The Old Maid

The Old Maid

By Veljko Petrović

When I see you in a black, dowdy gown,
With dim eyes and sagging breasts, too,
At a dull party as look’d on with a frown
Of disdain and contempt,  I so pity you!

They grasp not what those lines mean:
No worthy libertine and no wanton fair.
Intact, pure, a sweet bud in an icy ravine,
Undaunted you bear their wicked stare.

With those eyes of a sleepy nightingale,
And the soul of a pure child you stride,
Stiff and funny, as the vile men your frail
And unloved form scoff at and deride.

Calmly you walk, your grey hair loose is let,
You superfluous virtue amid many a wrong,
Like the doleful odour of a faded mignonette,
Like, at the time of the cancan, an old song.

As you walk thro’ the chorus of wicked grins
You are deeply imbued with an air of gloom.
That is your supremacy o’er the world of sins,
The powerful beauty of an untouched bloom.

Eternal virginity, your sadness has no end!
O victorious power, how futile you may be!
O object of general pity, victim, sister, friend,
O princess married to a lily, do forgive me!

O in that tiny lap of yours let me now lay
This silly heart that will not long endure,
Whipp’d by the wind of passion day by day,
Like yourself it is still innocent and pure.

Translated from the Serbian by:
Ljiljana Parović

USEDELICA

Kada te u crnom, starinskom odelu,
S ugašenim okom i prsima spalim,
Vidim na dosadnom kako te poselu
Podrugljivo motre, – ja te silno žalim!

Ne shvataju oni tu tragiku bora:
Ni pustolov vrsni, ni bludnica časna.
Nedirnuta, čista, cvet ledenih gora,
Ti ne primaš rđu pogleda prelasna.

S očima slavuja što u mraku kunja
Ti hodiš sa dušom malokrvnog čeda,
Ukočena, smešna, – dok se porok šunja
I negrljen stas ti sa grohotom gleda.

No ti hodiš mirno, gladiš svoje sede,
Izlišna vrlino u orgiji mana,
Kao tužni miris uvele rezede.
Kao stara pesma u dobu kankana.

I dok hodiš kroza šibu zlobnog smeha
Oreolom tebe ozarava seta.
To je tvoja nadmoć nad kalugom greha,
Ta snažna lepota netaknutog cveta.

Devičanstvo večno, o duboka tugo!
O pobedna silo, čista jalovosti!
O žalosti opšta, – žrtvo, sestro, drugo,
O krinom venčana kneginjo, oprosti!

I daj da u krilo to položim usko
Ovo ludo srce što prestaje biti,
Što ga vihor strasti vekovima pljusk’o,
Al’ što osta časno, naivno k’o i ti.

IntheStreet_Clausen

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