J. Neruda (1834–1891)
THE BLACK LAKE
So silent lies the water, deep and deathly sad:
Around, the silent wood, like grieving myrtle dark,
The dreaming shore, and brown the moss that on it grows,
And any flower the moss reveals is pale as wax.
Here sounds no hum of bees, no singing bird is here,
Only, through empty skies, at times a bird of prey
Screams, and the echoing hills give back a sound as sad
As the sudden sob of muffled tears from far away.
My eyes, with dreams bemused, stare through the water black—
That pool unfathomed, what does it hide below?
Some old Bohemian legend, banished from the land?
Hides here that glassy wall some ring of ancient gods?
Rests here perhaps our great Bohemian hero band?
Noble and heroic, like the gods were you,
Forgotten by Bohemia’s land forlorn,
Forgotten quite by all this generation new.
If they should weep for all their nation’s grief,
Then that dark lake would swell into a darkling sea.
If they, from living breast, should sigh, their sobbing breath
Would send the lake in flooding deluge past its banks.
Below the water’s edge, uneasy is the dream
And ruffled by the breath of them that lie below.
But now their breath is quiet—the breathing of the dead,
Across the lake like chilling breeze it seems to blow.