Bound For Your Distant Home
Bound for your distant home
you were leaving alien lands.
In an hour as sad as I’ve known
I wept over your hands.
My hands were numb and cold,
still trying to restrain
you, whom my hurt told
never to end this pain.
But you snatched your lips away
from our bitterest kiss.
You invoked another place
than the dismal exile of this.
You said, ‘When we meet again,
in the shadow of olive-trees,
we shall kiss, in a love without pain,
under cloudless infinities.’
But there, alas, where the sky
shines with blue radiance,
where olive-tree shadows lie
on the waters glittering dance,
your beauty, your suffering,
are lost in eternity.
But the sweet kiss of our meeting ......
I wait for it: you owe it me .......
The Drowned Man
Children running into izba,
Calling father, dripping sweat:
'Daddy, daddy! come - there is a
Deadman caught inside our net.'
'Fancy, fancy fabrication...'
Grumbled off their weary Pa,
'Have these imps imagination!
Deadman, really! ya-ha-ha...
'Well... the court may come to bother -
What'll I say before the judge?
Hey you brats, go have your mother
Bring my coat; I better trudge...
Show me, where? ' - 'Right there, Dad, farther! '
On the sand where netting ropes
Lay spread out, the peasant father
Saw the veritable corpse.
Badly mangled, ugly, frightening,
Blue and swollen on each side...
Has he fished in storm and lightning,
Or committed suicide?
Could this be a careless drunkard,
Or a mermaid-seeking monk,
Or a merchandizer, conquered
By some bandits, robbed and sunk?
To the peasant, what's it matter!
Quick: he grabs the dead man's hair,
Drags his body to the water,
Looks around: nobody's there:
Good... relieved of the concern he
Shoves his paddle at a loss,
While the stiff resumes his journey
Down the stream for grave and cross.
Long the dead man as one living
Rocked on waves amid the foam...
Surly as he watched him leaving,
Soon our peasant headed home.
'Come you pups! let's go, don't scatter.
Each of you will get his bun.
But remember: just you chatter -
And I'll whip you, every one.'
Dark and stormy it was turning.
High the river ran in gloom.
Now the torch has finished burning
In the peasant's smoky room.
Kids asleep, the wife aslumber,
He lies listening to the rain...
Bang! he hears a sudden comer
Knocking on the window-pane.
'What the...' - 'Let me in there, master! '
'Damn, you found the time to roam!
Well, what is it, your disaster?
Let you in? It's dark at home,
Dark and crowded... What a pest you are!
Where'd I put you in my cot...'
Slowly, with a lazy gesture,
He lifts up the pane and - what?
Through the clouds, the moon was showing...
Well? the naked man was there,
Down his hair the water flowing,
Wide his eyes, unmoved the stare;
Numb the dreadful-looking body,
Arms were hanging feeble, thin;
Crabs and cancers, black and bloody,
Sucked into the swollen skin.
As the peasant slammed the shutter
(Recognized his visitant)
Horror-struck he could but mutter
'Blast you! ' and began to pant.
He was shuddering, awful chaos
All night through stirred in his brain,
While the knocking shook the house
By the gates and at the pane.
People tell a dreadful rumor:
Every year the peasant, say,
Waiting in the worst of humor
For his visitor that day;
As the rainstorm is increasing,
Nightfall brings a hurricane -
And the drowned man knocks, unceasing,
By the gates and at the pane.
Translated by: Genia Gurarie, 11/95
The Bronze Horseman
A Petersburg Story
The incident, described in this story is based on a truth.
The details of the flood are taken from the contemporary magazines.
The curious ones can consult the record, prepared by V. I. Berkh.
On a deserted, wave-swept shore,
He stood - in his mind great thoughts grow -
And gazed afar. The northern river
Sped on its wide course him before;
One humble skiff cut the waves' silver.
On banks of mosses and wet grass
Black huts were dotted there by chance -
The miserable Finn's abode;
The wood unknown to the rays
Of the dull sun, by clouds stowed,
Hummed all around. And he thought so:
‘The Swede from here will be frightened;
Here a great city will be wrought
To spite our neighborhood conceited.
From here by Nature we're destined
To cut a door to Europe wide,
To step with a strong foot by waters.
Here, by the new for them sea-paths,
Ships of all flags will come to us -
And on all seas our great feast opens.'
An age passed, and the young stronghold,
The charm and sight of northern nations,
From the woods' dark and marshes' cold,
Rose the proud one and precious.
Where once the Finnish fisherman,
Sad stepson of the World, alone,
By low riverbanks' a sand,
Cast into waters, never known,
His ancient net, now on the place,
Along the full of people banks,
Cluster the tall and graceful masses
Of castles and palaces; and sails
Hasten in throng to the rich quays
From all the lands our planet masters;
The Neva-river's dressed with rocks;
Bridges hang o'er the waters proud;
Abundantly her isles are covered
With dark-green gardens' gorgeous locks…
By the new capital, the younger,
Old Moscow's eclipsed at once -
Such is eclipsed a queen-dowager
By a new queen when her time comes.
