Monday, 1 February 2021

Mortuos voco - Putinas

But silence shrouds the grave-yard on the hill. 
No corpse stirs from its damp and earthly cell. 
Bare skulls of sleeping skeletons are still, 
And what they dream, no mortal mind can tell, 
As none can read the riddle of the pain 
They knew, its origin, its cosmic goal, 
But like this Night of silence and of bane 
An endless secret hides their eternal role. 
Still driven by an everlasting goad 
The living limp towards this place of fear. 
For every man must tread the selfsame road, 
And now my time is near.

   Into the Night of dread I pass 
   And leave for ever sun and day. 
   But from the sod of weeds and grass 
   Someone may stretch his hand and say: 
   "Be my companion. We seek the place 
   Where no one laughs, no tears are shed, 
   The silent sanctuary of space." 
   I call the dead.

So I depart. So I accept the blessing 
Of a world of silence summoning me to go. 
I mount the lofty bridge and onward pressing 
Discern a scented Night of warmth, where slow 
The stars in countless legions go their ways. 
Beyond the narrow bridge's awesome height 
My course turns sharply. Far ahead I gaze 
And see my path in rays of brilliant light.

   The motherly embrace of Night 
   Receives the wanderer, soothes his fears, 
   And pitying his weary plight 
   Gives sustenance and dries his tears. 
   Long did I travel, long did I roam 
   On roads the burning sun had tiled 
   With heat and stones of ruthlessness. 
   Now worn and tired. I come home, 
   And Night says: "Stay with me, my child, 
   For I know your distress."

   And so I stay. I dragged all day 
   A heavy load of life and dread, 
   Till like ripe fruit it fell away. 
   I call the dead.

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 second part of a a two-part poem called Vivos plango, mortuos voco (I lament the living, I call the dead) - the first part (Vivos plango) can be found on this blog here.

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