Juliusz Slowacki

(1809 - 1849 / Poland)

Anhelli - Chapter 6

When the Shaman had calmed the weeping of Anhelli,
he left the fishermen and set out into the wilderness.

And the moon was still high when they came to the hut of an aged man,
who greeted the Shaman like an old friend. He was one of the exiles of Bar, the last one.

His hut, shaded by a broad apple-tree full of the nests of doves
and singing with locusts, was secluded and peaceful.

And that old man set before his guests a pewter pitcher, bread and red apples,
and then he began after his wont a talk of olden times and of men already dead.

For he knew not at all that there was a new generation in Poland,
and new knights and new martyrs ;
and he did not wish to know of it, being a man of the past.

And there was in him now no memory
but the memory of the things that had befallen in his youth ;
but of yesterday he knew not and he did not think of tomorrow.

And he supported himself from insects which are called cochineal ;
and from them he paid the tax to the tsar,
and this was the very day for collecting the tribute.

About an hour later there drove up before the hut the toll gatherer,
and having drunk from the pitcher he demanded the matter due him.

That old man then stripped himself of everything, to meet the tax and enrich that servant.

And having gathered together all, the toll gatherer went out from the hut, saying
'Behold, thou hast an apple-tree covered with fruit, I must take the tithe from it.'

Having spoken thus, he bade his servants shake the old and spreading tree,
but the Shaman said to Anhelli

'Go and stand under the apple-tree, and say nothing to those who shake the tree
until the power of God is made manifest.'

Anhelli went, therefore, and stood beneath a shower of red apples, like a man at peace.

And lo, the apple-tree was surrounded with a great radiance,
and the fruit upon it became stars,
and, glittering brightly, they fell no more.

And the sleeping doves awoke,
thinking that it was already the hour of dawn,
and having preened their feathers
they flew away into the rosy air.

Thereupon the new splendour so awed those toll gatherers that,
leaving all the tax, they made off in terror,
and taking their seats in their carriage they drove away.

And the Shaman, calling to Anhelli, said
'Let us go hence, for the goodman will ask us by what power we do this,
and that is a mystery,
and the meaning of these stars is a mystery.'

So saying, he wrapped himself and Anhelli in darkness, and they departed.

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

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