The Count's expedition to the orchard - A mysterious nymph feeds the geese - The resemblance between mushroom-gathering and a promenade of Elysian shades - The varieties of mushrooms - Telimena at the Temple of Musing - Discussions concerning the launching of Tadeusz into the world - The Count-peisagist - Tadeusz's remarks about art, trees and clouds - The Count's opinions on art - The bell -The note - Master, a
Homeward bound now, the Count still his horse often checked
So, head turned, he again could the garden inspect;
And once thought, that he caught from a window recess
A brief flash of the little, mysterious, white dress,
Once again, a light something had dropped from a height,
And traversed the whole garden too quickly to sight:
Among cucumbers green it then glittered and glowed,
Like a sunbeam glimpsed stealing from out of a cloud,
Which then shines among furrows upon a hard flint,
Or on rain-puddle's glass in a meadow may glint.
The Count dismounted, homeward his retinue sent,
His steps towards the garden then stealthily bent;
He soon, reaching the fence, found boards missing entire,
And quietly squeezed through, like a wolf in a byre,
Unluckily, he rustled some gooseberry plants.
By the slight rustle startled, the gardener at once
Turned and looked all around but saw nothing undue:
Nonetheless, in the opposite direction she flew;
While the Count sideways, through some huge sorrel stalks passed,
Through some burdock leaves, crawled on all fours in the grass,
Hopping froglike and noiseless crept close as he might,
Stuck his head out-to witness a wonderful sight.
In this part of the park here and there grew the cherry,
In between sprang up grain of kinds purposely varied:
Wheat, maize, barley bewhiskered, with oats, and broad bean,
Even shrubberies and flowers were part of the scene.
For the sake of her poultry the housekeeper aimed
Such a garden to plant; she a lady of fame,
(Kokosznicka her surname, of family Jendi
kowiczowna); her vital invention so handy
For husbandry domestic: today widely known,
In those days it was still as a novelty shown,
Received but as a secret from one's trusted friends,
Until finally published as: 'One Sure Defence
Against Goshawks and Kites, Or, A New Method Simple
For The Raising of Poultry'-this was an example.
And indeed, when the cock, which a careful keeps watch,
Standing still with beak lifted, the proud neck outstretched,
The becombed head bent sideways, to bring its round eye
Into better position to aim at the sky,
Perceives a hawk suspended in cloudy expanse,
And cries out: in this garden the hens hide at once,
Even peacocks and geese and, in great helter-skelter,
Frightened doves, under rafters too late to find shelter.
No such enemy now in the heavens was found,
Just the summer sun beating relentlessly down.
Birds find from it some refuge in forests of rye;
Those in sand bathe and burrow, these on the turf lie.
Among heads of the birds rose small human heads, bright
And uncovered, with hair cropped quite short, flaxen-white;
Their necks bare to the shoulders; among them stood there
A girl by a head taller, and with longer hair;
Past the children a peacock its plumes' plenitude
Like a rainbow extended, wide-arched, multihued.
The bright heads, as in contrast against a dark-blue
Painting's background, a greater resplendence thence drew.
With the halo surrounded of bright peacock eyes,
In the grain shone like stars on the backdrop of sky,
Among Indian corn heads with their bright golden canes,
And the tall English grasses with silvery lines,
And the mercury's coral, and mallow grey-green.
All these mingled together, form, colour, and sheen,
Gold and silver-thread patch-work, close-woven, which sailed
And fluttered in the breeze like a gossamer veil.
Above those stalks and rushes of manifold hues
Hung a dragon-fly awning, mist-like and profuse,
Known as 'grandmas', their four-fold wings are just as light
As a spiderweb, almost as pervious to sight,
Hardly visible hanging above, you might guess,
Although you hear them buzzing, they're quite motionless.
The girl gracefully fluttered, in one hand held high,
A grey tuft, like an ostrich-plume fan to the eye.
From gold butterfly rain she thus seemed to defend
The defenceless babes' heads; and in her other hand-
What could this be-a horn? It was shining like gold,
Seemed to be some strange vessel for feeding her fold,
For it was to the children's mouths, one by one, borne;
And resembled Amaltheia's profuse golden horn.
Although thus busied, turned she her head all the same
To the gooseberry bush whence the rustling noise came,
Unaware that the thief would another way take,
Through the beds closing in, like a slithering snake;
Till he sprang from the burdock. She looked-and she found
He stood near, four beds distant, and bowed to the ground.
Her head already turned, with both arms lifted high,
She, like a startled roller, was ready to fly,
And her light feet already breezed over the grass,
When the children, alarmed by her leaving them thus
And the stranger's arrival, burst into loud squealing:
And she, hearing this, felt it not sensible really
To abandon the children, small, frightened and tearful;
Came back, but first came slowly, herself rather fearful,
Like an unwilling spirit, by witchcraft recalled.
