The Boatman

In honor of the Russian holiday, Defense of the Fatherland Day, we present this work by the foremost Russian literary figure of the early 19th century.

Vasily Zhukovsky
Russian
1783 – 1852

 

Driven by misfortune’s whirlwind,
Having neither oar nor rudder,
By a storm my bark was driven
Out upon the boundless sea.
“midst black clouds a small star sparkled;
“Don’t conceal yourself!” I cried;
But it disappeared, unheeding;
And my anchor was lost, too.

All was clothed in gloomy darkness;
Great swells heaved all round;
In the darkness yawned the depths
I was hemmed in by cliffs.
“There’s no hope for my salvation!”
I bemoaned, with heavy spirit…
Madman! Providence
Was your secret helmsman.

With a hand invisible,
‘midst the roaring waves,
Through the gloomy, veiled depths
Past the terrifying cliffs,
My all-powerful savior guided me.
Then-all’s quiet ! gloom has vanished;
I behold a paradisical realm…
Three celestial angels.

Providence – O, my protector!
My dejected groaning ceases;
On my knees, in exaltation,
On their image I did gaze.
Who could sing their charm?
Or their power o’er the soul?
All around them holy innocence
And an aura divine.

A delight as yet untasted –
Live and breathe for them;
Take into my soul and heart
All their words and glances sweet.
O fate! I’ve but one desire:
Let them sample every blessing;
Vouchsafe them delight – me suffering;
Only let me die before they do.

2 thoughts on “The Boatman

  1. Gospodin Alexander Pushkin might dispute Zhukovsky’s claim to be the foremost Russian literary figure of the 19th century.

    The three angels are surely his children, nyet? The emotion is surely paternal.

    Like

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