The Maiden's Nights
Translated by C. H. Andrusyshen and Watson Kirkconnell
The maiden nights
Bring beauty's blights...
Mariana, The Nun
Unplaited braids of maiden's hair
Down to her waist fall free;
Her heaving breasts are now revealed
Like waves amid the sea;
Her hazel eyes are gleaming fair,
Like stars at night they shine;
Her snow-white arms are now outspread
As longing to entwine
A young man's form—her fingers tense,
Sunk in her pillow cold,
Grow numb and rigid there. She weeps;
Her hands at last unfold:
"What use is all my grace to me,
My soft and dove-like eyes,
My supple shape . . . If I have not
A husband as my prize?
If none I have whom I may love,
With whom my soul may meet? ...
My heart, my heart, how hard it is
For you alone to beat!
With whom, alas, am I to live,
O wicked world? Ah me,
What use is reputation's fame
And my virginity?
I want to love, I want to live
With heart and not with face!
The wicked people round about
Are envious of my grace!
They call me proud, they call me vain,
And they are not aware
Of all the longing in my breast
That life has hidden there ...
But let them call me what they will —
The sin be theirs! But only,
Dear God, pray shorten for my heart
These nights so dark and lonely,
So difficult for me to bear!
By day I'm not alone:
Out in the fields, I greet the fields
And there forget my moan.
But in the night ...
Her voice was mute.
She drooped, a weeping willow,
Stretched out her arms, and fiercely sank
Her fingers in the pillow.
1844, St. Petersburg