What should one dream of on this Paris street
Bringing, from town, ears chock-full of deceit,
Curses and clamours, untimely intentions,
Too-late regrets, and confounded contentions!
Woe that, deserters, when pestilence spread,
Abroad each carried his timorous head!
Fear strides before us wherever we go,
In every neighbour encounter a foe,
Till like a chain-gang we're bound, and our host
Bids us to hurry and give up the ghost!
And when the world has no ear for the lost!
When every moment of fresh terrors tells,
Tolling from home like a cemetery bell,
When the guards only our speedy death crave,
When, there, foes beckon-by freshly dug grave!
When they see even no hope out of heaven!
Not strange, to hating the world and self driven,
Their minds unhinged by long torture, a brother
At brother spits, each devouring the other!
I wished to bypass, a bird of small flight,
Avoid the regions of storm and of night,
And seek out only cool shade and days fair,
Days of one's childhood, and one's cottage there...
He only happy, who when dusk descends
By glowing fire-side sits down with good friends,
The door shuts tightly against Europe's noise,
His thought sends flying to seasons more joyous,
And dreams, and muses, about his own land...
But of that blood, that so freshly lies spilled,
The tears, with which now all Poland is filled,
And of the glory, whose voice is not stilled!
Of these to think now-we had not the heart!
The nation suffers such infinite smart
That when she lowers her eyes to its pain,
Then even Valour her hands wrings in vain.
Those generations in black mourning dressed,
That air, by curses uncounted oppressed,
There-one's thought had not the courage to wander,
To spheres feared even by storm-birds of thunder.
O Mother Poland! So freshly entombed,
-One has not strength now to speak of your doom!
Alas, whose lips to such art can presume
Of, today, finding those heart-felt words there,
Words which would soften the marble despair,
And this great tombstone remove from the heart,
And loosen eyes that with unshed tears smart?
And cause the tear, half-congealed now, to flow?
Till these are uttered, an era must go.
Some day-when lions of vengeance have spoken,
Trumpets are silent, and the ranks have broken,
When the foe utters his last cry of pain,
Is still, and nations know freedom again;
When our white eagles with lightning-swift flight
On Chrobry's ancient frontier-posts alight,
Human flesh feed on, and bloody their breast,
And, at last, fold up their pinions for rest!-
Then, oak-leaf garland bedecking their brow,
Their swords discarded, unarmed shall sit now
Our knights! They songs now shall gladly allow!
When all their present lot envy at last,
That shall the time be to speak of the past!
Then can they weep for their forefathers' pain,
This tear, then only, their cheek will not stain.
Today here for us, world's guests uninvited,
In all our future, and our past blighted,
There remains only one country, the sole
Land where some gladness remains for a Pole!
Land of one's childhood! She only will prove
Holy and pure, as the very first love;
Never by memories of past errors hounded,
Nor by illusion swayed of hopes unfounded,
Nor by the stream of events soon confounded.
Where wept I rarely, nor teeth ground in pain,
This land my thoughts would now visit again,
The childhood country-the land one ran through
As through a meadow and flowers only knew
Little and lovely, the harmful passed by,
Towards the useful did not turn one's eye.
That land, so happy, so poor, so outgrown!
As Earth is the Lord's, so it was our own!
How we remember all that was around:
From the linden, that, so splendidly crowned
On village children kind shadow had thrown,
Even to every small stream, every stone,
How every nook was familiar and dear,
Up to its boundary, the neighbours' homes near!
And but the dwellers in that happy land
True friends, they only today by us stand,
Allies sure, only they still to us cling!
For who had dwelt there?-Mother, brothers, kin,
And the good neighbours. When one passed away,
How we would speak of him day after day,
How many memories, what grieving profound!
There, man to master is more closely bound
Than wife to husband in other lands cleaves;
There, soldier longer for lost armour grieves
Than here for father, a dog is mourned there
More than folk here for a hero's death care.
And my good friends assisted me then with their tongue
Throwing word after word for me into my song;
As the fairy-tale cranes from wild marshlands far-flung,
When, one springtime above a bewitched palace flying,
And then hearing the spell-bound young lad's plaintive crying,
Each bird to him then one feather had thrown-
He made him wings and returned to his own.
O that I win to this pleasure some day,
That these books under thatched roofs find their way,
That village girls, at the spinning wheel sitting,
When once they've sung their favourite ditties:
About the maiden, who so loved to play
That while she fiddled her geese ran away,
About this orphan, who, fair as the dawn,
Her geese went herding at evening alone-
O that at last to their hands time may bring
These books, as artless as the songs they sing!
Thus in my day, when the village had time
For fun, and sitting down under the lime,
They would hear Justin's, or young Wieslaw's story;
And not the bailiff, who sat gently snoring,
Nor yet the steward, nor even the squire,
Would object; rather himself would admire
The poem's beauties, forgive a mistake,
And make plain meanings for young hearers' sake.
And the youth envied the poets their glory,
Which there still echoes through forest and heath,
And to whom more than Capitolline wreaths
The wreath by village girls' hands woven through
With azure cornflowers twined with green rue.