I Am Not Unwell

Translated by John Weir

I am not unwell, it's just that I
Some things that loom ahead espy,
And that my heart for something waits.
It weeps and whimpers, sobs and aches,
Just like a child that's not been fed.
Perhaps it senses nought ahead
But still more ills? Await no good,
Expected freedom don't await —
It is asleep: Tsar Nicholas
Lulled it to sleep. But if you'd wake
This sickly freedom, all the folk
Must in their hands sledge-hammers take
And axes sharp — and then all go
That sleeping freedom to awake.
If not, the wretched thing will stay
Asleep right up to Judgement Day!
The masters will not let it rise,
They'll build more palaces and shrines,
Their drunken tsar they will adore,
And worship the Byzantian rites —
And, as I see it, nothing more.

                       1858, St. Petersburg