Modern Russian Poetry/"When, Heaving on the Stormy Waters"
"WHEN, HEAVING ON THE STORMY WATERS"
When, heaving on the stormy waters,
I felt my ship begin to sink,
I prayed, "Oh, Father Satan, save me,
Forgive me at death's utter brink!
"If you will save my soul embittered
From perishing before its hour,
The days to come, the nights that follow
I vow to vice, I pledge to power."
The Devil forthwith snatched and flung me
Into a boat; the sides were frail,
But on the bench the oars were lying
And in the bow an old gray sail.
And landward once again I carried
My outcast soul, bereft of kin,
Upon its sickly vicious sojourn
My body and its gift of sin.
And I am faithful, Father Satan,
Unto my evil hour's vow,
When from my drowning ship you saved me
And when I prayed you guide the prow.
To you descend my praises, Father,
No day from bitter blame exempt.
O'er worlds my blasphemy shall tower;
And I shall tempt—and I shall tempt.