The Current Of Time's River

The current of time's river
Will carry off all human deeds
And sink into oblivion
All peoples, kingdoms and their kings.

And if there's something that remains
Through sounds of horn and lyre,
It too will disappear into the maw of time
And not avoid the common fate.

I'll leave the mortal world behind,
Take wing in an flight fantastical,
With singing, my eternal soul
Will rise up swan-like in the air.

Possessing two immortal traits,
In Purgatory I won't not linger,
But rising over jealousy
I'll leave behind me kingdoms' shine.

'Tis so! Though not renowned by birth,
I am the muses favorite,
From other notables a world apart-
I'll be preferred by death itself.

The tomb will not confine me,
I will not turn to dust among the stars,
But like a heavenly set of pipes,
My voice will ring out from the sky.

And now I see that feathered skin
My figure covers all around.
My breast is downy and my back is winged,
I shine with pearly swan-like white.

I fly, I soar-and see below
The world entire-- oceans, woods.
Like mountains they lift up their heads
To hear my lofty hymn to God.

From Kuril Islands to the river Bug,
From White Sea to the Caspian,
Peoples from half the world
Of whom the Russian race's comprised,

Will hear of me in time:
Slavs, Huns, the Scythians, and Finns,
And others locked today in battle,
Will point at me and they'll pronounce:

"There flies the one who tuned his lyre
To speak the language of the heart,
And preaching peace to the whole world,
Enjoyed the happiness of all."

Forget a big and stately funeral,
My friends! Cease singing, muses' choir!
My wife! With patience gird yourself!
Don't keen upon what seems a corpse.

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.

God-like Tsarevna
Of the Kirgiz-Kaisatskii horde!
Whose wisdom matchless
Opened the true path
To young Prince Khlor
To go up on that high peak
Where the rose without thorns grows,
Where virtue dwells:
It takes my spirit and mind prisoner,
Tell me how to find it.

Tell me, Felitsa:
How to live opulently yet justly,
How to subdue the storm of passions
And be happy in the world.
Your voice wakes me,
Your son sends me;
But to follow them I am too weak.
Disturbed by everyday trifles,
Today I control myself,
But tomorrow am slave to desires.

Not emulating your courtiers,
You often go on foot,
And the most simple food
Is on your table;
Inexpensive is your rest,
You read, you write before the candle
And to all mortals from your pen
Bliss flows;
Just so at cards you do not play,
Like me, from morning to morning.

You do not much like masquerades,
And put not even a foot inside a club;
Guarding your habits and customs,
You do not act as a Don Quixote;
The horse of Parnassus you do not saddle,
To spirits in séances you do not go,
You do not go from your throne to the East,--
But, walking on the path of meekness,
With gracious soul
You spend a stream of useful days.

But I, having slept until noon,
Smoke tobacco and drink coffee;
Changing into holidays weekdays,
I wander in the chimeras of my thoughts:
Now booty from Persians I steal,
Now arrows at Turks I send;
Now, having dreamt, that I am the sultan,
The universe I terrorize with a glance;
Now suddenly, captivated by an outfit,
I ride to the tailor for a caftan.

Or I am at a sumptuous feast,
Where a celebration for me is given,
Where shines the table with silver and gold,
Where there are thousands of varied dishes:
There the famed Westphalian ham,
There links of Astrakhan fish,
There pilaf and pies sit;
With champagne I wash down waffles
And everything on the earth forget
Among wines, sweets, and aromas.

Or, in a beautiful little grove
In a summerhouse, where a fountain speaks,
With the sounds of a sweet-voiced harp,
Where a little wind barely breathes,
Where everything presents me luxury,
To pleasures my thoughts entices,
Soothes and wakens my blood,
Resting on a velvet divan,
A young girl’s tender feelings,
I pour into her heart love.

Or with a splendid tandem
In an English carriage, golden,
With a dog, a fool, or friend
Or with such a beauty
I drive under the swings;
At pubs to drink mead I stop;
Or , when it somehow bores me,
Due to my inclination for change,
With my hat at a jaunty angle
I fly on a fast steed.

Or with music and singers,
With organ and bagpipes,
Or with fist-fighters
And the dance I delight my soul;
Or, all matters of care
Leaving behind, I go out hunting
And amuse myself with the howls of dogs;
Or over Neva banks
I amuse myself by night with horns
And the rowing of agile oarsmen.

Or, sitting at home, I horse around,
Playing “Fool” with my wife;
Now with her I climb to the dove-cote,
Now at Blind-Man's Bluff we frolic away the time;
Now we amuse ourselves at svaika
Now ?????
Now I love to delve into books,
My mind and heart I enlighten,
Polkan and Bova I read;
Over the Bible, yawning, I sleep.

