There in Daryala’s deep chasm,
Where the Terek flows through the gloom,
A tower, mouldering and ancient,
Black against dark cliffs did loom.
In that tower tall and so narrow
Tsaritsa Tamara lived still,
As beautiful as heaven’s best angel
Sly and cruel as a devil from hell.
Through the dreary fogs of midnight
From there would shine a golden gleam,
It charmed the eye of wanderer,
And bade him come enter and dream.
The voice of Tamara cried out
And it was pure yearning desire
Woven through with invincible charms
And holding incomprehensible power.
The voice of the unseen enchantress
Lured warriors, merchants, sheep herders,
The door always opened before them
Held by a Eunuch face grim as murder.
On a bed of gold, jewels and feathers,
She lay back awaiting her guest.
Effervescing lightly before her,
Two goblets of wine of the best.
Fevered hands clasped one another,
As lip clung to ravening lip,
And noises, wild, strange as beasts calling,
Rang out through the night, filling it.
As though in that old empty tower
A hundred young freemen and wives,
Were come to rejoice in a wedding
Or feast at a funeral pyre.
But as soon as the dawn of the morning,
Threw its lights spilling over the hills
Without warning both silence and gloom
Reigned once again. All was still.
All but the Terek in Daryala’s pass,
Which roaring broke the silence apart;
Wave followed wave, chasing, pursuing,
Wave after wave was there caught.
The waves with a cry bore a body,
Whose silence they hurried away;
While white flashed in a window,
From which a voice cried ‘forgive’ quietly
And it was so tender an adieu,
So sweet was the voice as it called
That it seemed to hold hope of meeting
And was full of the promise of love.
2 thoughts on “Tamara – Mikhail Lermontov”
I don’t know anything about the technicalities of translation but this was lovely to read, the rhythm especially 💕
Thank you! That’s so kind!