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So in their rapid fury mountain torrents
That hurl them off their moss-grown altars steep,
Seeking the flood with tossing, foaming riot -
Here in the vale are bound in the old currents,
To stream in future calm and clear and deep!

TOLSTOY.




IN HOURS OF EBBING TIDE

In hours of ebbing tide, oh trust not to the Sea!
It will come back to shore with redness of the morrow;
O don't believe in me when in the trance of sorrow
I swear I am no longer true to thee!

The waves will roll again in dazzling ecstasy,
From far away, with joy, to the belovéd shore;
And I with breast aflame, beneath thy charm once more,
Shall haste to bring my liberty to thee!

TOLSTOY.




SWANS

White Swans, ye harbingers of Spring, a greeting fond from me!
Rejoicing thrills within the breast of Mother Earth anew -
From her once more the flowers push forth 'mid gleaming drops of dew,
And like the Swans, across my soul my dreams will lightly sweep,
And my heart blissful throbbing, ghostly tears of rapture weep.
O Spring I feel thy coming! And behold Thee, Poesy!

MAIKOW.




TO SLEEP

When shadows pale are sinking in hues the twilight weaves,
Upon the golden grain fields of gleaming wheaten sheaves -
Upon the emerald pastures and blue of forests deep,
When the soft mists of silver o'er the sea doth creep;
When 'mid the reeds, the swan's head is pillowed 'neath her wings,
The stream to sleep is rocking, light flowing as she sings, -
Then to my hut o'er thatched with golden straw, - o'er grown
By frail acacia green and leafy oaks, I turn.
And there with greeting holy, in radiant starry crown -
Her scented locks with deepest of purple poppies bound,
And with one dusky gauze enveiled her snowy breast -
The Goddess comes to me with sweet desire of rest.
A faint and roseate fire about my brow she sheds,
Soft mystery of azure above my eyelids spreads,
Bends low upon my breast her regal star-crowned tresses
And on my mouth and eyes, the kiss of slumber presses!

MAIKOW.




IN MEMORY OF MY DAUGHTER

Clear on the night of my spirit,
To me shines the glance of a star,
It is she! My heart's little maiden!
From her glance gleams something afar,
Of victory, deathless, eternal -
Something that musing, misgiving,
Pierces the essence of being!

It cannot be! It cannot be!
She lives - soon she will waken; straightway
Will ope her pretty eyes, - glad she
Will prattle merry, laughing gay!
And when in tears beholding me -
Will smiling, kissing, cry consoling,
"Papa - it is but playing - See!
I live, - yes! Leave off mourning!"
But cold and mute she lies, alas!
And motionless.

Now in her coffin she lies,
Silent amid scented flowers -
Ah what mute spirits in white
O'er her corpse circle and hover?
Are they the visions of bliss?
Are they all spirits of hope?
That during life lured her on -

Those to whom secretly oft
She had entrusted her soul?
They that accompanied her e'er,
Faithful in forest and field?
Silent they circle my child,
In tearful anguish embraced -
Yet little actress she lies,
Smiling, closed lashes beneath;
See, she is laughing in truth -
thou most merciless Death!

MAIKOW.




MOTHER AND CHILD

"Mother, why weepest thou ever
For my little sister fair?
She is now in heaven's kingdom -
Ah, it must be wondrous there!"

"Yes, she is in heaven's glory,
But in heaven's own land, alas!
There are no butterflies nor flowers -
Nor meadows of velvet grass!"

"But mother, God's blessed angels
There, rejoicing sing to Him!"
Forth from the sunset's rosy fires
Now cometh the midnight dim.

Ah, the mother wants her baby -
That she watched from the window wide,
When 'mid butterflies and blossoms
She played in the meadow's pride!

MAIKOW.




AN EASTER GREETING

The lark at sunrise trills it high -
The greeting Christ is risen!
And through the wood the black-bird pipes
The greeting Christ is risen!
Beneath the eaves the swallows cry
The greeting Christ is risen!
Throughout the world man's heart proclaims
The greeting Christ is risen!
And echo answers from the grave
In truth, yes, He is risen!

