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No. 4 & 5

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E. A. Baratynsky  

Translated from the Russian by Ilya Bernstein  

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On Planting a Wood

Again, the spring; again, the meadow laughs. 
The wood receives with joy its new apparel. 
Again, the husbandmanís untiring plow 
Furrows the fields in hope and resignation. 

But thereís no place left in my soul for spring 
And thereís no place for hope there any longer. 
The world is moving farther from my eyes 
And on its endless day I close my eyelids. 

That winter has already touched my head 
Which warms the seeds for future generations. 
Still, the earthís threshold hasnít yet been crossed -- 
The poetís lyre yet calls its sons and daughters. 

Great is the Lord! Heís merciful, but just: 
Not even one odd moment gets forgotten. 
He will indulge the mindlessness of mirth, 
But feasts of malice he will never pardon. 

He who was injured by my fitful soul 
Was free to challenge me in mortal combat; 
But digging under me a hidden pit 
He only crowned his horns with lifeless glory. 

My soul flew out in search of recent crops; 
I loved, caressed their insufficient flowers. 
Iíve used my days up, offering peopleís hearts 
My own voice in the name of noble feelings. 

No answer came! Iíve cast my strings away. 
Letís hope a different soil will prove more fruitful! 
And so my hand is bringing it today 
The germinating seeds of oaks and pine trees. 

And so be it! Having bid my lyre farewell, 
I yet have faith: that in its place, one season, 
The poetry of a mysterious grief 
Will begin bearing great and somber children. 
 

Achilles 

When the Styxís tempering current 
His prodigious strength did seal 
It made furious Achilles 
Ready for archaic battle, 
Guardless only at the heel. 

Destined for the highest struggle, 
Is your lot at all like his, 
Warrior of the spirit, infant 
Of the font of newer days? 

Know you that by your ablutions 
You have given suffering license 
Over you in all respects, 
And your heel alone possesses 
An immunity to danger 
If on live faith it has stepped! 
 

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