I love you, Peter's great creation,
I love your view of stern and grace,
The Neva wave's regal procession,
The grayish granite - her bank's dress,
The airy iron-casting fences,
The gentle transparent twilight,
The moonless gleam of your nights restless,
When I so easy read and write
Without a lamp in my room lone,
And seen is each huge buildings' stone
Of the left streets, and is so bright
The Admiralty spire's flight,
And when, not letting the night's darkness
To reach the golden heaven's height,
The dawn after the sunset hastens -
And a half-hour's for the night.
I love your so sever winter's
Quite still and fresh air and strong frost,
The sleighs race on the shores river's,
The girls - each brighter than a rose,
The gleam and hum of the balls' dances,
And, on the bachelors' free feast,
The hissing of the foaming glasses
And the punch's bluish flaming mist.
I love the warlike animation
Of the play-fields of the god Mars,
And horse-and-footmen priests' of wars
So homogeneous attraction,
In their ranks, in the rhythmic moves,
Those flags, victories and rended,
The glitter of those helmets, splendid,
Shot through in military strives.
I love, O capital my fairest,
Your stronghold guns' thunder and smoke,
In moments when the northern empress
Adds brunches to the regal oak
Or Russia lauds a winning stroke
To any new and daring foe,
Or, breaking up the light-blue ice,
The Neva streams it and exults,
Scenting the end of cold and snow.
City of Peter, just you shine
And stand unshakable as Russia!
May make a peace with beauty, thine,
The conquered nature's casual rushes;
And let the Finnish waves forget
Their ancient bondages and malice
And not disturb with their hate senseless
The endless sleep of Peter, great!
The awful period was that,
It's fresh in our recollection…
This time about, my dear friend,
I am beginning my narration.
My story will be very sad.
On Petrograd, sunk into darkness,
November breathed with fall cold's harshness.
And, splashing, with the noisy waves
Into the brims of her trim fences,
The Neva raved, like the seek raves
In a bed, that has become the restless.
Now it was very dark and late;
The rain stroke ‘gainst the window's flat.
And the wind blew with sadly wailing.
Right at this time, from being a guest
Evgeny, for his nightly rest,
Came home. This name was most prevailing
In our young hero's name choice.
It sounds pleasantly. Of course,
With it my pen's had long connections
It needn't the special commendations,
Though in the times, in Lithe gone,
It might have been the most attractive
And under Karamzin's pen, fine,
Sung in some legends, our native;
But now it is forgotten by
The world and rumors. Our guy
Lives in Kolomna: he's in service,
Avoids the rich ones, and ne'er sad is
For his kin which had left the world,
Or for the well-forgotten old.
So, he is home - our Evgeny,
Took off his greatcoat, undressed,
Lay in his poor bed, but oppressed
He was by his thoughts, so many.
What did he thought of? Well, of that
That he was poor and that his bread,
His honour and his independence
Just by hard work must be achieved,
That God should send to him from heavens
More mind and money. That do live
Such idle, fully happy creatures -
The lazy-bones, quite ludicrous,.
Whose life is absolutely light!
That he had served for two long years;
And that the weather, former fierce,
Hadn't come less fierce, that the flood
In the Neva is getting higher,
The bridges might be got entire,
And that his sweet Parasha's place
For two-free days wouldn't be accessed.
There sighed Evgeny with his soul,
And dreamed as dreams a real bard:
"To marry then? Of course it's hard.
But why don't marry, in a whole?
I'm of the young and healthy sight,
Ready to work for day and night;
I'll someway find the good repose,
The simple and shy place, at last,
Parasha will be there composed.
The year or, may be, two will pass -
I'm in position, to my dear
I'll give all family to bear
And bring our children up, at once...
Such we'll start life, at last repose,
With hand-in-hand, such we'll come both,
And our grandsons will bury us..."
Thus he did dream. And a great sadness
Embraced his soul in that night,
He wished the wind's weep to be lesser,
Rain's siege of windows - not so tight.
At last his sleepy eyes were closed...
And now the night is getting gray -
That night, so nasty and morose,
And it is coming - the pale day
The awful day! During the night
Neva had strived for sea ‘gainst tempests
But, having lost all her great battles,
The river ceased the useless fight…
And in the morn on her shores proud,
Stood people in a pressed in lot
And saw the tall and heard the loud
Fierce waters' mountains, it had brought.
But by the force of airy breathing
Blocked from the Gulf, the wide Neva
Came back - the wrathful one and seething -
And flooded islands, near and far;
The weather grew into the cruel,
Neva - more swelling and more brutal,
Like in a kettle boiled and steamed,
And then, as a wild creature seemed,
Jumped on the city. And before it,
All ran away from its strait path,
And all got emptied there; at once.
The waters flew into the cellars,
And raised up to the fence of canals -
And, like Triton, Petropol sails
Sunk in the water till his waist.
Siege and assault! The evil waters
Thrust into windows, like slaughters.
The mad boats row into a glass.
The stalls are under the wet mass.
