Cheskian Anthology/Paul Joseph Šafarík

2676439Cheskian Anthology1832John Bowring

Paul Joseph Šafarík.

Born 1795.

PAUL JOSEPH ŠAFAŘIK was born in 1795. He is now professor at the gymnasium of Neusatz, in Slavonia. His history of the slavonian language and literature is a work of extraordinary research, and a truly valuable compendium.

Oldřich and Božena

Gen skokem, skokem za námi.

"Now courage! courage! all my merry men,

Break thro' the darksome woods to open sky:

There's smoke—there's vapour on the distant plain,

And sure there is some friendly village nigh."

Thus noble Oldřick from his horse address'd him

To the tired huntsmen, whose distress distress'd him,

And then he spurr'd again his weary steed—

Ah! his was very weariness indeed.

And thrice the evening sun had left the sky,

Since they were wandering in the gloomy wood;

And thrice the morning sun had mounted high,

Since lost among its shadow'd solitude

They stray'd; and now their hearts were faint and fearful:

Yet when they saw their valorous leader cheerful,

Their feeble spirits rous'd them up anew

To lead them even their coming perils through.

"Now, who has heard of this sequester'd spot,

Or who can tell this lonely village' name?"

So ask'd the noble prince—they snswer'd not—

It was a quiet scene, unknown to fame :—

"Go Smjl! there is a village maiden washing

At yon bright stream which from the rocks is dashing,

And she will tell its name, and she will say

How far 'tis distant from the public way."

"God—God in heaven be with thee, lovely maid!"

"And God be with thee, man of noble blood!"

"What is that village far within the glade,

And what and whose is this fair neighbourhood?"

"That village, gentle sir! is Desolation;[1]

'Tis a day's journey from the nearest station

On the high way—unless like you, indeed,

The traveller's mounted on a sturdy steed."

So spoke the affrighted maiden, and hung down—

Alarm'd at her own words—her heaven-blue eyes.

A fiery passion through the breast has flown,

Of the rapt prince, and thus the prince replies:—

"Now tell me, maiden! in what Lord's dominion

"This village lies—in faith—I’m of opinion

That when to wandering way-lost knight you spoke

Of 'Desolation' you but meant to joke."

"Our lord is Count Borowský—not unknown

Perchance to thee, sir knight !—this very day

He to the castle of his sires is gone,

It was but yesterday he pass'd this way:

Here in a horrid gulph our mountain river

Is lost—it rushes raging, thundering ever—

Hence to the gloomy spot, the gloomy name

Of 'Desolation' from gone ages came."

"What is thy name, fair daughter?"—"Božena;

And Křižin is my sire."—"Oh happy he,

Sweet maiden—happy—and all-honor'd they

Who have been favored with a gem like thee."

Nay, sir! to trifle with the poor is cruel!"

"O say not trifle! thou court-worthy jewel—

Blush not—thou need'st not blush, but now farewell,

For time will have another tale to tell."

His steed sprang forward, as a falling star

Seems thro' the quiet vault of heaven to spring;

And they are gone—gone all—and heard afar

The dying echoes of their horse-hoofs ring.

"God of my fathers! O how strange and flighty,

With a poor maiden, are the proud and mighty:

O how my cheeks were burning, when he said,

'Time may tell other tales, thou lovely maid!"

And then his voice was silent—but her cheeks

Crimson'd—aye! crimson'd like an early rose:

Her heart beat high—she bids it rest—she speaks

In vain—its beating loud and louder grows.

The prince mov'd slowly o'er the fields—moved only

In erring steps, but sorrowful and lonely—

While every eye but his was gay and bright,

And every, every heart but his was light.

"Smjl! tell me how such wond'rous charms are hid

In such a solitude—a gem so rare,

Conceal'd beneath so rude a coverlid—

Do village hawthorns such bright roses bear?

