Modern Russian Poetry/The Prophet

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THE PROPHET

I dragged my flesh through desert gloom,
Tormented by the spirit's yearning,
And saw a six-winged Seraph loom
Upon the footpath's barren turning.
And as a dream in slumber lies
So light his finger on my eyes,—
My wizard eyes grew wide and wary:
An eagle's, startled from her eyrie.
He touched my ears, and lo! a sea
Of storming voices burst on me.
I heard the whirling heavens' tremor,
The angels' flight and soaring sweep,
The sea-snakes coiling in the deep,
The sap the vine's green tendrils carry.
And to my lips the Seraph clung
And tore from me my sinful tongue,
My cunning tongue and idle-worded;
The subtle serpent's sting he set
Between my lips—his hand was wet,
His bloody hand my mouth begirded.
And with a sword he cleft my breast
And took the heart with terror turning,
And in my gaping bosom pressed
A coal that throbbed there, black and burning.
Upon the wastes, a lifeless clod,
I lay, and heard the voice of God:

"Arise, oh prophet, watch and hearken,
And with my Will thy soul engird,
Through lands that dim and seas that darken,
Burn thou men's hearts with this, my Word."