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“Cain’s Descendants” by Nikolai Gumilev (1886 – 1921)
Translated by Philip Nikolayev
He didn’t deceive us, that sad, somber spirit
Who wears the morning star as pseudonym
And said: “Shun not the highest gain, nor fear it:
Taste of the fruit and you will equal Him.”
Instantly, for the youth, all roads lay open,
And for old men, all mysteries to know,
And to the maids, amber fruits came bespoken
And gallant unicorns as white as snow.
Then why do we stoop low, drained of all strength,
Sensing that Someone has forgotten us,
And feel the terror of that ancient loss
When by some chance a hand picks up and joins
Two staffs, two flagpoles or two blades of grass
Distinctly in the manner of a cross?