Now God shall be my witness—to this beauty

I'll pledge my marriage faith—my marriage duty:

She, only she my wedding bed shall share—

She only shall my wedding honors bear."

The sun sank down again beneath the hill—

Again his first beams on the mountain fall;

And still the prince is wandering forth—and still

His footsteps honor not his golden hall.

But now what splendid rows of light are waking,

What more than sunshine from the earth is breaking?

The walls have put their bright apparel on,

And streams of fire from every door are thrown.

Trara! Trara! the trumpet's sounds invite

The neighbouring peasants to the festal board;

And every bosom trembles with delight,

While bearing its allegiance to its lord.

"O noble prince! our master and protector—

Noble prince! our lord and benefactor!"

He enters thro' the portal at the sound,

And then renew'd rejoicings swell around.

But the "renew'd rejoicings" soon are dumb,

And stillness is where late were noisy joys;

For love, with its anxieties, is come—

Come with its silence, solitude, and sighs.

"Such beauty, and such virtue shine upon her,

They, even the palace of a prince will honor:

None, none but she shall grace my marriage bed,

No other maiden in the world I'll wed."

So when the dawning, when the earliest dawn

Had driven away the darkness—and the power

Of daylight had that canopy withdrawn,

Hung o'er east's golden gates at morning hour—

"Know'st thou the desolate village—hasten thither,

And bring in fascinating maiden hither—

Milota! speed thee, speed thee on thy way,

And tarry not a moment night or day.

"Speed thee—I bid thee speed; and say the prince—

The prince himself will wed th' unparallel'd:

Fly for the god-like child—fly swiftly—since

Till thou return I am in misery held.

Take thou this ring—I charge thee not to linger—

This princely ring, and place it on her finger;

And bring her swiftly to the castle gates,

Where welcome, with her marriage song, awaits."

He springs—he spurs—he speeds—he flies along,

O'er plains, and changing fields, for many a day,

And sometimes he is followed by a throng

Of peasants thro' the dark and doubtful way;

And long they wander—long, ere "Desolation"

Breaks on the inquiring eye of expectation,

And long they track the irriguous path, ere yet

They reach the village for their boundary set.

Morn, early morn, had driven from mortal eyne

All the delusions, all the dreams of sleep:

"O golden mother—golden mother mine—

Strange visions broke upon my slumbers deep

Ere brightening clouds had waked the orient dawning,

Ere night withdrew from heaven its raven awning,

A sad disquiet had disturb'd my breast,

And mingling voices rous'd me from my rest.'

"It was just past the hour of middle night—

I thought I was in iron fetters bound—

I cried—I sought relief in my affright,

But sought in vain—for all was darkness round:

There came a form, a bright sword shaking,

And cut the chains, 'neath which my frame was aching:

A smiling form—it was the very knight

Whose wandering footsteps I directed right.

"And as he rent those heavy bonds in twain,

And freed my fetter'd feet—on high he rais'd

His hand of victory; and he plac'd a chain,

A golden chain, upon my neck—it blaz'd

Brightly as those which high-born dames, attending

At courts oft wear—but while that hand descending

Was clasping that gold chain, some power unknown

Rous'd me, and I was left to muse alone."

"See, then, young daughter! see, how proud and gay

Our great ones live—how beautiful and bright

Their course, and thus the wandering thoughts of day

Roll into steady shapes in dreams at night;

But let the years roll on, our fate controlling

They will bring peace at last, while onward rolling;

While they who follow meteors oft will stray,

And in the fens and fogs will lose their way.

But lo! a numerous cavalcade ascends

The mountain—'tis the Swater cavalcade,

Led by the Družba[2]—surely he intends

Advancing—no! they stop—the astonish'd maid

Cries—"Mother! tell me—what may this betoken?

These rapid-scouring knights—my thoughts are broken;

My dreams are come again—O mother mine!

These strange—these dazzling mysteries divine."

