Mikhail Yuryevich Lermontov

(1814 - 1841 / Russia)

On The Death Of Pushkin

He fell, a slave of tinsel-honour,
A sacrifice to slander's lust;
The haughty Poet's head, the noblest,
Bowed on his wounded breast in dust.
No longer could his free soul suffer
The vulgar world's low infamy;
He rose against the world's opinion,
And as a hero, lone fell he.
He fell! To what avail the sobbing--
The useless choir of tears and praise?
Wretched the stammering excuses!
The Fates have spoke,--no power allays!
Have ye not at all times together
His sacred genius baited sore,
The silent fury fanned to flaming,
Delighted in your work before?
O be triumphant! Earthly torment
The Poet soul did fully bear,
Extinguished are the lights inspired,
The laurel crown lies leafless there!
The murderer contemptuous gazing
Did stedfastly his weapon aim,
No swifter beat his heart, Assassin!
Nor shook his lifted hand for shame.
No wonder; from a distance came he
As an adventurer unknown,
For worthy title, star of order--
Stood but his mad desire alone.
Sneering and self-complacent mocked he
The rights and customs of our land,
He could not understand our glory,
Against which he has raised his hand.

'Hence is he, hence! His song out-rung,
The Singer even as the song he sung;
Who of a hot, heroic mood,
In death disgraceful shed his blood!'

Why did he leave his home life tranquil,
To seek the envious market place,
Where each free flame is suffocated,
Expose him to the assassin base?
The human breed, who had known better
Since earliest years of youth, than he--
Why did he trust the false pretending
Of malice and hypocrisy?
Ah, of his laurel wreath you robbed him,
Gave him a martyr's crown instead,
And now the cruel thorns have pierced him
E'en to the blood of his proud head!
His last days were for him envenomed--
Through senseless fools' contempt aggrieved,
He died revenge a'thirst, accusing
That every hope his heart deceived!

Mute evermore the magic echoes,
That ne'er shall wonders more reveal,
The Poet's home is dark and narrow--
Upon the Singer's lips a seal.

But ye, sons insolent and shameless--
Defamers, faithless fathers, ye!
Who trod the pure soul of another
Beneath your feet, who zealously
Press to the Tsar's throne with your driveling
For fame and freedom, hatred steeled!
Well may you sneer at truth and justice,
The law provides you screen and shield,
Only a higher law shall sentence!
A mighty Judge beyond assail
Avenge the Poet's death on his slayers,
The Highest Judge who does not fail!
So then calumniate with brazen courage,
Your hatred's fury nought restrains--
Since your dark blood could ne'er atone for
One drop within the Poet's pure veins.

Submitted: Wednesday, April 07, 2010

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