Cyprian Kamil Norwid

1821-1883 / Poland

A Funeral Rhapsody In Memory Of General Bem

Iusiurandum patri datum usqueathanc diem ita servavi... Hannibal


- Why ride away, Shadow, hands broken on the mail,
Sparks of torches playing around your knees -?
The laurel-green sword is spattered with candle tears,
The falcon strains, your horse jerks its foot like a dancer.
- Pennons in the wind blow against each other
Like moving tents of nomad armies in the sky.
Long trumpets shake in sobbing and banners
Bow their wings which droop from above
Like spear-pierced dragons, lizards and birds...
Like the many ideas you caught with your spear...


Mourning maidens go, some lifting their arms
Filled with scent-sheaves torn apart by the wind;
Some gather into shells tears breaking from the cheek,
Some still seek the road that was built centuries ago...
Others dash against the ground huge pots of clay
Whose clatter in cracking yet adds to the sorrow.


Boys strike hatchets blue against the sky,
Serving lads strike light-rusted shields,
A mighty banner sways amid the smoke, its spear-point
Leaning, as it were, against the arcs of heaven...


They enter and drown in the valley... emerge in the moonlight
Blackening the sky, an icy glare brushes them
And glimmers on blades of spears like as tar unable to fall,
The chant suddenly ceased, then splashed out like a wave...


On - on - till it's time to roll into the grave :
We shall behold a black chasm lurking beyond the road
(And to cross it humanity will not find a way)
Over the edge we shall spear-thrust your steed
As though with a rusting spur...


And we'll drag the procession, saddening slumber-seized cities,
Battering gates with urns, whistling on blunted hatchets,
Till the walls of Jericho tumble down like logs,
Swooned hearts revive - nations gather the must from their eyes.. .
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