At blazing noon, in Dagestan’s deep valley,
a bullet in my chest, dead still I lay,
as steam yet rose above my wound, I tallied
each drop of blood, as life now now seeped away.
Alone I lay within a sandy hollow,
as jagged ledges teemed there, rising steep,
with sun-scorched peaks above me, burning yellow,
I too was scorched, yet slept a lifeless sleep.
I dreamt of lights upon an evening hour,
a lavish feast held in my native land,
and fair young maidens garlanded with flowers:
their talk of me was merry and off-hand.
But one of them, not joining their free chatter,
sat timidly apart, bemused, alone,
sunk in a dream, her soul by sadness shattered:
God only knows what made her so forlorn;
she dreamed of sand in Dagestan’s deep valley,
a gorge in which a man she knew lay dead,
black steam still rose above the wound’s scorched hollow,
as blood streamed down and cooled like molten lead.
by Михаил Юрьевич Лермонтов (Mikhail Yuryevich Lermontov)
translated by Alexander Levitsky