Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Vasily Zhukovsky: The Boatman

Driven by misfortune's whirlwind,
Having neither oar nor rudder,
By a storm my bark was driven
Out upon the boundless sea.
"midst black clouds a small star sparkled;
"Don't conceal yourself!" I cried;
But it disappeared, unheeding;
And my anchor was lost, too.

All was clothed in gloomy darkness;
Great swells heaved all round;
In the darkness yawned the depths
I was hemmed in by cliffs.
"There's no hope for my salvation!"
I bemoaned, with heavy spirit...
Madman! Providence
Was your secret helmsman.

With a hand invisible,
'midst the roaring waves,
Through the gloomy, veiled depths
Past the terrifying cliffs,
My all-powerful savior guided me.
Then-all's quiet ! gloom has vanished;
I behold a paradisical realm...
Three celestial angels.

Providence - O, my protector!
My dejected groaning ceases;
On my knees, in exaltation,
On their image I did gaze.
Who could sing their charm?
Or their power o'er the soul?
All around them holy innocence 
And an aura divine.

A delight as yet untasted - 
Live and breathe for them;
Take into my soul and heart
All their words and glances sweet.
O fate! I've but one desire:
Let them sample every blessing;
Vouchsafe them delight - me suffering;
Only let me die before they do.

July 1812

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