On The Death Of Prince Meshchersky
O, Voice of time! O, metal's clang!
Your dreadful call distresses me,
Your groan doth beckon, beckon me
It beckons, brings me closer to my grave.
This world I'd just begun to see
When death began to gnash her teeth,
Like lightening her scythe aglint,
She cuts my days like summer hay.
No creature thinks to run away,
From under her rapacious claws:
Prisoners, kings alike are worm meat,
Cruel elements the tomb devour,
Time gapes to swallow glory whole.
As rushing waters pour into the sea,
So days and ages pour into eternity
And death carnivorous all eats.
We slide along the edge of an abyss
And we will someday topple in.
With life, we take at one time death,
To die's the purpose of our birth.
Death strikes all down without a thought.
It shatters e'en the stars,
Extinguishes the suns,
It threatens every world.
'Tis only mortals do not think of death
Imagining eternal life,
But burglar death, will come to them,
Steal life away quite suddenly.
Alas! when we are least afraid
Then death more quickly catches us-
It's swifter still than thunderstorms
That sweep upon majestic peaks.
O, Child of rest, of luxury and ease,
Meshchersky, whither have you gone?
You have abandoned earthly shores
Retreated to the shores of death.
Your dust is here, but not your soul.
Where has it gone? There. Where? We do not know.
All we can do is weep and cry:
"O, woe to us, born to this world!"
Where once amusement, joy, and love
Shined all together with good health,
Now there the blood is freezing in our veins,
Our souls are plagued by grief.
Where once a feast was spread a coffin lies,
The place where festive singing rang
Now hears but graveside keening,
And pale death watches over all.
It watches over all-the kings
Who hold worlds under guiding hands,
It watches opulent, rich men
Idols of silver and gold.
It watches charm and beauty,
It watches lofty intellect,
It watches strength undaunted,
And sharpens keen its scythe.
Death, terror, nature's trepidation!
We're pride and poverty combined.
Today we're Gods, tomorrow dust,
Today sweet hope inspires us,
But where are you tomorrow, man?
The hours you're given barely pass
Before they flee to chaos bottomless,
And your whole life, a dream, is gone.
Just like a dream, like slumber sweet,
My youth's already disappeared,
The touch of beauty moves me less.
Less merriment suffuses me,
My mind is not so frivolous,
Nor my contentment quite so great.
Tormented by the quest for rank,
I hear how glory beckons me.
But so does also valor pass
Together with the rush for fame.
The blandishments of wealth pass by,
As do the roiling passions of the heart
They fade and fade away in turn.
O, leave me be, all pleasures possible,
Here, you are transient and untrue:
I stand before the threshold of eternity.
Today, tomorrow, death will come,
Perfilev, it will come for all!-
Why should we grieve and hurt
Because our friend did not forever live?
Life's heaven's transitory gift,
My friend, so live yours peacefully.
And let your heart in purity
Bless every blow of fate.
O Thou, who's infinite in space,
Alive in ever-moving matter,
Eternal in the flow of time,
God faceless, with a trinity of faces!
Soul unified and omnipresent,
Who needs no place or reason,
Whom none can ever comprehend,
Whose being permeates all things,
Encompassing, creating, guarding,
Thou, called by us God.
Although a great mind might contrive
To fix the ocean's depths,
To count the sands, the rays of stars,
Thou can't be summed or fixed!
Enlightened souls who have emerged
From your creative light
Cannot begin to grasp your ways:
Our thought alone aspires to thee,
But in your magnitude is lost,
A moment in eternity.
From depths eternal thou invoked
Primordial substances of chaos
Within thine very self thou birthed
Eternity before all time.
And before time from thine self alone
Thou shinest forth within thyself.
All light originates in thee.
Creating all with but a single word
And reaching forth in new creation,
Thou wast, thou art, and thou will ever be!
Thou incarnate the chain of life,
Thou nourish and sustain it.
Thou joinest starts with ends.
Thou bringest life to all through death.
New suns are born from thee
In flowing streams of sparks.
As on a clear and freezing day,
A hoarfrost dusting shines,
And floats, and churns and sparkles,
As do the stars beneath thy vault.
A multitude of shining spheres
Floats off into infinity.
They all fulfill thy laws,
And cast their vivifying rays.
But all these brilliant lanterns-
This mass of glowing crystal-
This roiling crowd of golden waves-
These burning elements-
Or all these gleaming worlds as one-
Compare to thee like night to day.
Compared to thee the earthly realm
Is like a droplet in the sea.
What is this universe I see?
And what am I, compared to thee?
If, in this airy sea, I wish
To multiply a million worlds
By other worlds a hundred times-
Then venture to compare the sum to thee,
All this would be a tiny speck;
So I, compared to thee, am naught.
I'm Naught! But thou shinest through me
With all the splendor of your virtue;
Thou showest yourself through me
Like sun inside a tiny water drop.
I'm Naught! But still I can feel life,
Like something hungering I fly,
I'm always soaring high above.
To be with you is my soul's wish,
It contemplates, reflects and thinks:
If I exist-thou art as well.
Thou art! As nature's order shows,
My heart affirms the same to me,
My reason's sure of it:
Tho art-And I'm no longer naught!
A fraction of the universe's whole,
It seems that I repose in nature's
Critical center where you started
With the creation of corporeal beasts,
And ended with the heav'nly spirits:
Through me, you fused the chain of life.
I am the link of all existing worlds,
I am the outer brink of matter,
I am the focal point of living things,
I am the starting place of the divine;
Although my flesh rots into ash,
My mind commands the thunderbolts,
I'm king-I'm slave - I'm worm-I'm God!
But though I am miraculous,
Whence did I come?-that no one knows.
I could not by myself have risen.
Creator, I am your invention!
I am a creature of your wisdom.
O, source of life, bestower of blessings,
My soul and king!
According to your iron laws
My self eternal must needs pass
Across the borne of death;
My spirit's clothed in mortal garb
And I return through death alone,-
To your eternity - O, father!-
Thou art inscrutable, transcendent!
I understand that all my soul's
Imaginings are powerless
Your shadow to describe;
But when thou must be glorified
To pay such tribute we frail men
One course alone can follow.
We venture upwards to thy realm,
To lose ourselves in thy vast otherness
And shed our tears of gratitude.