Sails have been torn, and our helm is broken,
The ship by roaring waves is downward tossed;
People shout in terror, from their mid-sleep woken,
The sun sets blood-red, and
all hope is lost.
The wind is throwing waters up and down
And over this up-surging, frothing steep
Genius of Death triumphant enters on the ship
Like a soldier who
tramples a defeated town.
Some people lie unfeeling, others only moan,
Still others say their prayers to drive death away,
Or wring their hands, or bid their friends farewell;
One passenger was sitting in silence alone
And thought: Happy are those whose powers fail,
Have someone dear to part with, or are able to pray.
The Akkerman Steppe
I entered the dry waters of an open sea;
My carriage like a canoe plunges in the green
Deep of flowery meadows and passes between
The coral isles of brier
and laburnum tree.
The dusk falls. Neither barrow nor road can I see.
I look up, the stars seeking
that could lead my way.
A cloud glints in the distance – sign of rising
Perhaps Akkerman's lantern
can show light to me.
Let's halt! It is so quiet I can hear the skein
Of cranes that flying slowly a hawk's reach surpass,
I hear the beetle kissing the drip of the rain,
The sleek viper that softly moves among the grass...
In this stillness – my ear I so curiously strain
A voice from home could reach me – No one calls,
The Calm of
No breath of wind will ruffle the flag of my ship,
The calm waters now quietly move up their breast
Like a bride who of happiness dreaming at rest
Wakes up, sighs for a moment, and goes back to sleep.
The sails are flagging easily from the naked masts
Like banners of an army after a long war;
The ship is rocking slightly, as if chained ashore;
The passengers laugh
freely, the mate rests at last.
O, quiet sea, among your jolly beings is
On your deep bottom hidden a fierce octopus
That waves its greedy arms, fearful and long;
O, thoughts! You hide a swarm of memories
That in a stormy time invisible throng
But when it's quiet, our hearts will grasp.
The roar rises, preparing a new thunderclap,
The mate has climbed the ladder – now the flag
Up there, in an invisible he is stretching net
Like a spider that's
waiting his victims to trap.
The wind is blowing – the ship seems to fret
Straining its cords – then diving in a frothy
Raises its neck, to trample the waves, and sets sail
To cleave the clouds and
tumbling waters with its head.
And my spirit flies upward, like a sky-high mast,
Imagination rising like sails in a tress,
And my voice is now joined with the roar of the sea,
I raise my hands, the cords of my ship try to clasp,
And its breast to still braver adventures I press,
Now I know – like a bird I can also be free!