“At Imatra” («На Иматре») by K.R.: my translation

626px-imatrankoski_vapaana

By Falkman, Severin (1831–1889) – https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2772464

Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich Romanov (1858-1915), who used the pen name K.R., wrote this poem in two stages, in 1890 and 1907. Imatra refers to the powerful rapids of Imatrankoski, South Karelia, Finland, which were already a tourist attraction in the late 19th century. Today there is a dam on the rapids, but for half an hour every day in the summer the water is released and tourists can see it charge through the rapids at up to 500 cubic metres/second.

Rupert Moreton has also translated this poem, and you can read the translation on his blog.

I

The grey rapids clatter and thunder in falling,

And lash on the sonorous stone,

They cast down the upstart young waters for brawling,

And smash them to diamond-dust foam.

 

The rocky high riverbank once more has called me.

I’m joyous, but frightened as well:

I’m locked into silence, the sight has enthralled me,

My eyes are as bound by a spell.

 

The lustre, the hissing, the splashes, the booming;

Each moment brings news for the eye.

The rabid lament and the cackle-filled fuming

Meld into victorious cry.

 

I stand full of horror and take in the picture –

It lures and enchants me to stay:

The whirlpool where waters rebel against stricture

And boil in eternal mêlée.

10th May, 1890

II

I stand on the shore and with rapture

I take in the white waters’ flight.

The rapids resist any capture;

I cannot take eyes off the sight.

 

Wedged in by vertiginous holders

The race never lowers its tone;

The waves smash against the grey boulders,

Against the immovable stone.

 

The waters make essay at rending

The chains of the fettering stone;

A prayer to be free, never ending,

Is the theme of their furious moan.

 

Oh but to partake of this power,

And drink at this font of resolve,

To bravely approach my last hour;

The mystery life will not solve.

 

With conscience devoid of invective

And countenance free from disguise

To realise the one fair objective

In the battle with evil and lies.

5th August, 1907

***

I

Ревет и клокочет стремнина седая
И хлещет о звонкий гранит,
И влагу мятежную, в бездны свергая,
Алмазною пылью дробит.

На берег скалистый влечет меня снова.
И любо, и страшно зараз:
Душа замирает, не вымолвить слова,
Не свесть очарованных глаз.

И блеск, и шипенье, и брызги, и грохот,
Иная краса каждый миг,
И бешеный вопль, и неистовый хохот
В победный сливаются клик.

Весь ужаса полный, внимая, гляжу я, —
И манит, и тянет к себе
Пучина, где воды, свирепо бушуя,
Кипят в вековечной борьбе.

10 мая 1890

II

Над пенистой, бурной пучиной
Стою на крутом берегу,
Мятежной любуюсь стремниной
И глаз оторвать не могу.

Нависшими стиснут скалами,
Клокочет поток и бурлит;
Сшибаются волны с волнами,
Дробясь о недвижный гранит.

И рвутся, и мечутся воды
Из камня гнетущих оков,
И молит немолчно свободы
Их вечный неистовый рев.

О, если б занять этой силы,
И твердости здесь почерпнуть,
Чтоб смело свершать до могилы
Неведомый жизненный путь;

Чтоб с совестью чистой и ясной,
С открытым и светлым челом
Пробиться до цели прекрасной
В бореньи с неправдой и злом.

5 августа 1907

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One thought on ““At Imatra” («На Иматре») by K.R.: my translation

  1. Pingback: At Imatra (На Иматре), “K R” (Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich Romanov) | lingua fennica

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