FOURTH EPISTLE

Lonely stands the castle, mirrored in the lake-chain in whose deep, 
Limpid water-bed, its shadow has for ages been asleep: 
It is rising in deep silence from the pine-trees of the glade, 
While the circling, rippling wavelets cover it with gloomy shade. 
There, behind the ogive windows, lend themselves unto one's view 
Only long and pleated curtains glistening like frozen dew, 
While the Moon, beyond the forests, quivers, reddens, waxes, nighs, 
And depicts a craggy summit or a tree-top on the skies. 
All the while, the oaks, gigantic sentries that around her stem 
Watch her rise with strict observance as she were a priceless gem. 

Save that snow-white swans that sailing from the clumps of rush, 
Sovereigns over the night-waters, guests to this all-sovereign hush, 
Shake themselves and cut the water, largely spreading out their wings, 
Now into effulgent furrows, now into vibrating rings. 
Rustling quaver the bulrushes when the ripples come and pass, 
While a drowsy cricket chirrups in the scented blooming grass. 
Summer-like were the air-odours and sense-soothing was the sough... 
Near the balcony, enraptured, sighed the knight and knit his brow. 
Rife with foliage was the bower, through its lattice-work hung out 
Roses of Shiraz and creepers, a variegated rout! 
Evenfall, the water's murmur, overwhelm him with their thrill, 
His guitar in nature's magic does its lovesick notes distill: 

"Show yourself again, fair lady, show yourself again, oh, just 
As you did, in long silk garment, covered all with silver dust. 
I would gaze at you a lifetime, ray-begirt as you stand there, 
While your hand, white as a lily, gently strokes your flaxen hair. 
Come and play with me, fair lady... with my fortunes..., throw to me 
From your fragrant-bodiced bosom the dead flower of the lea, 
So that it will touch and waken the guitar-strings, Ah, one might 
Think that snow has fallen lately, for the nights are strangely white; 
Or I'll get into the scented twilight of your bower and wax 
Drunk with the delightful perfume of the bedding-sheets of flax, 
And, o lithe and lissom mistress! Cupid, the light-hearted scamp, 
Will with his hand shade the lilac globe of the dim-lighted lamp!" 

On the floor the silk-gown rustled, rustled between vase and vase, 
Or between the blue lians, the red roses of Shiraz; 
Most angelic was the vision of the well-beloved, sailing 
Mid the flowers, smiling, laughing, bending down over the railing. 
Down she throws a rose and covers with both hands her lips, as though 
She were scolding him - but she just speaks to him so sweet and low. 
Then she slips into her chamber... footsteps, hark, descend in haste... 
In the doorway, mark, the lover puts his arm around her waist... 
Hand in hand they walk together - 'tis a charming sight to see. 
He is young and she is graceful, she is tall and so is he. 
And the boat, with its sails swelling on the mast at once awakes, 
Leaves behind the shady border for the offing of the lakes, 
And advances slowly under paddle-strokes both strong and tender, 
Rocking the uncounted beauties, the immeasurable splendour... 

And the moon, entire, spheric, rises in her gold attire 
And from one shore to another throws a magic bridge of fire, 
As a swift multiplication of minuscule waves ablaze, 
She, the gold-complexioned maiden, she, the dream of ageless haze 
And the greater is the clearness of her gentle light, the more 
Seem to grow the water's billows, ever larger seems the shore, 
Ever larger looms the forest, it approaches fast and faster 
And so does above the waters the moon-disk, the waters' master. 
Lime-trees with gigantic shadows, blossom-laden to the ground, 
By the wind are robbed of garlands, and the wind is water-bound. 
Blossoms rain over the maiden, her fair tresses to bedeck... 
She puts up her hands and, gently clasping them around his neck, 
Backwards tilts her head:"I should be much amazed if you stopped, mind! 
Oh, how thrilling-sweet is every word upon your lips, how kind! 
Oh, how high you are uplifting by your thoughts a wretched thrall, 
When your sorrow is my only ornament, my all in all 
You are love-lorn and I tremble; of your voice the music chimes 
With a long-forgotten story, a love-story of old times; 
And your dreams are all so mournful, and your eyes so full of dole 
That their moist profoundness cruelly ravages my inmost soul. 
Give me your black eyes, my darling, do not look with them sideway - 
From their fascinating darkness I shall never get away... 
I shall lose my eyesight gazing... Oh, just listen, do! There are 
Hosts of wavelets and each of them talks with a prophetic star! 
The dark forests are delirious; mirroring the sky above, 
Their blue waters speak and whisper tales of our fantastic love. 
Both the stars that tremble coldly, peeping through the clumps of pine, 
And the earth, the lake, the heavens, all are but your friends and mine. 
You may surely leave the rudder, you may surely drop the oar, 
For the stream will drift us quickly ever farther from the shore, 
And wherever it will lead us, anywhere, we cannot miss - 
Be it life or death eternal - the eternity of bliss!" 

