Way of all the Earth

And the Angel swore to the living
that there will be no Time
Revelations

1
Straight in the bullets' flight,
Thrusting aside the years,
Through Januarys and Julys
I shall make my way there...
No-one will see the gash,
No-one will hear me moan,
I, the woman of Kitezh,
Have been called home.
Of birchtrees is racing
An uncountable host
After me. A glacier
Is the streaming frost.
Charred is the glade
From an ancient fire.
'Here's my pass, comrade,
Let me through to the rear.
A warrior's decision,
A bayonet turns.
How brilliantly risen,
An island that burns!
Red clay again and
The apple orchard . . .
O, Salve Regina!
The sunset a torchglow.
The footpath climbs steeply,
A trembling, and
Somebody is needed
To stretch me a hand . . .
But unheard is the harsh
Barrel-organ. It groans,
But the woman of Kitezh
Can hear other sounds.

2
Trenches, and still moreyou
Could get lost here!ahead.
Of ancient Europe
Remains but a shred,
Where in a cloud of smoke
Towns consume,
And there already the dark
Ridge of Crimea looms.
I go with a flock
Of mourners behind.
O blue cloak
Of a quiet land! . . .
By a dead medusa
I stand on the shore;
Here I met the Muse, and
I vow to her once more.
She thinks me a fable,
Laughs loudly: 'Is it you?'
Fragrant April
Lets fall its dew.
Here of glory
Already have dawned
The high portals,
But a sly voice warned:
'You will come back,
Come back many times. And
Each time you will strike
On the hard diamond.
You had better go past,
You had better return,
Cursed, and praised,
To your fathers' garden.'

3
Thickening gloom
Of evening. Why
Doesn't Hoffman come
To the corner with me ?
He knows how hollow
Is the muffled cry of pain,
And he knows whose double
Has entered the lane.
It isn't funny
That for twenty five years
The same uncanny
Silhouette appears.
'To the right, do you mean ?
Here, round the corner ? Thank
You!'The gleam
Of a ditch, a small
House. I hadn't
Known how the moon's
In everything. By a ladder
Of leaves having swung down
It peacefully crept
Past the forsaken
House where the night's end
At a round table
Gazed into what remained
Of a mirror and on the breast
Of darkness a knifed
Man slept.

4
Like the high power
Of purest sound,
Separation, you're
Homeward-bound.
Familiar buildings
Look out from death at us
And there are still things
A hundred times worse
For me to face than all
I faced, that other time . . .
Through my crucified capital
I am going home.

5
The bird-cherry tree stole
Past like a dream. And
Somebody on the telephone
Said the word ' Tsushima!'
To the dying age. It's
Time to make haste:
The Varyag and the Koreyetz
Have gone to the east . . .
There we caught
The ancient pain
Of swallows, and then,
Fort Shabrol is darkly seen,
Like the forgotten
Age's ruined vault,
Where an old cripple rots.
He's Deaf and blind. Halt
Before the stern and grim-
Faced Boers whose rifles block
The way, guarding him.
'Get back! Get back!'

6
For the great
Winter I have waited long,
Like a monk's white
Habit I have put it on.
Calmly I sit in the light
Sledge, and to you, men and women
Of Kitezh, before night
I shall return.
There's one place to cross,
The ancient ferry . . . Now
With the woman of Kitezh
Nobody will go,
Not brother nor neighbour of mine
Will be there, nor my first
Husbandonly a pine
Branch and a sunny verse
That I picked up
When a beggar let it fall. . .
In the house where I'll stop,
Repose of my soul.

1940, March, House on the Fontanka

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