2676328Cheskian Anthology1832John Bowring

M. Z. Polak.

Born 1788.

MILOTA ZDIRAD POLAK was born in Zásmuky the 29th February, 1788. He devoted himself from his youth to military studies and the military service, and was lately adjutant to Baron Koller. He twice accompanied the austrian troops to Italy, and remained some time in Naples, gathering up materials for an interesting work, which he published in 1820, entitled Cesta do Italie. But of his writings, his Wzešenost přjrody—Sublimities of nature—a lyrico-didactic poem, is best known. It evidences an exquisite sense of the beauties of creation, and is undoubtedly one of the most remarkable productions of the bohemian press. He now inhabits Vienna, where it is believed he is employed in braiding wreaths of the flowers he gathered under the bright suns of Italy.

Sil sem proso na sauwrati, nebudu ho žjti.

I've sown the millet,[1] yet I dare not reap the millet sown,

I've lov'd the maiden, and I shrink fromm calling her my own.

To saw and reap not-love and keep not—strange and sad decree;

Sown, not gather'd—lov'd, not wedded—luckless doom for me.

Beneath the ash tree, near the mill upon the mountain brow,

My maiden swore eternal love—where is her promise now?

I gave a garland—from a farland—and she gave a ring

To her lover—idle treasure—which no love could bring.

To those fair lips, as poppies red, what kisses have I given;

How often round that swan-like maid play'd like the breeze of heaven.

In love's own madness—danc'd with gladness—smil'd but 'twas to sigh:

Nights all-sleepless—chas'd the error—sad and lone was I.

At morning ere the matin bell—and ere the matin prayer[2]

I rose to hear the choral songs of minstrels of the air.

The forests shaded—I invaded—and my hapless eye

Ah! false maiden—wretched lover—saw—O agony!

'Twas in the valley's deepest dell[3] she sat—and not alone;

I heard the vow—I saw the kiss—she smil'd—he said 'Mine own'

He fondly press'd her—I address'd her—'Wretched, wretched be;' Sown not gather'd—lov'd not wedded—luckless doom for me.

Kraska to Kwétoslaw.

Na kwětných mne březých wždy nech obýwati.

Yes! let me wonder by that flower-bank'd stream

Which pours its fountains out by Praga's wall;

Go! toil for honor in the fields of fame:

Fame—all Bohemia wakens at its call.

Where my young days pass'd by in blissful thought

Is now a dreary solitude to me;

The scenes which peace and love and beauty brought

Are darkness all—because estrang'd from thee.

Thou wert an ever-sparkling light—but now

Art a pale meteor-trembling in the sky:

I see thy name carv'd on the maple's bough,

Or by the moon's gold sickle writ on high;

There do my loud sighs wed them to the wind,

And harps æolian in the grotto play;

Be present to my eyes—as to my mind—

Hither again—O hither bend thy way.

'Midst the dark foliage in the full-moon's light

Thou didst first fan the fire of holiest love;

There did my pure lips pledge their early plight,

While listening nightingales were group'd above.

Hear (saidst thou) hear my words than blue-bright heaven;

Hear them, thou moon! whom yon fair stars attend;

And if I leave thee—curs'd and unforgiven

Let poison with each breeze, each breathing blend.

O thou wilt see, bewitching, blinding maids,

Maids who o'er youth's fond dreams supremely reign;

And thou wilt then forget Bohemia's shades,

And thou wilt wear affection's foreign chain.

Those ringlet-tresses—those black, beaming eyes

I know they will intoxicate—I know

How they will dazzle—while thy Kraska flies

Fading and fading more—and dwells with woe.

I hear the rattling troop—I feel the earth

Is shaking 'neath the chargers—so begone.

I hear the drums loud rolling—and the mirth

Of battle-loving heroes—Kwétslaw—on!

On to the banner! yet one kiss—thou hold

Heart-chosen man—fame calls thee—no delay;

Take the sharp steel—'tis glittering in its hold;

Thy Kraska's hand shall bind it—now away!

Now battle like a Českian—and success,

Success walk still unwearied at thy side,

Courageous but discreet—Yet forward press

As cataracts adown the mountain side.

The kiss I give thee now, O let it burn

Like sacred fire upon thy lips—until

To thine enraptur'd maid thou shalt return—

And godlike thoughts her widening bosom fill.

Kwětoslaw to Kráska.

Wlast mne wolá, Krásko! oko drahé zgasni.

My country calls me, Kraska! dry thine eyes,

Disturb not with thy tears youth's quiet flow;

Rend not my heart—nor chill thine own with sighs;

Thy rosy cheeks are mantled o'er with snow—

Weep not because thy Českian leaves thee—No!

The mighty lion on the flag unfurl'd,

Roars with loud voice, and bids the warriors go—

Wealth, heart, and blood—our country—and the world.

How sweet and silent were our early days,

Gliding like meadow streamlets soft and still;

Enjoyment threw o'er every hour its rays,

Anxious, life's cup with flowing bliss to fill.

But soon—too soon—that bliss has been o'ercast,

Which made me the world’s envy—now the frost,

The silver frost of sorrow malies a waste

Of my once glowing spirit—All is lost.

Yet will I prize thy love—the love I've sworn,

That love shall lead through immortality.

Think not that white-arm'd maidens' smile or scorn,

Can for an instant lure my thoughts from thee.

No dimples, howsoever lovely—grace,

Howe'er majestic—pearly teeth in rows—

Mouth breathing sweets—Can these—can these efface

Thy memory? Never!—or thy sway oppose?—

In the night's silence—at the twilight's dawn,

Whene'er I gird my sabre to my side—

When eve around the hills her clouds has drawn—

Then—always—shall I think of thee—and glide

In fancy to thy presence—midst the roar

Of cannons—and the flash of swords—bud hiss

Of bullets—while like seeds of thistles o'er

Torn limbs fly by—thy love shall be my bliss.

Should I return to our bohemian land,

When the blest trump of peace is heard again,

What bliss—what bliss supreme to take thy hand—

How will my spirit thrill with rapture then!

Thy rosy lips my eager kiss shall press,

My arms around thy smiling form shall be;

Thine eyes—thy cheeks—the kiss of love shall bless;

O! the unutterable extasy!

Hark! hark ! the trumpet's call—the banner flies

High flapping in the wind—our lions shake

Their grisly manes—thou maid of Paradise,

Come hither—come—thy hero's sabre take,

And gird it on—and bless him—and one kiss—

One kiss—and then—and then—what words can tell

My thoughts—thou joy, hope, peace, song, love, and bliss—

My more than heaven—farewell—farewell—farewell!

  1. Na sauwrati—On the edge of the field.
  2. Na klekanj—The thrice-repeated singing in the Catholic churches to morning, noon, and evening prayers.
  3. W roklince—a small valley between two rocks.