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).