by Juliusz Slowacki


O Poland ! As long as you imprison
An angelic soul in a boorish skull,
So long your flesh will be hacked by a headsman,
So long your revenge sword will remain dull,
So long a hyena will lie over you
And a grave – your eyes opened in the grave too.

Throw off completely those hideous tatters,
First – that Deianiraís burning attire :
And then arise like great shameless sculptures,
Naked – and bathed up in die Stygian mire,
New – brazen in your iron nakedness –
Not embarrassed by anything – deathless.

Let the people arise at the dead of night
From the quiet grave and frighten the others,
Itís such a big statue – from one block cast tight,
And so hardened, it wonít break under thunders.
But with thunderbolts its hands and wreath are rife,
The eyes that disdain death – the flush of life.

Poland ! You are still deceived with baubles ;
You were the nationsí peacock and parrot,
Now you are a handmaid of other peoples.
Though I know these words wonít quaver a minute
In your heart – where thought doesnít long remain :
I speak – for I am sad – and full of blame.

Ay, curse me – yet my soul will make you run
Like Eumenides – through the snaky canes,
For you are Prometheusís only son :
The vulture doesnít eat your heart – but your brains.
Although in your blood my Muse I will stain,
Iíll reach to your bowelsí core – and pull with a strain.

Put a curse on your son and howl in torment,
But be aware – the hand of the curser
Stretched over me – will coil like a serpent
And snap off, withered away from your shoulder,
Black satans will snatch up the bits of dust then ;
For you have no power to curse – bondwoman !



Song VIII from "Journey to the Holy Land from Naples".


Translated by Michael MIKOS, author of:
Juliusz Slowacki. This Fateful Power. Sesquicentennial Anthology 1809-1949
(Polish-English Edition. Edited and translated by Michael J. Mikos.
Introduction by Alina Kowalczykowa. Lublin: Norbertinum, 1999)
and also Polish Romantic Literature. An Anthology (Bloomington: Slavica, 2003).