Thursday, 19 April 2018

Captive Knight - Mikhail Lermontov

Silent I sit by the prison’s high window,
Where through the bars the blue heavens are breaking.
Flecks in the azure, the free birds are playing;
Watching them fly there, my shamed heart is aching.

But on my sinful lips never a prayer,
Never a song in the praise of my charmer;
All I recall are far fights and old battles,
My heavy sword and my old iron armour.

Now in stone armour I hopelessly languish,
And a stone helmet my hot head encases,
This shield is proof against arrows and sword-play,
And without whip, without spur, my horse races.

Time is my horse, the swift-galloping charger,
And for a visor this bleak prison grating,
Walls of my prison are heavy stone armour;
Shielded by cast-iron doors, I am waiting.

Hurry, oh fast-flying Time, fly more quickly!
In my new armour I faint, I am choking.
I shall alight, with Death holding my stirrup,
Then my cold face from this visor uncloaking.

Mikhail Lermontov (1814–1841) Russia
Translated by Babette Deutsch and Avrahm Yarmolinsky
Source: Modern Russian Poetry complied and translated by Babette Deutsch and Avrahm Yarmolinsky. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1921

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