reaches at last its point of tiredness, and the movement of the dance gives place to the solitary singer, singing dawn songs. I assume it to be hushed then, I assume everyone to be listening.
It appears that this is or was to some extent an improvised singing, or at least that each person had his or her own song to sing and that its words might be self-composed and have bearing on the singer’s own fate. My own conjecture is that song texts were constantly re-composed in preparation for performance, and that during the long periods between festivals people would, while watching the beasts or hoeing the land or weaving the textiles... have been preparing their next dawn song, by composing or revising words to a known tune. But it is also obvious from the examples given that singers were free to sing pre-existing songs of several (but not any) different kinds on the dawn song platform, and songs could also be put together by taking phrases and whole verses from given songs into a new sequence.
In most oral traditions the singer receives a song from the repertoire as material for re-shaping, re-stressing and re-figuring, both text and music, and this freedom can be exercised in very slight shifts of tone, pace, or ornament, or in radical transformation. It is one of the surprising liberties of supposedly strict self-regulating societies, but one which goes to the core of the structure. And generation upon generation the succession of singers continually reforms the piece, according to their own versions of desirable figuration and their own versions of living a life. An apparent extreme of this condition, which may be commoner than one would expect, is where the text, if not the music, is more-or-less completely self-composed by the singer as a thing wrought from his/her own fate and made public in a specially licensed arena such as the dawn-song. In the notes to a CD of music from Szászfenes, Kalotaszeg (recorded 1998) László Kelemen indicates that such not only did but in some places still does take place in the social performance of village singing in Transylvania: (my italics) “The song text can be applied to the melody according to taste or whim, and when our informants sang, they sang mostly of their own fates, in the old style.”
In unaccompanied song this means a freedom to re-form both text and music according to your own vision, though the melody would of course have to retain its contours and basic figurations, or it would no longer be an “old melody” as most of them are described. Accompaniment by ensemble, introduced into this music probably during the 20th Century, tends to “freeze” the piece musically, but with a margin of collaborative extemporisation still possible between singer and band-leader, which will be a lot easier with slow tunes such as dawn songs.
It is also common in Transylvanian village music (as in other traditions) for melodies to “belong” to individual patrons, who are entitled to demand that the musicians play them on the instant, whether for listening, dancing, or singing. This proprietorship probably has a historical relationship to the practice of personal re-invention of songs, though I know of no evidence for what exactly that relationship may have been.
It is obvious that anything called a “dawn song” will, if it fulfils half the potential of its title, face permanent questions of ending and beginning and the extent of the world figured against the daily journey of light. If the Transylvanian dawn song does this, it does it by a relentless focus on diurnal reality projected into a cathartic theatre, thus on working destiny rather than epiphany.
The dawn song functions as a bridge out of the event; at weddings, funerals, christenings or whatever, it marks the end of temporal exceptionality and turns to face the continuing world beyond, returning from the festive island to normality. But this normality is expressed as a condition of fated extremity still within the lyric fiction, with the seriousness of a form which has never been allowed to float away from the demands of realism, but is continually referred back to actuality by the intervention of individual singers in its course of development. Even in the fixed texts that now circulate around the urban “revival” scene it is possible to sense that the poems have been wrought out of individual past fates which still adhere to them.
In festive space the entire community faces inwards and revolves in strict order round the node at the centre of the birth-death chain, thus confirming its right to subsistence and hope, but also confirming the extent and symmetry of the structure and thus its avenues to freedom. (The actual ring-dance is now reserved for the opening of such events and most of the dancing is an elegant, it is said “court-derived”, couple dancing, in which the couples constantly turn this way and that, separate and come together. The Romanian for the ring-dance, hore, (also meaning a type of lyrical song) relates to the Greek Χορος) The self-illusioning of festive release is forced to a focus which excludes questions and holds all of history in the present moment, a communal protection. But at the end of that the temple doors are opened by individuals singing their own songs, “Yes, but the singularities also wield sceptres”, and lead us back to uncertainty, loss, and hope.
People come forward at the end of an episode of formalised immediacy, a community hypnosis which steps outside time, and declare in song the demands of necessity, within or on the edge of the festive enclosure, bearing that theatre with them into questions of actual fate. What is created, always anew, in that transitional space thus has the potential of drama, even tragedy, wrought out of the lives that surround it, as the more individual and particular it is the more it acts out a cosmic relentlessness. And that is exactly the sense of the particular pace and harmonic richness of the dawn-song music.