To the noisiest child went she, to comfort and scold,
Sitting down, to her bosom the infant she pressed,
Soothed with soft words another, and gently caressed,
Until calmed, and their tiny hands hugging her knees,
Their little heads, like chickens, all trying to squeeze
Under the mother's wing. She said: "Is this polite,
So to scream? This fine master might well get a fright,
For he's not some bad bugbear, nor horrid old man,
But a guest here, just see, what a nice gentleman."
She looked up at the Count too; he pleasantly smiled,
Clearly pleased by this praise from the lovely girl-child,
She sensed this, and fell silent, her eyes dropped abashed,
And then like a pink rose-bud, she prettily blushed.
Indeed, the man was handsome: of tallish physique,
The face oval in shape, with a pale but fresh cheek,
he eyes dark-blue and kindly, hair long and pale-blond,
And festooned with odd fragments of leaf, grass and frond,
Which the Count gathered crawling through furrow and bed,
Like a green garland's remnants encircling his head.
"Oh thou!" spoke he, "whatever name shouldst thou be hight,
Whether nymph, or a goddess, a phantom or sprite!
Oh speak! Is't thine own will that on earth thou befall,
Or another's great power that holds thee in thrall?
Ah, I guess! It is, certes, a suitor abhorred,
A protector too jealous, or some mighty lord
You secludes in this castled park, as if enchanted!
Worthy, that over you should knights' lances be blunted,
To be heroine tragic of mournful romances!
Disclose, Oh Fair, the secrets of your cruel mischances!
You shall find a protector to guard you from harm,
As you now rule my heart, so you, too, rule my arm."
He stretched his arm-
The maiden, this pretty speech took
With a blush, but with also a much amused look:
As a child enjoys pictures chocolate-box-bright,
And in glittering counters may find a delight
Without knowing their worth, thus, her ear was content
With sonorous phrases, knowing not what these words meant.
At last she asked: "And wherefrom did you, Sir, appear?
And what's Sir in my garden beds looking for here?"
The Count opened his eyes wide, surprised and non-plussed,
Was silent, then his speech he in simpler form cast:
"Pardon me; I have now ruined your games, I see, Miss,
My rash haste was to blame, pray forgive me for this;
Breakfast's served, it is late and I wished to ensure
Being punctual; this path avoids a detour;
As Miss knows, the road circles; this saves much delay."
The girl answered: "Indeed, Sir, you may go this way,
But don't trample the beds. Your path's there, in full sight,
Through the grass." "To the left", asked the Count, "or the right?"
The petite gardener, raising her cornflower eyes,
Seemed to study him, taken by obvious surprise:
There's the house, at short distance, and plain as a post,
Yet the Count asks the way? But the Count was now most
Keen to find any pretext for talk, to delay
His departure. "Miss lives here? Not too far away?
Or perhaps, at the village? How is it, I missed
Here your presence? Just come? You're, perhaps, a new guest?"
The girl shook her head-"Pardon me, may I presume
That the small window there, Miss, belongs to your room?"
If no heroine is she, he thought, out of books,
She has youth; she has freshness, exceptional looks.
Too oft a great mind, soul great, by shade obscured, could
In its solitude blossom, a rose in the wood;
To the world but transplanted, and warmed by sun's rays,
She with bright hues a thousand will viewers amaze!
The young gardener meanwhile rose quietly and,
With a babe on one arm, took another child's hand
In her own, and the rest of her little ones herding
All before her like goslings, moved into the garden.
Turning round, she said to him, "Perhaps, sir, would chase
My poor poultry, so scattered, back into the maize?"
"I chase poultry?" the Count cried, extremely astonished:
Meanwhile she, by the shadow of trees hidden, vanished.
And but through the espalier's green brushwood of May
Something bright, for a while, like two eyes, seemed to play.
Long, alone in the garden, the Count stood there yet;
And his soul, like warm earth when the sun has just set,
Slowly, slowly cooled off, and grew dark by degrees;
He fell into a daydream-the dream did not please.
Woke unsure then with whom he was so disaffected;
Alas, found he so little! So much had expected!
When he, stalking this shepherd-maid, crawled through the bed,
His heart bounded within him, fire blazed in his head;
With such charms the mysterious young nymph he had dressed,
He so much had imagined, at such wonders guessed!
But all otherwise found it: indeed, a sweet face,
Figure slender, but awkward! Without much true grace!
And that softness of cheek, and that too lively blush,
Portraying a contentment too vulgar, too lush!
Signs, the mind is still dreaming, the heart still but slumbers,
And those answers, so rustic, so full of cucumbers!
"Why delude myself, I was too easy to please!
My mysterious nymph's simply a herder of geese!"
With the nymph's disappearance the charmed firmament
All changed: these bands, this lattice of fey wonderment,
Gold and silver, alas! Was this but hay and straw?
The Count, wringing his hands, looked about him, and saw
A slim ladyfern sheaf, tied together with grass,
Which, when held by the maid did for ostrich plumes pass.