The wrecks of huts, the logs, roofs' pieces,
The stores of the tread, auspicious,
The things, carried the pale want from,
The bridges got away by storm,
The coffins from the graveyards - float,
Along the streets!
Sees God's great wrath and waits for death.
All is destroyed: bread and abode.
And how to live?
The monarch, blessed,
Tsar Aleksandr, in a good fashion,
Still governed Russia that year, dread,
And from the balcony he, sad
And pale, said: "Ne'er the God-made nature
Can be subdued by any tsars."
And, in a thought, looked at the evil's
With his full of deep sadness eyes.
The streets turned into the fast rivers,
Running to made lakes, dark and grievous,
The Palace was an island, sad,
That loomed over the blackened waters.
The Tsar decreed - from end to end,
Down the shortest streets and longest,
On danger routs over the waves,
His generals set into the sailing -
To save the drawing and straining
On streets and in their homes-graves.
Then on the widest Square of Peter,
Where with his glass a new pile glittered,
Where on its porch, too highly placed,
With their paw raised, as if they're living,
Stood two marble lions, overseeing.
On one of them, as for a race,
Without his hat, arms - tightly pressed,
Awfully pale - no stir appeared -
Evgeny sat. And there he feared
Not his own death. He did not hear
How the wrathful roller neared,
Greedily licking his shoes' soles,
And how flagged him the rain coarse,
And how the fierce wind there wailed,
Or how it'd blown off his hat.
His looks of deepest desperation
Were all set on a single place
Without a move. The waves, impatient,
Had risen there, like tallest crags,
Lifted from waked deeps in a madness,
There wreckage swam, there wailed a tempest …
O, God! O, God! - Right on that place,
Alas! so close to the waves,
And by the shores of the Gulf Finnish,
A willow-tree, a fence unfinished
And an old hut: there they must be -
A widow and her child Parasha -
His soul's dream … Or does he see
It in a dream? … And, like the usher
Of dreams - a sleep, is our life none -
Just Heavens make of Earth a fun?
And he, like under conjuration,
Like in jail irons' limitation,
Cannot come down. Him around
Only black waters could be found!
And turned to him with his back, proudest,
On height that never might be tossed,
Over Neva's unending wildness,
Stands, with his arm, stretched to skies, lightless,
The idol on his brazen horse.
But now, sated with distraction
And tired of its rude attack,
Neva, at last, was coming back,
Looking at ruins with satisfaction
And leaving with a little attention
Its prey behind. A reprobate,
With his sever and low set,
Thus, thrusting in a village, helpless,
Breaks, slaughters, robs all and oppresses:
The roar, rape, swore, alert and wails!...
And, under their large booty posted,
Afraid of chases and exhausted,
The robbers speed to their old place,
Losing their loot along the road.
The waves were gone, the pavement, broad,
Was opened, and Evgeny, stressed,
With heart half-dead and stifled throat,
In a hope, fear and awful pains,
Runs to the stream, just now restrained.
But, in the winning celebration,
Waves still were boiling with a passion,
As if to flames, under them fanned;
They still were with white foam covered,
And Neva's breast was heavily moved,
Like the steed's one after a race.
Evgeny sees a boat here;
He runs to it - a find, revered, -
He calls a boatman at once -
The boatman, a guy quite careless,
Just for ten kopeks, with great gladness,
Takes him into the waves' wild dance.
And for a long with these waves, close,
The much trained rower was in fight,
And to sink deeply mid their rows,
The scuff, with its brave sailors both,
Was apt all time… The other side
Is reached, at last. And the frustrated
Runs through the so well-known street
To his old places. He doesn't meet
A thing, he'd known. The view's rated
As the worst one! All's in a mess -
All is failed down or swept or stressed:
The little houses are bent down,
Some - shifted, some - razed to their ground
By awful forces of the waves;
The bodies, waiting for their graves,
Are lying round, like aft fight, merciless.
Our poor Evgeny - his mind's flamed -
Half-dead under the tortures, endless,
Runs there where the inhumane fate
Would give him the unknown message,
As if a letter, sealed to bear;
He's now in the suburbs' wreckage,
There is the Gulf, the house is near…
But what is this? He stopped, frustrated,
Went back, returned a little later…
He looks… he walks … he looks once more.
There is the place their house for
And willow-tree. The gates were here -
They're swept… But where's the house, o grace?
And full of troubles, hard to wear,
He walked and walked around the place.
Told to himself in voices loud -
And suddenly, as if all's found,
Struck his forehead and fell in laugh.
The night embraced the city, stuffed
With all its woe. And still for hours
A sleep was running from each house -
The folk recalling the past day.
Now, through the clouds, weak and pale,
The morn ray flashed o'er the mute city
And did not found e'en a trace
Of the past woe. The dawn, witty,
Had safely screened the doing, base.
The former life had got its place.
Along the streets now free of flooding,
With cold indifference, folks are moving.
Just having left his lodge of night,
The clerk is going at his site.
The petty tradesman, very dauntless,
Is opening his cellar - wet,
Robbed by the waves' impudent set -
Intending to revenge his losses
On brothers-humans. From the yard
Is pulled the boat, full of mud.
