Anthology of Modern Slavonic Literature in Prose and Verse/To Theodor Mommsen
4. TO THEODOR MOMMSEN.
To you, who have treacherously assailed my nation, covetous dotard,
Brutish, overweening! To you, on the brink of the grave,
Arrogant bastard of Roman emperors and conquering Germania;
To you, dotard, blinded by vainglory,
I chant the infuriate song of a barbarian, aroused by the smiting of hoofs.
With metallic buffetings
Scornfully I smite your enwrinkled visage,
O bestial fanatic of relentless Kaiserdom;
Your shrivelled temples I smite, your turgid Neronic lips I smite,
Covered with foaming of impotent fury.
Was this the "reason" you discovered amid the ruins of Rome,
Which now seeks to lay in store of flesh for the slaughter-house,
And to shatter the brains of manacled and vanquished victims?
For your unified Imperium to humiliate bondsmen in hordes,
Whom gladly you viewed trampled upon in triumphal arrays,
Humiliated by Roman Caesars, the bondsmen in hordes,
Meet to be fashioned into saleable myrmidons to enrol for the Imperium.
Arrogant spokesman of slavery!
Do you behold naught else but the blossoming peaks of your country,
And all beyond would you leeringly crunch
Beneath war-chariots of the conquerors
And their uncouth tread?
Now, after battle-triumphe of your Imperium,
You hankered to enslave what of Europe remained,
To enslave, to enslave, woefully to enslave,
Bondsmen predestined for seizure, dung for enriching of soil,
Beasts to be yoked to the chariot of triumph,
And from them you deemed barbarians, to break in levies
For the Imperium, your insatiate Imperium.
But, even as once, long ago
We flouted the flabby wisdom of your Luther,
Reformer purveying peace unto contentedly fattened townsmen,
Begetting children with God-abiding spouses,
And stifling freedom,
So now do we flout your crude, senile wisdom!
It is enkindled not by sorrow of us, nor of all humanity;
Therein is not the purity that perishes for its faith;
Therein is not the passion wherewith the martyr of Constance was ablaze;
And therefore, brutish dotard,
Grown hoary in the service of your baneful Imperium,
From whose relentless wisdom are hidden the mysteries of maltreated spirits,
What avail you now your lore and your revered gray hairs?
Your sorry wisdom has conceived not the light of righteousness,
Nor the gladness of youthful nations in their own destining;
Has conceived not that an ancient culture durst not enslave,
Would it warm and illumine,
And not be but a chafing and burdensome
Monstrous millstone about the neck of a galley-slave!
What avail you revered gray hairs, since you babble senile saws,
O dotard, tottering on the brink of the grave;
Since you have forgotten to proclaim unison and humaneness,
Destruction of tyrannies and of hatred;
Since you have forgotten to reconcile the world and its frail being,
And to utter a prayer for all-accomplishing compassion?
What avail you revered gray hairs, since you drudge for darkness,
In an age when a myriad slaves hunger with an all-human suffering
And clamour at the portals of retrieval!
Since through the causeways of ancient cities range spirits of anarchy
Scoffing at your Kaiserdom;
Since from down-trodden bondsmen of all castes and all nations,
Flicker the first torches of humanity,
Even as from amid the barbarians impaled upon stakes by Nero,
Blazed forth the lustre of Christendom!
Over your grave, that our grandsons shall forget not,
They will glitter, torches ablaze, unto your sightless eyes,
And will lay bare your words, wherein is sealed the downfall of your race;
—But ere that, I, with the retaliation of disdain
Welling up from the sorrowful soil of this cowering age,
Advance to the rim of your grave,
And fling it upon you, despotical dotard,
That with this grinding reproach you may be burdened eternally, eternally. . .