And that vessel: that gold shape, he had to confess,
That horn of Amaltheia-a carrot, no less!
He saw a child devouring it greedily yonder:
So farewell to the spell! To the charm! To the wonder!
Thus a boy, when his eye on a chicory bloom settles,
Which entices the hand with its soft, silky petals,
Wants to touch it, comes near-and his breath the whole flower
Dissolves into the air in a feathery shower,
And the curious inquirer holds only, alas,
In his hand a bare stalk of a greeny-grey grass.
The Count pulled his hat lower down over his brow,
And returned as he came, but a short cut took now,
Through gooseberry, flower, legume beds, bent in two, passed,
Until, leaping the stile, he breathed freely at last.
He recalled that of breakfast he spoke to the maiden-
They, perhaps, have all learned now of his escapade in
The garden? Have observed him? Have noted him slink,
Escaping like a burglar? What would they now think?
It was best to depart. By the fence, bent in two,
Round the beds and the greenery, he wormed his way through,
And was glad after all to emerge on the road,
Which at last led him straight to Soplicas' abode.
By the fence he ran, turning his gaze other way,
Like a thief from a barn, so as not to betray
He had broached it, or else, he was planning to broach.
So, the Count was most careful, though under no watch;
In the opposite direction now gazed, to his right.
A small grove, sparsely wooded, now came into sight;
Over its grassy carpet, past beechen boles gray,
Beneath canopied branches in greenery of May,
An assembly of shapes moved, with movements most strange,
Almost dance-like; dressed oddly, like spirits that range
By the light of the moon. Those in clothes black and tight,
These, in long, flowing garments loose-trailing, snow-white,
This one under a hat like a cartwheel, stooped, bowed,
Next to one with head bare; while as if in a cloud
Wrapped, some others, slow moving, behind their heads trail
Veils let loose to the breeze, as a comet its tail.
And each different in pose: one affixed to the ground,
Looking down, his eyes only he swivels around;
That one looks straight ahead, and steps as if asleep,
Neither left nor right veering, a straight line would keep,
All, often, and at random, bend down very low,
As if reverence to fellow forms wishing to show.
When approaching, and even at moment of meeting,
Not a word do they utter, nor vouchsafe a greeting,
In a deep meditation, in own thoughts engrossed.
The Count perceived a tableau of Elysian ghosts,
Which, though nor ills nor cares now above their heads loom,
Wander soundless, serene, yet sunk deep in their gloom.
Who would guess that these forms, which like sleepwalkers move,
That these silent ones-should our acquaintances prove?
Judge's friends! They from breakfast, so noisily bright,
Turned to mushrooming's ancient and decorous rite:
Knowing how to adapt, as such persons astute,
Their behaviour and speech, as to properly suit
In each circumstance new, the occasion and mood.
And so, before they'd followed the Judge to the wood
They a different demeanour donned, likewise a smock,
Long, loose, of unbleached linen, more fit for a walk,
And which would their kontuszes completely protect,
On their heads broad-brimmed straw hats: thus strangely bedecked,
White, like souls purgatorial they looked in effect.
The youths too in such costume; though some in French fashion
Dressed, as was Telimena.
The Count this procession,
Unlearned in country customs, had not understood
And so, greatly amazed, ran full tilt to the wood.
There were mushrooms aplenty: the lads 'foxies' gather,
In Lithuanian song praised more than is any other,
These are maidenhood's emblems, no worm will them blight,
And more strange, on them will not an insect alight.
After slender 'boletus' the young ladies throng,
Which is famed as the colonel of mushrooms in song.
All look out for the 'milk-cup', he of the slim waist:
Though less featured in ballads, it has the best taste,
Fresh or salted, for autumn, or winter use rather,
Put away. But the Tribune, of course, 'fly-bane' gathered.
Other more common mushrooms did not win their favour
For their harmfulness, or else their unpleasant flavour:
Yet are not without use, for to beasts they are food,
To the insects a nest; and add charm to the wood.
On the meadow's green cloth they arise in ranks prim
Like a neat table setting: with smooth rounded rim
The 'leaf-mushrooms', cream, silver and red, stand in line,
Perfect row of small goblets, with various filled wine;
There, the 'goat's' upturned beaker, round-bottomed and plain,
Here the 'funnel', a slim glass designed for champagne,
'Whities', rotund and white, broad and flat, smooth as silk,
Sets of fine Dresden tea-cups, all brimful with milk,
And the spherical 'puffball', filled up with black dust
Like a pepper-pot-but all the others' names must
Be known only in hare's or in forest wolf's tongue,
Yet by humans unchristened; these are a vast throng.
None those hares' or wolves' mushrooms to gather would deign,
He who stoops such to pick, when his error is plain,
Will, angry, with his foot break it off or demolish;
Defacing thus the sward, does a thing very foolish.