Count Khvostov, a pet of Zeus,
Now is singing his songs, deathless,
To the Neva shores' former plight.
What's of Evgeny, our poor hero? …
Alas! His agitated mind,
Against the immense woe's billow
Didn't stand untouchable. The wind's
And Neva's noise was always growing
In his poor ears. Mute and half-blind,
With awful thoughts, he was a-roaming,
Being quite tortured by some dream.
A week, month passed by as a stream,
At his past home he wasn't returning
And his landlord, when the rent's time
Had gone, gave his corner to some
Bard, sunk in a poverty unduly.
Evgeny didn't come for his stuff
And soon became a stranger, fully,
To world: his day wasn't long enough
For walk; he slept on wharfs till morning
His bread was one a beggar has,
He wore the dirt and rotten dress.
The evil children, with cries joyful,
Sometimes threw stones to his back,
Often the coachmen' whips, wrathful,
Stung his thin body - for his track
Was cast without choosing direction -
He seemed to notice nothing else -
He was quiet deafened and oppressed
By noise of inner agitation.
And thus he strayed in his life's mist -
Not humane being, nor some beast -
Not fish, nor flesh - not living creature,
Nor ghost of dead … But once he slept
By Neva's wharf - the summer's features
Were now like autumn's. The wind, bad,
Was breathing there. The roller, sad,
Was splashing its complain and groan
And striking ‘gainst the steps of stone,
Like the offended at the door
Of justice that doesn't hear him more.
The poor waked up. All was gloom round:
Falling the rain, wind wailing loud,
And it was answered through the night
By some alone distant guard...
Evgeny got up in a hurry,
He recollected his all flurry,
Stood on a spot, began to walk
And stopped again, almost choked,
Intently gazing him around
With a wild terror on his face...
It seemed that he himself had found
By a big house where were placed,
With their paw up, as if quite living,
Two marble lions, overseeing,
And in the height, strait o'er him posed,
Over the rock, fenced with cast iron,
With arm stretched into the skies, sullen,
The idol sat on his bronze horse.
Evgeny startled. Became clear
The strange thoughts, torturing his mind -
He named the place where played the flood,
Where ran the waters-spoilers, fierce, -
Merging in one rebellious stream, -
The lions, square and, at last, him,
Who stood without a move and sound -
The cooper head piercing black skies -
Him, by whose fatal enterprise
This city under sea took ground...
He's awful in the nightly dark!
In what a thought his brow's sunk!
What a great might in it lies, hidden!
And what a fire's in this steed!
O, proud horse, where do you speed!
Where will you down your bronze hoofs, flittin'?
O, karma's mighty sovereign!
Not thus you'd reared Russia, sullen,
Into the height, with a curb, iron,
Before an abyss in your reign?
The poor madman circled around
The foot of the black idol's mass,
He gazed into the brazen face
Of the half-planet's ruler, proud.
And was his breast oppressed. He laid
On the cold barrier his forehead.
His eyes were veiled with a mist-cover,
His heart was all caught with a flame,
His blood seethed. Gloomy he became
Before the idol, looming over,
And, having clenched his teeth and fist,
As if possessed by evil powers,
"Well, builder-maker of the marvels,"
He whispered, trembling in a fit,
"You only wait!..."- And to a street,
At once he started to run out -
He fancied: that the great tsar's face,
With a wrath suddenly embraced,
Was turning slowly around...
And strait along the empty square
He runs and hears as if there were,
Just behind him, the peals of thunder,
Of the hard-ringing hoofs' reminders, -
A race the empty square across,
Upon the pavement, fiercely tossed;
And by the moon, that palled lighter,
Having stretched his hand over roofs,
The Brazen Horseman rides him after -
On his steed of the ringing hoofs.
And all the night the madman, poor,
Where'er he might direct his steps,
Aft him the Bronze Horseman, for sure,
Keeps on the heavy-treading race.
And from this time, when he was going,
Along this square, only by chance,
A sense of terror was deforming
His features. And he would then press
His hand to heart in a great fastness,
As if to make its tortures painless,
Take off the worn peaked cap at once,
Didn't turn from earth his fearful eyes
And try to pass by.
A small island's
Seen in the sea quite near a shore.
A fisherman, the late catch for,
Would sail to it with his net, silent,
Sometimes - and boil there his soup, poor;
Or an official clerk would moor
To it in a boat-walking Sunday's.
The empty isle. Seeds don't beget
There any plant. A player, sightless,
The flood, had pulled there a ghost, sad,
Of an old hut. The water over,
It had been left like a bush, black.
Last spring, by a small barging rover,
It was conveyed to the shore, back -
Destroyed and empty. By its entry,
They'd found the poor madman of mine
And, for a sake of the Divine,
Buried his corpse in that soil, scanty.
The Bakchesarian Fountain
A TALE OF THE TAURIDE.
Mute sat Giray, with downcast eye,
As though some spell in sorrow bound him,
His slavish courtiers thronging nigh,
In sad expectance stood around him.