MAIKOW.




AT EASTER

Drawing near the Easter Sunday
With the Easter-greeting kiss;
When I come, remember Dora -
Not alone we suffer this!
Then, as were it for the first time -
Kiss thou me and I kiss thee;
Thou with modest eyelids downcast,
I with but ill stifled glee!

MAIKOW.

_The religious custom of the Easter-greeting kiss prevails throughout
Russia_.




O MOUNTAINS OF MY NATIVE COUNTRY!

"O mountains of my native country! O valleys of my home!
On you gleam Winter's snowflakes white and twinkle lambs of Summer -
On you the rosy sunlight glows, you know no deathly shudder!"

So, 'neath the earth did wistful yearn three homesick youths in Hades,
Who fain from out that under world to worlds above would hasten.
The first declared "We'll go in Spring!" The second "No, in Summer!"
"No," cried the third, "at harvesting, in time the grapes to gather!"
A listening maiden fair, o'erheard with heart resistless throbbing;
Upon her breast her arms she crossed and begged of them imploring -
"O take me to the upper world!" Alone the youths made answer,
"That cannot be, you fairest maid, that you with us be taken!
Your heels would clatter as you speed, your dress would rustle silken,
Your rattling ornaments warn death to hear us all escaping."

"My rustling dress I will unlace, - my ornaments forsaking,
Barefooted up the stairway steep will mute and cautious follow!
Ah, but too gladly would I gaze again on earthly living!
I fain my mother would console, sad for her daughter grieving -
would my brothers twain behold, who for their sister sorrow!"
"O do not yearn, thou wretched child, for those thou lovest, ever!
Thy brothers in the village street now joyful lead the wrestling -
And with the neighbors on the street thy mother gossips zestful!"

MAIKOW.




THE AEOLIAN HARP

The land lies parched in sun, - to heaven the air is still,
Hushed now upon the harp the golden strings' lost thrill;
Aeolian harps our native singers are, - and numb
Must be their heart, their dying life blood cease to flow,
Forever silent be their voice, if longer dumb
Their breath be suffocated in this sultry glow!
O if a Genius on tempest-pinions winging,
Stormed through our native land, - Spirit with freedom rife!
How jubilant would our Aeolian harps be ringing
To greet the Godly power that promises new life!

MAIKOW.




YE SONGS OF MINE!

Ye songs of mine! Of universal sorrows
A living witness ye;
Born of the passion of the soul, bewailing
Tempestuous and free,
The hard heart of humanity assailing
As doth her cliffs the sea!

NEKRASSOW.




IN WAR

Hearing the terrors of the war, sore troubled,
By each new victim of the combat torn -
Nor friend, nor wife I give my utmost pity,
Nor do I for the fallen hero mourn.
Alas! the wife will find a consolation.
The friend by friend is soon forgot in turn.

But somewhere is the one soul that remembers -
That will remember unto death's dark shore,
Nor can the tears of a heart-stricken mother
Forget the sons gone down on fields of gore.
One soul there is that like the weeping willow
Can never raise its drooping branches more.

NEKRASSOW.




THE SONGS OF SIBERIAN EXILES

We stand unbroken in our places,
Our shovels dare to take no rest,
For not in vain his golden treasure
God buried deep in earth's dark breast.

Then shovel on and do not falter,
Humble and hopeful, clear we see -
When Russia has grown rich and mighty,
Our grandchildren will grateful be!

* * * * *

Though streams the sweat in rivers downward,
Our arms from shoveling grown weak,
Our bodies frozen to an ice crust
While we new strength in slumber seek -

Sweating or freezing, we will bear it!
Thirst-pain and hunger will withstand,
For each stone is of use to Russia,
And each is given by our own hand!

NEKRASSOW.

_Written to a band of political exiles including some of the highest
aristocracy_.




FREEDOM

Oft through my native land I roved before,
But never such a cheerful spirit bore.