Telimena not wolfish nor human sort gathered,
Absent minded and bored, moved along with the others,
Head in air, glancing round. So the Notary, displeased,
Said of her, that for mushrooms she looked in the trees;
The Assessor, with spite: "She's a female who would
Find a spot for her nest in the near neighbourhood".
She indeed seemed to search for seclusion and peace,
And so from her companions withdrew by degrees
Through the wood, alone, wandered towards a steep hill
Very shady, trees growing there more densely still.
In its centre a boulder; beneath, a cascade
Sprayed and gurgled, straight after, as if seeking shade,
Hid in lush vegetation, that constantly nourished
By abundance of water here splendidly flourished;
There this flibberty-gibbet, well swaddled in grass,
Bedded down on soft leaves, with no motion or fuss,
Hardly audible, whispered unseen in the glade
Like a mewling small infant in bassinet laid
When Mother the May curtain ties over its bed
And sprinkles leaves of poppy around the wee head.
Telimena, this lovely still spot often choosing
For her refuge, had called it her 'Temple of Musing'.
Stopping close by the streamlet she gently let fall
From her arms to the grass her carnelian-red shawl,
Like a swimmer who bends at the water's edge slowly,
Before daring to enter the cold water wholly,
She knelt, and then she gently on one side slid down;
And at last, and as if by that coral stream drowned
Sank down, and at full length stretched out, propping her arms
In the grass on her elbows, face cupped between palms,
Head bent towards the ground; and, below her brows oval
Glistened smooth vellum sheets of a recent French novel;
Above the volume's pages of white alabaster,
In and out wound pink ribbons and black ringlets' clusters.
On emerald lush sward, in carnelian shawl wreathed,
In her long gown attired, as if in coral sheathed,
Against which was contrasted at one end the hair,
And black shoes at the other; a glittering pair
Of white stockings, a kerchief, snow-white skin and hands:
A caterpillar seemed she, dyed in broad bright bands,
Crawling on a green leaf.
But, alas! All this show,
All the virtues and charms of this tasteful tableau,
Vainly craved a spectator, none there to comment,
Thus on gathering mushrooms all were so intent.
But Tadeusz observed, and kept watching askance,
Not daring the direct route, obliquely advanced:
Like a huntsman, who hides in a movable blind,
While he creeps up on bustards, or, skulking behind
His horse while hunting plover, he places his gun
On the saddle, or under the horse's neck hung,
Feigns a harrow he pulls by the edge of the field,
But approaches the spot where the birds sit concealed;
Thus, stealthily, Tadeusz.
The Judge his plans baulked
And, forestalling him, quickly he to the spring walked.
The white skirts of his dust-coat danced free in the wind,
As did an outsize kerchief, one end to belt pinned:
His straw hat fastened under the chin, in his hurry,
Flapped about like a burdock leaf by the breeze carried,
Now falls it down his shoulder, now both his eyes hides;
In his hand a huge cudgel: His Honour thus strides.
He bent down and, first washing his hands in the brook,
He his seat on a stone near his cousin then took
And with both hands at rest on the ivory boss,
Which his huge cane adorned, he commenced his speech thus:
"You see, Ma'am, since Tadeusz arrived as a guest
To stay at Soplicowo, my mind's not at rest;
I am childless and old; this my good darling boy
In all this world remains my chief comfort and joy,
Future heir of my all. By God's grace, when I'm dead,
He'll have a fair-sized hunk of a gentleman's bread;
It is time to consider his future and station;
So observe my distress, Ma'am, and my consternation!
You know, my brother Jacek, Tadeusz's father,
A strange man, his intentions not easy to gather,
He will not return home, God knows where he's concealed,
Will to his own son, even, not have this revealed;
Runs his life from a distance; would have him enrolled
In the Legions; at this I was greatly appalled.
He agreed, at long last, that home here he should stay
And marry; that's no problem, there's quite an array,
A match I can arrange, there's no citizen here
Can in name or connections come anywhere near
To the Chamberlain: Anna, his eldest, a flower,
Has come out, has good looks, and has also a dower.
So I tried..."-Telimena at this paled and frowned,
Closed her book, partly rose, and again sat her down.
"As I love mummy", said she, "is this, Brother, smart?
Is there sense in it? Do you have God in your heart?
Do you think that you're doing your best for the lambkin,
If you turn the young master thus into a bumpkin?
You will shut the world to him! He'll curse you tomorrow!
Why bury such great talent in forest and furrow!
Allow me, I can tell it's a capable child,
He should smooth his rough edges, not rot in this wild;
Brother should send him off to some capital city:
For example, to Warsaw? Or, brother, more fitting!
To St. Petersburg, maybe? For I ought to bide
There this winter on business, then we can decide
What to do with Tadeusz. I know there, indeed,
The top people, that's surely the way to succeed.
