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Mikhail Lermontov

Mikhail Lermontov

MIKHAIL LERMONTOV: The Captive Knight

The Captive Knight

1840
By a loophole, I sit in my prison,
Could see the blue of the heaven from there,
I feel sharp pain and a shame at the vision
Of heedless birds, freely playing in air.

On my dry lips, I’ve not any prayers,
Nor any songs, that have ever to fly on, 
But I remember the ancient battles,
My heavy sword and my coat of iron.

My stony armor – the cross I’m to bear,
My stony helmet compresses my brow,
My shield’s worn from a sword and a spear, 
My horse takes roads – I don’t now how. 

Time is my horse that stays always my own,
A helmet’s mask-visor – the grate on a hole,  
The walls are my armor that’s made of the stone,
My permanent shield is the door’s iron fold.

Time! I desire to speed your hooves’ rattle!
My stony armor is heavy to rise on!
Death, when we’ve come, will help me by the saddle;
I will dismount and rise up my visor.


Translated by Yevgeny Bonver, November, 2000
Edited by Dmitry Karshtedt, June, 2001


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