Friday, 29 January 2021

Vivos plango - Putinas

Now I depart. With benedictory grace
A world of silence summons me to go,
I feel the gentle shroud of endless space,
The Night that soothes and softens all our woe.
A boundless liberty, a perfect rest
Opens to greet the long-awaited guest.

   The dusk of twilight falls. I go 
   To join my folk, to join my kin. 
    Yet still I see the west aglow 
   And hear in distant towers a din 
   That calls me back. Sorrow and pain 
   Suffuse my breast with gall and spite. 
   Dusk falls but daylight's grieves remain. 
   In angry heat my heart has bled; 
   It has not learnt to worship might. 
   I call the dead.

I summon every skeleton that lies
In grave-yard hill or valley, sand or clay,
Corpses in ditches, pits beside the way,
And some in dug and tended graves; arise!
Come, legions of the venerable ground,
All you who fell beneath a torturer's blow,
You who in winter's starving desert found
Death's solace in the symphony of snow;
The countless men who chose to fight and stand
For the freedom of our land.

   The executioners tore your limbs, 
   They gloried in your groans and sighs; 
   Your agony pleased their drunken whims. 
   While torches glistened bright and red, 
   They tramped your graves with dancing tread. 
   Disfigured and disgraced, arise!

Vincas Mykolaitis [Putinas] (1893 - 1967) Lithuania
Translated by Raphael Sealey
Source: Lituanus, Lithuanian Quarterly Journal of Arts and Sciences, Volume 15, No. 1 - Spring 1969
  • Note: This is the first part of a a two-part poem called Vivos plango, mortuos voco (I lament the living, I call the dead) - the second part (Mortuos voco) Is on this blog here.

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