With my aid the best houses he'll soon penetrate,
And when with foremost folk he becomes intimate,
He'll gain office, an order, he then can resign,
When he wishes, that service and come home again,
Having gained then some standing, some wider world-knowledge.
Your opinion, dear Brother?"-"For sure, after college",
Said the Judge, "I agree there is no harm done when
Youths go out in the world and rub shoulders with men;
I, when young, have much travelled the world, near and far,
Been to Piotrków and Dubno, when one of the bar,
The assizes have followed, or furthering my own
Business interests, once even to Warsaw have gone.
Not a little one learned! And my nephew I'd rather
Among folk send as traveller, more wisdom to gather,
Like a journeyman who would set out on the road,
To acquire some experience at home and abroad.
Not for rank nor for orders! Pray tell, if you please,
Russian ranks, Russian orders-what meaning have these?
Which of our ancient lords, bah, and those of today,
Who among local gentry held some little sway,
Cared for similar trifles? Yet these hold their place
In men's favour through deference to good name and race,
Or their office, but local, confirmed by elections
And by their fellow voters, not through one's connections."
Telimena spoke: "Brother, I would not now cavil,
If that's what you think, send off the boy on his travels."
"You see, Sister", the Judge said, his head sadly scratched,
"I would do so, and gladly, but there's a new catch!
Pan Jacek won't relinquish control of his son,
And has now round my neck this big Bernardine hung,
That monk, Worm, who from over the Vistula came,
Brother's friend, he's acquainted with his every aim;
They plan, for our Tadeusz, this Worm and my brother,
He's to wed your ward Zosia, and marry no other.
On my little all, Sister, you know they can count,
And, by Jacek's good will, on a tidy amount
Of his capital: Ma'am knows, his own means are great,
And I owe to him almost my entire estate,
Thus he can well give orders. So, Ma'am, by your leave,
Give some thought as to how this can best be achieved;
They should first get acquainted. True, both young to marry,
Little Zosia, for sure, but this is no great worry;
It is time for our Zosia to come out at last,
It does seem that her childhood has very near passed."
Telimena, amazed, in a panic heart-felt,
Made attempts to arise, but upon her shawl knelt:
First she listened intently and then with her hand
Contradicting, her ear she with vehemence fanned
As if driving back words as unwelcome as flies,
To the mouth of the speaker:
"Ah, what a surprise!
A worry for Tadeusz, but what does this matter",
She said, angry, "of this will your worship judge better,
Tadeusz's not my business, your own counsel take,
Turn him into a bailiff, or innkeeper make,
Let him draw beer or let him game from the woods carry:
With him do what you will: but my Zosia? To marry?
What's your business with Zosia? Her hand will be guided
By me only! That Jacek has money provided
For the girl's education, for Zosia assigned
A small annual income and more had in mind,
Does not mean that he bought her. Besides, sir, you know,
And the world at large also knows that this is so,
Your largesse, sir, towards us, is not without cause,
To Horeszkos the house of Soplicas yet owes
A something!" (This the Judge heard with visible pain,
With confusion, distaste and repugnance most plain;
As if fearing the rest, his head lowered abashed,
One hand raised in agreement, abundantly blushed).
Telimena concluded: "I beg Brother's pardon,
But I am her kin, Zosia's sole carer and guardian.
And her happiness none but I care for and plan."
"What if happiness should she find in this young man?"
Said the Judge, his eyes raised, "and what if she him fancies?"
-"Fancies, romances, to me it's much like the chances
Of a pear on a willow, nor troubles me much!
Zosia's not, this I grant you, a well-dowered catch,
But poor gentry she's not, from some village or other;
A Right Honourable is she, a Voivode her father,
She is of the Horeszkos, a husband will get!
On her upbringing we have so much value set!
Though she does run quite wild here."-The Judge, with care, followed
All her words, searched her eyes, and it seemed that he mellowed
For he ventured, quite gaily: "Well, what's now to do!
God knows, I tried sincerely the thing to push through;
But without anger. Ma'am, if you're simply not willing,
You have the right, a pity-but to quarrel is silly;
I tried, for brother ordered, none here uses force;
If Ma'am rejects Tadeusz, it's your right, of course:
I shall write now to Jacek that not through my fault
His plans for that betrothal have come to a halt.
I'll look after the thing; with the Chamberlain should
Talk the other match over and matters conclude."
During this Telimena's first fever had passed:
"I reject nothing, Brother, you're going too fast!
You yourself said it's early-they're both so young still-
Let's think, let's wait a little, it can do no ill,
Let the young get acquainted, we'll think more than once,
Others' happiness should not be risked on a chance.
But I give you fair warning: you should not persuade,
Nor Tadeusz encourage towards the young maid.
For the heart is no servant, a master disdains,
And will not let itself be imprisoned in chains."
At this, rose the Judge, thoughtful, and went on his way;
Pan Tadeusz approached by the opposite way,
Being lured, he would have it, by mushrooming wholly;
And in that same direction the Count too moved slowly.
