The Prophet by Alexander Pushkin
When, pained with spiritual thirst, I trudged across a gloomy desert, I came upon a six-winged seraph Standing before me on my path. With digits light as sleep he touched My pupils both, and they enlarged, Like a she-eagle's in a fright, Filling up with prophetic sight. He touched my ears: a din rushed in Mixed with a ringing, a chiming din. I heard a heavenly vibration, And angels soaring high above us, And sea fish gliding in the gulfs, And yon far grapevine's maturation. And from my mouth he tore and flung My sinful, idle, crafty tongue, Useless verbose appendage, and He swiftly with his bloodstained hand Implanted there a wise snake's kiss – A venom sting – behind numb lips. His sword split up my chest, from whence He plucked away the timid heart And in its place a coal in flames Into the hollow did insert. And when like carrion silently I lay, God's voice called out to me: "Prophet, arise! Behold and hear, And roam – for no mundane rewards – By land and sea, but everywhere Sting people in their hearts with words.
Translated from the Russian by Philip Nikolayev
Philip is a poet and literary scholar, including Co-Editor-in-Chief at FULCRUM: an annual of poetry and aesthetics