The Castle Ruins At Balaklava - Poem by Adam Mickiewicz
These castles, whose remains are strewn in heaps for miles,
Once graced and guarded you, Crimea the ungrateful!
Today they sit upon the hills, each like a great skull
In which reptiles reside or men worse than reptiles.
Let’s climb a tower, search for crests upon worn tiles,
For an inscription or a hero’s name, the fateful
Bane of armies now forgotten by the faithful,
A wizened beetle wrapped in vines below the aisles.
Here Greeks wrought Attic ornaments upon the walls,
From which Italians would cast Mongols into chains,
And where the Mecca-bound once stopped to pray and beg.
Today above the tombs the shadow of night falls,
The black-winged buzzards fly like pennants over plains,
As if towards a city ever touched by plague.
— translated from the Polish by Leo Yankevich
first appeared in the Sarmatian Review
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