An Anthology of Modern Bohemian Poetry/Astray

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Xaver Dvořák (b. 1858).

 

ASTRAY

 

We have strayed from the sunlight,
By the gloom of the forest encompassed around
What lamps have ye kindled?
In their dim rays the shadows abound and abound.


Old grids have arisen
Like night-birds 'mid drooping of branches that sigh,
Their eyes kindled with blood;
Exceeding close o'er my head they did fly.


I smell the scent of decay
Of the kingdom of death. The grave-stones are near;
They rest with the calm of the mound,
But the tooth-marks of Death on their crosses appear.


Let us back to the Sun!
Sore stricken am I. O turn once again!
How sweetly it glowed in our Day newly-born,
And a smile of delight went from all in its train.


We have gazed down from Golgotha,
On the valley our gazes we cast in a dream;
The field-lilies there were in blossom,
The figs grew ripe in the gloom's reddish gleam.


The fragrance of olives gushed forth,
As if into space from a censer 'twere cast;
Men's songs full of longing
Upon the horizon in harmony passed.


Peace was amid their movement,
As tho' in devotion in boil of a throng;
The countenance glowed in delight of a fervent love,
They bowed them in mercy for them that knew wrong.


Why did we go from thence!
On the loftiest of the heights we have pined;
We descended and passed at midnight away,
But other Days and Suns did not find.

 

"The New Life" (1903).