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Konstantin Nikolaevich Batiushkov

Know'st Thou What Gray Methuselah

Know'st thou what gray Methuselah
Pronounced when parting with this life?
Man's born a slave,
He dies a slave,
And death will never tell him why
He walked this lovely vale of tears,
Suffered, wept, endured, and disappeared.

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Epitaph For A Shepherdess

Beloved maidens! Playful and carefree,
You sing, you dance and frolic in the glades.
I, too, once dwelt in gay Arcadia,
I, too, in early days found moments
Of joy in woods and glades:
In golden dreams, love promised happiness:
But what did I attain in this glad land?-
The grave!

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Odysseus' Fate

Through horrors of land and horrors of sea
Bereft and wandering, Odysseus,
God-fearing wretch, sought Ithaca;
Unfaltering, he plunged into the gloom of Hades;
The roar of fierce Charybdis and underwater Scylla's groans
Shook not his noble soul.
His patience vanquished cruel fate, it seemed,
And to the dregs he'd drunk the bitter cup.
It seemed the heav'ns were done with testing him
And drove him softly, slumbering,
To homeland's longed-for cliffs.
He waked: what then? He did not know his home.

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My Inspiration

O recollection of the heart! You're stronger
Than reason's cheerless recollection.
Your sweetness oft
Enchants me in a far-off land.
I recollect her voice, her precious words,
I recollect her azure eyes,
I recollect the golden locks
Of loose and curling hair.
My peerless shepherdess's
Simple clothes I recollect.
Her precious, unforgotten face
Still wanders with me everywhere.
This guardian spirit love bestowed
To comfort me in solitude:
When'er I slumber, it will nestle near
To sweeten cheerless sleep.

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Recovery

As a wild flower hangs its head and wilts
Beneath the reaper's killing scythe,
Ill, I awaited my untimely end
And thought: the fateful hour's nigh.
With eyes already veiled by Erebus' thick gloom,
My heart slowed down its beat:
I was collapsing, disappearing, and it seemed
The sun of youth had set.
Then you arrived, O my heart's joy,
And with the breath of your red lips,
The flaming tears of your bright eyes
The union of our kisses,
The strength of loving words and passionate sighs
You called me back from gloomy realms,
From Orcus's fields and Lethe's shores
Sweet pleasures to enjoy again.
You give me life once more, it is your healing gift,
I'll breathe you in until my grave.
My mortal hour will ev'n be sweet:
For now I die of love.

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The Farewell

BENT o'er his sabre, torrents starting
From his dim eyes, the bold hussar
Thus greets his cherish'd maid, while parting
For distant fields of war:

'Weep not, my fair one! O forbear thee!
No anguish can those tears remove;
For, by my troth and beard, I swear thee,
Time shall not change my love.

'That love shall bloom— a deathless blossom,
My shield in fight— with sword in hand,
And thou, my Lila, in my bosom,
What shall that sword withstand?

'Weep not, my fair one! O forbear thee!
Those tears can bid no grief depart;
And were I faithless, Maid! I swear thee,
Anguish would tear my heart!

[...] Read more

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The Prisoner

THERE, where the swift Rhone's waters flow
Its verdant banks between;
Where fragrant myrtles bending grow,
And Rhone reflects their green;
There, where the vineyards deck the hills,
And o'er the valleys spread,
Which golden citrons' fragrance fills,
And plantains rear their head—

There stood, as sunk the lord of day,
Upon the smiling shore,
One who long watch'd the waters play,
And thought his sorrows o'er;
A Russian hero— stolen by war,
The honour of the Don;
Divided from his friends afar,
He wander'd there alone.

'O roll!' he sang, 'ye waters roll—
Flow in your glory on;

[...] Read more

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The Friend's Shadow

Sunt aliquid manes; letum non omnia finit;
Luridaque evictos effugit umbra rogos.
PROPERTIUS.
_ __


To Albion's misty isle across the waves I sped me:
It look'd as if interr'd beneath a leaden sea,
And gathering round our bark the halcyon's music led me,
While all the crew rejoiced in their sweet melody.
The dancing surge, the evening breezes falling,
And through the sails and shrouds those breezes whistling thrill,
And to the watch the active helmsman calling,
The watch, who, midst the roar, sleeps tranquilly and still.
All seem'd to rock itself to gentle thought;
Like an enchanted one, I, from the mast, look'd forth,
And through the night and through the mist I sought,
I sought the star beloved of my domestic north.
Then into memory melted every feeling—
My soul had sanctified my home of joy and peace,

[...] Read more

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Tasso Dying

What festival is ancient Rome preparing?
Where flow the crowds in noisy waves?
Why these aromas, myrrh's sweet smoke
And censers all around abrim with fragrant herbs?
From Capitoline Hill to Tiber's waves,
Above universal city's streets,
Why are the priceless rugs and purple stuffs
Spread among garlands, laurels?
Why all this noise? The crash and thump of timpani?
Are these heralds of joy or triumph?
Why wearing the miter hastes the holy father
With gonfalon to the prayer house?
For whom doth thankful Rome's most valued gift,
The crown, in his hands shimmer?
For whom this triumph? - 'tis for you, o blessed bard!
For you this gift... Jerusalem's bard!
And now the joyful noise has reached the cell,
Where Death joins battle with Torquatto,
Where death's winged spirit swoops
Above the sufferer's blessed head.

[...] Read more

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