- We took his poor coffin from the hospital
- And had to cast it into a beggar's pit.
- There was not even one maternal tear,
- Nor a gravestone above a handful of ashes.
- Yesterday he was full of youth and strength --
Tomorrow there will not even be a tomb.
- If only at the singing of the war song
- There were a soldier's rifle above his head!
- That same rifle, in whose pan the shot
- Fired at Belvedere is still smoking,
- If only a sword in heart, or a deadly ball --
But no! -- a hospital bed and gown.
- Did he ever think, on that azure night
- When all Poland clattered in arms
- As he, melancholy, lay in the Carmelite coffin,
- And the coffin burst at the moment of the resurrection?
- As he pressed his rifle to his bosom,
Did he think that he would die thus?
- Today the greedy, alms-taking doorkeeper came,
- And old women who guard the corpses,
- And opened the asylum to us,
- And asked: "Do you recognize your brother --
- Is he the same one who yesterday knocked about
The world with you? -- Can you identify him?"
- The coarse, bloody hospital cloth was taken from his head
- With the surgeon's autopsy scalpel.
- He held his open eyes to the light,
- But his face was turned from his brethren.
- Then we asked the ladies to close
The coffin -- for he is our brother -- the deceased.
- This wretchedness appalled us all.
- One of the younger asked: "Where will they bury him?"
- The hospital shrew replied to him:
- "In consecrated ground, where by God's mercy
- We bury them by the hoardes
In one large pit -- coffin piled upon coffin.
- Then that youth, feeling sincere grief,
- Pulled out a small gold coin
- And spoke: "Sing the Miserere over him.
- Let him have a small garden plot and a cross of his own."
- He hushed -- and we bowed our heads
As we put a coin and our tears on the tin plate.
- Let him have a garden -- and may he thank
- The Lord, that a cross above his grave tells
- That he was the captain of the ninth regiment,
- That a gathering of knights followed his orders,
- And today he has no debts to his country --
Even though he has a grave mound of his own, purchased from alms.
- O God! Thou who from on high
- Hurls thine arrows at the defenders of the nation,
- We beseech Thee, through this heap of bones!
- Let the sun shine on us, at least in death!
- May the daylight shine forth from heaven's bright portals! --
Let us be seen -- as we die! --