While the Judge and the lady had words on the green,
He stood hidden by trees, much surprised at the scene;
From his pocket some paper and pencil he fetched:
These he always had with him, the paper he stretched
On a stump; it was clear he a painting proposed,
To himself mused: "As if they're on purpose so posed!
He above, she below him: a group most artistic!
Faces so full of contrast! Heads characteristic!"
He approached, and then wavered, wiped clean his lorgnette,
Dabbed his eyes with his kerchief and kept gazing yet:
"This scene so fine and charming, this idyll, I fear it
May vanish, or be changed, if I venture too near it!
Shall this velvety grass prove but poppies and beet?
In this nymph, shall I but some young housekeeper meet?"
The Count knew Telimena from meeting her at
The Judge's house, wherein he had frequently sat,
But paid her small attention: was greatly surprised:
Her, in the sketch's model, he now recognised!
The fine setting, her posture, the style of her gown,
So altered her, in truth she could hardly be known.
In her eyes, yet unquenched, still burned hot indignation;
The face, by the wind given a new animation,
After words with the Judge, and the now sudden coming
Of the two young men, sported a flush most becoming.
"Madame", said the Count, "deign my presumption forgive,
I come pardon to beg, and my thanks to you give
To beg pardon, that stealthily your footsteps I traced,
To give thanks, that to witness your thoughts I was graced;
As great is my offence-so great my obligation!
Spoiled your moment of musing-owe my inspiration!
Too brief moments of bliss! Take the man now to task,
But the artist is here your forgiveness to ask!
Much dared I, and ere long shall much more put to chance!
Judge!"-He knelt, and his sketchbook he to her advanced.
Telimena commenced her critique to impart
As a person polite, but acquainted with art;
With encouragement generous, though sparing in praise:
"Bravo, you have a gift, sir", she said, "but it pays
Your art not to neglect, and, of all, it is wise
To seek beautiful nature! O, fortunate skies
Of lands Italian! Caesars' rose-filled gardens shady!
O ye, classical waters of Tiber cascading!
Pathless, dread Pausillipus! Bare rocks heaven-piercing!
That's, Count, the land for painters! But here, Lord have mercy!
Here, a child of the muse, by a local fed breast,
Will die surely. This sketch, Count, I of you request,
To frame, or in my album collection bestow,
Among others I bought, and keep in my bureau."
Began they to converse then about skies all azure,
Murmuring waves, fragrant breezes, cliffs steep beyond measure,
Mixing in, here and there, as do travellers and others,
The laughter and jibes aimed at the land of their fathers.
And yet in each direction the forest deep stretched;
Lithuanian woods! Sublime, full of beauty unmatched!
The blackcurrant, which garlands of wild hop entwine,
Service tree with fresh blush of a shepherdess shines,
The hazel, like a maenad, with thyrsuses flecked,
As by wine-grapes, with pearly nut-clusters bedecked;
Below-the forest children: the alder caressing
The hawthorn, black-lipped blackberry the raspberry kissing,
Trees and shrubs with twined leafy arms take up their stance,
Like young men and young ladies lined up for the dance
Round the newly-weds. Stands in the hub of the group
This pair set well apart from the rest of the troop
By the grace of the form and the beauty of hue:
The white birch, the beloved, and her groom, horn-beam true.
And further, the aged seniors their young minding; each
Watches, sitting in silence: here sits grave old beech,
There the matronly poplars, and moss-bearded oak,
To its humped back now having five centuries yoked,
Leans, as if on the toppling and cracked graveyard stones,
On its ancestor oaks' dead and petrified bones.
Pan Tadeusz was restless, and very much bored
By long discourse to which he did not add a word;
But when the foreign woods they'd begun to extol,
And, in turn, each arboreal variety to call:
Like the orange-tree, cypress, mahogany, lemon,
The sandal-tree, and cactus, and olive, and almond,
Walnut, aloe and fig-tree, and climbing plants too,
Praising trunk, leaf and flower, the form and the hue,
Grimaced Tadeusz, pouted, grimaced once again,
Till he could not his temper much longer contain.
A simple lad, he nature's charm felt and admired;
At his native woods gazing, then spoke much inspired:
"Once in botanic gardens of Wilno I saw
Those much-vaunted trees that in the eastern lands grow
And in southerly lands of fair Italy and Greece;
Which of them can compare with our own native trees?
With his lightning-conductor-like sticks, can the aloe?
Can the lemon, that dwarf, with its balls of chrome yellow,
With leaves carefully lacquered, short, dumpy, the which
Is like an aging woman, small, ugly, but rich?
Or the cypress be-praised, long and thin, which to me
Appears much more the plant not of grief, but ennui?
He is said to look mournful a tombstone adorning,
-But is like German flunkeys rigged out in court mourning!
Would not dare raise an arm, nor dare move on its hinge
His head, lest he decorum in some way infringe.
