Once in a fictive
time, in a fabulous
land,
a rider forced his
way across the
steppes,

hurried to war, but
in the nearing
distance, through the
steppe’s dust- haze,
the dark wood –

warnings nettles –
scrape at his heart:
tighten your saddle –
fear the forest’s
stream –

but the knight
disobeyed. He rode in
haste,
winged into a rush
onto the wooded
rise.

And leaving the
heights, entering a
withered valley,
passing a forest
clearing,
the rider crossed a
mountain,

strayed into a
hollow, tracked
the path that
animals take and
found the forest’s
stream.

Deaf to half-
heard warning
cries,
he led his
horse to drink.

By the stream, a cave;
facing the cave, a
crossing. Then sulphur
fire suddenly lights the
cave’s entrance,

and through the
crimson steam,
screened from sight, a
distant call
cries to the forest.

Quickening, knight
and horse step
forward toward the
clamour – the rider,
his lance

lowered – until he
sees the dragon –
dragon head,
dragon tail,
dragon scales, dragon jaws.

Dragon-fire lights
a dragon world,
and in the three
rings of
Its tail, a girl is bound.

The snake-tail
lashes,
whipping the
girl’s arms, her
shoulders.

By odd tradition, as
its prey, a beautiful
girl is married yearly
to the monster in the
forest.

A country’s
people pays this
tribute
to a dragon to
redeem their
wretched houses.

A dragon binds its
victim’s arms, strangles
its victim’s voice. A
victim’s torture
is a dragon’s pleasure.

With eyes toward
heaven, entreating the
sky, battling his fortune,
the rider
aims his lance.

And centuries of
closed eyelids.
Summits. Clouds.
Rivers, streams,
crossings. Centuries
of eyelids.

The rider has been thrown
– his helmet trampled in
the battle – but the horse
faithfully tramples the
dragon.

Now horse and dragon
carcass lie together on the
sand –
and the unconscious rider,
and the unconscious
prisoner.

Arched light-worlds at
midday. blue and tender.
Who is
the prisoner? A tsarevna?
Princess? The earth’s
daughter?

From excessive
happiness, excessive tears –
felt inspiration, and
the power of sleep.

And now returning
Life but from a loss
of blood and
strength, only
imprisoned life.

Two hearts battling,
now her heart, now
his; in both, a power
wakes
again to flow again in sleep.

Centuries of closed
eyelids. Summits.
Clouds. Rivers,
streams, crossings.
Centuries of eyes.

Translated by Tony Brinkley

Most recent

Newsletter signup

Like it ? Share it !

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pocket
Share on email

More
articles

LEADERSHIP IN WAR

Winston Churchill had no doubts about the importance of studying history: ‘In history lie all the secrets of statecraft.’ This includes its subset, leadership in war. Great war leaders, as

REFLECTIONS ON ‘A NATION DISMEMBERED’

“But obligations are reciprocal. Those who gained at Trianon have obligations as well. Their obligation is to shape countries with an absolute minimum of injustice so that they can ask

THE ROLE OF THE UNITED STATES IN HUNGARY’S TRIANON TRAGEDY

“The extremely influential pan-Slavic movement and the idea of dismantling Austria–Hungary emerged in Cleveland and Pittsburgh after a long period of Germanization in the nineteenth century, while the quasi-declaration of