Thursday, 12 December 2013

The Bard - Vasily Andreyevich Zhukovsky

My friends, can you descry that mound of earth
Above clear waters in the shade of trees?
You can just hear the babbling spring against the bank;
You can just feel a breeze that's wafting in the leaves;
A wreath and lyre hang upon the boughs...
Alas, my friends! This mound'ss a grave;
Here earth conceals the ashes of a bard;
Poor bard!

A gentle soul, a simple heart
He was a sojourner in the world;
He'd barely bloomed, yet lost his taste for life
He craved his end with yearning and excitement;
And early on he met his end,
He found the grave's desired sleep.
Your time was but a moment - a moment sad
Poor bard!

He sang with tenderness of friendship to his friend, -
His loyal friend cut down in his life's bloom;
He sang of love - but in a doleful voice;
Alas! Of love he knew naught but its woe;
Now all has met with its demise,
Your soul partakes of peace eternal;
You slumber in your silent grave,
Poor bard!

Here, by this stream one eventide
He sang his doleful farewell song:
"O lovely world, where blossomed I in vain;
Farewell forever; with a soul deceived
For happiness I waited - but my dreams have died;
All's perished; lyre, be still;
To your serene abode, o haste,
Poor bard!

What's life, when charm is lacking?
To know of bliss, with all the spirit's striving,
Only to see oneself cut off by an abyss;
Each moment to desire and yet fear desiring...
O refuge of vexatious hearts,
O grave, sure path to peace,
When will you call to your embrace
The poor bard?"

The bard's no more ... his lyre's silent...
All trace of him has disappeared from here;
The hills and valleys mourn;
And all is still ... save zephyrs soft,
That stir the faded wreath,
And waft betimes above the grave,
A woeful lyre responds:
Poor bard!

Vasily Andreyevich Zhukovsky (1783 - 1852) Russia
Translated by A. Wachtel, I. Kutik and M. Denner

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