When on its mother's breast a child I spy -
Hope in my inmost heart doth secret cry,

"Boy, thou art born within a favoring time,
Thine eyes shall glad escape old sights of crime.

Free as a child, thou can'st prove all and be
The forger sole of thine own destiny.

Peasant remain, - as to thy father given -
Or like the eagle swing thyself to heaven!"

Castles in air I build! Man's spirit opes
To many ways to frustrate all my hopes.

Though serfdom's sad conditions left behind,
Yet there be countless snares of varied kind! -

Well! Although the people soon may rend thee,
Let me, oh Freedom, a welcome send thee!

NEKRASSOW.

_Written shortly after the freeing of the serfs_.




A FAREWELL

Farewell! Forget the days of trial,
Of grudge, ill humor, misery -
Tempests of heart and floods of weeping,
And the revengeful jealousy.
Ah, but the days whereon the sun rose
To light love's wonder, and begot
In us the power of aspiration, -
bless them and forget them not!

NEKRASSOW.




THE LOVE LETTER

Letter of love so strangely thrilling
With all your countless wonder yet,
Though Time our heart's hot fires have mastered,
Bringing a pang of pained regret!
The while your blest receiver holds you,
His banished passions still rebel,
No longer reason sacrifices
His sentiment, - so then farewell!
Destroyed be this love-token treasured!
For if 'tis read when time has flown,
Deep in the buried soul 'twill waken
The torment vanished days have known.
At first but a light scorn arousing
For silly childishness, - at last
With fiery yearning overwhelming,
And jealousy for all the past.

O Thou, from whom a myriad letters
Speak with the breath of love to me,
Though my gaze rest on thee austerely,
Yet, yet, - I cannot part with thee!
Time has revealed with bitter clearness
How little thou with truth wert blessed,
How like a child my own behaviour -
Yet, dear to me I still must save
This flower scentless, without colour,
From off my manhood's early grave!

NEKRASSOW.




WHAT THE SLEEPLESS GRANDAM THINKS

All through the cold night, beating wings shadowy
Sweep o'er the church-village poor, -
Only one Grandam a hundred years hoary,
Findeth her slumber no more.


Harkens, if cocks to the dawn be not crowing,
Rolls on her oven and weeps,
Sees all her past rising up to confront her -
O'er her soul shameful it creeps!

"Woe to me sinner old! Woe! Once I cheated -
When from the church door I ran,
And in the depths of the forest strayed hidden
With my beloved Ivan.

"Woe to me! Burning in hell's leaping fires
Surely will soon be my soul!
I took a pair of eggs once at a neighbor's -
Out from her hen - yes, I stole!

"Once at the harvest at home I did linger -
Swore I was deadly sick, - when
Taking my part in the drunken carousals
Saturday night with the men!

"Light was I ever with soldiers! Yet cursing
God's name, when from me at last, -
My own son they took for a soldier!
Even drank cream on a fast.

"Woe to me sinner! Woe to me wretched one!
Woe! My heart broken will be!
Holy Madonna, have pity, have mercy!
Into court go not with me!"

NEKRASSOW.

_The stoves of the peasants are built so that they can sleep on top of
them in the extreme cold of Winter_.




TO RUSSIA

'Neath a giant tent
Of the heavens blue,
Stretch the verdant Steppes;
Range beyond the view.

On the distant rim
Lift the outlines proud,
Of their mountain walls
To the drifting cloud.

Through the Steppes there rolls
Stream on stream to sea,
Wide meandering,
Straying far and free.

Do I Southward gaze -
Like the ocean there,
Ripening fields of grain
Wave and ripple fair.

Softest velvet sod
Decks the meadow floor,
In the vineyards green
Swells the grape once more.

Do I Northward turn -
O'er the waste lands lone,
Soft as eider down
Are the snowflakes blown.

And his azure waves
High the ocean lifts,
On his cold blue breast
Now an iceberg drifts.

And as leaping flame
Burn the Northern lights,
On the darkness gleam
Through the silent nights.

Even so art thou,
Russian realm, become, -
Thou my native land,
Shield of Christendom!