For the texts of these songs are for the most part deeply and bleakly unhappy. They deal in personal inadequacy, failure and ill-fate, either directly or more often through the modes of the common lot and its traditional sung repertoire: songs of the acknowledged unbearables: love-loss, economic failure, orphaning, toil without reward, punishment, exile, imprisonment, recruitment, but not death. Or rather only the living-death, the welcome-death, of the self’s abandon to impossibility, not the lament for the lost other. And sometimes they figure a totalised sense of loss by singular image (candle-flame extinguished, bird flown, flower faded etc.). Where other communities sing at this terminal point “We wish you a merry Christmas” or “Auld lang syne” and send us home full of affirmative comfort, these people open for inspection a wound you would hardly suspect to exist.
The ethos of the songs has distinct echoes in (or from) the cultivation of “melancholy” in 16th and 17th century European “courtly” song, with which it shares a strong sense of quasi-exilic loss, a refined cultivation of misfortune and undeserved rejection to the point of welcoming death. In the poetics they share an at times extreme hyperbolism involving degrees of wit and even humour, and in the music a relentless steady movement as of a slow march or pavane. The convergence can at times be startling, and some of these village songs could stand alongside some of Dowland’s, though I think there are important distinctions to be made concerning the localisations of the dawn-song, and the absence from it of the pastoral distancing of the courtly lyric. Where the songs are circumstantial they deal with known realities of life which are felt as integral to a common fate rather than depicting an individual accident or the typicality of a phase of life or a “character”. Where they are generalised they come closer to some of the more extreme lyrics of cultivated melancholy, especially on the “welcome death” theme, but tending to cling more to social particulars and conditions, and deploying a minimal symbolised imagery of bird, tree, and flower, which relates to pastures and fields rather than gardens, so that even the expiring moan is a factor of the substantiated locality.
Only through these iterated invocations of the site-specific societal whole is recognition of the species condition approached. Even when it enters the kind of ironic localism which makes fun of itself, it takes on board absolute fatality. The peasant society may represent itself as an inescapable framework (which it no longer is, if it ever was) but by making even the fullest hurt intimate to participation and belonging it transcends small-scale subjective solution, or home-comfort. The loss remains stark, unmitigated and finally terrestrial.
The bird wanders everywhere, it’s an orphan,
It lands on the edge of every country
It’s an orphan just like me
Poor thing, of course it wanders.
I’m going to have a house built for myself
But it’s not going to have any windows.
When I’m inside they’ll cover me with dirt,
Then they won’t be able to push me around any more.
These bleak, defeated lyrics are performed head up, full-throated, in consultation with the musicians (who have been playing for two days, their fingers are blistered and they can hardly stand up, but they never falter). And we can assume that they are performed, sincerely, by heads of families and owners of flocks and small-holdings, by respected matrons, by village beauties and likely lads, by satisfied grandparents... who sing themselves into the role of the meanest reject of the village, the fool and the luckless, and they sing it as their own song. The whole tone of the event forbids the adoption of a fictive persona, where it occurs, to be a distanced or disowning act. What they are singing is human commonalty, the fate of one is the fate of all, the figure that opens up the imaginative possibilities of yearning. It is amazing for this to be coded so clearly into social or festive custom.
The stately music transfers the fictive lament into a theatre of great poise and deliberation. The desolation is sheer, but held quite proudly before the world, you can sense that it is also smiled at, as something splendid, because it is known for its truth and its belonging, the common recognition of its elevated fatalism. This recognition is bound within the singer’s own group, by which the fictive disaster remains in the realm of possible fatality (no one is going to start singing, “Alas, I am a poor gypsy...”, which in some villages would be considered laughable. This is not the “blues”.) The penetrative and destructive excess, the hopelessness patiently born, are absolutely intimate to the music with its constantly yearning but dignified tone derived from its complicated, probably partly aristocratic, ancestry. The extent of ever-present potential disaster is viewed from a personal elevation won from history, a distinct and endorsed frame of mind which encompasses the extremes of the possible world by acknowledging precisely the wholeness which shows no mercy.
And I thought as long as the world turns
The candles would still burn
But now I see they are dying,
That they are really dying...
My mother cursed me
When she brought me into this world.
She cried out in pain
That I should never be happy.
She cursed me again
When she rocked me in the cradle
She put a curse on me
To wander the world and never find a home.
I cannot stay here
The wild rose bush is my shelter
I cannot stay here
The wild rose bush is my shelter
I caused her pain
I carry her curse,
Her curse got me
Because I wasn’t her good little girl.
