Nikolai Stepanovich Gumilev

(1886 - 1921 / Russia)

The Sixth Sense


Fine is the wine that is in love with us,
The goodly bread we wait for from the oven,
And woman whom we have possessed, at last,
After we've suffered under yoke her own.

But what to do if a red sunset freezes
Above a sky that's drowning in cold,
Where there is silence and unearthly peace,
What can one do with the immortal ode?

You can't eat it, or drink, or even kiss ...
The moment fled, and next one now hovers,
And we wring hands, but yet once more miss -
We are condemned to miss and miss it over.

Just as a boy, forgetting games and friends,
Sometimes beholds the girls bath in a river
And, knowing nothing of the loving trends,
Is yet tormented by a hidden fever;

As once in time on overgrowing banks
The moisten creature holed in despair
Of self impotence, feeling on its back
Wings - still unformed and very feeble pair, -

So century after century - when, O Christ?
Under the knife of liberal arts and nature
The flesh breaks down and the spirit cries
As they bear organs of the sixth sensation.

Submitted: Thursday, January 01, 2004

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