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SPIRITUAL  POETRY 
General



PROPHET ELIJAH

With bated breath he stands; his gaze pursues
The fiery chariots extended flight.
Upward as a mysterious bird it flies
Along the path that lies towards the stars.
The swiftly flying steeds, the fiery steeds
Their glittering hooves cannot be heard at all,
But everything on earth and in the skies
Is glowing with a flaming rosy dawn.
And ever higher they fly, beyond the clouds,
Beyond the stars, beyond all unknown heights.
Far down below the human shadows live,
The world lies in iniquity and dark.
Elisha stands so utterly alone,
His gaze fixed solely on the glittering heights.
O, if to go the distance with Elijah
To that all-highest world where all paths meet!
And from the heights to mortal eye unseen,
Elijahs gift descended then to him,
Hell go into the world now all aflame,
To kindle hearts with fiery word of God!
V. Utrenev
Translated by Natalia Sheniloff
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A PEAL OF BELLS


Among the groves
The crosses shine:
A five-domed church,
With bells aligned.
Their summons peals
Across the graves
So mournfully,
Yet full of grace.
It lures me forth,
Irresistibly pulls,
Beckons and calls
To native soil,
The blessed land
That I forgot;
And, filled with yearning
And pain unknown,
I pray, repent,
And weep once more,
And I reject
All evil deed.
Wandering far
In wondrous dreams,
Through space I fly
And heavens realms,
And my heart joyously
Trembles and melts
Till the peal of bells
Slowly fades

A.K. Tolstoy
Translated by Natalia Sheniloff

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A NEW PLACE

You are now in the place which the Lord gave to you;
In the place where He has you assigned.
Only there will He be your staff and your shield,
Only there will you serve well His will.

And should He decide to send you His grace,
He will not search all over the earth;
In your very own place will He look for you,
In the place which He gave you Himself.

Remain, take courage, and firmly hold on
To the place where He has you assigned.
If your fate be the cross descend not from the cross;
And if fire be your fate do not fear.

Do not sigh or sorrowfully gaze all about,
If your place be humble and obscure;
In that very place given you by the Lord,
He desires you to glorify His name.

And if you should somehow err in your place,
Even though no one sees or knows,
Be aware that twill surely bring sorrow or harm
To one of His loyal servitors.

O, just think, the place that God has assigned
No one else can take save yourself.
Tis the will of the Lord that you be there,
And for this He requires your strength.

So accept every day from out of Gods hands
This place which Gods goodness provides,
And if other desires take over in your soul,
Put them down with the strength of Christ.

Should He wish to grant spiritual victory to you
Or fulfillment of your prayers provide,
It will only be in this one sole place,
Where His righteous one firmly stands.

O, do fear to break up submissions crown
And refuse to accede to your King.
Only here, in this place to which youre assigned,
Will you be able to get near to Him.

O yea, in the place given you by the Lord
Do rejoice and laud His love,
So that all may see how His holy will
Gave you life, and glory, and joy.

For when He does come, He will not search for you
In all the far corners of the earth;
He will look for you in that one sole place,
Which He Himself had prepared for you.

And then O, bliss! He will find you there,
In the place where you served Him well,
And to another place He will take you with Him,
To His infinite, wondrous realm.

Holy Hieromartyr John of Riga
Translated by Natalia Sheniloff.
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THE CROSS

In bright memory of holy martyr-soldier Yevgeniy (Rodionov),
executed in Chechnya on May 23, 1996.
Take off your cross, quick, take it off!
The bully persevered,
Youll stay alive then, dont you see
Comply! Or youll be dead!

Thus laughing viciously at him,
The perverts kicked and jeered,
But he was now invincible
Under the shield of faith.

A blow into the face, another,
The bandits taunting grins,
Their wild cries Allah akbar!
Did penetrate the cliffs.

The distant mountains were crystal-clear,
Blue flowers sloped oer the dell,
And thus without renouncing Christ,
The Russian soldier fell.

The severed head did fall and roll,
The dagger dripped with blood,
And softly the ensanguined grass
A prayer whispered aloft.

