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BOTEV, Hristo


The Hanging of Levski

O you, my Mother, my Native Land,

Why is your cry so sad and heart-rending!

And you, O Raven, accursed bird,

On whose grave croak you of ill impending?


I know, ah I know, you weep, my Mother,

Because you're a slave in bondage lying,

You weep because your sacred voice

Is a helpless voice in a desert crying.


Weep on, weep on! Near Sofia town

A ghastly gallows I have seen standing,

And your own son, Bulgaria,

There with dreadful force is hanging.


The raven gives its grim hoarse croak,
Dogs yelp, wolves howl, the sky is bleak,

Old men in prayers their God invoke,

Women shed tears, the children shriek.


The winter sings its evil song,

Squalls chase the thistles in the plain,

And cold and frost and hopeless tears

Wring and twist your heart with pain.


To My Youth

Put aside that song of love,

do not fill my heart with pain -

I'm young but I don't know of youth

and if I did I wouldn't claim

the thing I trample underfoot

before you, and begin to hate.

Forget about the time I craved

a gentle glance, a sigh or two:

you had me chained up like a slave -

and for a single smile from you

the world filled me with wild disgust

and I cast my feelings in the dust.

Forget the madness of those times,

there's no lovelight within this breast

and no way you can make it shine,

there, where a heavy sadness rests,

where everything is lacerated

and a hating heart is wrapped in hatred.

You have your youth - your voice enchants -

but do you hear the forest singing?

Do you hear the poor lament? -

That voice is the spirit longing

and there my wounded heart is called,

where blood is spattered over all.

O, don't say bitter things to me.
Hear the woods and foliage moan,

hear the thunder of past centuries

and, word by word, how they intone

tales which long ago took place

and songs of hardships yet to face.

I'd have you sing that song as well,

to sing it, girl, and make it ache,

to sing how brother, brothers sell,

how strength and youth but run to waste

and how a widow mourns her lover

and little homeless children suffer.

Sing - or, silent, go your way.

My heart is trembling - it will fly
it will fly, beloved - come, awake -

to where malignant, terrifying cries

and a monstrous litany of death

break from the rumbling, shaking earth.

There - the storm tears trees aside

and a sword enfolds them in a wreath;

terrible chasms are gaping wide

and through them leaden bullets shriek;

and there death comes with smiling face

and sweet rest and a chilly grave.

O, those songs, that smiling face.

Whose voice will call and sing of me? -

My toast - a cup of blood - I'll raise

to drink that love pass silently,

and then, alone, I'll make my song

of what I love, for what I long…