In Shackles

In Shackles

By Milan Rakić

I was thrown in shackles, the ignominy, oh!
Yes, it happened in the days of yore.
Was I guilty? And of what? Darkness, woe!
Silence; all creatures speak no more.
I was thrown in shackles, the ignominy, oh!

They are squeezed, but I can’t see who by,
Yet, I can hear the ghastly shackles crush,
In their mighty grip my bones broken lie,
And the blood from my wounds does gush.
They are squeezed, but I can’t see who by.

Groans and screams are all around.
In black rows the shackles lined up lie,
In them children, men, women cry aloud.
They are tortured, but don’t know who by.
Groans and screams are all around.

Squeeze, invisible force, squeeze, o!
Pitilessly crush my bones chained,
Until my heart finally ends its woe,
And the last drop of blood is drained!
Squeeze, invisible force, squeeze, o!

Oh, I’m laughing at you with disdain,
The victim sneers his executioner at.
Is that the worst of torture and pain?
You could have fared better than that.
Oh, I’m laughing at you with disdain!

Hit me, torture me, squeeze me tighter,
But, be it known unto you that no plea
Or a weeping sob my lips will ever utter,
Or an old curse or weaknesses nasty!
Hit me, torture me, squeeze me tighter.

But as the children, men, women moan
Beside me, all miserable, and groan,
And ‘fore the unknown kneel like slaves,
Beyond all the moan, curse and cry
My spirit will peacefully hover on high,
As a sea swallow above the sea waves.

Translation from the Serbian by:
Ljiljana Parović

U kvrgama

U kvrge su me bacili, o srama!
Da, to je bilo u prastaro vreme.
Jesam li bio kriv? i zašto? – Tama
Ćuti, i redom sva stvorenja neme.
U kvrge su me bacili, o srama!

Neko ih steže, a ne vidim ko je,
Al’ čujem kako škripe kvrge gnusne,
Pod silnim stegom pršte kosti moje,
I krv iz rana na mahove pljusne.
Neko ih steže, a ne vidim ko je.

Jauk i piska svuda oko mene.
U redovima crnim kvrge stoje,
U njima pište deca, ljudi, žene.
Neko ih muči, a ne znaju ko je.
Jauk i piska svuda oko mene.

Steži, o steži, nevidljiva silo!
I nemilosno kosti moje mrvi,
Dok najzad moje ne prestane bilo,
I ne iscuri kap poslednja krvi!
Steži, o steži, nevidljiva silo!

O, kako ti se slatko smejem sada,
Žrtva se ruga dželatu što kolje.
Zar to vrhunac mučenja i jada?
Zar ništa nisi izmislila bolje?
O, kako ti se slatko smejem sada!

Udri, i muči, i priteži jače,
Al’ znaj da neće preći moje usne
Ni jedna rečca što moli il’ plače,
Ni bapske kletve, ni slabosti gnusne!
Udri, i muči, i priteži jače, –

Al’ dokle redom deca, ljudi, žene
Plaču i pište, bedni, pokraj mene,
I ropski kleče pred skrivenim stvorem,
Vrh piske, kletve i vapaja njini’
Leteće mirno moj duh u visini,
K’o morska lasta nad širokim morem.

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