The Black Shawl

As of senses bereft, at a black shawl I stare,
And my chill heart is tortured with deadly despair.

When dreaming too fondly in credulous youth,
I loved a Greek maiden with passion and truth.

My Greek girl was gentle and loving and fair;
But my joy quickly sank in a day of despair.

Once I feasted gay friends; ere the banquet was o'er
A Jew, the accursed, softly knocked at my door.

'Thou art laughing,' he whispered,'in pleasure's mad whirl;
But she hath betrayed thee, thy young Grecian girl.'

I cursed him; but gold as a guerdon I gave,
And took as companion my trustiest slave.

My swift charger I mounted; at once we depart,
And the soft voice of pity was stilled in my heart.

The Greek maiden's dwelling I hardly could mark,
For my limbs they grew faint, and my eyes they grew dark.

I silently entered - alone and amazed;
An Armenian was kissing the girl as I gazed.

I saw not the light; but I seized my good blade;
The betrayer ne'er finished the kiss that betrayed.

On his warm, headless body I trampled, then spurn'd,
And silent and pale to the maiden I turned.

I remember her prayers - in her blood how she strove;
Then perished my Greek girl - then perished my love.

I tore the black shawl from her head as she lay,
Wiped the blood-dripping weapon, and hurried away.

When the mists of the evening rose gloomy, my slave
Threw each corpse in the Danube's dark fast rolling wave.

Since then no bewildering eyes can delight;
Since then I forbear festive banquets at night.

As of senses bereft, at a black shawl I stare,
And my chill heart is tortured with deadly despair.

Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin


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