Isaiah. Chapter 35 (An Imitation)

Translated by John Weir

Rejoice, o desert, arid wilderness!
Rejoice, o barren land, whose nakedness
No raiment knows of golden grain!
Let blossoms bright bedeck your plain!
Lo, like the banks of holy Jordan
With gardens lush and meadows verdant
You'll flourish in the days to be!
And then the honour and the glory
Of Lebanon and Carmel hoary,
Not crafty cant, will mantle thee
In priestly vestment, sewn so finely,
Goodwill and freedom for their living,
With golden thread on silken sheen.
And then the people blind and witless
A miracle divine shall witness.
          The toil-worn, weary bondsmen's hands
          That day will rest at ease,
          And from their iron fetter-bands
          Their legs will be released!
          Rejoice, ye poor, take heart, ye meek —
          'Tis Judgment Day on Earth,
          And God has come to set you free,
          Who chains have borne since birth.
          And to ill-doers He will mete
          According to their crimes!
          When sacred justice, Lord, arrives
          If only for a fleeting hour
          To rest upon this Earth of ours....
          The blind will open up their eyes,
          The halt like startled stags will run.
          The dumb will find their voice once more;
          And like a flood the words will pour
          Until this parched and sterile plain
          Is watered with reviving rain
          And comes to life; gay streams will flow
          Through fertile fields, and shady trees
          About the silver lakes will grow,
          While song-birds make all Nature glow.

Then land and lake with life will teem,
In place of narrow roads of old
On every side there will unfold
New highways, broad and sacred roads
Of freedom: and the rulers won't
Those new roads discover,
But all the slaves will tread those ways
Without fuss or bother,
To come together, brothers free,
In gay celebration.
And where the desert was, will he
Happy habitations.

                         1859, St. Petersburg