The lips of all had silence sealed,
Whilst, bent on him, each look observant,
Saw grief's deep trace and passion fervent
Upon his gloomy brow revealed.
But the proud Khan his dark eye raising,
And on the courtiers fiercely gazing,
Gave signal to them to begone!
The chief, unwitnessed and alone,
Now yields him to his bosom's smart,
Deeper upon his brow severe
Is traced the anguish of his heart;
As full fraught clouds on mirrors clear
Reflected terrible appear!
What fills that haughty soul with pain?
What thoughts such madd'ning tumults cause?
With Russia plots he war again?
Would he to Poland dictate laws?
Say, is the sword of vengeance glancing?
Does bold revolt claim nature's right?
Do realms oppressed alarm excite?
Or sabres of fierce foes advancing?
Ah no! no more his proud steed prancing
Beneath him guides the Khan to war,-
Such thoughts his mind has banished far.
Has treason scaled the harem's wall,
Whose height might treason's self appal,
And slavery's daughter fled his power,
To yield her to the daring Giaour?
No! pining in his harem sadly,
No wife of his would act so madly;
To wish or think they scarcely dare;
By wretches, cold and heartless, guarded,
Hope from each breast so long discarded;
Treason could never enter there.
Their beauties unto none revealed,
They bloom within the harem's towers,
As in a hot-house bloom the flowers
Which erst perfumed Arabia's field.
To them the days in sameness dreary,
And months and years pass slow away,
In solitude, of life grown weary,
Well pleased they see their charms decay.
Each day, alas! the past resembling,
Time loiters through their halls and bowers;
In idleness, and fear, and trembling,
The captives pass their joyless hours.
The youngest seek, indeed, reprieve
Their hearts in striving to deceive
Into oblivion of distress,
By vain amusements, gorgeous dress,
Or by the noise of living streams,
In soft translucency meand'ring,
To lose their thoughts in fancy's dreams,
Through shady groves together wand'ring.
But the vile eunuch too is there,
In his base duty ever zealous,
Escape is hopeless to the fair
From ear so keen and eye so jealous.
He ruled the harem, order reigned
Eternal there; the trusted treasure
He watched with loyalty unfeigned,
His only law his chieftain's pleasure,
Which as the Koran he maintained.
His soul love's gentle flame derides,
And like a statue he abides
Hatred, contempt, reproaches, jests,
Nor prayers relax his temper rigid,
Nor timid sighs from tender breasts,
To all alike the wretch is frigid.
He knows how woman's sighs can melt,
Freeman and bondman he had felt
Her art in days when he was younger;
Her silent tear, her suppliant look,
Which once his heart confiding shook,
Now move not,-he believes no longer!
When, to relieve the noontide heat,
The captives go their limbs to lave,
And in sequestered, cool retreat
Yield all their beauties to the wave,
No stranger eye their charms may greet,
But their strict guard is ever nigh,
Viewing with unimpassioned eye
These beauteous daughters of delight;
He constant, even in gloom of night,
Through the still harem cautious stealing,
Silent, o'er carpet-covered floors,
And gliding through half-opened doors,
From couch to couch his pathway feeling,
With envious and unwearied care
Watching the unsuspecting fair;
And whilst in sleep unguarded lying,
Their slightest movement, breathing, sighing,
He catches with devouring ear.
O! curst that moment inauspicious
Should some loved name in dreams be sighed,
Or youth her unpermitted wishes
To friendship venture to confide.
What pang is Giray's bosom tearing?
Extinguished is his loved chubouk, 1
Whilst or to move or breathe scarce daring,
The eunuch watches every look;
Quick as the chief, approaching near him,
Beckons, the door is open thrown,
And Giray wanders through his harem
Where joy to him no more is known.
Near to a fountain's lucid waters
Captivity's unhappy daughters
The Khan await, in fair array,
Around on silken carpets crowded,
Viewing, beneath a heaven unclouded,
With childish joy the fishes play
And o'er the marble cleave their way,
Whose golden scales are brightly glancing,
And on the mimic billows dancing.
Now female slaves in rich attire
Serve sherbet to the beauteous fair,
Whilst plaintive strains from viewless choir
Float sudden on the ambient air.
Heaven visits man with days of sadness,
Embitters oft his nights with tears;
Blest is the Fakir who with gladness
Views Mecca in declining years.
Blest he who sees pale Death await him
On Danube's ever glorious shore;
The girls of Paradise shall greet him,
And sorrows ne'er afflict him more.
But he more blest, O beauteous Zarem!
Who quits the world and all its woes,
To clasp thy charms within the harem,
Thou lovelier than the unplucked rose!
They sing, but-where, alas! is Zarem,
Love's star, the glory of the harem?
Pallid and sad no praise she hears,
Deaf to all sounds of joy her ears,
Downcast with grief, her youthful form
Yields like the palm tree to the storm,
Fair Zarem's dreams of bliss are o'er,
Her loved Giray loves her no more!
He leaves thee! yet whose charms divine
Can equal, fair Grusinian! thine?