Does not our honest birch-tree far more beauty don,
Which, like a village-woman who grieves for her son,
Or her man, wrings her hands and lets fall in despair
Down her arms to the ground the cascades of her hair!
Mute with grief, how profoundly she sobs in her pose!
If the Count so for art cares, why paints he not those?
Paints the trees round about us, among which we sit?
Neighbours will, really, laugh at you, sir, quite a bit,
That while among Lithuanian plains, meadows and flocks
You paint only some foreign lands, deserts and rocks."
"Friend!" said the Count, "the glories of nature's creation
Are but form, ground and matter. Soul's the inspiration,
Which on imagination's broad pinions transported
Is by tastefulness polished, by rules is supported.
Nature is not enough, nor does ardour suffice,
Into spheres of the ideal true artists must rise!
Not all things that are beauteous are worthy of paint!
Some day, knowledge of this you from books will obtain.
To return now to painting: one needs must apply
Viewpoint, and composition, and grouping, and sky,
The skies Italian! This is why all understand
Italy, was, is, and shall be the arts' native land!
Thus, except then for Breughel, though not Van Der Helle
But the landscapist (for there's another as well),
Also Ruisdael excepted-in all of the north
Can one name but one artist of similar worth?
The skies, the skies are lacking!"-"Our Orlowski, too",
Telimena broke in, "held the Soplicas' view,
(One should know that this is the Soplicas' malaise,
That they'll nothing else but their own fatherland praise).
Orlowski, too, has settled in Petersburg; though
This famed artist (his sketches are in my bureau)
Lived at court by the Czar's side, as in paradise,
Yet you, Count, would not credit, how this land he prized!
He would always his youthful days fondly recall,
And praise all matters Polish: earth, sky, forests, all..."
"And was right, right completely!" Tadeusz cried, stirred:
These your bright skies Italian, by what I have heard
Blue and clear, they resemble but still water frozen;
Are not, hundredfold, bluster and storm more imposing?
Here, but raise up your head and how many sights meet you!
How many scenes and pictures of clouds at play greet you!
For each cloud is quite different: see one during fall,
Like a slow lazy turtle, with rain pregnant, crawl,
From the sky to the ground its long grey streamers lowers
Like thick tresses unbound: these are autumn's brief showers;
While balloon-like, the hail-cloud upon the wind rides
Rotund, and dark-cerulean, with yellow inside,
With great noise heard around. And these, too, everyday,
Just look up, these white clouds: watch their changing display!
First, like flocks of wild geese or swans, hither and thither
Try to scatter, wind, hawk-like, them herding together,
They bunch up, thicken, grow-and we see a new wonder!
Curving necks sprout before us, manes flow out, and yonder,
Having also grown legs now, across heaven's vault,
Which is now a steppe, witness these wild horses bolt!
Silver-white, they blend, mingle-and suddenly spring
From their necks great tall masts, from the manes broad sails wing,
The herd changes to ship now, floats splendidly by,
Calmly, slowly across the blue plain of the sky!"
The Count and Telimena the skies with him scanned;
Tadeusz pointed to one of the clouds with his hand,
Telimena's small hand with his other he pressed;
Some minutes of this peaceful entr'acte had now passed;
On his hat the Count laid his art paper and gear,
Had his pencil in hand, when, so harsh to the ear,
The homestead's shrill bell clanged, and at once there arose,
In the erstwhile still forest, much clamour and noise.
The Count, nodding his head, said in serious tones: "Friends,
Thus in this world fate all with a bell's tolling ends,
Great ambitions, great projects of imagination,
Childhood's playtimes and friendship's heart-felt consolations,
The hearts' tender confessions! Should some dread bronze roar
From afar, all is shattered, confused-is no more!"
And directing a glance that showed feeling and pain;
"What remains?"-and she answered him: "Memories remain!"
And desiring to soften the Count's mournful look,
A forget-me-not picked, which he gratefully took,
Pressed a tender kiss on it, and pinned to his heart;
Prised Tadeusz, on his side, a green bush apart,
Glimpsing that through the foliage towards him came stealing
Something pale-a small hand, soft and white as a lily;
He seized it, kissed it also, in it sank his lips,
As a bee from a lily-cup sweet nectar sips.
Something cold touched his mouth; he a key found, and caught
A rolled flute of white paper: this must be a note!
He snatched it and concealed, the key's meaning not plain,
But the little white note would all surely explain.
Clanged the bell still; like echoes came clamour and cry
From the depths of the forest in instant reply:
People calling each other, confused disarray,
All a sign mushroom gathering was done for the day.
This bell's pealing was neither forlorn nor funereal
As the Count it perceived, but, indeed, was 'dinnerial'.
