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Human tears, O the tears! you that flow

when life is begun—or half-gone,

tears unseen, tears unknown, you that none

can number or drain, you that run

like the streamlets of rain from the low

clouds of Autumn, long before dawn...

Translated by Vladimir Nabokov


Speak not, lie hidden, and conceal

the way you dream, the things you feel.

Deep in your spirit let them rise

akin to stars in crystal skies

that set before the night is blurred:

delight in them and speak no word.

How can a heart expression find?

How should another know your mind?

Will he discern what quickens you?

A thought, once uttered, is untrue.

Dimmed is the fountainhead when stirred:

drink at the source and speak no word.

Live in your inner self alone

within your soul a world has grown,

the magic of veiled thoughts that might

be blinded by the outer light,

drowned in the noise of day, unheard...

take in their song and speak no word.

Translation: Vladimir NABOKOV

O Those Eyes! I Have Them Known!

Oh, those eyes! I have them known!

How I loved them - knows God!

From their night of charm and throe,

I couldn't tear away my heart.

Her gaze, so fathomless and endless,

Which bared life to whole base,

Reflected such enduring sadness,

Such terrifying passion's depth!

It quivered, gloomy and retired

To her eye-lashes' thickest shade,

Like love's enjoyment, fully tired,

Like suffering, induced by fate.

And in this moments of sensation,

I never could be able to cease

Meeting it, void of agitation,

And marveling - without tears.

All Day She Quiet Lay

All day she quiet lay, lost in a trance,

The closing shadows all of her embracing…

The madcap rain of summer frisked and pranced,

At leaves it drummed, down garden paths went racing.

And slowly, slowly she revived and sought

To hear its voice, its warm and merry patter.

Withdrawn she lay, plunged deep in conscious thought,

And listened to the rushing, singing water.

Then suddenly she sighed and spoke; I heard…

(I was alive, alive through force of habit)

The softly whispered, simple, broken words:

"O how I loved it all, O how I loved it!"

You loved… To love so well none ever durst…

Then, even such love fades, to be it ceases…

To watch you die, and live! How did my heart not burst,

Not break, O God, into a thousand pieces!

Why Moan, Why Wail You, Wind Of Night

Why moan, why wail you, wind of night,

With such despair, such frenzied madness?

Why is your voice now full of might,

Now piteous and tinged with sadness?

In tongue known to the heart, of pain

Unknown to it for ever chanting,

At times within it well-nigh frantic

Sounds you awaken and insane.

Sing not, O wind, your fearful song

Of chaos, for the hungry spirit,

Into night's world of shadows flung,

Exults in it and strains to hear it.

The bounds of mortal flesh 'twould fly

And merge with boundless ocean sweeping.

Take heed! Let slumbering tempests lie:

Beneath them chaos stirs unsleeping.