"Fair maid, Božena! we salute thee well"—

"Sire! God be with ye"—"Božena, we come

From our most noble prince, his love to tell,

And to escort thee to hi palace home.

Here take the ring from off his princely finger—

Prepare thee, for we may no instant linger:

Come to that palace, where the village maid

Will wear the princely coronet on her head."

"My daughter honor'd with the princely ring!

The princely token to my daughter sent!

Nay! they are for a princess—do not bring

Your sad jests here—for her it is not meant—

Nay! Can it be? the noble prince could never

Trifle with poverty—knights! I'll endeavour

To credit ye—but no! a simple child—

What should she do with courts?"—serenely mild.

The Družba answered:—"The prince's choice,

The prince must speak to: wandering in the wood

He saw thy daughter's beauty—heard her voice,

And tangled in love's ravishments he stood.

'God is my witness—in this mountain lonely,

My bride shall be that angel maiden only:'

Not once—not once alone, he said, and swore:

See here his written words, and doubt no more."

"O help me—help me, gentle mother mine—

Speak!" and she sank upon her mother's breast.

"O blessings—blessings on that head of thine;

So soon—so much—so marvellously blest.

But haste—prepare thee—feet of fleetness borrow;

Thou maiden! thou wilt be a bride to-morrow,

And thou, the village child, to rank allied,

Bohemia's princess, and Bohemia's pride."

"Rest—troubled spirit rest! in vain, in vain,

I bid the storminess of heart be still:

O weep not—weep not mother!—for again

We meet, and meet in joy:—if love fulfil

Its duties—on a daughter's heart, what other

Hath such a claim as a beloved mother;

And God, meanwhile be with thee—dry thy tear—

God—God be with thee, both to calm and cheer."

They mount—they move—they hurry, and they fly

Through meadows, fields and towns; and lo! a throng

Of villagers on foot, that follow nigh,

To guide them thro' perplexing paths along

And onward—onward, from Ztracena's border

The crowded phalanx moves in cheerful order,

Till in the mists of growing distance shrin'd

They leave the desolate village far behind.

And onward—onward ever—up the hill,

And down the vale they pass—and sparks of fire

Thick as the dust, the rocky pathway fill:

The maiden here—and there in gay attire

The Swater—all—in low respect and duty,

Turning their eyes upon the affianc'd beauty,

As in the sunny beams, the enamour'd air

Play'd with the curls of her luxurious hair.

And thrice the dewy morn upon the ground

Hath scatter'd its fresh pearls, since first they took

Their way from out the palace portals—bound

To the fair maiden's cot, in its deep nook;

And now the prince hath bid his nobles meet him,

In full assemblage—they are there—they greet him

With loud rejoicings as he treads the hall,

And thus he makes his purpose known to all.

"Nobles! not noble only from high blood,

But from high virtues—ye have urg'd me long

To cheer the hours of princely solitude,

And choose a bride—nor was your counsel wrong:

Your will shall be fulfill'd, for love hath driven

His bolt into my heart.—To-day at even

At mine own table, nobles! you shall see

The maiden whom I choose my bride to be.

"She comes from Desolation—all her friends—

Her parents—all—were train'd by poverty:

Her beauty for her birth shall make amends—

Her virtues shall be titles, lords! to me.

Know, then, I choose Božena—know I choose her,

Not the frank tribute of respect refuse her;

For she alone—and I have sworn it—she

The privileg'd sharer of my bed shall be."

There was a noise confus'd of sigh and groan,

And hiss and hem—each look'd upon the rest—

The noise was still'd—who shall address him?—None!

Who hurl the perilous burden from his breast?

At last Bořin Borowsky—his fair daughter

Destin'd to princely bed the noble thought her—

Borowsky, sovereign of the desolate spot,

Gave vent to his annoy'd and peevish thought.

