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The Gift Of The Terek
(1814 - 1841 / Russia)

The Gift Of The Terek

Poem By Mikhail Yuryevich Lermontov

Through the rocks in wildest courses
Seethes the Terek grim of mood,
Tempest howling its bewailing,
Pearled with foam its tearful flood.

At the mountain's feet soft streaming,
Gentler grown its murmurs be,
And with greeting full of fawning
Speaks to the Caspian Sea:

'Hospitable part thy billows,
Give me room, oh Ocean grave!
From a distance drawing thither--
Scarce my weary currents wave.

Born upon the edge of Kasbek,
By the breast of clouds renewed,
Hatred have I sworn to mankind,
Who with us, the free, make feud.

See, by rage of my own fury
Lies despoiled my Darjal home,
And as playthings for thy children,
Pebbles bearing now I come.'

Yet upon her strands a'dreaming,
Mute the grey Sea did remain,
And the Terek, silver foaming,
Spoke caressingly again.

'Grey Sea I would serve thee only,
Have a present borne to-day--
See, 'tis a young Carabineer
Who has fallen in the fray.

How his coat of mail is gleaming
Silver on the billows' span!
Golden on his trappings shining
Blessing of the Alcoran!

Menacing the one who slew him
Scowls the brow's relentless feud,
By his noble life blood crimsoned
O'er his lips his hair is glued.

Through the half-closed eyelids glancing
Still the lust of quarrel mocks,
From his head deep underneath him
Flow the matted raven locks.'

Motionless upon her beaches
Did the grey Sea still remain,
And the Terek foaming yellow
In displeasure spoke again.

'So then, take him as a present,
As I nothing fairer know
On this round earth,--for thee only
This rare prize I've guarded so!

'Tis a mountain Cossack's body
Wafted 'mid my billows' dance,
See his hair,--no silk is softer--
See his shoulder's gold expanse!

See how o'er his red lips speechless
Now the seated eyes find rest;
Trickling yet the purple life blood
From the small wound on his breast.

For a young and holy maiden,
Weeps lamenting, every heart!
One sole Cossack in the village,
In this mourning takes no part.

From the confines of his country
Rode he forth with boding grey,
'Neath the dagger of the Tscherkes
He has breathed his soul away.'

And the Terek paused; behold now
In the gleaming foam flood drowned,
Silvered in the spraying billows
Dips a head with rushes crowned.

And the hoary one's lips whisper
Haughty words of youthful fire,
And the eyes lit with love lustre
Flame with passionate desire.

Foaming, rushing on swift longing,
Seethed he up in youthful zest--
And the Terek flood was wedded
With him in embraces blest.

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