Cheskian Anthology/Karel Sudimír Šnaidr
Karel Sudimír Šnaidr.
Běda! že se mi tak pozdě
Můza česká wygewila!
Že mne teprw na okragi
Hrobu zpěwcem včinila:
Že až na méze swých
Wenných růži wěnec dáwá
, giž w temný saumrak
Na rozchodnou podáwá!
Should call so late upon the singer,
When on the borders of the grave,
A little while his footsteps linger.
She brings a wreath to deck my bier,
When years all mortal hopes dissever,
And beckons to detain me here,
When evening shades grow thick for ever.
Šnaidr is now justiciarius in Smidar.
Pospěsste sem pacholátka.
From a popular superstition.
Your maidens bring:
The old man o'er his hoary lyre,
Old songs will sing.
The spirits of departed days
And sounds re-echo'd from the past,
Burst on his ear.
Near Hrub-Kozoged's village stream,
An ancient well,
Has held from immemorial time,
A hidden bell.
That bell is veil'd from human eyes,
For ever there;
And never shall its voice again
Summon to prayer.
Once—only once—in centuries gone,
That awful bell
Pour'd on an ancient woman's ear
Its marvellous knell.
She went to wash her flaxen threads
In that old well—
Her threads had bound the bell around,
She shriek'd—and fell.
She shriek'd and fell—and long she lay
In speechless dread—
She dropp'd the threads, and dropp'd the bell,
And frighted fled.
And then the bell, with fearful sound,
Sunk in the well;
And hill and forest echo'd round
Its fateful knell:
"John, John! is for the greyhound gone."
On swift-pac'd steed is homeward gone,
With John, who waits his lord's commands—
His huntsman hold, his faithful John.
His brow is like a tempest cloud,
With angry scowls he looks around—
"Where is my greyhound—where?" aloud
He asks—"Say where my favorite hound?"
And three long wearying days they track
Hill, wood, and every wonted place,
And no one brings the greyhound back,
And none the greyhound's path can trace.
Kozoged's master homeward turns,
As death and midnight dark and drear,
And mourning sighs, and sighing mourns—
"Where is my fav'rite greyhound—where?"
He spoke—and as he spoke—behold
An ancient witch on crutches pass'd,
One-eyed and hunchback'd, haggard, old,
Fierce as a screech-owl—lo! she cast
A hellish light from fiendish eye;
Parch'd skin and bone her wither'd hands.
She call'd—thas like the raven's cry,
Hot—hoarse—the knight astonish'd stands.
"Stop! stop! sir knight! arrest thy steed,
And bid thy train their steeds arrest,
For I can do a friendly deed,
And drive the storm-clouds from thy breast.
I know what thou hast lost—I know
Where thy poor hound is wandering now:
But 'tis in vain to tell thee so,
Thou art incredulous, I vow!
"Deliver me thy John—and I,
Thy fav'rite hound will bring to-morrow.
And dost thou wish to ask me why?
Know that the sorceress can borrow
Youth from youth's blood—the stars above
Have told it—I shall be, in truth,
A, maid of beauty and of love,
Wash'd in the blood-streams of the youth."The youth he chang'd as pale as death,
Few words his anguish. could impel;
'Twixt hope and fear—with stifled breath,
Upon his trembling knees he fell—
"O, gentle master! hear! I pray!
O, listen to mine urgent suit:
Give not thy servant's life away,
His life so precious, for a brute."
But other care, and other thought,
Across his master's bosom fly;
John's pale, cold cheeks he heeded nought,
But turn'd away his careless. eye.
"Give me my hound at morning dawn,"
So to the witch the knight replied,
"And huntsman John shall be thine own—
I swear it—so be satisfied."
The witch is, with the hound, the castle nigh,
The sleepless youth his wretched sentence waits,
He slept not—but prepar'd his soul to die.
Yet once again he sought the knight, and pour'd
His prayer for mercy—"Hear the wretched one;
Give not thy servant to the witch, kind lord!
From life and sunshine banish not thy John."