Shading thy brow, thy raven hair
Its lily fairness makes more fair;
Thine eyes of love appear more bright
Than noonday's beam, more dark than night;
Whose voice like thine can breathe of blisses,
Filling the heart with soft desire?
Like thine, ah! whose inflaming kisses
Can kindle passion's wildest fire?
Who that has felt thy twining arms
Could quit them for another's charms?
Yet cold, and passionless, and cruel,
Giray can thy vast love despise,
Passing the lonesome night in sighs
Heaved for another; fiercer fuel
Burns in his heart since the fair Pole
Is placed within the chief's control.
The young Maria recent war
Had borne in conquest from afar;
Not long her love-enkindling eyes
Had gazed upon these foreign skies;
Her aged father's boast and pride,
She bloomed in beauty by his side;
Each wish was granted ere expressed.
She to his heart the object dearest,
His sole desire to see her blessed;
As when the skies from clouds are clearest,
Still from her youthful heart to chase
Her childish sorrows his endeavour,
Hoping in after life that never
Her woman's duties might efface
Remembrance of her earlier hours,
But oft that fancy would retrace
Life's blissful spring-time decked in flowers.
Her form a thousand charms unfolded,
Her face by beauty's self was moulded,
Her dark blue eyes were full of fire,-
All nature's stores on her were lavished;
The magic harp with soft desire,
When touched by her, the senses ravished.
Warriors and knights had sought in vain
Maria's virgin heart to move,
And many a youth in secret pain
Pined for her in despairing love.
But love she knew not, in her breast
Tranquil it had not yet intruded,
Her days in mirth, her nights in rest,
In her paternal halls secluded,
Passed heedless, peace her bosom's guest.
That time is past! The Tartar's force
Rushed like a torrent o'er her nation,-
Rages less fierce the conflagration
Devouring harvests in its course,-
Poland it swept with devastation,
Involving all in equal fate,
The villages, once mirthful, vanished,
From their red ruins joy was banished,
The gorgeous palace desolate!
Maria is the victor's prize;-
Within the palace chapel laid,
Slumb'ring among th'illustrious dead,
In recent tomb her father lies;
His ancestors repose around,
Long freed from life and its alarms;
With coronets and princely arms
Bedecked their monuments abound!
A base successor now holds sway,-
Maria's natal halls his hand
Tyrannic rules, and strikes dismay
And wo throughout the ravaged land.
Alas! the Princess sorrow's chalice
Is fated to the dregs to drain,
Immured in Bakchesaria's palace
She sighs for liberty in vain;
The Khan observes the maiden's pain,
His heart is at her grief afflicted,
His bosom strange emotions fill,
And least of all Maria's will
Is by the harem's laws restricted.
The hateful guard, of all the dread,
Learns silent to respect and fear her,
His eye ne'er violates her bed,
Nor day nor night he ventures near her;
To her he dares not speak rebuke,
Nor on her cast suspecting look.
Her bath she sought by none attended,
Except her chosen female slave,
The Khan to her such freedom gave;
But rarely he himself offended
By visits, the desponding fair,
Remotely lodged, none else intruded;
It seemed as though some jewel rare,
Something unearthly were secluded,
And careful kept untroubled there.
Within her chamber thus secure,
By virtue guarded, chaste and pure,
The lamp of faith, incessant burning,
The VIRGIN'S image blest illumed,
The comfort of the spirit mourning
And trust of those to sorrow doomed.
The holy symbol's face reflected
The rays of hope in splendour bright,
And the rapt soul by faith directed
To regions of eternal light.
Maria, near the VIRGIN kneeling,
In silence gave her anguish way,
Unnoticed by the crowd unfeeling,
And whilst the rest, or sad or gay,
Wasted in idleness the day,
The sacred image still concealing,
Before it pouring forth her prayer,
She watched with ever jealous care;
Even as our hearts to error given,
Yet lighted by a spark from heaven,
Howe'er from virtue's paths we swerve,
One holy feeling still preserve.
Now night invests with black apparel
Luxurious Tauride's verdant fields,
Whilst her sweet notes from groves of laurel
The plaintive Philomela yields.
But soon night's glorious queen, advancing
Through cloudless skies to the stars' song,
Scatters the hills and dales along,
The lustre of her rays entrancing.
In Bakchesaria's streets roamed free
The Tartars' wives in garb befitting,
They like unprisoned shades were flitting
From house to house their friends to see,
And while the evening hours away
In harmless sports or converse gay.
The inmates of the harem slept;-
Still was the palace, night impending
O'er all her silent empire kept;
The eunuch guard, no more offending
The fair ones by his presence, now
Slumbered, but fear his soul attending
Troubled his rest and knit his brow;
Suspicion kept his fancy waking,
And on his mind incessant preyed,
The air the slightest murmur breaking
Assailed his ear with sounds of dread.
Now, by some noise deceitful cheated,
Starts from his sleep the timid slave,
Listens to hear the noise repeated,
But all is silent as the grave,
Save where the fountains softly sounding
Break from their marble prisons free,
Or night's sweet birds the scene surrounding
Pour forth their notes of melody:
Long does he hearken to the strain,
Then sinks fatigued in sleep again.
