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“Constantinople” by Nikolai Gumilev (1886 – 1921)
Translated by Richard McKane
The sailors near the port
shouted in chorus, demanding wine,
and over Stambul and over the Bosphorus
the full moon shone.
Tonight they will hurl an unfaithful wife
to the bottom of the bay,
a wife who was too beautiful
and looked like the moon.
She loved her daydreams,
the summer-house in the reed thicket,
old women fortune-tellers and their fortune-telling
and everything the Pasha did not like.
Father was sad, but understands
and whispers to the husband: “Well, is it time?,”
but the younger sister does not lift
her stubborn eyes and muses:
“Many, many other lovers
lie in the deep bays,
intertwined, languid and silent …
What happiness to be among them!”