"'Tis our desire—our duty to obey

Our lord's high will—to honour his behest;

But here 'tis hard—no more I dare to say—

'Tis hard—our silence, prince, must speak the rest;

Yet will I add, that there is many a maiden

Of noble blood, with wealth and honours laden,

Who might—thou hast preferr'd a peasant low

To noble ladies, for it pleas'd thee so.

"So it hath pleas'd thee—but thou hast forgot

The usage of thy sires—and as we trust

Thy sons—a peasant's blood may mingle not

With a patrician's—look around—there must

Amidst thy court, be some fair lady, worthy—

That we may hold the nuptial banner o'er thee:

Yet think—yet think a moment, lest foul shame

Should taint the glory of thy father's name.

"Prince! prince! can'st thou forget thine ancestry?

Hast thou no memory of departed days?

And is my father's name unknown to thee?

That name which well may dazzle by its blaze—

Krok—he the first of nobles—he who founded

His country's freedom—and its resounded

So widely—Krok—his country's judge and friend;

What blessings on his memory still attend."

He said, to whom the Prince "Shall subjects choose,

Where, whom they will, and by their choice evince

Their sense, and build their bliss; and ye refuse

The privilege of his subjects to your prince?

Is rank more dear than happiness?—high station,

Nought but a mark for sorrow and vexation?

No! love has mark'd me out a flower-strown way,

I hear his mandate, and I must obey."

But hear! but hear! the tramping hoofs of steeds;

Tramp, tramp, tramp, tramp, and now their riders’ voice—

Up starts the prince—another knight succeeds

Another, and another at the noise.

"O welcome! welcome! welcome—maiden fairest!

Sweetest of women—bride, and all that's dearest,

Come to my arms, thou sweetest, gentlest, best,

And cling thee—cling thee to thy lover's breast."

"Forgiveness, noble prince—forgive! if fear

Have for a moment flutter'd in my heart—

Indeed, indeed, 'tis thine—and, trembling, here

I yield it."—"Maiden! bid all fear depart—

No fear be here, still, still the heart that trembled,

For here the wedding guests are all assembled;

The wedding festival is waiting now,

And nought was wanting—nought, sweet maid! but thou."

What fear o'ercame the bashful maiden then,

When sinking on love's over-raptur'd breast:

O what rejoicing—what an Eden—when

Her o'er-excited spirit found sweet rest.

Pani![3] This maiden for my bride I've taken,

My bride, your princess!—-now let joy awaken,

And let that joy ascending from the heart,

A lustre to each gladden'd eye impart.

"Blessings be with thee, prince! and princess! thou

Be blest with countless blessings!—thus we bear

Our consecration to the marriage now,

And ask the blessings of the Eternal here!"

Voices of joy, until the sun retreated,

Rose from the palace—and when evening greeted

The guests—young virgins went, and blushing, spread

The fairest roses on the nuptial bed.

Krasořečnjk, p. 5.

Jarmila to Slawislaw.

Gak darmo prsy hožj.

How vainly, vainly burns my breast,

It burns an unextinguish'd fire;

And what can still desire to rest?

What stop the ragings of desire?

Can love, can burning love be quell'd

By love's reciprocal return?

Alas! the fires my bosom held,

Still raging in that bosom burn.

Where thorns around the rose-stem grew

There pour'd I forth my plaints forlorn;

Where my desire to sadness flew,

There did the rose-stem feed the thorn.

Yes! where desire to sadness fled,

It was my only lot to sigh,

Where thorns were by the roses fed,

There did my plaints ascend on high.

Alas! to sigh—to sigh—to sigh,

Is sweetness to a sadden'd breast:

Has love no consolation nigh—

lts sighs—and will they bring it rest?

And will they lull the soul from pain,

And sorrow's wild rebellions lull—

To sigh, and sigh, and sigh again,

Is sweetness to a sadden'd soul.

  1. Ztracená, literally—the lost—abandoned—deserted. Ztracenj—loss—perdition.
  2. Družba—(Paranymphus) the leader of the marriage attendants or Swater.
  3. Lords.