И там три раза повернул

Стихи М. Ю. Лермонтова, переведенные на английский язык Александром Калужским. Большая книга переводов вышла в издательстве «Банк Культурной Информации».

The Sail

A lonely sail of white is soaring
Amid the blue haze of the morn —
What’s there he seeks in quarters foreign?
What’s there at home, he’s left forlorn?..

There play the billows, blows the wafter;
The mast is creaking and asway...
Alas, it isn’t bliss he’s after;
It’s not from bliss he flees away!

Beneath him streams the azure clear,
Above — a sun ray, gold and warm...
He woos a storm, a mutineer,
As if there’s peace in any storm!

1832

Death of a Poet

Reprisal, Majesty, reprisal!
I’ll fall down at your feet:
Deign to be fair and punish the assassin;
His execution in the years to come
Proclaim Your rightful judgement to descendants,
And evildoers get their just deserts.

The poet is dead! — a slave to honour —
With lead and vengeance in his chest,
Slurred by the rumours hole-and-corner,
He’s gone to his eternal rest!..
The poet’s soul could not endure
The galling pinpricks of the vain;
He challenged the beau monde’s posture
Alone as always... and was slain!
He’s slain!.. Now tell me what the use is
Of sobs and praises, all too late,
And of the prattle of excuses?
Fulfilled is the decree of fate!
Was it not you who fiercely harried
His daring and free-wheeling art,
Who fanned the flames once they had tarried,
Pent up in his insulted heart?
And so? rejoice... — the recent tortures
And sorrows were too great to sup* —
Has died the brightest of the torches;
The solemn wreath has withered up.

His murderer, as if he savoured,
Has laid his blow... there’s no way out.
The loaded pistol hasn’t wavered;
The empty heart has had no doubt.
What do you say?.. a foreign urchin,
Like scores of other refugees,
Whom fate had brought from overseas
To fish for favours, ranks and fortune;
He had the nerve to scorn this land,
So much outside his territory —
He had no mercy on our glory;
Nor sense, before the hour so gory,
To what he dared to raise a hand!..

He’s slain — and shrouded by the digger,
Like that sweet bard, that enigmatic figure,
On whom wild jealousy did prey,
On whom he sang with such enchanting vigour,
And whom a ruthless hand was also marked to slay.
Why did he leave his ground, so peaceful and delightful,
And enter the beau monde insidious and spiteful,
Where fervent feelings will be always out of place?
Why did he lend a hand to slanderers and liars,
Why did he trust deceitful words and false desires,
While since his youth he’d known the human race?..

They’d taken off his crown and changed it for another —
The crown of thorns, unseen behind a laurel bough;
But hidden spikes began to bother
With agony the noble brow;
His final days on earth grew bitter with the poison —
The wily whispers of the arrogant buffoons;
He perished — with the vengeance as a poise** on
His heart bereft of hopes for any worldly boons***.
The songs are silenced by the trigger;
The new ones ne’er to be revealed;
His last abode is grim and meagre;
Alas, the singer’s lips are sealed.

*

And you, contemptuous descendants
Of arrant parvenus renowned for certain deals;
Upon the scions of misfortunate contendents
You’ve trampled heavily with your obsequious heels!
You, predatory pack around the throne, you warders
And executioners of Freedom, Gift and Fame!
You’re safe under the aegis of the orders,
You hush the truth and trial — all the same!..
But there’s the Holy Trial, confidants of vices!
God’s dread one — so, behold;
He knows your deeds and your devices
Before you think of them, and He despises gold.
And then it wouldn’t help if you resort to scandals;
He’ll nip your efforts in the bud;
And never be enough of your black blood, O vandals,
To wash away the poet’s righteous blood!

1837

* - have experience of, take in
** - a heavy object, a weight (used in this sense until late 1800’s)
*** - gifts (archaic)

The Prisoner

Come and open up my damp cell,
Bring the sunshine back again,
Bring me back my black-eyed damsel
And my steed of raven mane!
First I’d let my kisses cover
The sweet lips of my true lover;
Then I’d leap upon my steed,
And we’ll take off for the mead.

*

But my heavy door is bolted;
The embrasure’s high above;
And so far away are vaulted
Chambers of my black-eyed love;
Somewhere in the green wide open
My unbridled horse must lope and
Run alone with gleeful ease,
His loose tail up in the breeze.

*

O me desolate — all I can
See is flicker faintly thrown
By the lamp under the icon
On the naked walls of stone;
In the dead of night I hear the
Pealing footsteps pacing hither —
Measuring the silence nigh,
Goes my guard of no reply.

1837

Three Palms
An Oriental Tale

Three glorious palms grew up high in the sand
And arid plains of the Arabian land.
Among them a cold water spring purled and bubbled
From under the barrens and flowed thus untroubled
By either the fast drifting dunes or the heat
Beneath the green leaves, its refreshing retreat.

And many a year all this peacefully spanned,
But never a wanderer from a strange land
Fell down ‘fore the bracing cold water to quench his
Besmouldering thirst in the shade of the branches,
And it came to pass — drought severely befell
The luscious green leaves and the sonorous well.

And all of the three started grumbling at God,
«Lo, were we all born to dry up in this sod?
Without any purpose we grew in the desert,
By sandstorms disturbed and by heat burnt and weathered;
To no one we’ve brought any joy for so long... —
O Heaven, Your judgement is nothing but wrong!»

They’d hardly stopped grumbling when golden sand flew
Up high like a cloud in the distance of blue;
Some tinkling was heard and occasional hollers;
The rugs o’er the packs dazzled one with their colours;
And heaving along like a boat on a scend,?
The camels filed forward and ploughed up the sand.

Between the stiff humps, the marquees of the steppes
Swayed slowly their hanging and colourful flaps;
And small swarthy hands sometimes raised them unbuckled;
And then from the inside, the brown gazes sparkled...
And there, leaning over the pommel, at speed,
An Arab was seen spurring on his black steed.

And once in a while his black stallion would prance
And leap like a pard that was hit with a lance;
The beautiful folds of the lily-white raiment
Waved over the Pharian in disarray, and
With hollers and whistles he tore at full tilt
While tossing his spear up and catching its hilt.

The caravan noisily came to the trees;
And there in the shade, they arranged the marquees.
The water is purling while filling up vessels;
And gracefully waving their green fuzzy tassels,
Three palms welcome all of their unforeseen guests;
The spring also lavishly gives them its best.

No sooner had dusk fallen down than they could
Hear axes cut at their resilient wood,
And down with a crash fell the nurslings of ages!
Their stately attire was torn off by the pages?;
Their bodies were chopped into pieces and drawn
Right into the fire where they smouldered till dawn.

And when the night fog flew away to the west,
The caravan rutted on after a rest;
And all there remained of the place were the dashes
Of life, that is, sorrowful hoary cold ashes;
The sun burnt whatever was left to the ground;
The whirlwind then scattered the dust all around.

And now it’s all wilderness, empty and void;
No more purls the spring to the leaves overjoyed;
In vain is it praying to Allah for shelter -
The blistering wind makes it stifle and swelter;
And only a desert recluse, crested kite,
Brings hither its prey and devours it at night.

1839

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