‘The Bird with the Engine Heart’, by Elisaveta Bagryana

1.
He who’s never known tempting distance,
the momentum of moving,
the wonder of danger,
the tipsiness of space
and the weariness of wandering -
 
He’ll never know the meaning of either life, or death,
nor will he ever grasp good, or evil.
Nor will he ever try the communion of the trial,
the joyous lull of arriving.
 
He’ll never taste the true ambrosia
of warmth in the nest that’s home,
of bread on the father’s table,
or rest near a mother’s knee!
 
2.
Cosmic, heavenly whiteness, of veiled distance,
from early childhood you attracted my eyes,
you infected my blood, which restlessly spurts
drawing me to eternal quests and wonder.
 
Whenever soft breezes flailed green cornfields,
whenever a bird’s wing sliced the blue heaven,
a caravan of clouds , grainey and forlorn,
or a sail on the sea’s horizon -
 
The hands were stretched like stems -
until, transparent and thin they dispersed,
the eyes like birds took off to free skies,
and so they stayed yearning for space.

by Elisaveta Bagryana , from Selected Poems of Elisaveta Bagryana; Penelope of the Twentieth Century. Publ. Forest Books 1993, Trans. from the Bulgarian by Brenda Walker, with Valentine Borrisov and Belin Tonchev.

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