'Twas vain—the greyhound's bark had reach'd that ear,
Where voice of human sorrow idly fell:
He hugg'd the witch, he hugg'd his greyhound dear,
And order'd a rejoicing festival.
And to the witch, when beam'd the evening star,
He gave his servant fetter'd like a slave;
Two dragons, harness'd to the death-black car,
Bore witch and victim to her mountain-cave.
So fast they glide,
When the lov'd hound—so dearly bought,
Died—aye, he died!
His master, furious, tore his hair,
And groan'd with pain;
Call'd on his hound, his John—he call'd
And groan'd again.At last the gentle lapse of time
Brought to his over-passion'd heart
Some human feeling.
The cruel worm of conscience gnaw'd
His breast within;
And John's dim shadow seated there,
Recall'd the sin!
"My John! my John!" he often cried,
Thou, by the madness of thy lord,
From life uprent:
O bend thy head from highest heaven,
If there though live,
And pitying him who pitied not—
My crime forgive."
At length he rear'd a little church,
To wash his guilt;
And near, a belfry tower of wood,
And there of purest silver hung
A sacred bell,
Which daily—never ceasing—rang
John's funeral knell.
But from the very earliest day,
It struck that knell,
The hearer's teeth all gnash'd with fear;
So terrible its sound—so loud;
No silver sound—
But the church trembled et the noise,
And all around—
"John, John—is for the greyhound gone!"
And bitter were the tears he shed;
He doff'd his robes of knightly glory,
Tore all his honors from his head:
A coarse, rough robe of hair-cloth made him,
Which from that day unchanged he wore,
Then to the wooden tower he sped him,
To be the watchman of the tower.
And lo! his hand uplifted, seizeth
The bell-rope—and begins to toll—
No more the worm of conscience teazeth
His half emancipated soul.
No more the bell those awful noises
Pours—which so many hearts had riven;
It sounds like angels' silver voices,
When echoed through the courts of heaven.
One only vesper-knell was sounded,
The aged watchman toll'd no more:
Death came—and there with peace surrounded,
He sank upon the belfry floor:
The frown upon his brow departed—
Some gentle hand had chas'd the frown,
And there he slumber'd—peaceful-hearted,
All guilt forgiven the guilty one.
Their gloomy shades o'er our Bohemia flinging,
That church in melancholy ruins lay,
The tower o'erturn'd—thebell had ceas'd its ringing:
Yet when that church and tower in fragments fell,
A heavenly angel, clad in light, appearing,
Convey'd the silver relic to the well—
Žizkians! that bell will toll not in your hearing.
From that same hour the crystal waters play
Above the silver bell—in silence sleeping—
There come the thirsty sheep-flocks, as they stray,
And there the revellers of the chase are keeping
Their court—that silver bell in deep repose
Lies cold and voiceless ages without number;
The ancient woman in the water throws
Her flaxen threads—and wakes it from its slumber.
'Twas the last time its awful accents broke—
"John, John—is for the greyhound gone," it mutter'd,
And never more to mortal can it spoke,
Nor noise, nor word, nor whisper has it utter'd.
The neighbours seek the well—their pitchers ﬁll,
They wash their flax—and fear pursues them never;
They know the bell's mysterious tongue is still.
And that it rests beneath the wave for ever.
The silver bell:
For here I end the song I sing,
The tale I tell.
To keep ye listening longer, were
Nor kind, nor wise,
For slumbers bend your weary head,
And dim your eyes.
Yet ere you leave—one passing word,
Our song may suit:
O! trifle not a soul away
Just for a brute.
Bear sorrow's sting with fortitude,
And, O be gentle, kind, and good
To all—to all.Now sleep in blessedness—till morn
Brings its sweet light:
And hear the awful voice of God
Bid ye "Good night!"
Yet ere the hand of slumber close
The eye of care,
For the poor huntsman's soul's repose,
Pour out one prayer.
, 1823, p. 59–69.
- Jan, Jan za chrta — These words are intended to convey the sound of a bell. .