When in Suicidal Anguish

When in suicidal anguish,
the people waited for the German guests,
And the Byzantian, stern spirit
vanished from the Russian church,

When the capital on the Neva,
forgetful of its grandeur,
like a drunken harlot,
knew not which one was taking her—

I heard a voice. It called consolingly, It said, “Come here to me, and leave your backward, sinful land, abandon Russia for all time.

I'll wash the blood clean from your hands, I'll take the black shame from your heart, And with a new name I will cover the pain of defeats and insults.”

But indifferently and calmly I covered up my ears so this dishonorable speech could not defile my grieving spirit.

Translation © Margo Shohl Rosen