Nikolai Stepanovich Gumil

1886 - 1921 / Russia

The Lost Tram

I walked an unfamiliar street
And suddenly heard a raven's cry,
And the sound of a lute, and distant thunder,-
In front of me a tram was flying.

How I jumped onto its foot board,
Was a mystery to me,
Even in daylight it left behind
A fiery trail in the air.

It rushed like a dark, winged storm,
And was lost in the abyss of time...
Tram-driver, stop,
Stop the tram now.

Too late. We had already turned the corner,
We tore through a forest of palms,
Over the Neva, the Nile, the Seine
We thundered across three bridges.

And slipping by the window frame,
A poor old man threw us an inquisitive glance-
The very same old man, of course,
Who had died in Beirut a year ago.

Where am I? So languid and troubled
The beat of my heart responds:
'Do you see the station where you can buy
A ticket to the India of the soul?'

A sign...Blood-filled letters
Announce: 'Zelennaya,'-I know that here
Instead of cabbages and rutabagas
The heads of the dead are for sale.

In a red shirt, with a face like an udder,
The executioner cuts my head off, too,
It lies together with the others
Here, in a slippery box, at the very bottom.

And in a side street a board fence,
A house three windows wide, a gray lawn...
Tram-driver, stop,
Stop the tram now.

Mashenka, you lived here and sang,
You wove me, your betrothed, a carpet,
Where are your voice and body now,
Is it possible that you are dead?

How you groaned in your front chamber,
While I, in a powdered wig,
Went to introduce myself to the Empress
Never to see you again.

Now I understand: our freedom
Is only an indirect light from those times,
People and shadows stand at the entrance
To a zoological park of planets.

And a sudden, familiar, sweet wind blows,
A horseman's hand in an iron glove
And two hooves of his horse
Fly at me over the bridge.

That faithful stronghold of Orthodoxy,
Isaac's, is etched upon the sky,
There I will hold a service for Mashenka's health
And a requiem mass for myself.

And my heart goes on forever in gloom,
It is hard to breathe and painful to live...
Mashenka, I never would have dreamed
That such love and longing were possible.
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