Russian Poetry XXI - Afanasy Fet - When Life Is Torture

When Life Is Torture
Afanasy Fet (1820-1892 AD)

Die Gleichmassigkeit des Laufes de Zeit
in allen Kopfen beweust mehr, als irgend
etwas, dass wir Alle in denselben Traum
versenkt sind, ja dass es Ein Wesen ist,
welches ihn traumt

The uniformity of the run time
in everyone's mind proves more than any
something that we all in the same dream
are sunk, so that there is a being
which he is dreaming.

-Schopenhauer, Parerga, II, 29.

When life is torture, when hope is a traitor,
when in the battle my soul must surrender,
then daily, nightly I lower my eyelids,
and all is revealed in a strange flash of splendor.

Like nights in autumn, life's darkness seems denser
between the distant and thunderless flashes.
Alone the starlight is endlessly friendly--
the stars that sparkle through golden bright lashes.

And all this lambent abyss is so limpid,
so close is the sky to my spirit's desire,
that, straight out of time into timlessness peering,
your throne I discern, empyrean fire.

And there the altar of all creation
stands still and smokes in a glory of roses.
Eternity dreams of itself, as the smoke-wreaths
vibrate with the forces and forms it composes.

And all that courses down cosmic channels,
and every ray of the mind or of matter
is but your reflection, empyrean fire,
dreams, only dreams that flit by and scatter.

And in that wind of sidereal fancies
I float like vapor, now dimmer now brighter--
and thanks to my vision, and thanks to oblivion,
with ease I breathe, and life's burden is lighter.