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🚧From in the village

Максім Багдановіч
Максім Багдановіч на
Ведах беларускіх

Translated by


Once upon a working day in summer-time I passed through a village. In a dreary line On both sides of the winding narrow lane, the houses Stood there, grey, decayed, like old rags, dull and frowsty; In the walls their windows staring blindly back, And even the thatch itself was rotted black.

All was ruins, grown old; here death had come crawling. Only here and there was something still adorning The village dreariness. The poppy still unfurled Bright flowers like butterflies, where many colours swirled, Beside the path, and with them made the soul grow carefree. Then, too, one might notice here and there a pear-tree, Crooked, gnarled with age… and that, indeed, was all — But no one to be seen, no people, none at all — All in the fields. No trace of bright skirt for a moment, No new bride passed with pails to bear the water homeward. No white caps of peasants to be seen, nowhere, No sounds of colts’neighing echoes in the air, No sad song was heard, floating, ringing, flying…

Then, how strange! There came the sound of infant crying. Hearing this, I started and looked round. Alas!

I’d scared a little boy. He crawled upon the grass Beside the path, on hands and knees, poor little baby, Towards his nursemaid — she a girl of eight years, maybe — And now he’d reached her, and into her lap straightway He hid his little head, voice fearful with dismay, And, as the tip of a small birch nods in the breezes, The girl bent to the little boy to calm and ease him. And wiped his tears, and started murmuring to him, Exactly, as a mother would. And thus, within One living form, the two mingled and merged together, The stature of a girl, manner of a mother.

At that moment she, childlike in form, and thin, Seemed sudden to appear filled to the very brim With some far-spreading native loveliness within her,

■ кШІ ! 56

And, I recall, my soul grew finer for an instant, But maybe in the girl it was not loveliness — In that thin, grubby, puny little girl expressed — But something higher which great Raphael endeavoured To show through the features of Our Lord’s own Mother.

Translated by Vera Rich.

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Collections: Belarusan Lyric poetry