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How strange: ten years have passed exactly
since last I saw Ezbekieh,
the spacious Cairo garden, opulently lit
that evening by the full moon.

A woman it was that racked me then
and neither the fresh salt sea-wind
nor the din of exotic bazaars –
nothing could bring me relief.
That time I prayed to God for death
and was prepared to seek it out myself.

And yet, to me, this whole garden was
the sacred grove of a new-sprung world:
slender palms opened up their branches
like girls to whom a god descends;
and on its hills, like prophet-druids,
huge plane-trees crowded around.

A waterfall gleamed palely in the half-light
like a prancing unicorn;
moths fluttered here and there among
the tiptoeing flowers or among the stars –
for the stars were so low that night,
like barberries ripe for picking.

As I remember, I cried aloud: One thing's
higher than grief, deeper than death:
Life! – O Lord, accept my wilful vow:
whate'er may come, whatever sorrow
or humiliation falls to my lot, I'll not
contemplate an easy death ere once again
I stand among Ezbekieh's palms and plane
On such a moonlit night as this.»

How strange: ten years have passed exactly
and I cannot but think of palms
and plane-trees, and the waterfall
gleaming in the half-light like a unicorn.
And suddenly I look around, hearing
on the wind some far-off conversation,
and in the night's terrifying void
that mysterious word –  Ezbekieh.

Yes, only ten years are past, but I,
a sullen pilgrim, must seek out still
those oceans, clouds and alien faces –
things that no more enchant me,
and enter this garden and repeat my vow
– or say it is fulfilled
and that now I'm free…

Другие переводы:

  • Английский
    Дон Магер
  • Ольга Слободкина
  • Немецкий
    Ирмгард Вилле

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