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Anna Comnena

Анна Комнена

Nervousness lurks in the strange dark,
The emperor’s daughter neglects the court,
She gazes out on the Bosporus fleet
Where it dimly rides the turbulent tide.

Into the safe and sheltering bay,
The graceful pride of ship prows glide.
But she lowers her gaze, like a chilly grave,
Her hair distraught in the faltering light.

A knight kneels down and her proud disdain
Is like eagles soaring in Pyrenean snows.
He left the combat for sighs of delight
That a woman in alcove shadows shows.

From the fray he was summoned back in vain,
One who fought well for the emperor’s state —
His gaze was calm while the torrid storm
Shattered and cut the battling fleet.

His hand long rests on those smooth breasts,
While furtive look meets furtive look.
Next morning, sober, groomed and slender
His head falls low from a swift axe blow.

April returns and the cranes return,
Swooping from clouds, alighting on reeds.
Below cypress groves on the western slope
The fleet comes in view, her shame comes too.

And again the Princess, like an adulteress,
Exposes fully the lure of her body.
And quaking and sad and alone in bed,
Her spirit is lifeless, her flesh is alive.

So Comnina’s heart knows treason not.
It craves but frenzy, pursuit and play,
In the gnawing boredom of anguished gloom,
In the dying world where she’s constrained.

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