Alexander Pushkin

The Prophet

Longing for spiritual springs, I dragged myself through desert sands ... An angel with three pairs of wings Arrived to me at cross of lands; With fingers so light and slim He touched my eyes as in a dream: And opened my prophetic eyes Like eyes of eagle in surprise. He touched my ears in movement, single, And they were filled with noise and jingle: I heard a shuddering of heavens, And angels' flight on azure heights And creatures' crawl in long sea nights, And rustle of vines in distant valleys. And he bent down to my chin, And he tore off my tongue of sin, In cheat and idle talks aroused, And with his hand in bloody specks He put the sting of wizard snakes Into my deadly stoned mouth. With his sharp sword he cleaved my breast, And plucked my quivering heart out, And coals flamed with God's behest, Into my gaping breast were ground. Like dead I lay on desert sands, And listened to the God's commands: 'Arise, O prophet, hark and see, Be filled with utter My demands, And, going over Land and Sea, Burn with your Word the humane hearts.' Translated by Yevgeny Bonver The Prophet I dragged my flesh through desert gloom, Tormented by the spirit's yearning, And saw a six-winged Seraph loom Upon the footpath's barren turning. And as a dream in slumber lies So light his finger on my eyes, — My wizard eyes grew wide and wary: An eagle's, startled from her eyrie. He touched my ears, and lo! a sea Of storming voices burst on me. I heard the whirling heavens' tremor, The angels' flight and soaring sweep, The sea-snakes coiling in the deep, The sap the vine's green tendrils carry. And to my lips the Seraph clung And tore from me my sinful tongue, My cunning tongue and idle-worded; The subtle serpent's sting he set Between my lips—his hand was wet, His bloody hand my mouth begirded. And with a sword he cleft my breast And took the heart with terror turning, And in my gaping bosom pressed A coal that throbbed there, black and burning. Upon the wastes, a lifeless clod, I lay, and heard the voice of God: "Arise, oh prophet, watch and hearken, And with my Will thy soul engird, Through lands that dim and seas that darken, Burn thou men's hearts with this, my Word." Translated by Babette Deutsch and Avrahm Yarmolinsky

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