In such ways, Felitsa, I am dissolute!
But all society resembles me.
However much one is known for wisdom,
But all men are liars.
We do not walk on paths of light,
We run after dreams of depravity.
Between the Indolent and the Choleric,
Between vanity and vice
One finds only by chance
The path to pure virtue.

It is found,--but how may we not blunder,
We, weak mortals, on that path,
Where reason itself stumbles
And must go after passions;
Where learned ignoramuses,
Like mist does to travellers, darken our minds?
Everywhere temptations and flattery live;
All pashas luxury oppresses.
Where does virtue live?
Where does the rose without thorns grow?

To you alone is it proper,
Tsarevna! to create light out of darkness;
Dividing Chaos into harmonious spheres,
With a union of wholeness to strenghten them;
From discord -- agreement
And from violent passion happiness
You may alone create.
Like a sailor, sailing across the sea,
Catching under the sail a raging wind,
Is able to guide his ship.

Only you do not offend,
Do not insult anyone,
Stupidity through your fingers you see,
But do not allow evil;
Miscreants you right with leniency,
You do not stifle people like a wolf does a sheep,
You know their proper worth.
They are subject to the will of Tsars,--
But to the judgment of God even more,
Living in their laws.

You soundly think of merits,
To the worthy you give out honor;
A prophet you do not consider,
He who may onlyweave rhymes,
And for such amusement of the mind--
Honor and praise to good caliphs.
You are tolerant of the lyric key:
Poetry is pleasing to you,
Acceptable, sweet, useful,
Like in summer a tasty lemonade.

Rumor passes of your acts,
That you are not the least bit proud;
Kindly both in business and in fun,
Pleasant in friendship and firm;
That you are indifferent to misfortune,
And in glory so magnanimous,
That you refused to be called Wise.
They also say truthfully,
That it is always possible
To tell you the truth.

Such unheard-of matters
Are only worthy of you,
That you boldly allow the people
Of all, aloud or in secret,
Both to know and to think.
And of yourself you do not forbid
Truth and untruth to be said;
That you the very crocodiles,
The Zoiluses of all your mercies,
Always are prone to forgive.

Pleasant rivers of tears flow
From the depths of my soul.
O! how happy people who
Must be there with their fate,
Where a meek angel, a peaceful angel,
Clad in porphyry lightness,
Holds the sceptre sent down from heaven!
There it is possible to whisper in conversations
And, not fearing punishment, at dinner
To the health of the Tsar not drink.

There it is possible
To erase Felitsa's name
Or her portrait carelessly
Drop on the ground.
There joke weddings they do not celebrate,
They do not steam people in icy baths,
They do not pull at the moustaches of the belle monde;
Princes do not cackle like hens,
Favorites do not laugh at them
And smear their faces with soot.

You know, Felitsa! the rights
Of both men and tsars;
When you enlighten manners,
You do not make fools of men;
In your moments of rest from work
You write in tales to instruct
And teach the alphabet to Khlor:
"Do nothing bad,
And the most evil satirist
You will make a hated liar."

You are ashamed to be called Great,
To be terrible, unloved;
Only to a wild she-bear is it becoming
To tear animals and drink their blood.
Without the misery of extreme fever
Need one have recourse to the lancet
When one may get along without it?
And is it glorious to be a tyrant,
A great Tamerlane in cruelty,
For one great in goodness, like God?

Felitsa's glory is the glory of God,
Who pacified battles;
Who orphans and the needy
Sheltered, clothed, and fed;
Who with radiant eye
To jokers, cowards, the ungrateful
And the just gives its light;
Equally enlightens all mortals,
Calms and cures the sick,
And does good for good's sake alone.

Who gave freedom
To travel to other lands,
Allowed its people
To search for solver and gold;
Who opens the waters
And does not forbid the cutting of woods;
Who orders to weave, and knit, and sew;
Freeing the mind and hands
Orders to love trade, the sciences
And to find happiness at home.

Whose law and right hand
Give both mercy and justice.--
Announce, most wise Felitsa!
Where the villian is separated from the honest?
Where age does not wander through the world?
Merit finds its bread?
Where revenge does not drive anyone?
Where conscience dwells with truth?
Where virtue shines?--
Truly at your throne!

But where does your throne shine in the world?
Where, heavenly branch, do you flower?
In Bagdad? Smyrna? Kashmir?--
Listen, wherever you live:
My praises reaching you,
Think not that a hat or a coat
I wished to receive from you.
To feel the charm of goodness,
Such is wealth for the soul,
Such as Croesus did not possess.

I beg the great prophet,
That I may touch the dust of your feet,
That the sweetest stream of your words
And your look I may enjoy!
The heavenly powers I beg,
That unfurling their sapphire wings
They invisibly protect you
From all illness, evil and boredom;
That of your deeds in posterity reknown,
Like in the heavens stars, will shine.