ANGEL AND DEMON 

Blackness of the cathedral dome, saddened by the yellow light 
Of waxen candles shimmering, which burn before the altars face; 
While in the dark and spacious vault, unpenetrated realms of space 
Defy the tapers' tired eyes that strain to probe unconquered night. 

And empty is the twilight church, save where, upon the marble stair, 
A child who like an angel kneels with deeply bowed and feruent head. 
Upon the altar stands, amidst the rosy light the tapers shed, 
With calm, pale face and gentle mean an image of the virgin fair. 

Within a sconce upon the wall a guttering candle burns and drips 
And gleaming drops of molten pitch hiss as they fall upon the ground, 
While wreaths of dry and withered flowers emit a gentle rustling sound, 
And the maiden's secret prayer rests silently upon her lips. 

Sunk in the outer ring of dark, a marble cross his form concealing, 
Wrapped in the shadow's heavy cloak, "He" like a demon silent stands, 
His elbows resting on the cross and hanging down his tapered hands, 
His eyes deep sunken in his head, his furrowed brow strange grief revealing. 

Against the crosse's chilly neck his burning cheek he thoughtfully lays; 
About its snowy arms is looped his long and raven hair. 
The sad light of the candle glow scarce reaches to the corner where; 
Upon his draw and pallid face fall feebly its yellow rays. 

She ... an angel praying heaven-" He"... demon wrapped in woes; 
She ...the pure, the golden hearted-"He"...not heeding heaven's loss. 
He ...in deathly shadow leaning on the cold arms of the cross- 
While from the sad Madonna's feet "her" simple prayer to heaven goes. 

Upon the wall by which she kneels, the high cool wall of marble fine 
That shines as does the mountain snow, that as calm water turns the light, 
Clearly as on a mirror falls the shadow of that maiden white, 
Her bending shadow, like herself, kneeling in prayer before the shrine. 

O what can ail thee, maiden sweet ,with thy so gentle noble mien ? 
Pale is thy face as is the snow, and pale as wax thy tapered hands. 
As river mist shot through with stars that on the hills at evening stands, 
So shine thy innocent ,soft eyes ,beneath their veiling lashes seen. 

Angel thou art, yet something lacks; an angel's tall, star-spattered wings. 
But as I gaze I see take shape about your shoulders flying lines; 
What are they, trembling in the air? Whence come these feathery designs? 
An angel's pinion in the dusk towards the gate of heaven springs. 

O, but the shadow is not hers ;her guardian angel hovers there; 
Against the whiteness of the wall I see his radiant figure tower. 
Over the maiden's sinless life he watches with celestial power, 
And as she bows her head to pray, he too is bowed in fervent prayer. 

But if this be an angle's wing, then "She" too angel is; for though 
The air brightness of her wings is not revealed to eyes of man, 
These walls alone, where age-long prayer has been poured out in worship, can 
Proclaim to us her angelhood and of her wings existence show. 

I love, I love thee fain would cry the demon from the twilight shade, 
But the winged shadow guarding her the utterance of his spirit sealed. 
The passion died upon his lips; in worship not in love he kneeled 
And heard across the hollow nave her timid murmur as she prayed. 

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"She"? A princess fair as day, a crown of stars upon her head, 
An angle in a woman's guise, going her happy way trough life. 
"He" A rebel of mankind, blowing to flame the sparks of strife 
And sowing hate in hopeless breasts that to revolt by him are led. 

Their ways of life are worlds apart, deep oceans lie between these twain, 
Between them barricades of thought, the better bloodshed of a race. 
And yet at times their journeys cross, they meet each other face to face, 
Their eyes seek out each other's soul and mingle with a curious pain. 

With gentle yet absorbing gaze, her large and starlike deep blue eyes 
Rest thoughtfully on his that do the tempest and the lightning show. 
While on his pallid face there mount emotions warm and tender glow. 
They love ... and yet what worlds apart, what universe between them lies. 

A monarch pale has come from far, a time old, crown he humbly brings; 
The victor in a hundred wars, his conquests would he make her own. 
He begs to lead her as his bride along the carpet to his throne 
And place within her tiny hand the sceptre of the king of kings. 

But no, with parted lips she turns and does not speak the fatal word; 
Her heart is silent in her breast and from the king she draws her hands, 
Her virgin soul is filed with love, while in her dreams there ever stands 
The demon's image like a god, for every night his voice she heard. 

She seems to see him leading men with words of fire, with winged ideas; 
How brave, how powerful, how grand - she thought in lovers' proud delight; 
He leading on the rising age to conquer and to claim its right 
Against the lifeless piled up weight of wisdom that experience rears. 

She saw him standing on a rock, wrapt like a garment with his wrath 
As with his banner's scarlet folds; his beetling forehead deeply scoured 
As though a black tempestuous night when all the host of hell's aboard. 
Out of his eyes the lightning gleamed, intoxicating words poured forth. 

................................................................................................................... 

On a bed of boards the young man lies stretched in the agony of death, 
Beside his couch a dim lamp burns, its poor thin wick and meagre flame 
Struggle against the cold damp air. No man has ever heard his name, 
None comes to ease his bitter lot, or wet his lips that choke for breath. 

O past are the days when in the world the thunder of his voice would roll 
Against the written codes of law, against the laws that bound and maimed, 
And slew men in the name of God...today the world's revenge is aimed 
Upon the dying heretic, and stifles out his stricken soul. 

To die bereft of every hope, what man is there on earth who knows  
The awful meaning of these words? To feel enslaved and weak and small, 
To fight and hope and see your plans shrivelled to nothing after all, 
To know that in the world is throned an evil force none may oppose. 

Your years were spent in strife with wrong, and you a useless fight have fought, 
And now you die and see your life was wrecked in work without avail, 
Such death is Hell. More bitter tears than these ne'er coursed the visage pale  
Of dying man. How cruel to know that you and all the world are naught. 

Such black thoughts rising in his breast delay the death for which he yearns. 
With what great gifts has he been born. What passionate love of right and truth,  
What sympathy for human kind, and all the lofty flame of youth. 
Behold his recompense at last, this agony with which he burns. 

But into that narrow tawdry room, breaking the mist that veiled his eye, 
A silver shadow softly creeps; behold, an angel shape comes near, 
Sits lightly on the wretched bed, kisses away each blinding tear 
From those dimmed eyes; and now the mist is torn away in ecstasy. 

Aye, it is She. And with what joy, joy fathomless, before unknown, 
He gazes in his angel's face and reads love's tender pity there. 
With long glance he is rapaid all his life's anguish and despair. 
He whispers with his dying breath : "My love i know thee for my own. 

I who have laboured all my life poor and helpless souls to move, 
Warring against the open skies with all my burning discontent; 
A demon, yet not cursed by God, for in my dying hour he sent 
His angel here to give me peace, and of his peace the name is love". 

English version by Corneliu M. Popescu 
 

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Transcribed by Dana Iliescu
School No. 10, Focsani, Romania
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