His soul had taken flight beyond,
Mourned only by the birds.
The mother awaits a living son
While he for all ages yet to come
Immortal shall return.
- Nikolay Talkov
Translated by Natalia Sheniloff
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THE GREAT LENT

Every day and every hour
Our end comes ever near,
And our Father and Creator
Calls us to repentance here.
Not with ordinary hearing
This Divine appeal is heard:
Our hearts strings are awakened
By an angels wordless song.
Falling to the ground and trembling,
We now pray with streaming tears:
O, do open for repentance
Thy great penitential doors!
All the torrents of our sinning
Wash away with tears and dry;
In a search for lifes adventures
Our souls dominance did die.
Thou our Father art, our Saviour!
Do Thou not reject my soul,
Which Thou hast Thyself created
The Creator to extol!
- N.V. Ourousova
Translated by Natalia Shenilo
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CONSOLATION IN TIME OF SORROW

When your soul is full of heartache,
Hopes extinguished are like lights,
Slander triumphs over justice,
All around are only foes;
When your wings grow weak in struggle,
Trouble after trouble comes,
And you weep in helpless anguish,
Dont forget that God is there!

Though your sufferings be heavy,
Though your goals be far away,
And all inner aspirations
Must be put aside for now,
Though you hear no words of blessing
Though you are bereft by fate,
Shed all doubts and fight for justice:
Dont forget that God is there!

Translated by Natalia Shenilo
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SAGA

The following verses describe a wondrous vision of the holy Princes Boris and Gleb, who are commemorated on 24 July/6 August, sailing on the Neva River to invisibly provide aid to their descendant, the holy Prince Alexander Nevsky, on the eve of one of his famous battles, against the Swedes in 1240 A.D., that is known in Russian history under the name of the Battle of Neva.


With Gods help lets begin our tale, brothers,
Of how our forefathers stood up for Rus.
Tis not dawn flaming red oer ripening harvests,
Tis fires that rage unchecked mid the fields.
Tis not thunder resounding in the dense blue forest,
Tis our holy sites being destroyed by the sword.
With the sword of the Swedes the Pope is trying
To test the Russian citadels spirit and strength.

Command the rowers, brother Gleb,
Our homeland is in need,
Our suffering people are calling us
And asking us for aid.
O hurry, Prince, do hurry now!
Our land is battle-torn,
The enemy horses heavy hooves
Are trampling native fields.

Oer the Neva River the mist is swirling,
The pre-dawn darkness begins to recede.
At the mouth of Izhora the Swedes are standing,
Their steel-clad armor dully glints.
Unaware of danger, the knights sleep soundly.
Only the loyal Finn is awake.
Pilgusius eyes watch in wonder and marvel,
As dawn breaks over the suffering Rus.

Command the rowers, brother Gleb,
Our homeland is in need,
Our suffering people are calling us
And asking us for aid.
O hurry, Prince, do hurry now!
Light dawns oer the native land,
And glory to our mighty Rus
The coming day shall bring.

Hark, the water is sliced by the rowers oars,
Over the waves the boat sails forth.
Within sit two brothers in crimson cloaks,
Their faces shine brighter than fires glow.
Oer the heads of the saints, dazzling more than the sun,
Glitter the martyrs golden crowns.
Gleb and Boris now speed to their peoples aid,
The agile rowers are bringing them in.

Command the rowers, brother Gleb,
Our homeland is in need,
Our suffering people are calling us
And asking us for aid.
O hurry, Prince, do hurry now!
Our relative entreats,
Divine assistance from above
The native land awaits.

Tis not rumbling avalanches that rush down the mountain,
Tis Rus going out to battle the foe.
Tis not ominous lightning flashing through heaven,
Tis the glitter of brave Novgorodian blades.
What an awesome sight are the Russian warriors!
Their Prince is luminous as an Angel from heaven.
Many glorious battles lie yet before him,
But from this day forth hell be named for Neva.

Command the rowers, brother Gleb,
Our homeland is in need,
Our suffering people are calling us
And asking us for aid.
O hurry, Prince, do hurry now!
The Lord Himself commands
Our fathers ancient heritage
Be rid of all its foes.

O sonorous strings, loudly sing to us
Of the Russian might and glory of yore.
May the evil mist vanish from our native land,
May the faith of our fathers shine splendidly forth.
Was that battle all in vain, beloved brothers?
Holy Rus, thou art once again in fetters,
Instead of faith thy sons have chosen
Service to alien pagan idols.

