MY TESTAMENT

 

by Juliusz Slowacki

 

I have lived with you, suffered and shed tears with you.
No noble person have I ever passed aside.
Today I leave you, ghosts in shadows to pursue,
And if happiness were here – in sorrow I stride.

I have not left behind me a single offspring
Either to play my lute or to carry my name ;
My name has passed away like a flash of lightning,
And will last for generations like an empty strain.

But you that have known me, pass to all in legend
That I wore out my youth for the land of my fathers ;
When the ship struggled – I stood at the mast to the end,
And when she was sinking – I too drowned in deep waters...

Yet some day, pondering about the destined lot
Of my poor homeland, any noble man will consent
That my spiritís cloak was not by begging begot,
But as my ancestorsí glories shines resplendent.

Let my faithful friends at night gather together
And burn up my poor heart in die leaves of aloe,
Return it to die one who gave it to me later :
So the world pays mothers – giving them ashes to stow...

Let my friends sit down, each one holding a goblet,
And drown in wine my burial – and their own despair...
If I am a spirit, Iíll appear to them yet,
If God frees me from torment, I will not come there...

But I beg you – let the living not lose hope ever
And bear the torch of learning before their compatriots ;
And when called, go to their death one after another,
Like the stones tossed by die Lord onto the ramparts...

As for me – I am leaving a small group of friends,
Those who were able to love my haughty spirit ;
One can see I have fulfilled Godís hard assignments
And assented to have here – an unwept casket...

Who else would go on without the worldís accolades,
Such indifference to the world as I display ?
To be the helmsman of a boat thatís filled with shades,
And fly off as quietly as the shade flies away ?

And yet I leave behind me this fateful power,
Useless while I live... it just graces my temples ;
But when I die, it will, unseen, press you ever,
Till it remakes you, bread eaters – into angels.

 

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).