This bell, each noon calls loudly to all from the gable,
Guests and servants calls homeward, to come to the table:
Such was ever the custom in many old homes,
And was still in the Judge's house. From the grove comes
The whole company, carrying all variously, caskets,
Kerchiefs knotted at corners, or small wicker baskets
Full of mushrooms; young ladies displayed in one hand
The imposing boletus, a well-folded fan,
In the other hand, tied like a field-flower posy,
Carried tree-and-mulch mushrooms, brown, ochre, and rosy.
The Tribune carried fly-bane. Hands empty came then
Telimena, with both of her young gentlemen.
The guests entered in order and stood for the grace:
The Chamberlain at the head of the cloth took his place;
To his age and his rank does this honour belong,
Walking, bowed to the ladies, the aged and the young;
By his side stood the Almsman, the Judge followed next,
The Bernardine recited a short Latin text;
Then the men were served vodka, and all took their place
And their cold barszcz, in silence, ate at a quick pace.
And the dinner was quiet, on speechlessness verging:
Not one his mouth would open, despite the host's urging.
The two sides in the bitter great canine dispute,
Minds set on next day's contest and wager, were mute:
Deep thought to silence often conduces the mind.
Telimena, though most to Tadeusz inclined,
Talking with him, sometimes to the Count turned her head,
Or yet at the Assessor a glance loosed instead:
Thus the fowler the net minds when he finches catches,
With the other eye, meanwhile, the sparrow-trap watches.
And the Count and Tadeusz, each pleased in his mind,
Each one chock-full of hopes, to talk were not inclined.
While the Count a proud gaze at the flower directed,
More stealthily Tadeusz his pocket inspected,
To make sure that the key was still there, and not fled;
Or, he fingered the note, which he had not yet read.
The Judge the Chamberlain's glass filled with Tokay, champagne,
Attended to his needs, knees pressed time and again,
But for friendly discussion he had little zest;
It was plain, secret worries his mind now possessed.
Plates and dishes each followed in silence profound;
When the tedious routine was disturbed by the sound
Of a guest unexpected; the keeper rushed in:
Paying no great attention to dinner within,
He ran straight to the Master, from mien and from gait
One could see he was bearer of news of great weight.
So on him were the eyes fixed by everyone there,
He, breath somewhat recovered, said: "Master, a bear!"
They the rest guessed: emerged from the depths of the wood,
One in trans-Niemen thickets now sought solitude.
That he had to be hunted, at once all agreed,
Though they nor to consult nor to ponder had need.
Orders issued in volleys, quick phrases clipped short,
Lively gestures and nods, all showed common rapport,
And the quick-fire words that from so many lips came,
All yet nonetheless tended towards the one aim.
"To the village!" the Judge cried, "the bailiff, to horse!
At first dawn the battue, none to join us is forced!
He who turns up with pike, him I grant a release
From two days of forced roadwork, five days of his fees!"
"Quick!" the Chamberlain shouted, "go saddle my gray,
Someone ride to my manor, and fetch, no delay,
My bulldogs, which in all this whole district are famed,
The dog called 'the Inspector', bitch 'Lawyer' by name;
Gag securely their snouts, tie them up in a sack,
Bring them quick as you can here upon the mare's back."
"Wanka", cried the Assessor, in Russian, "go home:
And my Sanguszko cleaver whet well on the stone:
You know! That famous cleaver I had from His Grace;
Check the belt whether each ball is loaded in place."
"Guns!" all shouted together, "make ready the guns":
The Assessor called: "Bring all lead to me, at once!
I have dies in my satchel"-The Judge said: "Go warn
The priest that he tomorrow will say mass at dawn
At the wood-chapel for us, without too much fuss,
A short offering, the huntsman's St. Hubert low mass."
When the orders were given, there was not a sound;
Each one deeply considered, his eyes cast around
As if searching for someone; all eyes slowly drawn
To the Tribune's head hoary, and to him alone:
A sign, they for this business to follow the matins
Seek a chief, and the Tribune was handed the baton.
The old Tribune his comrades' will well understood,
Rose, and solemnly striking his hand on the wood,
Drew out, hid in his bosom, on gold watch-chain hung,
A time-piece like a ripe pear, which from the chain swung.
"At the wood chapel must we at four-thirty gather,
Our contingent of beaters, and we huntsmen brothers".
He spoke, and left; the keeper behind him a pace;
It was theirs to arrange and take charge of the chase.
Thus war chiefs, when the morrow they fixed for the battle,
Their soldiers at the campsite clean arms, boil the kettle,
Or on cloaks and on saddles sleep care-free, while yonder,
In the hushed tent, their leaders till dawn brood and ponder.
Cut short was the day's dinner, remaining time passed
With dogs fed, horses shod, arms were cleaned, bullets cast.
Hardly any to supper turned up at the table;
And even Hawk's and Bobtail's two parties were able
For the present to pause in their ancient dispute.
The Assessor and Notary, arms linked, in pursuit
Of lead vanish, while others, from much effort tired,
So as early to waken, now early retired.