Far away hast thou,
Throughout lands untold,
In thy glory fair,
Russia, been enrolled!

Art thou not in space
E'en o'er well supplied?
Where a spirit bold
Freely wanders wide!

Hast thou not alway
Gold and grain rich stored?
For thy friend a feast?
For thy foe a sword?

Guards and shields thee not
With a sacred might,
Holy altar forms,
Deeds of glory bright?

To whom hast thou e'er
Bent an humble knee?
Or before whom bowed
Seeking charity?

In the Kurgan deep,
Met in open fight,
Thou hast e'en subdued
The fierce Tartar's might.

Fought to bloody death
The Lithuanian horde,
The defiant Pole
Scattered with a sword.

And how long ago,
Black clouds, rising out
Of the distant West,
Compassed thee about?

'Neath the lightning flash
Sank the woods away,
Trembled the earth's breast,
Piercéd with dismay.

And the inky smoke
Ruinous did rise
From the village burnt
To the cloudy skies.

Loudly to the fight
Then the Tsar did call -
Russia swift replied,
Coming one and all.

Women, children came -
Men from age to youth,
Gave their evil guest
Bloody feast in truth!

And in lonely fields
Under ice and snow,
To his endless sleep
Laid the victim low.

Where the snowstorms wild
Raised o'er him a tomb,
While the North wind sang
Dirges in the gloom.

Town and village too
Over all our land,
Now like ant hills swarm
With this Christian band.

Now from distant shores
O'er the cruel sea,
Ship on ship draws near
Homage paying thee.

Blooming are thy fields,
Soft thy forests sigh,
Hid in earth's dark breast
Golden treasures lie.

And to East and West,
To the South and North -
Flies thy louder fame
Through the wide world forth!

Holy Russia, thou
Dost deserve to be
"Mother" called by all,
In our love to thee!

For thy glory fair
We should face the foe,
And thy freedom guarding
Glad our lives bestow!

NIKITIN.




THE SONG OP THE SPENDTHRIFT

To seven kopek the heir,
Nor house nor land have I -
Live I - hey! I live then!
Die I - hey! I die!

In many realms the Fool
Can sleep no wink for care,
While yet the spendthrift snores
When dawns the morning fair.

Free as the wind he blows,
Door nor gate to balk him,
Riches, hey! Now give place!
Poverty goes walking!

Before me bends the rye
When through the fields I stray
And glad the forest hears
My pipe and song alway.

If one must bitter weep -
No man will see his tears,
If sadly bowed his head -
None save the partridge jeers.

If weary one, or not,
What matters anything?
Let him toss back his locks
And playful laugh and sing!

And if one die, - the grave
Will warm his hands and feet!
Dost to my song respond?
Nay? Then it is complete.

NIKITIN.




THE SPADE IS DEEP DIGGING A GRAVE IN THE MOULD

The spade is deep digging a grave in the mould....
O Life, - so o'erflowing with sorrows untold,
My life, so homeless and lonely and weary,
Life, as an Autumn night silent and dreary -
Bitter in truth is thy fate 'neath the sky,
And as a fire of the field wilt thou die!
Die then - no sad falling tear will recall thee,
Fast will the roof of thy pine coffin wall thee,
Heavy the earth falls upon the sad hearted -
Only one more from humanity parted;
One whose home-going no fond heart is tearing -
One for whom no soul will sorrow despairing!

Hark! What a silvery music is ringing!
Hark! What a careless and jubilant singing!
See on ethereal azure waves swinging,
Now the glad lark to her South-land is winging!
Silence, O Life full of doubting and fears,
Hushed first of all be the songs of men's tears!

NIKITIN.




GOSSIP

Though blameless thy living
As Anchorite's fate,
Yet Gossip will find thee
Or early or late.

Through keyhole he enters
And stands at thy side,
Doors of wood nor of stone
Against him provide.

He pulls the alarm bell
At slightest excuse -
And down to thy grave
Will pursue with abuse.

