The Muse

Translated by C. H. Andrusyshen and Watson Kirkconnell

Young sister of Apollo, goddess pure,
You took me in my swaddling vestiture
And far into the fields your way you found,
And there amid the plain, upon a mound,
Like Freedom where expanses broad subsist,
You wrapped me in a cloak of greyish mist;
You sang to me a soothing lullaby
And wrought consummate sorcery...and I...
O my bewitching charmer, saw your aid
My sorry life in every act pervade:
You watched above me everywhere, and on
Each day, my star, immaculately shone.
Even the steppe, that place of desolation,
In my far exile knew your approbation;
Yes, even there, your beauty was revealed
Like some unfading flower in a field.
Out of the filthy barrack-room you flitted
Like an unsullied bird, for heaven fitted,
And high above my head you sang and soared,
O golden-winged young angel, and restored,
As with life-giving water that baptized,
My soul with heavenly grace immortalized.

And so I live, and high above my head
Your light, my pretty star, is softly shed.
Hover above me still, my cherub fair,
My golden-winged sweet seraph of the air!
O holy counsellor, my youth's true treasure,
Do not abandon me in dark displeasure!
By night, by day, at twilight and at dawn,
Hover and teach me, to my service drawn;
Teach me to tell the truth with lips untainted
By falsehood's poison! Teach me, creature sainted,
To make my life a prayer to the end;
And when I die, my holy one, my friend
And precious Mother—place your lifeless son
Within a coffin since his work is done,
And show above the bier on which he lies
At least a tear in your immortal eyes!

                          1858, Nizhny Novgorod