Mountains and valleys, please stop
So I can tell you my troubles.
I have so much sorrow in my heart
I’d have to fold it in half to fit it into the sky.
The tears have dug a ditch in both my cheeks
As the rain does in the mud of the road...
Little bird, how can you live
When you can’t even talk
Look at me, I can talk
But I can hardly live
My mother’s rose bush
Opened me out the first.
If only you had never opened,
If only I had stayed in the bud, hey-ho.
I’m the sort who doesn’t belong here
Who opens the doors of the clouds
I’m always opening up the clouds
And the rain becomes my tears, hey-ho.
Street, street of sorrow
Paved with stones of sorrow
My sweetheart paved it
So I would walk down it in tears.
I don’t walk down it in tears,
Let he/she who paved it, walk down it
On my way home
The sky divides into three
The stars cry on me
Because they know I am alone.
I am alone like the bird
Riding up there on a cloud
I am the one who is no good
I open the doors in the clouds
I open up the clouds
And weep under them.
The bird has flown away, its cage is empty.
It left a message saying it would be back in the spring,
But already the wheat is ripening and it isn’t back,
And if it’s not back when the grapes soften, it’ll never come back.
Sorrow, sorrow, I was born only to sorrow.
My mother raised me in sorrow.
Raised with sorrow and lived in sorrow and now
I’ll live on in sorrow till they close my coffin.
The raven washes its young on Good Friday,
This world has called me snake and frog.
Say this to my face –
Who have I offended in my life?
Mother, what is that jingling in your pocket?
Even if it’s only small change, please give me some.
I’ll use it to have a coffin made of marble,
With moons carved into the four corners.
Mother, what have you got in your apron?
Red apples. Give me one.
I don’t get to eat your apples now
Because I’m wearing the uniform of the Romanian army.
I don’t ever get to eat your bread either,
Because I’m carrying the weapon of the Romanian army.
If I go out to the cemetery hill
I’ll throw myself on my Father’s grave.
Dear Father, please get up from your grave,
Your one and only son has become a soldier.
Transylvania is fenced round
But still I shall leave it
As I’ll leave this beautiful girl
For whom my heart will ache for ever.
Mother, my dear old mother,
My dear nursing mother,
I was your last born
But still you let me be taken for a soldier.
The cemetery gates
Have been open for ever.
They’ll carry me through them
And put me into that black grave.
On both sides of my grave
They’ll plant roses.
The best girls of Köröstö
Will plant them there weeping.
I would like to be a tree in the forest
The one called oak tree
Because the oak burns with a blue flame, without smoke,
My heart is never without sorrow.
Come October the soldiers get out of the army
Every mother waits for her son to come home
But my mother isn’t waiting for me
Because she knows I already lie in my grave.
I’m resting, mother, I’m resting in Romania,
Come to me in black mourning clothes
You’ll find my grave at the foot of a high mountain Dear mother you can cry yourself to nothing.
River Rákos, where have you gone?
You have lost your good name.
After us the Hungarian language
Will be as rare as a white raven.
They are sounding the trumpet in battle,
Like eagles they fly to the fight,
My heart hurts as I see this.
Crying, I plow my homeland.
Little brown village girl,
Don’t draw water from the Rákos,
Its waters run over Hungarian bones,
And its taste is salty from tears.
I pray to my dear Lord
To heal my poor heart
To heal my poor heart
For it will soon die of sorrow.
But my heart aches and cannot be cured,
And for whom I cannot say.
My coffin lid will soon cure me,
The earth crashing onto it like thunder.
Sorrow rises in my heart
I bend under the weight of dark skies
No more sorrow could I bear
Or my heart would split asunder.
My heart isn’t made of stone
Nor as soft as wax
A stone heart will break if it cracks,
And a soft one will melt and flow like wax.
My mother told me long ago
But I never paid attention
Now I wish I could hear her voice again
As tears flow down my cheeks.
They flood my lap and wet the ground,
They soak my grieving bosom,
They pour down my cheeks
Like a torrent in the streets.
Once my mother loved me so
She put me in the cradle and rocked me.
I am full of sorrow
Like a pathetic apple tree
With no apples left on it, they lie underneath
But the branches still bend to the ground.
My mother cursed me
When she brought me into the world,
She cursed me saying,
Let the nation and the world be your home,
Be the companion of the gusting winds
And the leaves that fall on the ground.
You’ll see, I shall go away
You’ll never hear from me
If you ever have news of me
It’ll be my death-notice.
