Aleksandr Blok THE SCYTHIANS
Transl. Alex Miller
Panmongolism - a wild, wild word;
But sweet it falls upon mine ear.
You are but millions. Our unnumbered nations
Are as the sands upon the sounding shore.
We are the Scythians! We are the slit-eyed Asians!
Try to wage war with us - you'll try no more!
You've had whole centuries. We - a single hour.
Like serfs obedient to their feudal lord,
We've held the shield between two hostile powers -
Old Europe and the barbarous Mongol horde.
Your ancient forge has hammered down the ages,
Drowning the distant avalanche's roar.
Messina, Lisbon - these, you thought, were pages
In some strange book of legendary lore.
Full centuries long you've watched our Eastern lands,
Fished for our pearls and bartered them for grain;
Made mockery of us, while you laid your plans
And oiled your cannon for the great campaign.
The hour has come. Doom wheels on beating wing.
Each day augments the old outrageous score.
Soon not a trace of dead nor living thing
Shall stand where once your Paestums flowered before.
O Ancient World, before your culture dies,
Whilst failing life within you breathes and sinks,
Pause and be wise, as Oedipus was wise,
And solve the age-old riddle of the Sphinx.
That Sphinx is Russia. Grieving and exulting,
And weeping black and bloody tears enough,
She stares at you, adoring and insulting,
With love that turns to hate, and hate - to love.
Yes, love! For you of Western lands and birth
No longer know the love our blood enjoys.
You have forgoten there's a love on Earth
That burns like fire and, like all fire, destroys.
We love cold Science passionately pursued;
The visionary fire of inspiration;
The salt of Gallic wit, so subtly shrewd,
And the grim genius of th German nation.
We know the hell of a Parisian street,
And Venice, cool in water and in stone;
The scent of lemons in the southern heat;
The fuming piles of soot-begrimed Cologne.
We love raw flesh, its color and its stench.
We love to taste it in our hungry maws.
Are we to blame then, if your ribs should crunch,
Fragile between our massive, gentle paws?
[We know just how to play the cruel game
Of breaking in the most rebellious steeds;
And stubborn captive maids we also tame
And subjugate, to gratify our needs…]
Come join us, then! Leave war and war's alarms,
And grasp the hand of peace and amity.
While still there's time, Comrades, lay down your arms!
Let us unite in true fraternity!
But if you spurn us, then we shall not mourn.
We too can reckon perfidy no crime,
And countless generations yet unborn
Shall curse your memory till the end of time.
We shall abandon Europe and her charm.
We shall resort to Scythian craft and guile.
Swift to the woods and forests we shall swarm,
And then look back, and smile our slit-eyed smile.
Away to the Urals, all! Quick, leave the land,
And clear the field for trial by blood and sword,
Where steel machines that have no soul must stand
And face the fury of the Mongol horde.
But we ourselves, henceforth, we shall not serve
As henchmen holding up the trusty shield.
We'll keep our distance and, slit-eyed, observe
The deadly conflict raging on the field.
We shall not stir, even though the frenzied Huns
Plunder the corpses of the slain in battle, drive
Their cattle into shrines, burn cities down,
And roast their white-skinned fellow men alive.
O ancient World, arise! For the last time
We call you to the ritual feast and fire
Of peace and brotherhood! For the last time
O hear the summons of the barbarian lyre!
January 30, 1918