Self defence nothing boots thee,
Thy flight he will worst -
To earth he will tread thee,
O Gossip be cursed!

NIKITIN.




IN A PEASANT HUT

Sultry dampness - pine chips smoking,
Off-scourings a span length,
In the corners webs of spiders,
Smut on dish and bench.

Sooty black the bare wall, crock stained,
Water - dry hard bread;
Groanings, coughings, children's whimper,
Wretched bitter need!

And a beggar's death for years of
Harshest drudgery -
Learn to put your trust in God here,
And to patient be.

NIKITIN.




WINTER NIGHT IN THE VILLAGE

O'er the church roof wanders
Mute and calm the moon,
Blue upon the snowdrifts
Sparkling silent down.

By the small pond dreaming,
Stands the church a'gleam -
With its gold cross twinkling
As a taper's beam.

Peaceful in the village
Darkness reigns and sleep,
Every hut is standing
Snowed in window deep.

Out upon the highway
Hushed and empty all,
Now the howling watch dogs
Even, silent fall.

After their day's labor
Young and old are pressed
Weak and worn, on their hard
Narrow place of rest.

In one cottage only
Shines a lamplight, where
A sick old hoary-head
Groans in soul-despair.

Death is near, - and of her
Grandchildren thinks she,
Smitten sore the orphans
Harvest time will be.

Ah the poor, poor children!
Now so young for strife,
All untried and helpless
In the woe of life!

Among stranger people
Older they will grow -
Evil hearts will lure them
Evil ways to go.

With disgrace too early
They will make a bond,
Shamed and God forsaken
Sink unto the ground.

Dear God, thyself take them,
Thy forsaken poor -
Staff and light be to them
Thyself evermore!

And the sacred lamplight
Calm and silent strays;
On the holy pictures
Fall its trembling rays;

O'er the aged features,
O'er the dying form,
O'er the two small children
On the stove bench warm.

Sudden, through the stillness
Rings a merry cry -
And his jingling troika
Drives a reveller by!

Dies in silent distance
Sleighbell clangor strong,
And the careless, merry,
Sorrow-troubling song.

NIKITIN.




THE BIRCH TREE

From bald and sun-parched earth it rises,
One lonely birch, high towering -
Upon its withered crown wide spreading,
Green leafage never more will sing.

Up to the rim of the horizon
Where veiling mists all soft enclose,
Runneth the blossoming of flowers,
The Steppe's green ocean waving flows.

In green enchantment stands the Kurgan,
Where evening dampness doth enfold,
The night descends with sleep and coolness,
The morning sunbeams touch with gold.

Yet loveless, helpless stands the birch tree -
In heaven's grey, musing sad to view,
And from its branches fall like tear-drops
The gleaming pearls of morning dew.

Scattered, alas! her tender leaflets,
In howling storms, - so far, so wide!
Ne'er will the birch, to greet the Springtide,
Be fresh adorned in leafy pride!

NIKITIN.




NORTH AND SOUTH

Knowest thou the land of fragrance ardent glowing?
Where night sublimely sparkles on the flowing
Of the sea? Murmuring in starlight gleam -
Weaving about the heart a wonder dream?
Refulgent in the silvering moonbeams white,
In soft half darkness, gardens slumbering light;
Only the fountain's iridescent foam
Upon the grass falls splashing down -
And images of Gods with lips of silence
Sunk in deep musing gaze on every side -
While, eloquent of fallen majesty,
Ruins entwined with ivy tendrils be?
Soft pictured on the valley's verdant meadows
Dark cypress trees reflect their slender shadows;
Earth's bosom blooming in fecundity -
And freedom here man's joyful destiny.

Yet more than tropic's soft abundance thralling,
My stormy North-land wilderness is calling!
Her snowflake flocks, her gleaming midnight frosts,
The glory of grim forests on her coasts,
Green tinted Steppes with distant bluish rim -
The trooping clouds in heaven's spaces dim.
Unto the heart how the familiar cries!
The village mean that in the valley lies,
The wealthy cities' towering majesty,
The empty snow-fields' endless boundary, -
The changeful moods that all unbridled throng;
Spirit of Russia and of Russian song!
With joy now gushing forth, - with pain now ringing -
Unto the hearer's heart resistless singing.

