Стивен Винсент Бене (Stephen Vincent Benet)

Текст оригинала на английском языке


The night had fallen on the narrow tent.
--Deep night of Virginia summer when the stars
Are burning wax in the near, languid sky
And the soft flowers hardly close all night
But bathe in darkness, as a woman bathes
In a warm, fragrant water and distill
Their perfume still, without the fire of the sun.

The army was asleep as armies sleep.
War lying on a casual sheaf peace
For a brief moment, and yet with armor on,
And yet in the cild's deep sleep, and yet so still.
Even the sentries seemed to walk their posts
With a ghost footfall that could match that night.

The aide-de-camp knew certain lines of Greek
And other such unneccessary things
As birds and music, that are good for peace
But are not deemed so servicable for war.
He was a youth with an inquisitive mind
And doubtless had a failing for romance,
But then he was not twenty, and such faults
May sometimes be excused in younger men
Even when such creatures die, as they have done.
At one time or another for some cause
Which we are careful to point out to them
Much later, was no cause worth dying for,
But cannot reach them with our arguments
Because they're uneconomic dust.

So when the aide-de-camp came toward the tent,
He knew that he was a sleepy dog,
And yet the starlight and the gathered scents
Moved in his heart--like the unnecessary
Themes of music fallen from a cloud
In light ,upon a dark water.

And though he had
Some bitterness of mind to chew upon
As well as messages he must give
Before he slept, he halted in his tracks.
He saw, imprinted on the yellow light
That made the tent a hooow jack-o'-lantern,
The sharp, black shadow of a seated man,
The profile like the profile in a bust.
Lee in his tent, alone.
He had some shadow-papers in his hand,
But you could see he was not reading them,
And, if he thought, you could not read his thoughts,
Even as shadows, by any light that shines.

"You'd know that face amon a millon faces,"
Thought the still watcher, "and yet, his hair and beard
Have quite turnd white, white as the dogwood bloom
That blossomed on the way to Chancellorsville
When Jackson was alive and we were young
And we were winning and the end was near.
And now, I guess, the end is near enough
In spite of everything that we can do,
Andhe's alone tonight and Jackson's dead.

"I saw him in the Wilderness that day
When he began to lead the charge himself
And the men wouldn't let him.

Gordon spoke
And then the men themselves began to yell
'Lee to the rear--General Lee to the rear!'
I'll hear that all my life. I'll see those paws
Grabbing at Traveler and the bridle rein
And forcing the calm image back from death.

"Reckon that's what we think of you, Marse Robert,
Reckon that's what we think, what's left of us,
The poor old devils that are left of us.
I wonder what he thinks about it all.
He isn't staring, he's just sitting there.
I never knew a man could look so still
And yet look so alive in his repose.

"It doesn't seem as if a cause could lose
When it's believed in by a man like that.
And yer we're losing. And he knows it all.
No, he won't ever say it. But he knows.

"I'd feel more comfortable if he'd move.
"We had a chance at Spotsylvania,
We had some chances in the Wilderness,
We always hurt them more than we were hurt
And yet we're here--and they keep coming on.

"What keeps us going on? I wish I knew.
Perhaps you see a man like that go on
And then you have to follow. There can't be
So many men that men have followed so.

"And yet, what is it for? What is it for?
What does he think?

His hands are lying there
Quiet as stones or shadows in his lap.
His beard is whitter than dogwood bloom,
But there is nothing ruined in his face,
And nothing beaten in those steady eyes.
If he's grown old, it isn't like a man,
It's more the way a river might grow old.

"My mother knew him at old dances once.
She said he liked to joke and he was dark then,
Dark and as straight as he could stand today.
If he would only move, I could go forward.

"You see the faces of spear-handling kings
In the old books they taught us from at school;
Big Agamemnon with his curly beard,
Achilles in the cruelty of his youth,
And Oedipus before he tore his eyes.

"I'd like to see him in that chariot-rank,
With Traveler pulling at the leader pole.
I don't think when the winged claws come down
They'll get a groan from him. So we go on.
Under the claws. And he goes on ahead."

The sharp-cut profile moved a fraction now.
The aide-de-camp went forward on his errand.

Поддержать сайт

Английская поэзия - http://www.eng-poetry.ru/. Адрес для связи eng-poetry.ru@yandex.ru