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Juliusz Slowacki

(1809 - 1849 / Poland)

Anhelli - Chapter 1


Exiles came to the land of Siberia, and having chosen a broad site they built a
wooden house that they might dwell together in concord and brotherly love; and
there were of them about a thousand men of various stations in life.

And the government had provided women for them that they might marry,
because their sentence made known that they were sent to people the country.

For a time there was among them great order and great sorrow,
for they could not forget that they were exiles
and that they should see their fatherland no more-unless God should will it.

And when they had already built the house and each one had taken up his own work,
except the people who desired to be called wise men, who remained in idleness, saying:
'Lo, we ponder on the salvation of the father­land,' they beheld upon a time a great flock
of black birds flying from the north.

After the birds there appeared a sort of train and caravan,
and sledges harnessed with dogs, and a herd of reindeer with branching horns,
and men on skis bearing spears : it was the whole Siberian people.

At their head, moreover, walked the king of the people, who was at the same time a priest,
dressed according to their custom in furs and in corals,
and he wore a wreath of dead serpents instead of a crown.

Then that ruler, drawing near to the throng of exiles,
said in the language of their own land : 'Hail !

'Behold I have known your fathers who were also unfortunate,
and I have seen how they lived in the fear of God and died, saying `Fatherland ! Fatherland !'

'Therefore do I wish to be your friend and to make a covenant
between you and my people, that ye may be in an hospitable land
and in a country of well-wishers.

'And of your fathers now is none living except one only, who is already old
and who is well-inclined toward me ;
but he dwelleth far hence in a lonely hut.

'If ye desire that the friend of your fathers be your leader,
I will abide with you and forsake my own people;
for ye are the more unfortunate.'

Yet more that old man said, and they showed
him reverence and invited him to their tabernacle.

And they made a covenant with the people of Siberia,
who departed and settled in their snowy villages ;
but their king remained with the exiles that he might comfort them.

And they marvelled at his wisdom, saying
'Lo, this he hath surely gotten from our fathers,
and his words are from our ancestors.'

And they called him Shaman, for so the people of Siberia
call their kings and priests, who are wizards.

Submitted: Wednesday, April 21, 2010

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