Art is I; science is we. - Claude Bernard

Mtsyri


            6

"Shall I describe what I did see
While wandering, of my chains free,
Beyond these walls?  Lush fields and leas,
Hills garlanded and crowned with trees
That moved like dancers in a ring
Around the slopes, and, too, a string,
A mass of hulking rocks cleft by
Swift streams and torrents.... Their thoughts I
Divined, by Heaven so to do
'Twas given me from birth.... I knew,
Watching their stone hands scratch the air,
How fervently, with what despair
These giants did in close embrace
Long to be locked!... Alas! The days
And, too, the years rush, fleeting, past
And bring them closer not.... Aghast,
Entranced at sight of mountains as
Strange as are dreams, I stood.... The rays
Of dawn their peaks touched.... To the skies
Like smoking altars they did rise,
And o'er them, high above the ground,
The clouds sailed swiftly, eastward bound,
Their hidden shelter of the night
Abandoning fore'er.... A flight
Of birds, a feathered caravan
Resembled they.... Ahead began
The Caucasus.... Skyward they rose,
Immovable, in glittering snows
As bright as diamonds clad.... Rejoice!
That is your home, a secret voice
Said, and at once my spirits soared 
It was as if some hidden chord
Had touched been, for the past anew
Was born and ever clearer grew.

            7

"My father's house recall I did,
And, in a shady canyon hid,
Our village.... Once again I heard
The sound of hoofs and saw a herd
Of horses at the fall of dark
Race home.... A dog began to bark,
Another joined it.... Strangely clear
All these sounds were.... The oldsters near
Our porch sat, bronze-faced, dignified,
Full of a kind of inbred pride
And lordliness.... Their daggers shone
And, too, their scabbards as upon
Them fell the moon's pale, steady beam....
These homely scenes as in a dream
Before me passed.... There, near me, stood
My father as from babyhood
I had remembered him, a proud,
Stern-featured man.... I heard the loud
Clanging of metal and did see
Him touch his gin.... My sisters three
Recalled I, too.... How tenderly
For me they cared, with what love rang
Their voices as to me they sang!...
Beside our house a stream did flow;
It was not deep, and I would go
At midday there, and on the sand
Lie idly, or play games, or stand
And watch a swallow with its wing
The water graze and promise bring
Of rain.... And oh, the nights when we
Would by the hearth sit quietly
And listen to long stories told
Of how men lived in times of old,
In a long past, a faraway
But richer and more sumptuous day.

            8

"Know you how my three days I spent
Of freedom?.... Truly Heaven-sent
Were they.... I lived! And my life would
'Thout them have sadder been, my good
Friend, than your helpless old age is.
I had long yearned (and in this wise
To yearn is anguish) for a sight
Of distant fields.... Lured by earth's bright
Beauty I was, and longed to see
If born for dark captivity
We mortals were. or freedom.... Then,
One night, during a rainstorm, when
The rest of you did prostrate lie
In fear beside the altar, I
Fled.... Like a brother to my breast
The mighty storm I would have pressed!...
With greedy eye the clouds I sought,
And in my hand the lightning caught....
Say, what could these walls, dark with age,
Give me, a captive, in exchange
For that brief friendship, brief yet warm,
That bound my heart to raging storm?...

            9

"I ran 'thout rest  where, I knew not,
No star was out.... But, oh, with what
Delight I breathed of night's fresh air
And drank it in.... I was aware
Of little else but that the care
That had, a burden, lain upon
My heart, had lifted and was gone....
On, on I ran.... Hours must have passed
Before upon the grass at last
I fell, quite spent.... None had my trail
Picked up.... The storm was o'er.... A pale
Ribbon of light 'twixt dark earth lay
And darker sky.... Against it, grey,
The Jagged peaks of mountains could
Be seen.... I never moved.... The wood
And all in it was hushed and still;
From the ravine a jackal's shrill
Cry came that did an infant's seem
To imitate; the dullish gleam
I caught of scales as past me slid
A snake.... I felt no fear, for did
I not myself from human sight.
A beast, hide in the dark of night!

           10

"I heard a stream rush down below;
The rains had fed it, and its low
Accents were fierce. It was as though
A hundred voices in dispute
At once were raised. I listened, mute....
That blurred and wordless speech to me
Was clear enough: impatiently
The stream the stubborn stones addressed
That barred its path, and, angry, pressed
Them to make way. The argument
Went ceaseless on; 'twas vehement
And stormy; now it louder grew,
Now less loud; in the misty blue
Above the birds sang, and the wind
The damp leaves stirred; its touch was kind
But woke the flowers; I, too, like they,
In welcome to the newborn day
My head raised. Close to an abyss
I now saw that I lay, and this
Put fear in me.... The stream did roar
And seethe below.... Down to its shore
Great, massive steps of grey stone led;
Here Satan had with halting tread
Walked down them when he'd banished been
To hell's dim depths, its dark demesne.

          11

"Round me was paradise: the trees
Were brightly decked; of Heavenly tears
Their vivid garments bore the trace;
Grapevines embraced them, fine green lace
Resembling closely; here and there,
Like costly earrings made of rare
And lovely gems, great clusters of
Grapes hung, and on the boughs above
Perched birds; in flocks descended they
Upon the fruit, flew fast away,
Came back.... On to the ground anew
I sank and listened spellbound to
The strange and magic whispering
That filled the air and seemed to bring
To light the secrets of the sky
And of the earth; each breath and sigh,
All of the many voices clear
Of Nature, merging, reached my ear,
There, in her grand and beauteous bower,
But man's proud voice.... In that great hour
Of praise 'twas still.... What I felt then
I cannot ever feel again,
But when I speak of it I live,
If only in my thoughts.... Pray, give
Ear to my tale.... So clear and bright
The dome was that an angel's flight
Could easily perceived have been
By patient eye.... Ne'er had I seen
Such lucid skies, such a serene
And perfect blue! My heart and gaze
It tured... Came noon: the sun's hot blaze,
Its brilliant ray at once dispersed
My dreams and brought a lingering thirst.

          12

"Wanting to reach the stream that ran
Roaring below, I now began
My steep descent. From ledge I crept
To rocky ledge, by bushes kept,
At which I clutched, from falling; my
Foot would a stone dislodge, and I
Would watch it downward roll, a cloud
Of dust behind it raising. Loud
Its booms were as it, leaping, went
Down, down, the surging billows rent,
And was engulfed.... Fearless, I hung
Above the chasm  when one is young
And free, one's apt to laugh at death!...
The bottom gained, I felt the breath
Of mountain waters come to me,
And, o'er them kneeling, greedily
Drank... At the sound of footsteps light,
A voice in song raised, out of sight,
Behind a bush I hid. and there
Grouched in some fear. I did not dare
Look out, but that song my ear drew
And avidly I listened to
Its simple strains.... A soft caress
The Georgian maid's voice held, and yes,
A freedom and an artlessness,
As if it had been taught to speak
Naught but the names of friends.... Though weak
And ill I lie here, by its sound
Entranced am I and held spellbound.
When dusk steals nigh on silent wings,
To me that song a spirit sings.

[English] [Russian TRANS | KOI8 | ALT | WIN | MAC | ISO5]
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