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“A Ballad” by Nikolai Gumilev (1886 – 1921)
Translated by Alexander Bondar
My friend, Lucifer gave five horses to me,
And a radiant ruby-stone beautiful ring,
So that I could go down to marvelous caves,
And could see there heaven’s celestial face.
Snorted horses, and zealous, they hoofed, and they begged
To race over and over the space of the earth,
I believed that the sun rose exactly for me,
Shining crazy like ruby of that golden ring.
Wandered endlessly during the days and the nights
Under sun in the day and the night full of stars,
I was laughing at horses so eager to race
And the light of the ring as a heavenly grace.
There’s madness and snow at the heights of my mind
But I’ve hurried the horses with furious cries
So that they reach these heights in the violent run
And a virgin with sad face I saw having come.
And a music of string her quite voice produced
There question and answer were mixed and reduced
To the touches of shades of her heir all strewn,
So I gave ruby-ring to that virgin or Lune.
Mocking, laughing at me, having me in contempt,
Broken open the gates for a wasted attempt
To the darkness, He gave me the horse number six
Lucifer named Despair this horse as a gift.