Modern Russian Poetry/Saint Sebastian

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SAINT SEBASTIAN[1]

On slow and smoky fire thou burn'st and art consuméd,
Oh, thou, my soul.
On slow and smoky fire thou burn'st and art consuméd,
With hidden dole.

Thou droopest like Sebastian, pierced with pointed arrows,
Harassed and spent,
Thou droopest like Sebastian, pierced with pointed arrows,
Thy flesh all rent.

Thy foes encircle thee and watch with gleeful laughter
And bended bow,
Thy foes encircle thee and watch with gleeful laughter
Thy torments slow.

The embers burn, and gentle is the arrow's stinging,
'Neath the evening sky,
The embers burn, and gentle is the arrow's stinging,
When the end draws nigh.

Why hastens not thy dream unto thy lips, now pallid
With deadly drouth?
Why hastens not thy dream unto thy lips, now pallid
To kiss thy mouth?


  1. Tr. by Avrahm Yarmolinsky.