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The Talisman

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From the Russian of Pushkin.

Where fierce the surge with awful bellowDoth ever lash the rocky wall;And where the moon most brightly mellowDost beam when mists of evening fall;Where midst his harem’s countless blissesThe Moslem spends his vital span,A Sorceress there with gentle kissesPresented me a Talisman.

And said: until thy latest minutePreserve, preserve my Talisman;A secret power it holds within it—’Twas love, true love the gift did plan.From pest on land, or death on ocean,When hurricanes its surface fan,O object of my fond devotion!Thou scap’st not by my Talisman.

The gem in Eastern mine which slumbers,Or ruddy gold ’twill not bestow;’Twill not subdue the turban’d numbers,Before the Prophet’s shrine which bow;Nor high through air on friendly pinionsCan bear thee swift to home and clan,From mournful climes and strange dominions—From South to North—my Talisman.

But oh! when crafty eyes thy reasonWith sorceries sudden seek to move,And when in Night’s mysterious seasonLips cling to thine, but not in love—From proving then, dear youth, a bootyTo those who falsely would trepanFrom new heart wounds, and lapse from duty,Protect thee shall my Talisman.


From the Russian of Pushkin.

Close by a lake, begirt with forest,To save his soul, a Monk intent,In fasting, prayer and labours sorestHis days and nights, secluded, spent;A grave already to receive himHe fashion’d, stooping, with his spade,And speedy, speedy death to give him,Was all that of the Saints he pray’d.

As once in summer’s time of beauty,On bended knee, before his door,To God he paid his fervent duty,The woods grew more and more obscure:Down o’er the lake a fog descended,And slow the full moon, red as blood,Midst threat’ning clouds up heaven wended—Then gazed the Monk upon the flood.

He gaz’d, and, fear his mind surprising,Himself no more the hermit knows:He sees with foam the waters rising,And then subsiding to repose,And sudden, light as night-ghost wanders,A female thence her form uprais’d,Pale as the snow which winter squanders,And on the bank herself she plac’d.

She gazes on the hermit hoary,And combs her long hair, tress by tress;The Monk he quakes, but on the gloryLooks wistful of her loveliness;Now becks with hand that winsome creature,And now she noddeth with her head,Then sudden, like a fallen meteor,She plunges in her watery bed.

No sleep that night the old man cheereth,No prayer throughout next day he pray’dStill, still, against his wish, appearethBefore him that mysterious maid.Darkness again the wood investeth,The moon midst clouds is seen to sail,And once more on the margin restethThe maiden beautiful and pale.

With head she bow’d, with look she courted,And kiss’d her hand repeatedly,Splashed with the water, gaily sported,And wept and laugh’d like infancy—She names the monk, with tones heart-urgingExclaims “O Monk, come, come to me!” Then sudden midst the waters mergingAll, all is in tranquillity....