Sonnet: The Ruins of Balaclava
by Adam Mickiewicz (1798-1855)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch
Oh, barren Crimean land, these dreary shades
of castles―once your indisputable pride―
are now where ghostly owls and lizards hide
as blackguards arm themselves for nightly raids.
Carved into marble, regal boasts were made!
Brave words on burnished armor, gilt-applied!
Now shattered splendors long since cast aside
beside the dead here also brokenly laid.
The ancient Greeks set shimmering marble here.
The Romans drove wild Mongol hordes to flight.
The Mussulman prayed eastward, day and night.
Now owls and dark-winged vultures watch and leer
as strange black banners, flapping overhead,
mark where the past piles high its nameless dead.
Adam Bernard Mickiewicz (1798-1855) is widely regarded as Poland’s greatest poet and as the national poet of Poland, Lithuania and Belarus. He was also a dramatist, essayist, publicist, translator, professor and political activist. As a principal figure in Polish Romanticism, Mickiewicz has been compared to Byron and Goethe. Keywords/Tags: Mickiewicz, Poland, Polish, Balaclava, Crimea, war, warfare, castle, castles, knight, knights, armor, Greeks, Rome, Romans, Mongols, Mussulman, Muslims, death, destruction, ruin, ruins, romantic, romanticism, sonnet, depression, sorrow, grave, violence, mrbtr