Translated by Przemyslaw Musialowski 11/1/2019
Be strong, o brother! And with your eagle wings
whip the clouds, that clouds which threaten you with a storm...
We were born by days so sad and so hard
that great strength is needed not to die out
at some early, lonely grave like a blood-red lightning bolt,
but to live bravely on earth full of tears.
Be strong! Let your young arms
bear the burdens, worthy of your efforts...
Let brotherly love fill your chest...
For as long as at least one spirit in darkness dwells,
as long as at least one heart doesn't know
to what should it devote itself with persistence,
no swordsman should ever rest
in the silence of his own existence.
Be strong! Life overwhelms with its weight
those who, without the helm, will and power,
among the multitude of world's phenomena and contradictions,
err, unwillingly carried by the current of events,
absent-minded and not conscious of their own actions,
like a somnambulist sleep-walking through the night...
The Earth won't lean on them for sure!
And Humanity, in its triumphal march, never takes into account
those who having retreated before the battle - die.
And outside the persistent Spirit Realm
they won't exist, nor will this mysterious shadow,
which disappears when the immaculate sun rises in the sky.
A handful of noble men that are conquering
the future are like loose, solar links,
which are unable into one whole unite...
And maybe it's your spirit they lack
to close the circles of the big chain,
that will engird the globe and push it with might to a new path.
Be strong, o brother! ... ah, your proud chest
I would like to clad in a diamond breastplate,
against the burning breath of carnal lust
that takes you on a journey full of temptations,
against poisoned arrows of doubt
that strike you as bolts of lightning...
But I'm weak myself, and I cannot be your shield,
though I'm standing by your side
like a sister, outstretching my hands,
and I look at light slowly dying in your eyes,
and at your lips, which with a smile
blaspheme to the secret mournings of your soul,
like blasphemous would be a rose adorning orphans' black robes;
And in vain I want to protect you with my tears
against the scorching sun of life that dries up your chest;
And helplessly looking as your soul is dying,
I am calling: o brother, be strong! ...
The ground is shaking under your feet, but you must stay strong!
You have to remain at your post with courage undaunted in the storm.
He who carries the Torch of Hope and hoists
the Victory Standard at the summits of spirituality,
whoever imprints himself with lion's strength
on his own Age, the one to whom the Earth
is like a non-solidfied block,
that his divine mark awaits,
- only he the name of a "Man" shall gain
in the non-erasable annals of immortality!
Maria Konopnicka (1842-1910)
Maria Konopnicka's funeral was attended by almost 50,000 people, and to this day this great poet has her special place in the hearts of ordinary Polish people.
Maria Konopnicka's poetry has a pinch of Hans Christian Andersen's warmth and magic to it, and this warmth and magic is not lost in free-verse translation.