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“The Choice” by Nikolai Gumilev (1886 – 1921)
Translated by Alla Burago & Burton Raffel
He who builds the tower will fall.
He will fall straight down, terribly,
and at the deep bottom of the world’s well
he will curse himself for his madness.
He who pulls the tower down will be crushed,
flattened by stone shards;
and left to lie there, by All-Seeing God,
he will howl his torment.
And he who went into the caverns of night,
and he who went to the backwaters of a quiet river,
will suddenly confront the awful eyes
of the bloodthirsty panther.
Fate is inescapable,
everyone on earth has his own destiny.
But hush! The one incomparable right
is to choose your death for yourself.