The hope a mooncalf follows
is sacrifice for slaughter,
and yet the wings of swallows
still skip across the water. 

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The Calm of the Sea

Upon the height of Tarkankut

The pennant at the crow’s nest rises with the breeze,
Shafts of sunlight play upon the water’s breast
As on a bride-to-be who wakes to sigh and rest,
And wakes again and sighs for dreams that better please.
 
On naked spars the banner-shaped sails hang at ease.
The vessel is in chains now, leeside facing west,
Lulled by slow rocking. Passengers lampoon in jest,
Swabbies sigh to one another, slapping knees.
 
Blithe Sea! Among your jolly living creatures is
The polyp, sleeping in your depths when dark clouds swarm,
Wielding longish arms amid each starfish grave.
 
Sweet dreams! Below a hydra of remembrances
Sleeps in the middle of mishaps and raging storm,
And when the heart is calm, its pincers flash and wave.
 
after the Polish of Adam Mickiewicz (1798-1855)
translated by Leo Yankevich
first appeared in the Sarmatian Review
 
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© by Leo Yankevich
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