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Nikolay Gumilev

Nikolay Gumilev

NIKOLAY GUMILEV: From "Captains"

From "Captains"

(Fragment)
In far waters of Arctic and South
On the curves of the malachite ripples,
Among reefs of bright pearls and gray basalt,
Rustle sails of impetuous ships.

The swift-winged, they are lead by the captains,
Who discover new waters and lands,
Who don’t fear for fury of tempests,
Strength of maelstroms and plots of banks’ sands.

Whose breasts really are saturated
Not with dust of the skipp’d out scrolls,
But with sea salt, who plot on a tattered
Maps with needles, their venturesome course, 

Who, on planks of high bridges, which roam,
Think of ports, they have left far behind, 
As they slash the white flakes of sea foam
>From their jack-boots with cane’s sprightly winds,

Or, to mutiny, flar’d up on board, 
Whip long pistols from their silky belts,
So strongly that scatter light gold,
>From their cuffs of the pink Brabant lace.

Though the sea may be crazy and fierce,
And the waves rise to heavens and wail,
Still, not one of these captains would fear,
And not one would reef in his ship’s sails.

Cowards aren’t blessed with such hands and looks that
Are so keen, self-assured and strait,
That can suddenly hurl, ‘gainst feluccas 
Of the enemy, daring frigates,

With the iron harpoons or with bullets,
Overtake the palatial whales,
And in nights, in which starry sky rules,
Find the guiding lighthouses’ flames.


Translated by Yevgeny Bonver, April, 2001


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