If I were free I’d be
As a bird in the air
If I were so free
I’d be with you night and day
I am eaten by grief
As an old tree by worms
I am as bitter
as the twisted willow.
Sorrow, sorrow, you are so heavy
You have lived in my heart for so long
And by the time these [sorrows] dissolve
All good things have passed away from me.
Grief has eaten me up
As woodworm eats the tree in the forest
The tree killed by heat
My heart killed by sorrow.
My sun my sun my bright sun
My star shrouded in darkness
I have wondered all round the earth
And I have not found happiness.
The fields must sprout green
If they are rained on every day
The woods must turn dark again
If a new wind blows on them every day.
The wheat must ripen
If the air is warm every day
The grape must soften
If dew settles on it every day.
My heart must break
If sorrow enters it every day,
My face must wither
If tears fall on it every day
And my hair must turn grey
For all the misery that has fallen on it.
My life full of trouble, my days full of sorrow.
I live under black mourning.
I went out onto the road to cry
And nobody came to comfort me.
Let all mothers have mercy
And not bear any more children.
My dear mother I am going away
Lift up all your worries from me.
O God, my daughter Magdó
Is this how I must say goodbye to you?
When Magdó was a little girl
She had a lovely black braid.
I will build a house
With no windows in it.
It will have no door and no windows
And no one will come calling there.
I want to live in the soil
Then no one can shove me around any more.
Change me God
Into a big block of salt
For the ewes to lick
The girls to mourn for me
For the rams to lick
The young men to mourn for me.
Little leaves and tiny flowers
Wind blowing in the mountains
It brings great desire
Blowing into my heart.
God, don’t punish me too much,
I also am your creation.
Don’t leave me, God, to die, God
Until I’ve lived myself out
Where can I go, where can I stay
To live in the world?
God, don’t punish me too much, God
Until I’ve lived myself out
Where can I go, where can I stay
Ay, God, I am dying.
By the Danube there’s a mill
That grinds worries into little bits, hey-ho.
I have so many worries
I’ll take them there to be ground, hey-ho.
Worry and unease
Seem to be gathered by the wind.
Unease and worry
Seem to be swept together by the stream.
I’ll go away, don’t know the route
Worry, teach it me.
I’ll go away, don’t know the path
Sorrow, teach it me.
May the world all around me
Burn till nothing is left.
Forest, don’t let through the wind,
I am weary of the world.
Forest, don’t let through the mist,
I am weary of life.
The moon shone between two trees
I am like the camomile flower:
Half red, half white, half of this and half of that –
I shall die of so much weeping.
These are some of the words sung, in Hungarian, Romanian and Rom, as specific dawn-songs but also within the corpus of melancholy song which feeds the dawn-song vocabulary. Whatever their particular origins (and folk songs do have origins, composers and poets) most of them have become learned and repeated texts, their verses swopped around from song to song, adopted and modified by particular persons, families, villages, but not absolutely finalised so as to be closed off from further development until they leave the village. They were and are sung, or parts and aberrations of them, on other occasions too: folkloric festivals, school classrooms, recording studios, international concert halls...
The words set up a theatre of loss or despair cohered by wit and transgressive imagery. In performance the theatre rebounds to the community, as it is sung from among the congregation, facing the musicians, and the particularities it touches are known things: failures, rejections, falls into the impossible, which stand all round the singer as he/she sings, known in present company or personally owned by the singer –– a personal fate within the communal lexicon.
The music houses the whole thing in a sense of relentless but dignified cosmic movement, as much so as the sun, seeds and ropes carved on the village gates. Such songs sung as unaccompanied solo in a domestic setting, which they may originally have been, would reach that ecstatic condition on a basis of intimacy, but with the string band in the social event the wholeness of the concept is immediately public. The sufferings and dangers it touches on cannot be set aside as aberrations because they are structured from the centre and owned by all present.
The music itself guarantees the weight and moment of what is sung, new or refrain, especially in the fullness of ensemble which we suppose to be so rare in village music. The fiddle (or two) carries the same tune as the singer but ornamented, virtuosic trills turns and other figurations moving constantly in and out of the melody line (which the singer will also traditionally ornament in a less florid way, always keeping the principal moves of the tune very clear). The bass supports the whole thing steadily from below, emphasising the movement and also tending to follow the melody in its basic moves. (The bass tends to be played out of tune except in recently smartened bands, and its function is seen as rhythmic, supplying information for the dancers). So in a way all three: singer, fiddle and bass, are pursuing the same course, moving along to the same set of tones which they variously stress and elaborate but are fundamentally bound to. The chordal violas in the middle flesh out the whole thing, realising and enriching the harmonies set from the bass, re-emphasising the movement and forming an almost orchestral fullness of tone – the conservatoire ear thinks of a viol consort, though the harmony is at once simpler and more hazardous and the texture more baroque than polyphonic.