Command the rowers, brother Gleb,
Our homeland is in need,
Our suffering people are calling us
And asking us for aid.
O hurry, Prince, do hurry now!
The kind and merciful Lord
These final hours of penitence
Does grant our native Rus.

- Archdeacon Roman (Tamberg)
Translated by Natalia Sheniloff

Saints Boris and Gleb
Saints Boris and Gleb
Battle of Neva
Battle of Neva
St. Alexander Nevsky
St. Alexander Nevsky
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DO NOT JUDGE OTHERS
Do not thou judge another harshly,
Nor yet accuse, not knowing those
Who do, perhaps, already suffer,
Their sins a torment in their souls.
Leave off thine ire,
Forget revenge,
At brothers do not cast a stone.
Tis only God Who can forgive
And open paradise for us.
Do not speak poorly of thy brother.
God knows what is within our hearts.
Today thou burnest with loves flames,
Tomorrow shall thy fire be quenched.
We often others do assess,
Who shall the Kingdom enter first.
For this one heaven, for another hell,
But God knows all well in advance.
Who art thou, that thou judgest others?
If they should fall, do not condemn,
But better offer thy support
And kindly give a helping hand.
- Raisa Zolotareva
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NOW THE HEAVENLY HOST IS WITH US
(From the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts)

Now the heavenly host is with us,
And the sun now exults in the sky,
In the azure-blue domes of the temple
Clouds of incense slowly drift by.
Now the King in His splendor and glory
Through the Royal Doors enters unseen.
Our mortal lips offer Him worship,
And with us sing the great Cherubim.
O come, all ye loving and faithful,
Let us prostrate ourselves before Him
So that we may find Christs sacred image
In our grey, mournful daily routine.
Now the heavenly host is with us,
And eternally spring does appear.
O, do gaze at life with eyes enlightened:
The perspective of life is so clear!
Now the heavenly host becomes visible
And amidst us the Lord passes through.
The great Cherubim now sing among us,
And the soul becomes peaceful anew.

- V. Utrenev
Translated by Natalia Sheniloff
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FERVENT SUPPLICATION
Let us commemorate the living and the dead,
Especially the living whove not come alive,
Who have contributed their prayers to the whole
For them we shall entreat the Lord our God.

Let us commemorate the elderly and sick,
All those whore in asylums, hospitals, and prisons,
All those for whom theres no one left to pray
For them we shall entreat the Lord our God.

Let us commemorate our family and our friends,
All those whom we incessantly forgive,
All those with whom we find it hard to deal
For them we shall entreat the Lord our God.

Let us commemorate good people and the bad,
All those who are our enemies thus sworn.
Who sins not, let him be the first to cast a stone
For them we shall entreat the Lord our God.

And last of all let us commemorate ourselves,
Pray that in cases of adversity or sorrow,
There would be someone willing to pray even for us
For this we do entreat Thee, Lord our God.

Let us pray to the Lord Lord have mercy!
Let us pray to the Lord Lord have mercy!
Let us pray to the Lord Lord have mercy!
Translated by Natalia Sheniloff
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THE TRINITY
What a wondrous apparition
Moved into the Patriarchs vision
A trio of amazing travelers
His shady grove were now approaching.
White as snow their raiment sparkled
With a light so brightly shining,
Yet all three seemed quite ethereal,
In a misty haze enveloped.
Straight and stern, the First Ones visage
Gazed majestically forward.
Neath His gaze the grass and flowers
Bowed their heads down very humbly.
Full of charity was the Second,
And wherever He would glance at
Fragrant flowers bloomed directly,
Springing from the arid soil.
Pure as mornings wind the Third One,
Gazing lovingly and gently,
With His meek gaze tending promise
Of great hope and full forgiveness.
Kneeling down in awe and trembling,
Comprehending now the vision,
Tearfully Forefather Abraham
Bowed his head to the Triune One.
- A. Lavrov
Translated by Natalia Sheniloff
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PRAYER
Prayer what a wondrous word,
The mightiest of supplications.
Tis stronger than all things on earth,
And holds all earthly things within it.
Prayer comforts us in sorrow,
Brings remorse for our sinning,
Prayer glorifies the Saviour
And all saints who dwell in heaven.
Prayer is the intercession
Of the loving Theotokos,
Faith and hope and tender feeling,
Prayer is our life entire.
- N.V. Urusova
Translated by Natalia Sheniloff
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A PRAYER FOR THE GREAT LENT