Luxurious East! how soft thy nights,
What magic through the soul they pour!
How fruitful they of fond delights
To those who Mahomet adore!
What splendour in each house is found,
Each garden seems enchanted ground;
Within the harem's precincts quiet
Beneath fair Luna's placid ray,
When angry feelings cease to riot
There love inspires with softer sway!
The women sleep;-but one is there
Who sleeps not; goaded by despair
Her couch she quits with dread intent,
On awful errand is she bent;
Breathless she through the door swift flying
Passes unseen; her timid feet
Scarce touch the floor, she glides so fleet.
In doubtful slumber restless lying
The eunuch thwarts the fair one's path,
Ah! who can speak his bosom's wrath?
False is the quiet sleep would throw
Around that gray and care-worn brow;
She like a spirit vanished by
Viewless, unheard as her own sigh!
The door she reaches, trembling opes,
Enters, and looks around with awe,
What sorrows, anguish, terrors, hopes,
Rushed through her heart at what she saw!
The image of the sacred maid,
The Christian's matron, reigning there,
And cross attracted first the fair,
By the dim lamp-light scarce displayed!
Oh! Grusinka, of earlier days
The vision burst upon thy soul,
The tongue long silent uttered praise,
The heart throbs high, but sin's control
Cannot escape, 'tis passion, passion sways!
The Princess in a maid's repose
Slumbered, her cheek, tinged like the rose,
By feverish thought, in beauty blooms,
And the fresh tear that stains her face
A smile of tenderness illumes.
Thus cheers the moon fair Flora's race,
When by the rain opprest they lie
The charm and grief of every eye!
It seemed as though an angel slept
From heaven descended, who, distressed,
Vented the feelings of his breast,
And for the harem's inmates wept!
Alas! poor Zarem, wretched fair,
By anguish urged to mere despair,
On bended knee, in tone subdued
And melting strain, for pity sued.
'Oh! spurn not such a suppliant's prayer!'
Her tones so sad, her sighs so deep,
Startled the Princess in her sleep;
Wond'ring, she views with dread before her
The stranger beauty, frighted hears
For mercy her soft voice implore her,
Raises her up with trembling hand,
And makes of her the quick demand,
'Who speaks? in night's still hour alone,
Wherefore art here?' 'A wretched one,
To thee I come,' the fair replied,
'A suitor not to be denied;
Hope, hope alone my soul sustains;
Long have I happiness enjoyed,
And lived from sorrow free and care,
But now, alas! a prey to pains
And terrors, Princess hear my prayer,
Oh! listen, or I am destroyed!
Not here beheld I first the light,
Far hence my native land, but yet
Alas! I never can forget
Objects once precious to my sight;
Well I remember towering mountains,
Snow-ridged, replete with boiling fountains,
Woods pervious scarce to wolf or deer,
Nor faith, nor manners such as here;
But, by what cruel fate o'ercome,
How I was snatched, or when, from home
I know not,-well the heaving ocean
Do I remember, and its roar,
But, ah! my heart such wild commotion
As shakes it now ne'er felt before.
I in the harem's quiet bloomed,
Tranquil myself, waiting, alas!
With willing heart what love had doomed;
Its secret wishes came to pass:
Giray his peaceful harem sought,
For feats of war no longer burned,
Nor, pleased, upon its horrors thought,
To these fair scenes again returned.
'Before the Khan with bosoms beating
We stood, timid my eyes I raised,
When suddenly our glances meeting,
I drank in rapture as I gazed;
He called me to him,-from that hour
We lived in bliss beyond the power
Of evil thought or wicked word,
The tongue of calumny unheard,
Suspicion, doubt, or jealous fear,
Of weariness alike unknown,
Princess, thou comest a captive here,
And all my joys are overthrown,
Giray with sinful passion burns,
His soul possessed of thee alone,
My tears and sighs the traitor spurns;
No more his former thoughts, nor feeling
For me now cherishes Giray,
Scarce his disgust, alas! concealing,
He from my presence hastes away.
Princess, I know the fault not thine
That Giray loves thee, oh! then hear
A suppliant wretch, nor spurn her prayer!
Throughout the harem none but thou
Could rival beauties such as mine
Nor make him violate his vow;
Yet, Princess! in thy bosom cold
The heart to mine left thus forlorn,
The love I feel cannot be told,
For passion, Princess, was I born.
Yield me Giray then; with these tresses
Oft have his wandering fingers played,
My lips still glow with his caresses,
Snatched as he sighed, and swore, and prayed,
Oaths broken now so often plighted!
Hearts mingled once now disunited!
His treason I cannot survive;
Thou seest I weep, I bend my knee,
Ah! if to pity thou'rt alive,
My former love restore to me.
Reply not! thee I do not blame,
Thy beauties have bewitched Giray,
Blinded his heart to love and fame,
Then yield him up to me, I pray,
Or by contempt, repulse, or grief,
Turn from thy love th'ungenerous chief!