Thou fairest picture! my breast with rapture sighs,
My spirits free, victorious arise!
A song breaks forth to Russia's praise and glory,
And tears of joy, the while I muse, are flowing.
And jubilant the kindling heart must cry -
Hail Russia, Hail! Thy loyal son am I!

NIKITIN.




HUNGER

Hark! Who knocks with bony fingers
On the hut's small window latch?
Hark! Who pulls away the stubble
Rustling, from the roofing thatch?

From the fields it is not Vintage,
Drunk and weary wavers home -
'Tis a spectre, meagre, gloomy,
As a nightmare dread become.

All subduing, all destroying,
In his ragged garment poor,
Drags he, - on his crutches limping -
Noiseless reeling through the door.

Like the usurer hard hearted,
For his last kopek in quest,
Coffer, cupboard both he opens,
Breaks the lock of case and chest.

Lordly rules he, late and early -
In the granary; when gone
Every kernel of provision,
The last cattle he will pawn.

From the land unto the cellar,
Clean the peasant's hut he keeps,
With a coarse and clumsy besom
Every tiny crumb he sweeps.

On the village highway also
Works and wins he over all,
From the threshing floor to stable -
From the sheepfold to the stall.

His approaching, sorrow follows -
On his coming, follows need,
On his greeting, follows sickness,
On his hand-shake Death succeeds!

So he seeks in all directions,
East and West and South and North -
And in empty field embraces
Thankfully his friend the Frost!

FOFANOW.




FADED THE FOOTSTEP OF SPRING FROM OUR GARDEN

Faded the footstep of Spring from our garden,
Sighing the Autumn wind vanishing goes,
Behold now, how close to us dreams are approaching -
Love, it is time for repose!

List, how the leafage in raindrops all tearful
Trembles and wails for a sorry defeat, -
All that was ours, that we once proudly boasted,
All, was a glittering cheat.

Dark as a funeral pall hanging over,
Fluttering clouds in their mockery close;
Sighing within us is silenced our singing -
Love, it is time for repose.

Deceitful from heaven's fair emerald rainbow,
Soft borrowed glamour of moonbeams doth woo;
Since even you to my faith were disloyal,
Love, my false Springtime were you!

Soon will the sunbeams last radiant shining
Trackless be hurled where the Autumn wind blows,
Slumber enmeshes my soul and the darkness -
Love, it is time for repose!

FOFANOW.




THE BEGGAR

There stood a beggar asking alms
By the cathedral gate,
His face bore torture marks of life -
Pale, tired, blind - like fate.

Thin, tired, pale and blind he begged
A crust of bread alone,
And some one pausing, placed within
His outstretched hand - a stone.

And even so I asked your love,
I brought my dreams, my life - the while
Unto my passion you replied
Only with your cold smile!

FOFANOW.




WITH ROSES

Darling, accept my bunch of perfumed roses; -
Because in royal beauty and in freshness sweet
They dared to rival you, - I cut them down and bound
The criminals and brought them to your feet.

_From the Georgian of Prince Tschawtschawadze_.




THE STARS

With joy in your heart and a smile on your lips
You admired the soft Southern night,
And do you know when your beautiful eyes
Were remarked, all the stars at the sight
Were put out and turned faint in the skies?

This morning they brought their complaint to the sun -
"In ether a star quite unknown!
If to-night this same comet shall shine
Whose radiance extinguished our own,
We must all, our old splendor resign!"

And sadly the sun made them answer, - "Alas!
Before her, I am pale at high noon; -
See, to-day all is rainy and cold,
'Tis the trace of defeat seen so soon,
'Tis the trace of eclipse you behold!"

* * * * *

O happy the being whose life from afar
Shall be lighted by such a lode star!

_From the Caucasian of Prince Oberlaine_.




WHISPERS AND THE TIMID BREATHING


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