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ZHUKOVSKY, Vasily


The Mysterious Visitor

Spirit, lovely guest, who are you?

Whence have you flown down to us?

Taciturn and without a sound

Why have you abandoned us?

Where are you? Where is your dwelling?

What are you, where did you go?

Why did you appear,

Heavenly, upon the Earth?

Mayhap you are youthful Hope,

Who arrives from time to time

Cloaked in magic

From a land unknown?

Merciless as Hope,

Sweetest joy you show us

For a moment, then

Take it back and fly away.

Was it Love that you enacted

For us all in mystery? . . .

Days of love, when one beloved

Rendered this world beautiful

Ah! then, sighted through the veil

Earth did seem unearthly...

Now the veil has lifted; Love is gone;

Life is empty, joy - a dream.

Was it Thought, enchanting

You embodied for us here?

Far removed from every worry,

With a dreamy finger pointing

To her lips, she sallies forth

Just like you, from time to time,

Ushers us without a sound

Back to bygone days.

Or within you dwells the sacred spirit

Of Dame Poetry? . . .

Just like you, she came from Heaven

Veiling us twofold:

Using azure for the skies,

And clear white for earth;

What lies near is lovely through her;

All that's distant - known.

Or perhaps 'twas premonition

That descended in your guise

And to us with clarity described

All that's sacred and divine?

Thus it often happens in this life:

Something brilliant flies to meet us,

Raises up the veil

And then beckons us beyond.


The Boatman

Driven by misfortune's whirlwind,

Having neither oar nor rudder,

By a storm my bark was driven

Out upon the boundless sea.

'midst black clouds a small star sparkled;

'Don't conceal yourself!' I cried;

But it disappeared, unheeding;

And my anchor was lost, too.

All was clothed in gloomy darkness;

Great swells heaved all round;

In the darkness yawned the depths

I was hemmed in by cliffs.

'There's no hope for my salvation!'

I bemoaned, with heavy spirit…

Madman! Providence

Was your secret helmsman.

With a hand invisible,

'midst the roaring waves,

Through the gloomy, veiled depths

Past the terrifying cliffs,

My all-powerful savior guided me.

Then-all's quiet ! gloom has vanished;

I behold a paradisical realm…

Three celestial angels.

Providence - O, my protector!

My dejected groaning ceases;

On my knees, in exaltation,

On their image I did gaze.

Who could sing their charm?

Or their power o'er the soul?

All around them holy innocence

And an aura divine.

A delight as yet untasted -

Live and breathe for them;

Take into my soul and heart

All their words and glances sweet.

O fate! I've but one desire:

Let them sample every blessing;

Vouchsafe them delight - me suffering;

Only let me die before they do.