Page:A Book of Czech Verse.pdf/47

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J. Neruda (1834–1891)

Perhaps our underworld is here, the dusk beneath the lake.
Through summer twilight once I gazed towards the hills
And saw, along the forest side, some figures strange
Like troops, descending to a cavern deep in rocks.
They seemed no human shapes but rather wisps of cloud,
Through trunks they moved, from branch to branch among the brake,
Before the eye could catch them, drawing near and low
And then, like greyish cloud, dissolving in the lake.

Each day death sends them forth, from living tables haled,
And night-time is too short for all to pass below.
But when the morning hours weave on the shining light,
The shades remaining turn and hurry to the woods.
Each time I stepped within the black woods’ edge
Among the noise of steps I heard strange whispers fly,
And suddenly, with racing blood, I felt on me,
Gazing from gloomy copse, the stare of ghostly eye.

Bend down and gaze upon the trailing creepers brown
Below the water, see the lovely net they form—
Sure something must lie there, within that water calm,
And something must lie hid, within that massive pool.
How light would be that leap, how soft that fall below!
That ring of magic lore would open up its pit—
I know, I firmly hold, that something sleeps below—
For something must lie there, that draws me down to it.

 

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