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🚧The Chronicler

Максім Багдановіч
Максім Багдановіч на
Ведах беларускіх

Translated by


His soul grown weary-tired in life’s stern tempests fending, Within cloister walls his days he now is ending. Here is silence, here is calm — no hubbub and no noise. Copying a chronicle four years he has employed.

Copying the whole from an ancient parchment, From first word to the last, of Mahilov’ and what passed there. And here are deeds of good and ill-deeds equally Set in the record. Just so the industrious bee Even from bitter flowers can fill its combs with honey. Then of events he saw he adds true testimony.

Here are the things which came to pass in former ages, What men thought then, and of what disputed sagely, Why they fought, and how the true faith they defended — By this paper all made known to their descendants! All is long-forgotten, dead, on waters drifting — But not it will arise, once more in memory living, When they find his simple, unadorned narration, Telling of that life, its hopes, its expectation.

Just so the blue sea carries to the shore To us a little flask where resin once was poured, Covered with small mussel shells and mud. Long, truly, It lay in the water, much it did endure there; Some fisherman may find the bottle, stave it in, And, so it happens, they may find there is, within, A letter. By the custom of the sea, some message Sent by shipwrecked sailors. Somewhere they have perished In the ocean; maybe centuries rolled on Since that time, maybe the nation now is gone, And all is changed, and even memory is drowsing! But, letters, you once more will waken and arouse men, And then about their forebears they will learn, and read About their woes and joys, about their noted deeds, To whom they made their player, what for they were seeking, Were on the deep sea floor the waves forever keep them.

Translated by Vera Rich.

*An ancient city in eastern Byelorus, first mentioned in the chronicles as a fortress in 1267 and as a town in 1526.

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Collections: Belarusan Lyric poetry