Juliusz Slowacki

Who cares about treason! We have a column in Warsaw
On which the migrant cranes perch
When they encounter her leafy forehead in the cloud,
So inviting and so high.
Behind that column, clothed in the mists of a rainbow
Stands a trinity of glistening towers of St. John's;
Farther is a dark street, from which the Old Town
Peers at us in livid perspective;
Farther in the fog which falls on the market square
Are two windows, like Kilinski's green eyes,
Struck by a ray from the burning street-lamp
As though the eyes of a silent ghost from beneath the sod.

Now any day misery will weigh on the springs,
And up ahead at the market square, a pair of eyes glitter
And cast glances up and down St. John's Street,
And then the stone houses begin to stir,
And behind the houses through the abyss of heaven
Aurora borealis comes and hovers above the city;
And behind the night-glow, a wind hurling strange lights
Ravishes all those revenges and all those shrieks,
A sort of frolicsome gale from the Lord's angels,
Torn off as a wing from the visions of John the Revelator,
Transparent as a jewel, golden as fire,
Which snatches those revenges -- those lights -- those thunder-bolts,
The dark street is crawling with these hatched apparitions
As if bronze started boiling in her; she hisses like snakes
And is so crowded that she will totally quake,
And bellowes at the city like a Sicilian ox.

And what of the city? Listening with outstretched neck
She tells that dark angels are beating each other,
That there a fiery devil, having called up his forces
Presses his brown horse, and lightning clashes,
That as Maccabeus underneath a toppled elephant
Thus shoemakers fall under lightning and crushed
By a horse, that the moon, unveiled in the heavens
Illumes the empty street and the slain people,
The lightning extinguishes, and the struggle horribly ends,
The street is totally dark and splattered with blood.
And then one of those shrieks, from which nature
Shrinks -- one cobbler's vivat and hoorah,
One of those cries, which causes winged
Nature of the spirit within the breast to fly like a bird,
That the spirit stands on its mouth, and is no longer able
To contain its laughter and its involuntary weeping;
One of those cries, after entering into a man
Sings in him like an angel, and raves like Satan;
One of those cries with a tremendous vehement roar
Hits, and splatters on the cathedral church,
And goes on, but brushed its wing against the church,
And leaves the stones of the walls clamoring like the deuce.
There are still other glassy voices which sing the
Resurrection, as if they were angels bound inside the organ.

The somnulent harmony has not yet ended,
And now the column in the square, as a string of stone
Plucked by the same wind, with lofty head,
Dominates over the choir in the darkness of the church
And from there the two voices without respite
Announce to the city the people coming from the market place.

If that street has such a narrow neck,
That from her the world would howl, it would be as a cannon shot;
If any night they could start an insurrection from this street
And rend asunder to the dust whomever stands in the line of fire;
If in the street the wind is so strong that in night's shadows
Unseen music breaks loose from the stones,
And the columns play in response to their own musicians:
Then the man who is always afraid of treason
And everywhere sees only ghosts of dread
Must be either a child, or sick in the head.

-translated by Walter Whipple