Swear by thy faith, for what though mine
Conform now to the Koran's laws,
Acknowledged here within the harem,
Princess, my mother's faith was thine,
By that faith swear to give to Zarem
Giray unaltered, as he was!
But listen! the sad prey to scorn
If I must live, Princess, have care,
A dagger still doth Zarem wear,-
I near the Caucasus was born!'
She spake, then sudden disappeared,
And left the Princess in dismay,
Who scarce knew what or why she feared;
Such words of passion till that day
She ne'er had heard. Alas! was she
To be the ruthless chieftain's prey?
Vain was all hope his grasp to flee.
Oh! God, that in some dungeon's gloom
Remote, forgotten, she had lain,
Or that it were her blessed doom
To 'scape dishonour, life, and pain!
How would Maria with delight
This world of wretchedness resign;
Vanished of youth her visions bright,
Abandoned she to fates malign!
Sinless she to the world was given,
And so remains, thus pure and fair,
Her soul is called again to heaven,
And angel joys await it there!
Days passed away; Maria slept
Peaceful, no cares disturbed her, now,-
From earth the orphan maid was swept.
But who knew when, or where, or how?
If prey to grief or pain she fell,
If slain or heaven-struck, who can tell?
She sleeps; her loss the chieftain grieves,
And his neglected harem leaves,
Flies from its tranquil precincts far,
And with his Tartars takes the field,
Fierce rushes mid the din of war,
And brave the foe that does not yield,
For mad despair hath nerved his arm,
Though in his heart is grief concealed,
With passion's hopeless transports warm.
His blade he swings aloft in air
And wildly brandishes, then low
It falls, whilst he with pallid stare
Gazes, and tears in torrents flow.
His harem by the chief deserted,
In foreign lands he warring roved,
Long nor in wish nor thought reverted
To scene once cherished and beloved.
His women to the eunuch's rage
Abandoned, pined and sank in age;
The fair Grusinian now no more
Yielded her soul to passion's power,
Her fate was with Maria's blended,
On the same night their sorrows ended;
Seized by mute guards the hapless fair
Into a deep abyss they threw,-
If vast her crime, through love's despair,
Her punishment was dreadful too!
At length th'exhausted Khan returned,
Enough of waste his sword had dealt,
The Russian cot no longer burned,
Nor Caucasus his fury felt.
In token of Maria's loss
A marble fountain he upreared
In spot recluse;-the Christian's cross
Upon the monument appeared,
(Surmounting it a crescent bright,
Emblem of ignorance and night!)
Th'inscription mid the silent waste
Not yet has time's rude hand effaced,
Still do the gurgling waters pour
Their streams dispensing sadness round,
As mothers weep for sons no more,
In never-ending sorrows drowned.
In morn fair maids, (and twilight late,)
Roam where this monument appears,
And pitying poor Maria's fate
Entitle it the FOUNT OF TEARS!
My native land abandoned long,
I sought this realm of love and song.
Through Bakchesaria's palace wandered,
Upon its vanished greatness pondered;
All silent now those spacious halls,
And courts deserted, once so gay
With feasters thronged within their walls,
Carousing after battle fray.
Even now each desolated room
And ruined garden luxury breathes,
The fountains play, the roses bloom,
The vine unnoticed twines its wreaths,
Gold glistens, shrubs exhale perfume.
The shattered casements still are there
Within which once, in days gone by,
Their beads of amber chose the fair,
And heaved the unregarded sigh;
The cemetery there I found,
Of conquering khans the last abode,
Columns with marble turbans crowned
Their resting-place the traveller showed,
And seemed to speak fate's stern decree,
'As they are now such all shall be!'
Where now those chiefs? the harem where?
Alas! how sad scene once so fair!
Now breathless silence chains the air!
But not of this my mind was full,
The roses' breath, the fountains flowing,
The sun's last beam its radiance throwing
Around, all served my heart to lull
Into forgetfulness, when lo!
A maiden's shade, fairer than snow,
Across the court swift winged its flight;-
Whose shade, oh friends! then struck my sight?
Whose beauteous image hovering near
Filled me with wonder and with fear?
Maria's form beheld I then?
Or was it the unhappy Zarem,
Who jealous thither came again
To roam through the deserted harem?
That tender look I cannot flee,
Those charms still earthly still I see!
He who the muse and peace adores,
Forgetting glory, love, and gold,
Again thy ever flowery shores
Soon, Salgir! joyful shall behold;
The bard shall wind thy rocky ways
Filled with fond sympathies, shall view
Tauride's bright skies and waves of blue
With greedy and enraptured gaze.
Enchanting region! full of life
Thy hills, thy woods, thy leaping streams,
Ambered and rubied vines, all rife
With pleasure, spot of fairy dreams!
Valleys of verdure, fruits, and flowers,
Cool waterfalls and fragrant bowers!
All serve the traveller's heart to fill
With joy as he in hour of morn
By his accustomed steed is borne
In safety o'er dell, rock, and hill,
Whilst the rich herbage, bent with dews,
Sparkles and rustles on the ground,
As he his venturous path pursues
Where AYOUDAHGA'S crags surround!
 A Turkish pipe.