Poem Hunter
(12th March 1955 / Victoria, Gozo)


Poem By Ivan Bunin

A barge mysterious in the thick of night
Sailed slowly to the somber shore
Beneath the ramparts of the dreaming fort
How silent how austere how still
The lapping of the waves against the barge.

Whence is the barge coming in the night?
Whence did its journey start?
By night or day?

No reply came – and none in that still barge
Appeared to reply or move or breathe:
So horrid thin the stillness in the barge
The barge mysterious in the thick of night.

Anon near the shore it stopped awhile
And there without a pilot stood, without a hope
Of towing to the shore though near stood:
Slow imperceptible moved it with the waves
That danced in the dim lights of the old fort
That drowsed and drowsed ignored
The lapping of the waves against the barge.

And then of sudden lo! It moved as if
Sprung by some unwound spring or else
Like a thing startled at its guilt
At seeing the hiding draperies of the night
Slip slowly down before the toll of dawn
The barge mysterious in the thick of night
Sailed all invisible to another land
Where night still holds its scepter sway
And eerie bats their piercing cries emit.

Ay, ay that slow mysterious barge
Is into the long night so far away
Gone, gone from the eyes gone from the dawn
From good and virtue called it moved and went
To where the evil witches danced the night
In hidden lands by human eyes unseen.

And good and virtue and evil and all – are relative.

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Other poems of BUNIN (18)

Comments (10)

thank you again.. P.S.: I'm going to translate the lines in between.. I'll send you the full text in Italian
BTW, you can find the eBook ''WHISPERS TO THE WORLD - SUSSURRI AL MONDO'' at Amazon - a promotion is starting today - Sept.1: it will be FREE for download for 5 days (September 1-5)
QUESTA E' (parte della) MIA TRADUZIONE IN ITALIANO (spero sia accettabile) : [......] Emmanuel George Cefai, “Una Chiatta Misteriosa Nel Cuore Della Notte” (2011) [......] Il poema si apre con l'inspiegabile, ed in definitiva inconoscibile, arrivo della chiatta misteriosa in un porto del mondo civile: Una chiatta misteriosa nel cuore della notte Veleggiò lentamente verso la mesta riva Sotto i bastioni della fortezza sognante. Quanto silenzioso quanto austero quanto calmo Lo sciabordio delle onde sulla chiatta. Da dove viene la chiatta che arriva nella notte? Dove ebbe inizio il suo viaggio? Nessuna risposta venne - e nessuno su quella ferma chiatta Apparve per rispondere o si mosse o respirò: Così orrida, affilata, la quiete nella chiatta La chiatta misteriosa nel cuore della notte. [..] Nonostante le sue dimensioni e la progressione maestosa attraverso le acque, la chiatta si allontana improvvisamente come fosse spinta dalla propria volontà. Nella strofa finale la voce parlante è privilegiata da una segreta conoscenza che sembra essere un fardello di cui liberarsi, condividendolo finalmente con il pubblico: [..] Sì, sì quella lenta misteriosa chiatta Si è nella lunga notte allontanata Andata, via dagli occhi via dall’alba Dal bene e dalla virtù chiamata si mosse e andò Là dove le streghe maligne danzarono di notte In terre arcane, non viste da occhi umani. La parola che meglio descrive l'impatto di questa poesia è ‘Solennità’. Tutto il linguaggio è reso oggettivo e alto; [.....]
I have to thank you and also Daniel Brick for ''A Barge Mysterious''.. as you wrote the poem and Daniel wrote a bright critique on it.. and used it when writing the Into to ''WHISPERS TO THE WORLD- SUSSURRI AL MONDO'' (Amazon - Bilingual Edition, English Italian) .. '' There is a contemporary poet who lives on the island of Malta, Emmanuel George Cefai, [.........]. In his poem, A BARGE MYSTERIOUS IN THE THICK OF NIGHT (2011) , he creates a world in microcosm on this barge which reminds me of the medieval legend of the Ship of Fools or the various versions of the Flying Dutchman. The poem opens with the unexplained, ultimately unknowable arrival of the MYSTERIOUS BARGE in a port in the civilized world: ___ '' A barge mysterious in the thick of night ___ [..] ___ The barge mysterious in the thick of night.'' Despite its size and stately progress through the waters, the barge suddenly departs LIKE A THING STARTED AT ITS GUILT. In the final stanza the speaker's voice is privileged by secret knowledge [............] : ___ '' Ay, ay that slow mysterious barge ___ [..] ___ In hidden lands by human eyes unseen. '' The word that best describes the impact of this poem is GRAVITAS. The language throughout is objective and heightened; it does not express sympathy or even sentiment. The stillness I feel around me as I read it is almost frightful, because I am only human and the poem's perspective is Olympian. [................] ''
Mr. Cefai, it took me a couple of reads before i was able to fully internalize this poem. I read a proverb in the past that states "you should write your bad memories in the sand so that it can be easily washed away from your memory" most people however engrave it in a marble therefore guilt and painful memories are immortalized in their mind. Same goes with the barge in this poem, it is trapped in the thick of night with all the frustrations and mistakes from the past weighing it down. In order to fully live the present, one must learn what it can from the past and let go... - Ally Louise