Anthology of Modern Slavonic Literature in Prose and Verse/Beethoven
2. BEETHOVEN. Adagio, op. 27.
O sorrow poignant, burdened and petrified,
O sorrow of statues, which display in temples
Their white and marble-wrought nakedness to pilgrims,
Enter my spirit!
Enter my spirit, wearied with long living.
Rise amid fruitless and overcast days, that all in sable,
Trail one upon the other in sluggish greyness,
O sorrow of exalted, majestical rhythms,
O sorrow of funereal, billowing rhythms,
Where in darkened shrine the black-robed priest
Sanctifies a requiem.
Ah bitter vainness of hope! All must end.
All vanishes, fades, congealed and chilled in ashes.
All outlived and marred. Allis wasted,
Mere shadow amid shadows.
O heaviness amid unsounding, motionless heaviness.
O hand of death, laid suddenly upon the forehead.
O horror of ending, that at the last, sets aquiver the body,
Which long has been dying.
Calm, endless calm! And final oblivion.
Calm of the dead, who are resting in vaults
Under a heavy slab with its arching scutcheon
Of perished kinsmen.
Calm of deadened waves on unquivering oceans,
That many a year no vessel has furrowed,
That darken in tints of metal and duskiness,
Barrenly day upon day. . .
Calm of divine pangs, withering in solitudes,
Calm of tottering crosses, blackened in the twilight,
In decayed and unpeopled regions, abounding
With chillness of horror.
Calm of ancient ships, astray amid oceans,
Which in the North are frozen amid eternal ice,
Whose crews long have perished beneath the masts,
Tortured by hunger.
Calm that is death's, pallid and stiffened,
As the countryside at night in the greenish moonrays,
Calm of all those, who have fared, but to falter
In the midst of the journey.. . .
"Conversations with Death" (1904).