The Dark Maiden, Alexander Blok

This is an early poem, written in 1899, when Blok was nineteen. One feels that its regular metre and rhyme and simple expressiveness ought to inspire more accuracy than is shown here – so here’s my attempt…

Far away in misty northern
Region craggy outcrop’s loom
Mars the boundlessness of ocean,
Wondrous face in watery tomb.

Hewn from sharp-edged cliff-face, stirring
Northern folk of simple stock,
Pious minds a visage conjuring,
Maiden dark they call the rock.

Often midst the foaming ocean,
Hopeless lost in stormy cloud,
Sudden mist-wrapped sailor’s notion
Dark one spies in outcrop proud…

Prayer to her he offers ardent…
Wrathful maiden, pleased, may save.
Thus the ship may pass escarpment
Safely coasting on her wave…


В дальних северных туманах
Есть угрюмая скала.
На безбрежных океанах
Чудный лик свой вознесла.

Тех утёсов очертанье
Бедный северный народ,
По глубокому преданью,
Чёрной Девою зовёт.

В час, когда средь океана
нет спасенья, всё во мгле, –
вдруг пловец из-за тумана
Видит Деву на скале…

Он молитву ей возносит…
Если Дева смягчена,
То корабль к земле приносит
Ей послушная волна…

Translation by Rupert Moreton

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