The Prophet

Athirst in soul for truth and grace
In desert gloom I walked alone,
And there a six-winged seraph shone
Upon the night before my face.
He touched my eyes with fingers light
And soft as sleep at eventide;
My eyes became with vision wide,
Alarmed as eagles in the night.
He touched my ears, I heard around
Me far and wide a tide of sound:
I heard a tremlbling fill the sky,
I heard the angel wings on high,
I heard the sap in grass and trees,
And reptiles moving ‘neath the seas.
He leaned above my mouth awhile,
And tore from me my tongue of guile,
And took from me my pride and lust,
And with his bloody hand he thrust
Between my dead lips withering
The serpent’s sharp and su’btle sting.
And with his sword he clove my breast,
And plucked the heart that trembled there,
And in my bosom rived and bare
A coal of living fire he pressed.
I fell upon the waste as dead.
And God spake unto me and said:
“Arise, O prophet! Hear and see!
Fulfill my will! Go forth again,
And, wayfaring, on land, on sea,
Burn with my words the hearts of men!”

Alexander Pushkin, 1826. Translated by Eugene Mark Kayden.


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