The fullness of history stands in the viola chords over which the bird-song fiddle, always fluttering round the notes of the song, is like a soul trying to escape. A figure of loss and failure sings in its own central clearing, and a court fills the space round it with promise of justice, while a kind of nonsense, a kind of cynicism, an out-of-tune bass, runs after the entire procession shouting “Wait for me!”. A peasant, a work-destroyed body, commands the entire cosmic diagram, and sits outside it weeping.
No one person creates this possibility, though the validity of the realisation rests precariously with the individuals concerned. It is difficult to speculate now on what it was like when and if the singers really “sang their own fates”. That is, what exactly was the nature of the licence operative on the tired and dizzy border of the festival space, what it allowed people to “say” in their singing, and how we may presume it to have been an accepted and renewing creative process, since its terms passed into the artistic continuum.
But must it not have been a courageous thing, to undertake this performance in its authentic personalised fullness? There where you are known, is it not to lay your life on the mat for what it’s worth? — as they do in the improvised funeral laments, declare their final terms against the dead mother in front of everyone: lament, adore, but also confess and blame. The only, and public, opportunity, to weigh in the balance. And not only in the words. The inflexions of the dawn-song music by singer or violinist are an account drawn against fate. Extension and refinement of a form going back centuries create the theatre in which this summation is possible: the solo moment crosses the historical total and resolves into distinction. And of course it is performed without prior “artistic training” (though not without study and practice) – the recognition of the form throws it open to anyone, what you mainly need is to be there. I have heard the grating, tobacco-scarred voices of old men soaring through these songs as an entirely proper and successful act, because they have the right.
Like the village manners and traditional generosity and hospitality of the region it is a function of the structure, while at any instant that structure is maintained or denied by individual acts. The protection offered by structure is that one failure does not destroy a continuity which can only be seriously threatened from outside. As in other creative acts, the performers know that they participate in this trust through the techniques of their crafts. The singers of Transylvanian dawn songs know without any doubt how they are singing themselves through the self into the borders of the conditions.
The conditions are abrupt. The rules of toil and attachment permit no duplicity in gender formation or the commitment to succession, though there is plenty of leisure and plenty of choice. Things must be as they are known to be or the whole thing would fall apart. Subjection to man or nature is assumed to be a necessity of survival on the spot, greatly resented if it is further inflicted from outside, as by the nation. So there is a fatalism which openly exhibits its melancholy within the festive cycle on such occasions as the wedding transfer and the greatly extenuated periodicity of mourning. But the dawn song is unique as the expression of the diurnal power of this melancholy, where it actually strengthens continuity by contemplating the inbuilt negation, and gladdens the heart by confirming a participation in word-wide and eternal conditions of uncertainty. The rest follows: how by seeing to the depths of the conditions within a musical construct representing the universe there is a liberation.
Which isn’t just theirs, it is also anyone’s – it is ours as much as the sea-stones of Venice or the human forms passionately inscribed into tensed space by Piero or Bellini. But it won’t be ours if we don’t accept its open evidence as our purpose too, as of any “art” – to decorate existence in its local colours, and make of the earthly condition a bright regalia on the shoulders of the labourer, something to say, “You are not such a poor thing”. In this way success offers itself to misfortune, declaring itself to belong within the same necessity. And in this way you escape from success and from where you are and from necessity, into a sheltering enclosure, the only true clearing or break in harm, a figure of the world as it truly and secretly is.
The above is the short version of Dawn Songs. The full text includes a mass of footnotes, many of which are extended separately into mini-essays. Also six appendices dealing with 1) The very similar “laments” of the Gyimes area on the eastern edge of Transylvania. 2) A Romanian funeral ritual song 3) Remarks about ancient China. 4) Comparison with courtly melancholy song from Italy and England. 5) Big run-down on the sociality and origins of the music on the thesis that it relates historically to the former Hungarian aristocracy. 6) A kind of envoi. Then follow thirty new notes or mini-essays not related to particular points in the text, which extend the discussion and effect revision to previous theses. In the end the gypsy shaping of this music emerges as far more important than it seemed at first. The entire work extends to about 130 pages.
A note on my reasons for using the word “gypsy” rather than “Rom” appears on page 185 of The Day’s Final Balance.