Ode to Youth
by Adam Mickiewicz, translated by Jarek Zawadzki
1500057Ode to YouthJarek ZawadzkiAdam Mickiewicz

No Heart, no Spirit – Lo! cadaverous crowds!
O Youth! Pass me thy wings,
And let me o’er the dead earth soar;
Let me vanish in delusion’s clouds,
Where many the Zeal begets a wonder
And grows a flower of novelty up yonder,
Adorned in Hope’s enamellings.

Who by his elder age shall darkened be
His toilsome forehead to the ground bent low,
Let him no more perceive or know
Than his thus lowered selfish eyes may see.

Youth! Up and over the horizons rise,
And smoothly penetrate
With Thy all-seeing eyes
The nations small and great.

Lo there! The space of dearth,
Where putrid vapors in the chaos wrestle:
’Tis Earth!
Up from the waters where the dead wind blows
A shell-clad Reptile rose.
He is his own rudder, sailor and vessel.
He often dives and rises up with little trouble,
For some smaller brutes he craves,
The waves cleave not to him nor he to the waves;
And suddenly he bumps upon a rock and bursts like a bubble.
Nobody knew his life, and of his death nobody wists.

Oh Youth! The ambrosia of life be Thine
When I with friends do share the time so sweet
When youthful hearts at heav’nly feasting meet
And golden threads around them all entwine.

En masse, Young Friends!
In happiness our ends.
Strong in unison, reasoned in rage:
Move on, Young Friends!
And happy he that perished in the strife
If for the others he’d prepared the stage
Of fame and honored life.
En masse, Young Friends!
Though steep and icy be our path
Though force and frailty guard the door:
When force is used, with force respond and wrath;
While young, upon our frailty wage a war.

Who, as a child, detached foul Hydra’s head,
In Youth, shall strangle Centaurs even;
Snatch victims from the Devil dread,
And for the laurels march to Heaven.

Up and reach the places out of sight,
Break that to which the brain can do no harm!
Youth! Mighty as an eagle’s is Thy flight,
As a thunderbolt – Thine arm!

Hey, arm to arm! by chains
Let’s bind the earth around;
To one focus bring each sound,
To one focus spirits bring and brains!

Move on, Thou Clod! Leave the foundations of the world!
We’ll make Thee roll where Thou hast never rolled,
When finally vanishes from Thee the mold,
Green years shall be once more, Thy sails unfurled.

Since in the land of darkness and of night,
The Elements have fallen out;
By a simple “Let there be”, due to Heaven’s might,
The world of things is made;
Gales are blowing, shelters give no shade,
And soon the stars will brighten Heaven all about;

While in the land of men a night so dumb,
The elements of Will are yet at war;
But Love shall soon burst forth like fire;
Out of the dark, the world of Soul will come,
In Youth’s conceived desire,
By friendship braced forever more.

The ice, so long unmoved, is bursting now,
With superstitions that have dimmed the light.
Hail, Dawn of Liberty! Oh, Long live Thou!
Thou carriest the Redeeming Sun so bright.

 This work is a translation and has a separate copyright status to the applicable copyright protections of the original content.


This work was published before January 1, 1929, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.

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