In Prison: VI The Three Pathways

Translated by Vera Rich

Once three pathways, broad and wide,
Met upon the plain;
Into foreign parts, three brothers
Set out from Ukraine.
And they left an aged mother,
And one left a wife,
One a sister, and the youngest
Left his chosen bride.

The old mother planted three
Ash-trees in the meadow,
And her son's wife planted there
A poplar tall and slender,
And the sister planted three
Maples by the valley,
And a guelder-rose was planted
By the young fiancée.
But the ash-tree did not root,
And the poplar withered,
The three maples withered up,
The guelder-rose has wilted.
The three brothers do not come...
Their mother weeps them still,
And the wife weeps with her children
In a house grown chill.
The sister weeps, she goes to seek
Her brothers among strangers ...
And the young bride? In her coffin
Quietly they laid her. ...

The three brothers do not come,
They roam the world, forlorn,
And three pathways, broad and wide,
Are overgrown with thorns.

                        1847, St. Petersburg