A man met Rachel, in a valley. Jacob
Bowed courteously, this wanderer far from home.
Flocks, raising the hot dust, could not slake their
Thirst. The well was blocked with a huge stone.
Jacob wrenched the stone from the well
Of pure water, and the flocks drank their fill.
But the heart in his breast began to grieve,
It ached like an open wound.
He agreed that in Laban’s fields he should serve
Seven years to win the maiden’s hand.
For you, Rachel! Seven years in his eyes
No more than seven dazzling days.
But silver-loving Laban lives
In a web of cunning, and is unknown to grace.
He thinks: every deceit forgives
Itself to the glory of Laban’s house.
And he led Leah firmly to the tent
Where Jacob took her, blind and innocent.
Night drops from on high over the plains,
The cool dews pour,
And the youngest daughter of Laban groans,
Tearing the thick braids of her hair.
She curses her sister and reviles God, and
Begs the Angel of Death to descend.
And Jacob dreams the hour of paradise:
In the valley the clear spring,
The joyful look in Rachel’s eyes,
And her voice like a bird’s song.
Jacob, was it you who kissed me, loved
Me, and called me your black dove?
– by Анна Ахматова (Anna Akhmatova) (1921)
– from Anno Domini MCMXXI translation by D. M. Thomas
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