Translated by Ekaterina Chapiro © 2013
(with a folk refrain)
A scholar cuddled his young Gertruda,
While dozing off on the edge of bed.
His dreams took him to the lands of Judas,
Hot sands — long marching ahead? —
And camels along the sand dunes.
One camel walked along. Another walked along.
The third camel walked along. And the caravan walked along.
From daily readings, from evening ballrooms
Near end semester, his head was sore.
The scholar dozed. Christmas Eve, a full moon.
The march he dreamed of before,
Proclaimed a vague sense of near doom.
One camel got fatigued. Another got fatigued.
The third camel got fatigued. And the caravan got fatigued.
Gertruda dreamed of a winged fury,
She whispered within her dream, "destroy!
Scholar, the stars are a lenient jury,
Your strength will save you, my boy.
I simply refuse to worry."
One camel hit the ground. Another hit the ground.
The third camel hit the ground. And the caravan hit the ground.
The day's first lecture. Not deep, but soothing,
He slept. The sun rose, and morning stirred.
The chapel gates creaked with people moving,
A drum rang loud from afar,
Imposing like van Beethoven.
One camel passed away. Another passed away.
A third camel passed away. And the caravan passed away.
Oh soldiers' march! Oh a loaded rifle!
Oh undisturbed dreams of happy youth,
When one forgets both the books that stifle
Like hell, the Virgin as well,
And the name of your sweet young trifle.
One camel rose again. Another rose again.
A third camel rose again. And the caravan rose again.
The scholar, awoken by crying roosters,
Applied some salve to his aching crown.
Addressed Gertruda: "farewell, Augusta".
Yawned wide. Smoothed frizzy locks down.
And went out to town, like he used to.
One camel went away. Another went away.
A third camel went away. And the caravan went away.