Adam Mickiewicz

(24 December 1798 – 26 November 1855 / Zavosse, Nowogródek)

The Akkerman Steppe


I launch myself across the dry and open narrows,
My carriage plunging into green as if a ketch,
Floundering through the meadow flowers in the stretch.
I pass an archipelago of coral yarrows.

It's dusk now, not a road in sight, nor ancient barrows.
I look up at the sky and look for stars to catch.
There distant clouds glint—there tomorrow starts to etch;
The Dnieper glimmers; Akkerman's lamp shines and harrows.

I stand in stillness, hear the migratory cranes,
Their necks and wings beyond the reach of preying hawks;
Hear where the sooty copper glides across the plains,

Where on its underside a viper writhes through stalks.
Amid the hush I lean my ears down grassy lanes
And listen for a voice from home. Nobody talks.

— translated from the Polish by Leo Yankevich
first appeared in the Sarmatian Review

Submitted: Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Edited: Saturday, March 24, 2012

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