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By the fireplace

У камина

The shadows gathered… The fire dwindled,
Standing alone, he gazed through the window,

Arms folded, eyes fixed on the distance,
He spoke of his sadness with bitter persistence:

“I’ve entered the depths of the lands yet unknown,
My caravan moved eighty days in a row;

Menacing cliffs, woods, and, time and again,
Strange towns emerged from behind the bend,

And often, extending from them far and wide,
Incomprehensible howls would echo outside.

We cut down trees, dug ditches, and watched
How, in the evening, the lions approached.

But there were no cowards there in disguise,
We shot at the lions and aimed for their eyes.

I dug out an ancient temple from sand.
A river was named after me in this land.

In the country of lakes, five tribes, all in awe,
Submitted to me and followed my law.

But now I am weak, as if under sleep’s reign,
And my soul is afflicted with a terrible pain;

I’ve now comprehended the meaning of fright,
Four walls surround me, I’m buried inside;

The flash of the rifle and the splash of the wave
Can’t break my chain, I can never be saved…”

And a woman there listened and patronized
With a spiteful triumph concealed in her eyes.

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