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!

The Boatman – Vasily Andreyevich Zhukovsky

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.