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The Leopard


If the whiskers of a slain leopard are not promptly singed,
its spirit will pursue the hunter.
Abyssinian proverb

By some sorcerous divination,
In the silence of deaf nights,
Leopard, killed by me, leaves station,
Bold, explores my room’s delights.

Folk are coming and they’re going,
One leaves later than the rest –
In her veins is freely flowing
Golden darkness, morbid zest.

Now it’s late. A mouse is stirring,
House sprite gives a muffled scream,
By the bed a feline’s purring –
Leopard’s woken from death’s dream.

“In the Dobrobran’s deep gorges
Floats a bluey-greyish mist.
Wounded red the sun disgorges,
Dobrobran by light is kissed.

Smell of honey and verbenas
Eastwards by the wind is fanned,
Howl and howl do the hyenas,
As they bury nose in sand.

Brother, do you hear the howling,
Perfume catch and smoke perceive?
Why then do you stand here scowling
As you grey and damp air breathe?

I insist that you, my slayer
Must in my own country die,
Answer then will find my prayer,
Thus reborn I’ll with kin lie.”

Did I, as the dawn was breaking,
Hear the call of unchanged spot?
His advice was not for taking,
Singe his whiskers I did not!

So it was too late. His power
Overcame me, he pressed near:
Neck he squeezed and made me cower
under brazen handed fear.

Palm trees… sun in sky unyielding
Scorches down on sandy mere…
Danakil behind rock wielding
Flame-reflecting sharpened spear.

Knows he not, he doesn’t query
Why my stubborn soul is proud,
Unconcerned, not shedding tear he
Casts soul into desert’s shroud.

Lacking strength and caught in stasis,
Now I’m calm, myself I raise.
So beside Giraffe’s oasis
I’ll live out remaining days.

Другие переводы:

  • Английский
    Дон Магер
  • Ричард Маккейн
    The Leopard
  • Испанский
    Ксения Дьяконова, Хосе Матео
    El leopardo
  • Украинский
    Ганна Яновская

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