The desert fathers and the ranks of holy women,
To have their hearts ascend to high celestial spheres,
To strengthen them amid the earthly storms and battles,
A multitude of godly prayers did compose;
But not a one among them do I find as moving,
As that which never-endingly the priest repeats
Throughout the Great Lents sad and somber days;
Most frequently it issues from my sinful lips
And fortifies invisibly my fallen spirit:
O Master of my days! Let not into my soul
The spirit of despondent idleness and prattle,
The spirit of that hidden serpent, lust for power;
But grant, O Lord, that I may rather see my sins,
That I withhold from passing judgment on my brother,
And in my heart the spirit of humility,
Of patience, love, and continence do Thou revive.

- A. S. Pushkin
Translated by Natalia Sheniloff

TO ALL RUSSIAN SAINTS
Ye who have gone into deep, dark forests,
Taking no sword, but only a cross,
Ye who have built such mighty churches,
Solely by virtue of ardent faith,
Ye the creators of Holy Russia,
Champions strong of its holy truth,
Its intercessors in Gods high kingdom,
Fathers on earth of its Orthodox Church,
Ye who have burned with the fire of purity
All through the narrow and somber ages,
Rise as a wondrously shining banner
Over the sadness of native woods!
Having lost the shrines of our homeland,
We wander in sweat and dust of despair
Pray for us sinners, o dear holy hierarchs,
O holy saints of the Russian land!
- Lyubov Glukhova
Translated by Natalia Sheniloff
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ANGEL
At midnight an angel was flying the sky
And quietly singing a song.
The moon, and the stars, and a legion of clouds
Attended that holiest song.
He sang of the bliss of the innocent souls
Sojourning in sweet paradise;
He sang of the greatness of God, and his praise
Was truly unfeigned and sincere.
An infant soul in his embrace he did bear
To a world full of sorrow and tears;
The sound of his song did remain in that soul,
Though wordless, yet very alive.
And later the soul languished long in this world,
Still filled with a wondrous desire,
For earths boring songs could not ever replace
The power of heavenly tones.
- Mikhail Lermontov
Translated by Natalia Sheniloff
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SAINT JOASAPH OF BELGOROD
250th anniversary of repose
St. Joasaph of Belgorod
Wintry night, the moon is shining,
Peacefully the candle flickers,
In the room where lies the hierarch,
Visions quietly are floating:
Childhood in fathers orchards,
Mothers tenderest caresses,
Sacred, dreamy, golden Kiev,
Deep blue waves of Dniepr River.
Shining youth all full of daydreams,
Innocent elysian visions,
Joy of fasting, tears, repentance,
Sacred feat of midnight prayer.
Far away the Lavra shimmers,
Brightly shine the abbots relics,
The monastic choir chanting,
Bells melodically ringing.
Belgorod mid cherry orchards,
Radiance of middays sunlight,
Heavy hierarchal labors,
Full of sweetness and compassion.
Fervent service, fearless sermons,
Blackest sins denunciation,
Words of truth like swords of angels,
Yet forgiving true repentants.
All is quiet in the village,
In the house the candle flickers,
In the lonely forest abode
An old monk is softly weeping.
He has heard a voice from heaven:
Hark! Thy son is now departing.
He looked up into the heaven
A bright ring of stars was forming.
Forty years ago it happened,
He remembered his own vision:
In the sky the Queen of Heaven,
And his son before Her, kneeling.
Flying down from heaven, an angel
Covered the young boy with a mantle,
I do hear thy prayer, child,
Said the Mother of God benignly.
Now remembering the vision,
The old monk weeps with abandon,
Quietly he whispers, trembling:
Gone is our kind intercessor.
Wintry night, the moon is shining,
Distant stars are palely flickering,
In the sky a holy soul now
To the Lord is gladly flying.
Translated by Natalia Sheniloff
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 POEM OF A SOLDIER

The following poem was found on the body of a Russian soldier killed in one of the fiercest battles with the Germans during World War II.


* * *

Listen, God for never in my life before
Have I spoken with You, but today
I want to greet You. As You know,
From childhood I was always told
That You do not exist
And I so stupidly believed it.

