Pan Beniowski - Final Part Of Canto Five
- by Juliusz Slowacki 16Surging like a vast current of salmon or sheatfish,
Coiling up and down like an iron serpent
That rears now its torso, now its head,
The armed horsemen breast the prairie grass. --
But hold! my song's device breaks down:
My Muse begs a rest, having drained her cup
Empty of sweet nectar; and so, farewell
To you, on that steppeland rise,
My pair of golden, sun-drenched statues!
My iron ranks wallowing in the grass and herbage!
One needs here the yearning of a Malczewski--
The kind found in men who are half angels.
One ought to sing here; meanwhile I weave fables.
Whenever I stir up the ashes of my homeland
And then raise my hand once more to the harp,
Specters from the grave rise before me--specters
So lovely! So transparent! Fresh! Alive! Young!
That I am incapable of shedding real tears over them:
And yet I lead them in a dance about the valleys.
They take from my heart whatever they like:
A sonnet, a tragedy, a legend or sublime ode.
It is all that I have, all that I cherish and believe in.
Believe in. . . You ask me, my dear reader,
What I believe in? If I told, it would raise a furor.
In the first place, this rhyme which scoffs and reviles
Has a political credo: these are Dantesque regions
You have entered. I believe with a pagan's heart
In Shakespeare's rhymes, in Dante and in Homer.
I believe in the commonwealth of an only son --
In our case it was that surly fellow--Mochnacki!
Though he never stopped spinning his mighty dreams,
He allowed the Dictator to stretch him upon a cross.
I believe that he came into being in human form
And went to the Great Judgment that lights up
Our land; on the way, he dropped in on the Aristocracy
And bided in that flameless Hell for three days;
Then in a little book he passed judgment on his brothers:
Those who are upright and those who feel no shame;
In him I believe, and in his two unfinished books:
I believe in all the saints of our émigré circles,
And in their spiritual communion with our nation;
In the forgiveness of sins committed by our leaders
And the resurrection of our elected Sejm under Herod
Which being a very amusing body will constitute
The best proof of the resurrection of the body--
The supreme instance of bodily resuscitation;
And finally, secure as to the future, I should add
That I believe in the life everlasting of that Sejm.
Amen... This amen chokes me, catches in my throat
Like the amen Macbeth uttered. -- Still, I believe
That like cranes chained to the wing the nations are making
Progress . . . that knights rise out of the bones. . .
That the tyrant cannot sleep when he bloodies the bed
Or robs the eagles of the youngest brood. . .
That fire and serpents and fear are his bedfellows. . .
All this I believe--yes--and in God as well!
O God! Who has not felt You in the blue fields
Of Ukraine where the level plains arouse
Such sadness in the soul that ranges over them! --
When, accompanied by a windy hymn,
The dust which Tartar hordes drenched in blood
Takes wing, shrouds the golden sun in ashes,
Blurs, reddens it, then suspends it in the sky
Like a black buckler with blood-shot eyes --
Who has not seen You, Almighty God,
On that great steppe, under a lifeless sun,
When the mounds on which all crosses stand
Bring blood to mind--or crooked flames;
When far off thunders a sea of bent-grass,
Burial mounds cry out with a terrible voice,
The locust unfurls its black rainbows, and the garland
Of graves melts away into the distance;
Who has not felt You in the terrors of nature:
In the great steppe or on Golgotha's hill
Or among columns surmounted not by a roof
But by a moon and an untold number of stars;
And who in the zest and ardor of youthful feeling
Has not felt that You exist, or, plucking daisies,
Has not found You in those daisies and forget-me-nots?
Yet still he seeks You in prayer and good deeds:
No doubt he will find You -- no doubt he will --
I wish small-hearted men a humble faith
And a peaceful death. -- Jehovah's flashing face
Is of vast measure! When I count up the layers
Of exposed earth and see the bone piles
Lying there like the standards of lost armies
At the foot of mountain ridges -- skeletal remains
That also bear witness to God's being --
I see that He is not only the God of worms
And things that creep and crawl upon the dust:
He loves the booming flight of gigantic birds;
Puts no curb on stampeding horses. . .
He is the flaming plume of proud helms. . . Often
A great deed will sway Him where a tear-drop
Shed on the church doorstep will not: before Him
I fall down prostrate -- for He is God!
Where then is humility's forerunner?--the man
Who contended with me like a god? I seek him still;
I'll cleave his head with a lightning bolt, just as yesterday
I dealt him a blow on the breast. Have you seen him?
His lips are seasoned with wormwood. . . The people
Who believed in him make a show of joy
Yet droop their heads, for they know it was my nod
That brought the Prophet-Bard back to life.
Bit by bit, I tore my heart to shreds,
Forged the pieces into firebolts and hurled them
At his face; each piece boomed like a crag
As if high in the sky I had shattered a god into bits
And now the pieces were raining down. . . I smashed him --
But what have I gained in the eyes of the people today?
The battle and victory took place high in the heavens --
People see nothing in me, but courage.
Indeed. . . My nation! If you had but seen
How lonely and sorrow-laden I was
Knowing that if my firebolt failed to pierce him,
The Lithuanians would seize me in their collective claws;
But then, recalling my nest in the eastern marches,
I beckoned to Kremenets Mountain that it rise up
And put that rabble to flight -- that it stand with me --
Or take up an inferior position beneath me.
Anhelli - Chapter 1
- by Juliusz Slowacki 14Exiles came to the land of Siberia, and having chosen a broad site they built a
wooden house that they might dwell together in concord and brotherly love; and
there were of them about a thousand men of various stations in life.
And the government had provided women for them that they might marry,
because their sentence made known that they were sent to people the country.
For a time there was among them great order and great sorrow,
for they could not forget that they were exiles
and that they should see their fatherland no more-unless God should will it.
And when they had already built the house and each one had taken up his own work,
except the people who desired to be called wise men, who remained in idleness, saying:
'Lo, we ponder on the salvation of the father-land,' they beheld upon a time a great flock
of black birds flying from the north.
After the birds there appeared a sort of train and caravan,
and sledges harnessed with dogs, and a herd of reindeer with branching horns,
and men on skis bearing spears : it was the whole Siberian people.
At their head, moreover, walked the king of the people, who was at the same time a priest,
dressed according to their custom in furs and in corals,
and he wore a wreath of dead serpents instead of a crown.
Then that ruler, drawing near to the throng of exiles,
said in the language of their own land : 'Hail !
'Behold I have known your fathers who were also unfortunate,
and I have seen how they lived in the fear of God and died, saying 'Fatherland ! Fatherland !'
'Therefore do I wish to be your friend and to make a covenant
between you and my people, that ye may be in an hospitable land
and in a country of well-wishers.
'And of your fathers now is none living except one only, who is already old
and who is well-inclined toward me ;
but he dwelleth far hence in a lonely hut.
'If ye desire that the friend of your fathers be your leader,
I will abide with you and forsake my own people;
for ye are the more unfortunate.'
Yet more that old man said, and they showed
him reverence and invited him to their tabernacle.
And they made a covenant with the people of Siberia,
who departed and settled in their snowy villages ;
but their king remained with the exiles that he might comfort them.
And they marvelled at his wisdom, saying
'Lo, this he hath surely gotten from our fathers,
and his words are from our ancestors.'
And they called him Shaman, for so the people of Siberia
call their kings and priests, who are wizards.
Poems by Juliusz Slowacki, Juliusz Slowacki's poems collection. Juliusz Slowacki is a classical and famous poet (1809 - 1849 / Poland). Share all poems of Juliusz Slowacki.
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