Juliusz Slowacki

(1809 - 1849 / Poland)

Anhelli - Chapter 4


And the Shaman passed with Anhelli over the desert ways of Siberia,
where stood prisons.

And they beheld the countenances of some prisoners through the gratings,
gloomy and wan, gazing at the sky.

And beside one of those prisons they fell in with men bearing coffins,
and the Shaman stayed them, bidding them open the coffins.

Then, when they had taken off the coffin lids, Anhelli shuddered,
seeing that the dead were still in chains, and he said :
'Shaman, lo I am afraid lest these martyrs may never rise from the dead.

'Waken one of them, for thou hast power to work miracles ;
waken this old man with the grey beard and the white hair;
for it seemeth to me that I knew him when he was alive.'
But the Shaman, looking down sternly, said 'Wherefore then?
Lo, I will restore him, but thou shalt kill him again.
Verily even twice will I raise him and twice from thee shall he receive death.

'Nevertheless let it be as thou requirest,
that thou mayst know that death protecteth us from sorrows
which have already set out on the way to meet us,
but have found us dead.'

So saying, the Shaman looked down upon the old man in the coffin
and said : 'Arise !' ;, and the body in chains raised itself and sat up,
gazing at the people like a man asleep.

And recognizing him at that moment, Anhelli said :
'Hail, thou man mighty aforetime in council and one of the wisest !

'What, then, befell thee in prison,
that thou didst bend thyself before power and make
that confession of guilt of which we have heard?

'Why didst thou deny thine own heart and thine own past?
With their tortures did they take from thee reason and memory?
What hast thou done !

'Thou hast worked us injury; for today stranger-people say to us :
`Lo, your leaders deny themselves and change their hearts for the nation,
and only little men remain in their constancy. ' `This constancy of little men is then stubbornness,
since the foremost men in the nation acknowledge their error,
not even expecting forgiveness.' '

And when Anhelli had spoken thus,
it came to pass according to the words of the Shaman
that the man who had been resurrected groaned ' and died anew.

Then said the Shaman : 'Thou hast killed him, Anhelli,
repeating men's slanders and calumny,
which he knew not before his death.

'Nevertheless I will raise him a second time,
and do thou watch that thou bring him not a second time to his death.'

Having spoken thus, he waked the dead man,
and that man in the coffin raised himself, shedding tears from his opened eyelids.


And Anhelli said to him : 'Forgive me, for I knew not that I spake slanders and calumny.

'Lo, I have seen thee in the council of the nation with thy brother,
and I have seen your two heads ever together,
in their whiteness like two doves that fly down together upon millet.

'For it is true that ye flew down like two doves upon the urn of plans
and stripped from the husks the grain of the laws ;
and upon your chaff flew down little sparrows,
chirping of things of less import.

'Forgive me that I compare you to God's birds
and trifling things ; for so your whiteness and simplicity bid me.

'O unfortunates ! Lo, one seeketh rest in a graveyard in Siberia,
and the other lieth under the roses and cypresses of the Seine.
Poor doves, who were separated and died !'

Hearing those words, the man who had been resurrected cried out :
'My brother !' and fell back in the coffin and died.

And the Shaman said to Anhelli :
'Why didst thou tell him of the death of his brother?
Lo, a moment, and he would have learned it from God,
and would have met his beloved brother in the heavenly land.

'It hath come to pass !
Let them cover these coffins and bear them to the graveyard.
And do thou not beseech me more to raise those
from the dead who sleep and find rest.'

Submitted: Thursday, September 04, 2014
Edited: Thursday, September 04, 2014

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