Nikolai Stepanovich Gumilev

(1886 - 1921 / Russia)

Forest Poem by Nikolai Stepanovich Gumilev


In that magic forest, towering trees
Unexpectedly come forward from the haze.

Out of the earth, roots spring from other roots,
Like the arms of the dwellers of burial vaults.

Under the cover of the blazing autumn leaves
Lonesome giants, trolls, and lions used to live.

Here sailors saw the tracks in golden sand
Left behind by a six-fingered human hand.

Peers of France and Arthurian valiant knights
Never set on this forbidden place their sights.

Nor the bushes ever hid a pirates’ lair,
Nor a hermit ever made his lodging there…

Only once, they saw in a lurid tempest’s light -
Cat-headed woman softly stepped into the night;

Doomed to wear a solid silver coronet,
She was lamenting and sobbing till the sunset.

No communion was given by a priest
When, by quiet dawn, she passed away in peace.

All this happened, all this happened in those years,
Which have passed without leaving any trace.

All this happened, all this happened in a realm,
Which would never come across your wildest dreams.

I imagined all of this by looking at
Fiery braids that always snake around your head,

Looking at your ever changing greenish eyes,
They're akin to Persian feverish turquoise.

Well, perhaps that forest is a soul of yours,
Well, perhaps that forest 's always my remorse.

Or perhaps, one day when we will die,
To this forest we will travel – you and I.

Submitted: Tuesday, April 13, 2010

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