ŽEDŹENJE ZA NJESMJERTNOSĆU LONGING FOR IMMORTALITY
Jurij Rak trans. Robert Elsie (from Sorbian)
Wono so ćežko na puću chodźi,
kiž k njesmjertnosći a česći wodźi.
Kałaju ćerni, wumučá hory,
dži jón, što na tym, hač je puć spory.
Ty budźeš tola horka ždyn stać
a próca z česću će krónować.

Tón Aleksander swět tyły žada;
po njesmjertnosći tak cyle hlada.
Wón ćehnje, zbije, njepřećel ćěka,
a Aleksander dobywar rěka.
žiwjenje w straši dźeń a nóc je;
wumr, wěčnosć tebi dźěl wostanje.

Archimed w nocy te swěty pyta,
z wočemi w hwězdach, k měsacu lěta;
rachnuje slónca, wuknje jich pući
a nas z tym samym jich krasnosć wuči.
Wojako, kałaj, wón njewumrje,
w wěčnej wón česći we swěći je.

Chceš być njesmjertny, čłowče, hlaj, ruči
wuzwol sej jedyn, tu staj dwaj pući.
Powiń swět; njemož, powiń tu hłuposć,

hoń za wěrnosću, wuslědź tu mudrosć.
Njemrje dobywar, mudry tu je,
njech do hromady kruch swěta dźe.

Ser so tak, kupco, ze bohatstwami,
hordź so ty, holca, wšak ze drastami.
Młodźenco, spěwaj tych licow rjanosć,
a chwal ty, błaznje, tej' duši pjanosć.
Na was smjerć chwata, wěčna smjerć je.
Ja žadam počink, kiž njewumrje.
It is a hard thing to take the road
Leading to immortality and honour,
Full of thorns and steep it is,
But take it, though the way is long.
You will eventually reach the summit
And your efforts will be crowned with honour.

Alexander longed for the whole world,
Longed to see immortality itself,
He went into battle, the enemy fled
And Alexander was called the conqueror.
Life is imperilled day and night,
Death is on the way, eternity is all you have left.

Archimedes studied the universe at night
And fixed his eyes on the stars and the moon,
Followed the sun, measured its course,
And taught us of their beauty.
Should you stab him, soldiers, he will not die,
For he is honoured on earth forever.

If you wish to become immortal, man,
You must choose one of two roads,
You cannot conquer the world, but you can
overcome stupidity,
Strive for truth, seek out intelligence.
The conqueror never dies, the clever remain,
Even if the whole continent falls to pieces.

Crave as you will for riches, merchant,
Show off your best dresses, maiden,
Sing, young man, the beauty of those cheeks,
And praise your own drunkenness, idiot.
Death will take you soon, once and for all.
I long for the virtue of immortality.

Trans. Copyright © Robert Elsie 1990 - publ. Forest Books


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