Fancy, wild imagination, when you are alone with me, 
You drift me so oft to woodlands, to a lake or to the sea! 
Have you ever seen the unseen lands to memory so dear? 
When exactly did this happen? In what century, what year? 
Now it is out of the question to seek heaven in her eyes, 
To caress the little idol as you wish, in your own wise. 
To enclasp her round her shoulders, mouth to mouth and chest to chest, 
And with just your eyes to ask her: "Do you love me? Don't you jest?" 

Well, reach out your hand - the door-clutch will spring out through much impatience. 
Here's an aunt and there's an uncle, a real congress of relations. 
Turn your head aside demurely, in the carpeting take cover... 
What, in this our world is there not a shelter for a lover? 
Each of these Egyptian mummies in his armchair stiffly lingers, 
While you clench your hands together, drum, envenomed, with your fingers, 
Count the hairs of your moustache, idly roll a cigarette, 
And in matters gastronomic prove that you are no cadet. 

Such a life has made me weary... not because I've drained its glass, 
But because its dregs are bitter, all is bitter prose, alas! 
What? to hallow a vain instinct with so many a vain tear, 
The blind urge which so distempers feathered flocks two times a year? 
You are not alive - another prompts you, it is he who lives, 
He who laughs your laughs (the broadest), frolics, whispers, takes and gives, 
For your lives, with no exception, are like waves that ebb and surge, 
Everlasting is the River - he alone's the demiurge. 
Dont' you feel that your affection is an elfish changeling? Fools! 
Don't you feel that you see wonders in the cheapest works and tools? 
Don't you see it is from nature that such ardent love proceeds? 
That this love was meant to cradle lives that are but hatred's seeds? 
Don't you see that your great laughter turns to weeping in your sons, 
That it bears the blame if Cain's genealogy still runs? 
Oh, the stupid show of puppets mimicking our words, to tell, 
parrot-like, no end of fables, jokes and stories, a pell-mell 
With no sense to them... Thereafter on the stage an actor climbs, 
Speaks to his most precious ego, says a thousand thousand times 
What he used to say for ages, what new ages will not miss, 
Till the sun is sunk for ever in the fathomless abyss. 
When among the clouds and deserts the moon glides along and sports, 
Why should you at her heels follow with your world of serious thoughts? 
Miss your footing every minute on the icy, snow-bound lanes, 
Peep at the lit lamps and candles through the glossy window-panes, 
And then see how she is followed by a swarm of ne'er-do-wells, 
How she smiles to everybody as is fit for mesdemoiselles? 
Hear the spurs that click, the dreesses rustling, swishing up and down, 
While the hes twist their moustaches and the shes now wink, now frown? 
When her amorous transactions she can close with a mere glance, 
Why, dead cold, the butt of Cupid, at her gate attendance dance? 
Wherefore, like an adolescent, love her dearly against reason, 
When she is as chill and freakish as the show'ry April season? 
In one clasp lose all possession of your wits - and that for good! - 
And from top to toe caress her and admire her as you would 
Paros marbles or the pictures painted by Coreggio's hand, 
When she's stone-cold and coquettish? You are crazy, understand! 
Yes... I once dreamt of a lady that my sweetheart true could be, 
Dreamt that oft, over my shoulder, she would gently look at me, 
That I'd feel her magic presence, she would know I am her friend, 
That our poor life would resemble a romance without an end. 
Look for her again? What should I look for? It's the same old song, 
Thirst for everlasting silence dinning in my ears too long, 
But the organs are all broken and the old song is heard still 
In half-intermitted burstings like, at nigh, those of a rill, 
In the dark there still effulges, now and then, some purer beam 
From a Carmen Saeculare which had also been my dream. 
But the notes of most "creators", joining in a frantic fling, 
Whistle, rattle and at random push each on the string. 
Harsh and cold rings the unfinished yet perpetual refrain, 
With my thoughts the winds play havoc, desolated burns, my brain. 
Where's the gift of lucid verses which in earlier days I had? 
Ah! the organs are all broken, the maestro is stark mad!

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English version by Leon Levitchi
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Transcribed by Ionut Nåstase
School No 10, Focsani, Romania
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