Friday, May 10, 2019

Translation of Nikolai Gumilyov, "Bоин Агамемнона" "AGAMEMNON'S WARRIOR"

                                                           Bоин Агамемнона

Смутную душу мою тяготит
        Странный и страшный вопрос:
Можно ли жить, если умер Атрид,
        Умер на ложе из роз?
Все, что нам снилось всегда и везде,
        Наше желанье и страх,
Все отражалось, как в чистой воде,
        В этих спокойных очах.
В мышцах жила несказанная мощь,
        Нега — в изгибе колен,
Был он прекрасен, как облако, — вождь
        Золотоносных Микен.
Что я? Обломок старинных обид
        Дротик, упавший в траву.
Умер водитель народов, Атрид, —
        Я же, ничтожный, живу.
Манит прозрачность глубоких озер,
        Смотрит с укором заря.
Тягостен, тягостен этот позор —
        Жить, потерявши царя!
May, 1909

Nikolai Gumilyov

Literal Translation

Agamemnon’s Warrior

My troubled soul is oppressed
By a strange and fearful question:
Can one go on living if Atrid has died,
Dead on a bed of roses?

All that we dreamed of, always and everywhere,
Our wishes and fears,
All was reflected, as in pure water,
In those calm eyes.

Ineffable might dwelt in his muscles,
Lavish grace in the bend of his knees,
He was as lovely as a cloud,
The leader of the gold-bearing land of Mycenae.

What am I? A fragment of ancient wrongs [grievances],
A javelin, fallen in the grass,
The guide of all nations, Atrid, has died,
While nonentity I go on living.

The transparency of deep lakes beckons to me,
The dawn looks on with reproach,
This shame is hard, so hard,
To live, having lost one’s king!

Literary Translation/Adaptation by U.R. Bowie 

Agamemnon’s Warrior

A stark barren fact that all logic opposes,
Bare truth that oppresses my soul:
Atrid lies dead on a bed of red roses,  
So how can I live, how my grief to condole?

All that we dreamt of, always and ever,
Longings and yearnings and fears,
All was made flesh in his purest endeavors,
His eyes where sereneness inhered.

Puissant like wind were his muscles of might,
Lissome with grace were his legs at knees’ bend,
He was as lovely as clouds at first light,
The leader of gold-laden Argos: Godsend.

And I, what am I? A shred from old lesions,  
A javelin lost in the greenness of lawn,
The shepherd lies dead, the chieftain of legions,  
While I, a mere nothing, breathe on.

The depths of lake waters are calling my name,
Rebuke gleams in sheen of each dawn,
Leaden, like rocks in my soul, is the shame,
Losing one’s king, to live on!

Translator’s Notes

From Wikipedia:

In Greek mythology Agamemnon was a king, the son of King Atreus and Queen Aerope, the brother of Menelaus, the husband of Clytemnestra. Legends make him the king of Mycenae or Argos, thought to be different names for the same region. When Helen, wife of Menelaus, was taken to Troy by Paris, Agamemnon commanded the united Greek armed forces in the ensuing Trojan War.
According to the Odyssey (11:409-411), upon Agamemnon’s return from Troy, he was killed by Aegisthus, lover of his wife. In variants of the tale, the wife herself, Clytemnestra kills him, or they act together as accomplices, murdering him in his own home.

According to Russian sources on the Internet, the Атриды (Atridy) are the sons of Atreus—Agamemnon and Menelaus. So the Atrid referred to in Gumilyov’s poem is actually Agamemnon.

                                                                  Mask of Agamemnon

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