The Bard – Vasily Andreyevich Zhukovsky

My friends, can you descry that mound of earth
Above clear waters in the shade of trees?
You can just hear the babbling spring against the bank;
You can just feel a breeze that’s wafting in the leaves;
A wreath and lyre hang upon the boughs…
Alas, my friends! This mound’s a grave;
Here earth conceals the ashes of a bard;
Poor bard!

A gentle soul, a simple heart
He was a sojourner in the world;
He’d barely bloomed, yet lost his taste for life
He craved his end with yearning and excitement;
And early on he met his end,
He found the grave’s desired sleep.
Your time was but a moment – a moment sad
Poor bard!

He sang with tenderness of friendship to his friend, –
His loyal friend cut down in his life’s bloom;
He sang of love – but in a doleful voice;
Alas! Of love he knew naught but its woe;
Now all has met with its demise,
Your soul partakes of peace eternal;
You slumber in your silent grave,
Poor bard!

Here, by this stream one eventide
He sang his doleful farewell song:
‘O lovely world, where blossomed I in vain;
Farewell forever; with a soul deceived
For happiness I waited – but my dreams have died;
All’s perished; lyre, be still;
To your serene abode, o haste,
Poor bard!

What’s life, when charm is lacking?
To know of bliss, with all the spirit’s striving,
Only to see oneself cut off by an abyss;
Each moment to desire and yet fear desiring…
O refuge of vexatious hearts,
O grave, sure path to peace,
When will you call to your embrace
The poor bard?’

The bard’s no more … his lyre’s silent…
All trace of him has disappeared from here;
The hills and valleys mourn;
And all is still … save zephyrs soft,
That stir the faded wreath,
And waft betimes above the grave,
A woeful lyre responds:
Poor bard!

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