Verse > Anthologies > Deutsch and Yarmolinsky, comps. > Modern Russian Poetry
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Deutsch and Yarmolinsky, comps.  Modern Russian Poetry.  1921.
 
Sorrow’s Madness
By Yakov Polonsky (1819–1898)
 
WHEN, clinging to your lidded coffin,
I saw you, love, on your last journey go,
No sobs my maddened heart could soften,
And I seemed dead, like you, below.
Yours was the grave men see so often:        5
Your small frame fitted snugly, so;
With leaden stupor blinded, I beheld it
Vanish, I heard the clods’ soft blow.
My coffin was not thus—but spacious,
And gay with leaves and a blue pall in state.        10
And fastened to it glared the sun of mid-day:
A gilded, gawdy coffin-plate.
Your coffin disappeared beneath wet earth and gravel,
But mine—alas!—still glittered mockingly….
An orphaned soul and widowed, I let my sad eyes travel        15
About me, my heart’s heart, and I could see
How, buried deep in my resplendent coffin,
And bearing death within me, I would sue
For happiness now lost forever;
I knew my nothingness, my thirst for you.        20
I longed to break the spell of numbness—
Lay waste my living tomb, wrench back its bars,
To tear aside the graveclothes of the heavens,
To stamp upon the sun and scatter wide the stars,
And dash across this endless graveyard        25
Where dead worlds fill the graves,
To find your dwelling where no memories languish,
To Death’s void galley chained like sullen slaves.
 
 
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