The Reed

( by Mikhail Lermontov, 1832
Translated by Anatoly Liberman )

Reed( photo by UKE )

A fisherman was resting,
He saw the river play;
The wind was blowing gently
And made the rushes sway.
He chose a reed and cut it,
And on it, all along,
He pierced some holes for music
And tried a little song.

But, lo! as if by magic
The reed began its tale;
A human voice was in it,
A melancholy wail.
The reed was singing sadly,
“Oh, let me, let me be!
Oh, handsome youth, have mercy:
You are tormenting me!

Yes, I was once a maiden,
And, like a flower, I bloomed,
But by my stepmother cruel
I was to sorrow doomed.
I only wept and suffered –
She grudged me light and breath –
And oh! I grieved so rashly:
I asked the Lord for death!

She had a son beloved –
The apple of her eye;
With men he was dishonest,
With beauties he was sly.
And once along the river
I walked with him for fun,
We watched the waves together,
We watched the setting sun.

He wanted me to love him –
His passion left me cold;
He tried to give me money –
I did not want his gold.
Then with a knife he struck me,
And to the ground I sank;
He dug a grave and buried
My body on the bank.

And on my grave so early,
A reed in summer rose;
A maiden’s grief is in it,
The soul’s untimely woes.
So, handsome youth, have mercy
And let me quiet lie:
You cannot save or help me
Nor have you learned to cry.”

Face1( Photo by Drima )

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One thought on “The Reed

  1. […] 1832 Russian poet Mikhail Lermontov wrote a poem ‘The Reed” about a murdered young […]

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