A Fragment from Gumilev (3). Translated by Simon R. Gladdish

Theodora

 

Now you are safe with me,

A hermit cannot speak

Much less a dead one. The time has come

To frankly speak the truth.

I  have always hated you –

For your thin hands, for your sad sight

And for the calmness, as though through tiredness

Of your movements and your speech.

You have lived like a bird of an

Extinct breed, and about you

Even the slaves spoke with alarm.

There is ancient Roman blood in you;

My blood is plebian and all the better for it.

You were just a girl yesterday,

Over whom an angel was inclined.

I know about taverns and brothels,

Where knives flash because of women, where

By drunken sailors I was comforted.

But I am purer than you and in front of you

I stand with horror and disgust.

The dirt of palaces, the defects of your ancestors,

The treachery and meanness of Byzantium

Flow in your ignorant and childish body,

Alive now, as sometimes death lives

In the plants of a plague cemetery.

You think you are a woman, but you

Represent a poisoned wedding tunic

And each of your steps – destruction,

And your sight – disease,

And your touch – disaster!

The Tsar of Trabzon has died and Imr will die,

But you are alive, smelling sweetly of decay.

Pray! But I am afraid of your prayers,

To me they are a blasphemy!

 

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