Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Russia: Vol. XX. 1876–79.

Dnieper, the River

The Dnieper

By From the Russian of Jaroslatez

Anonymous translation

WHEN the tired sun turneth sleeper,

But ere the moon hath yet awoken,

I love, O, how I love, to roam

By the grand resounding Dnieper,

Where’er its billows may have broken

Into the hoarest foam.

As on Jordan’s banks the leper

Oft left of old his ghastly ailment,

So I, on thy tempestuous shore,

O thou grand resounding Dnieper,

Feel nightly as though no assailment

Of woe could wound me more!

Up those cliffs which ever steeper

Through twilight loom I often clamber,

To see thy black waves rush and roll,

O mine own, my glorious Dnieper,

And feel the sunset’s gold and amber

Deep-dye my thoughts and soul!

Scale these heights, thou poor weak weeper,

Thou who, alas! art wont to diet

Upon thy bitter heart for food,

And gaze down upon the Dnieper!

The sight will change to dreamy quiet

Thy dark and troubled mood!

Come, too, thou who seekest deeper

Emotions from the scenery round thee;

And, though thy wanderings rivalled Cain’s,

Thou shalt feel, anigh the Dnieper,

As though some spell-word had unbound thee

From Time’s ten thousand chains!

Thou hast more than wert thou reaper

Of all the gems and golden treasure

Sown and long-buried in the deeps

Even of this vast cryptful Dnieper.

Wealth for thy soul beyond all measure

Its boiling surface keeps!

Richer joys there be—yet cheaper—

Than those which slay in palaced city.

Take all thou wilt, great world, for thine,—

Give me freedom and the Dnieper,

And Pride may wreak its wrath or pity

On other heads than mine!