It takes a great deal of history to produce a little literature. - Henry James
* * *
This wintry city where I wandered,
A child, my youthful heart entranced,
Today seems but a fortune squandered,
A gained and lost inheritance!
All that came easily and lightly
And that was spent with equal ease -
The fire of soul, the prayers that nightly
Poured out from it, the first song's bliss -
All, all, in mirrors' depths decaying,
Has gone, is now of haze a streak.
The noseless fiddler - hear him playing!-
Of the irreparable speaks.
But like a foreigner, elated
At hearing Russian speech am I,
And watch, absorbed and fascinated,
The horsedrawn sledges past me fly.
Joy's breath is full of savage freshness,
A strength that sweeps all else aside.
Is someone dear to me and precious
The staircase mounting at my side?..