The Prophet (1826)

By Pushkin

With thirsty soul and spirit dimmed,
I languished in a desert gloomy,
When a six-winged seraphim
Beside a crossroads hastened to me.
With fingers light as in a dream,
My eyelids then were touched by him.
Those weighty lids wide open fluttered,
As a scared eaglet’s eyes unshutter.
Lightly he touched my ears around,
And my ears rang and filled with sound:
I grasped the tremor creation,
The lofty course the angels keep,
Sea creatures’ movements in the deep,
The distant growth of vegetation.
He reached between my frozen lips
And out my sinful tongue he ripped,
For its deceit, and idle prating,
And then the wisest serpent’s sting
With the bloodied right hand did he bring
To where my deadened mouth was waiting.
My breast he opened with a sword,
And tore my heart out as it trembled,
And where my vacant breast was gored,
He placed a fire-glowing ember.
As corpse-like on the sand I lay,
God’s voice did summon me, and say:
“Rise, prophet, hearken, understand,
By thee now let my will be done,
Make rounds of all the seas and lands,
By word ignite the hearts of men.”

Translated by Rachel Douglas