I never gazed at your creations, but tonight
I looked out from a crater dug by a grenade
At the starry sky above me; and I understood
Quite suddenly, while marveling at the lights,
How cruel a lie can be.

I dont know, God, if You will stretch Your hand to me?
But I will tell You and Youll understand
Is it not marvelous that amid this fiery hell
Ive suddenly seen the light of knowing You?

Thats all I have to say. Just one more thing
Im glad that I have come to know You.
At midnight we are set for an attack,
Yet Im not scared: Youre looking down upon us.

The signal Well, I must be off
How wonderful to talk to You And I just want to add
That, as You know, the battle will be fierce,
And so perhaps this very night
I will come knocking on Your door.

And though I have not been Your friend before,
Will you allow me to come in?
But I am crying... O my God You see,
My eyes have opened to the light.

Farewell, my God Im off and hardly will return.
How strange but death now holds no fear for me at all.

Holy Russia.  Picture by M.V. Nesterov.  1905.
Holy Russia. Picture by M.V. Nesterov. 1905.
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THE LAST ONES
Who will come last to this world,
The very last torment to bear?
Wholl go to mass in the morning?
Who will call God in the night?
Who will help his fallen brother?
Who will his enemies love?
Who will forgive without measure,
As a disciple of Christ?
One in the fields not a soldier!
Evil is seething around
What kind of crown will he merit
He who shall stand all alone?
Alone, enigmatic to others,
With a holy yearning for God,
Shining in pitch-black darkness,
As though forgotten by Thee
Remember, O Lord of the universe,
Those who will come after us
To this world doomed for burning,
At the terrible ending of time!
A.A. Alekseyev, poet-confessor, martyred by the Bolsheviks in 1941.
Translated by Natalia Sheniloff

A PRAYER

Forgive, o Lord, all my transgressions,
My failing spirit in me renew.
Let me endure all tribulations
In hope, and faith, and love of You.
Im not afraid to suffer passion.
Of love divine the pledge is pain,
But do allow my soul impassioned
In contrite tears to wash my stain.
My hearts observe the poverty
And give it Magdalenes bright fire.
Give me the Baptists purity
And let me tread my path entire,
Bearing the cross of my decay,
Before the feet of Christ to lay.
- I. I. Kozlov (1779 -1840)
Translated by Kosara Gavrilovic.

GODs COMMANDMENTS
Ye have heard what hath been said by the ancients: thou shalt not kill;
and whosoever shall kill - shall be in danger of judgment.
But I say unto you: in wrath and hate
There is no less ill feeling than in murder.
Remember also that each word you utter
Shall be recorded on the judgment slate.
Ye have heard what hath been said by the ancients:
thou shalt not commit adultery.

But I say unto you: if you but let
Your unclean eye towards a woman stray,
Uncleanliness will so your soul beset,
Youd wish your hand would pluck your eye away.
Again, ye have heard what hath been said by the ancients: thou shalt not foreswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths.
I urge you not to swear at any price,
Not by the earth, nor by Gods throne - the skies.
Let simple yea or nay from you suffice,
Because all else is naught but Satans lies.
Ye have heard that it hath been said:
an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.

But I beg you not increase the wrong.
Make peace with enemies in any way.
Whatevers done to you, stay true and strong,
And never wrong with injury repay.
Ye have heard that it hath been said:
Thou shalt love thy neighbor and hate thine enemy.

But I exhort you: also love your foe,
Pray for the bad as you do for the just.
It is the pagans, after all, who must
Love only those they resemble and know.
And so, be ye perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect!
- Anonymous Moscow bard.
Poem translated by Kosara Gavrilovic.
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SPIRITUAL WARFARE

So once again, as do the birds,
We shall to Lord God sing,
And constantly with praying words
Bear everything.

Again the sky is covered
With smoke of our defeats.
Should joy in dreams be offered,
Distrust - it is deceit.

You are again in bitter strife,
Again do arrows fly,
As if by right you cling to life,
Forgetting one must die.

But death does not appear to come.
It will not come, not now.
Who is creeping with such stealth
All through this foggy slough?

It is not death, but apparition,
Satanic lies, delusion.
It is the fallen angels singing,
And born of lust confusion.

