In The Caucasus
The Russian bard since ancient times Has yearned for countries strange and distant, And most of all Caucasian climes Have strangely lured with mist insistent. Here Pushkin, flamed with passion, wrote With outcast's lonely sad complaining: "Do not, my beauty, single note Of Georgian song sing, sadness feigning." And Lermontov, in jolly screed, Of Azamat he has related, Who in exchange for Kazbich-steed Instead of gold his sister traded. His face was sad, of jaundiced hue Just like the fevered rivers' yellow, As bard and officer he drew His gun, and felled was by his fellow. And Griboyedov's buried here, Our tribute to the Shah of Persia, Beneath the mountain lay his bier, He sleeps to dirge of horn and zither. And circumstance now finds me here, Arrived I did, not knowing reason: Perhaps for home to shed a tear, Or fathom when's my mortal season. Whatever! Thinking now I'm found Of all my great departed forebears. For healed they were by guttural sound Of all your vales and savage waters. They from their foes were running here, From comrades too they swift departed, They wanted footsteps' sound to hear And see from heights ways yet uncharted. To flee from woes I've made my choice, I've said farewell to artsy clusters, Because matured has poet's voice, Now great and epic themes it musters. For Russian ardour's sweet to me. There's Mayakovsky and his gaggle - But quite the greatest one is he - He sings of Mossel'prom's new haggle. Karelian deacon Klyuev, proud, His lines are like a padded jacket, I read them yesterday aloud - And caged canary ceased its racket. I have no words for others' lure, But under frigid sun they've ripened. They lack the knowledge, that's for sure, To sully page in quest for stipend. Forgive me that I, Caucasus, To you so casually have spoken, Instruct my Russian verse to ooze As dogwood juice from berry woken. So when to Moscow I return, I might contrive in loveliest verses Then to forget grief's needless burn And all bohemian friendship's curses. Alone again I then might quote, At end old Russia not disdaining: "Do not, my beauty, single note Of Georgian song sing, sadness feigning."