Gavrila Romanovich Derzhavin (14 July 1743 – 20 July 1816 / Kazan)
On The Death Of Prince Meshchersky
O, Voice of time! O, metal's clang!
Your dreadful call distresses me,
Your groan doth beckon, beckon me
It beckons, brings me closer to my grave.
This world I'd just begun to see
When death began to gnash her teeth,
Like lightening her scythe aglint,
She cuts my days like summer hay.
No creature thinks to run away,
From under her rapacious claws:
Prisoners, kings alike are worm meat,
Cruel elements the tomb devour,
Time gapes to swallow glory whole.
As rushing waters pour into the sea,
So days and ages pour into eternity
And death carnivorous all eats.
We slide along the edge of an abyss
And we will someday topple in.
With life, we take at one time death,
To die's the purpose of our birth.
Death strikes all down without a thought.
It shatters e'en the stars,
Extinguishes the suns,
It threatens every world.
'Tis only mortals do not think of death
Imagining eternal life,
But burglar death, will come to them,
Steal life away quite suddenly.
Alas! when we are least afraid
Then death more quickly catches us-
It's swifter still than thunderstorms
That sweep upon majestic peaks.
O, Child of rest, of luxury and ease,
Meshchersky, whither have you gone?
You have abandoned earthly shores
Retreated to the shores of death.
Your dust is here, but not your soul.
Where has it gone? There. Where? We do not know.
All we can do is weep and cry:
"O, woe to us, born to this world!"
Where once amusement, joy, and love
Shined all together with good health,
Now there the blood is freezing in our veins,
Our souls are plagued by grief.
Where once a feast was spread a coffin lies,
The place where festive singing rang
Now hears but graveside keening,
And pale death watches over all.
It watches over all-the kings
Who hold worlds under guiding hands,
It watches opulent, rich men
Idols of silver and gold.
It watches charm and beauty,
It watches lofty intellect,
It watches strength undaunted,
And sharpens keen its scythe.
Death, terror, nature's trepidation!
We're pride and poverty combined.
Today we're Gods, tomorrow dust,
Today sweet hope inspires us,
But where are you tomorrow, man?
The hours you're given barely pass
Before they flee to chaos bottomless,
And your whole life, a dream, is gone.
Just like a dream, like slumber sweet,
My youth's already disappeared,
The touch of beauty moves me less.
Less merriment suffuses me,
My mind is not so frivolous,
Nor my contentment quite so great.
Tormented by the quest for rank,
I hear how glory beckons me.
But so does also valor pass
Together with the rush for fame.
The blandishments of wealth pass by,
As do the roiling passions of the heart
They fade and fade away in turn.
O, leave me be, all pleasures possible,
Here, you are transient and untrue:
I stand before the threshold of eternity.
Today, tomorrow, death will come,
Perfilev, it will come for all!-
Why should we grieve and hurt
Because our friend did not forever live?
Life's heaven's transitory gift,
My friend, so live yours peacefully.
And let your heart in purity
Bless every blow of fate.
Comments about this poem (On The Death Of Prince Meshchersky by Gavrila Romanovich Derzhavin )
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