Observe the fasts with all your might,
For to avoid the fall.
Pray constantly, pray day and night,
And bear it, bear it all.

You must believe in the renewal
Of waters, earth, solidity.
You must believe that death will die,
Snows gleam again with purity.

But all you need to do is pray
And bear it all.
Again and always you must pray
And bear it, bear it all.
- Monk Vsevolod (Filipyev).
Translated by Kosara Gavrilovic.

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Saint Seraphim of Sarov
AT THE GATES OF THE SAROV MONASTERY

100th anniversary of the glorification of Saint Seraphim of Sarov
(1903 2003)


A dark pine forest deep and dense
The threshold of the church appears:
The bears are hidden in their dens,
One cannot pass by without prayer here.
And when you walk along this path,
Bow down your head the gates are sacred,
Forget all anger, sorrow, grief,
Be kind: all those you meet are friends!
Walk slowly as you pass the woods,
With reverence fall on your knees
Entrust your heart to these white walls,
The singing of the bright-toned bells.
- Nadezhda Mering
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DIVEEVO

(This poem mentions the traditional belief that when the Antichrist goes out to do battle with the last Christians, he will come up to the furrow which St. Seraphim dug around the Diveevo convent and the Mother of God sanctified by passing through it, and will not be able to step over it. Then the convent, together with all its inhabitants, will be taken up to heaven.)

Once again the roads and byways
Are all filled with ardent prayer
Tis the pilgrims that are coming,
With bright face, on winged feet
Heres the trench, - be silent, reverent
It is waiting for the battle,
It is waiting for the angel,
With his fiery, conquering sword.
Lightly stepped the Theotokos,
As she trod along this furrow
No one saw only the elder
Watched the light celestial passing.
Since that time this grace-filled furrow
Sings to us of good eternal,
Of a new-found gift from heaven,
Summons us to take this path.
- Nadezhda Mering

The Diveevo Convent.
The Diveevo Convent. A 1904 litograph.


A PRAYER
O say not that your humble prayer
Cannot ascend the heights of heaven!
Believe that like the fragrant incense
Its pleasing to the Heavenly King.
And when you pray do not be wasteful
With words, but with your soul entire
Apply your faith and strive to realize
That He is near and hears your prayer.
May love for the Divine Creator
Within your soul burn ever brightly,
As burn the flames of the lampadas
Before the sacred face of icons.
- K. R.
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THE SOUND OF BELLS

Sound of Bells The drowsing bell
Wakes up the fields,
The sleepy earth
Smiles at the sun.
The peals flow upward
To blue skies,
The woods resound
With ringing tones.
The ghostly moon
Hides neath the stream,
The frisky wave
Sonorously runs.
The quiet vale
Drives sleep away,
Far down the road
The bells fall mute.

Sergey Yesenin
Translated by Natalia Sheniloff

 

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TO A DOUBTING HEART

The Lord God

Divine nature’s vivid colors

Atop mighty mountain crests

Are entrancing and caressing

To thine eyes’ external view.

But thy heart’s pure inner vision

Do thou lift above the peaks

And the blue celestial veil

Pierce with contemplative thought.

Dazzling light will suddenly blind thee,

God Himself will thus appear –

Nature’s King, all things’ Creator,

Haven of repentant souls.

Then abandon all the musings

Which are human wisdom called;

Turn thy heart to fervent prayers,

Which to eternal Wisdom lead.

 

Princess N.V. Ourousoff
Translated by Natalia Sheniloff

 

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RUSSIA

Russia

Birches and snowbanks,
Rivers and meadows,
The welcoming sun in the skies.
For thousands of miles,
‘Neath myriad starlights,
My Russia rings out like a song.
Plunderers trampled it,
Ravagers strangled it,
Wanting to slay body and soul,
But no one can kill us,
Corrupt us, or buy us,
Or turn us into Europeans.
We threaten no conflicts,
We shake up no purses,
Our smiles and words are not lying.
At the hour of dying
We make no grimaces,
We truly foresee life eternal.
Birches and snowbanks,
Rivers and meadows,
A heavenly coolness and joy.
We sorrow o’er nothing,
We do want for nothing.
God gave Russia all that it needs.

 

– Yu. Klyuchnikov
Translated by Natalia Sheniloff

 

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