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Gavril Romanovich Derzhavin

On A Bird

A sweet-voiced bird's been caught.
They squeeze it in a vice-like grip.
The poor thing squeaks and warbles not
But they insist: "O, birdie, sing!"

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The Current Of Time's River

The current of time's river
Will carry off all human deeds
And sink into oblivion
All peoples, kingdoms and their kings.

And if there's something that remains
Through sounds of horn and lyre,
It too will disappear into the maw of time
And not avoid the common fate.

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Monument

I built myself a monument, eternal and miraculous,
It's higher than the Pyramids, than metal it is harder;
Swift winds and thunder cannot knock it down
The flight of time cannot demolish it.

Thus I won't really die! The part of me that's largest
Will baffle death, and will escape decay,
My fame will grow, and never wither,
As long as Slavs are honored in this world.

And word of me shall spread from the White Sea to the Black,
Where Volga, Don, Neva and Ural rivers flow,
Each member of the countless tribes will know
How from obscurity I found my way to fame,

By daring first in lively Russian speech
To celebrate the virtues of Felitsa,
To talk of God with intimate simplicity,
And with a smile announce the truth to kings.

[...] Read more

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The Bullfinch

Why do you strike up songs military
Fife-like, o, bullfinch, my friend?
Who'll take the lead in our fight with Hell's forces?
Who will command us? What Hercules?
Where is Suvorov, strong, swift and fearless?
Now Northern thunder lies dead in the grave.

Who will ride fiery, ahead of the legions,
Nag for a steed, and crusts for meal,
Temper his sword in the heat and in ice storms,
Sleep on straw pallets, labor 'til dawn,
Bring down the armies, the walls and the forts
With but a handful of stout Russian men?

Who will excel in unwavering courage,
Conquering fate with a prayer and with faith,
Evil with bayonets, envy with jests?
Capturing scepters, remaining a slave,
Who will keep striving for valor alone,
Live for our Tsars, while consuming himself?

[...] Read more

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To Rulers and Judges

He's risen - Highest God - to do the judgment, fair,
Of the earthly ones in their whole band;
How long - he sad - how long will you else spare
The unjust and wicked people in your land.

Your sacred duty is to make support for laws,
To make no favor to the strongest ones,
To leave the widows and orphans in your borders
Without help and safety not once.

To save the innocent from all that harm and wrong is,
To give good shelter to unhappy folks,
To shield the weak from evil of the strongest,
To drew the poor from their heavy bonds.

They don't hear the words! They see and they don't know
Their eyes are covered with a veil of bribes and wealth,
The black injustice shakes the havens' dome,
And wicked deeds convulse the whole earth.

[...] Read more

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The Swan

I'll leave the mortal world behind,
Take wing in an flight fantastical,
With singing, my eternal soul
Will rise up swan-like in the air.

Possessing two immortal traits,
In Purgatory I won't not linger,
But rising over jealousy
I'll leave behind me kingdoms' shine.

'Tis so! Though not renowned by birth,
I am the muses favorite,
From other notables a world apart-
I'll be preferred by death itself.

The tomb will not confine me,
I will not turn to dust among the stars,
But like a heavenly set of pipes,
My voice will ring out from the sky.

[...] Read more

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On The Death Of Prince Meshchersky

O, Voice of time! O, metal's clang!
Your dreadful call distresses me,
Your groan doth beckon, beckon me
It beckons, brings me closer to my grave.
This world I'd just begun to see
When death began to gnash her teeth,
Like lightening her scythe aglint,
She cuts my days like summer hay.

No creature thinks to run away,
From under her rapacious claws:
Prisoners, kings alike are worm meat,
Cruel elements the tomb devour,
Time gapes to swallow glory whole.
As rushing waters pour into the sea,
So days and ages pour into eternity
And death carnivorous all eats.

We slide along the edge of an abyss
And we will someday topple in.

[...] Read more

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God

O Thou, who's infinite in space,
Alive in ever-moving matter,
Eternal in the flow of time,
God faceless, with a trinity of faces!
Soul unified and omnipresent,
Who needs no place or reason,
Whom none can ever comprehend,
Whose being permeates all things,
Encompassing, creating, guarding,
Thou, called by us God.

Although a great mind might contrive
To fix the ocean's depths,
To count the sands, the rays of stars,
Thou can't be summed or fixed!
Enlightened souls who have emerged
From your creative light
Cannot begin to grasp your ways:
Our thought alone aspires to thee,
But in your magnitude is lost,

[...] Read more

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Felitsa

God-like Tsarevna
Of the Kirgiz-Kaisatskii horde!
Whose wisdom matchless
Opened the true path
To young Prince Khlor
To go up on that high peak
Where the rose without thorns grows,
Where virtue dwells:
It takes my spirit and mind prisoner,
Tell me how to find it.

Tell me, Felitsa:
How to live opulently yet justly,
How to subdue the storm of passions
And be happy in the world.
Your voice wakes me,
Your son sends me;
But to follow them I am too weak.
Disturbed by everyday trifles,
Today I control myself,

[...] Read more

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