Wednesday, January 23, 2008



Fyodor Tyutchev (1803-1873), Silentium (tr. Vladimir Nabokov):
Speak not, lie hidden, and conceal
the way you dream, the things you feel.
Deep in your spirit let them rise
akin to stars in crystal skies
that set before the night is blurred:
delight in them and speak no word.

How can a heart expression find?
How should another know your mind?
Will he discern what quickens you?
A thought once uttered is untrue.
Dimmed is the fountainhead when stirred:
drink at the source and speak no word.

Live in your inner self alone
within your soul a world has grown,
the magic of veiled thoughts that might
be blinded by the outer light,
drowned in the noise of day, unheard...
take in their song and speak no word.
Another translation, by Frank Jude:
Stay silent, out of sight and hide
your feelings and your dreams inside.
Within your soul's deep centre let
them silently rise, let them set
like stars in the night. Don't be heard.
Admire them. Don't say a word.

How can your heart itself express?
Can others understand or guess
exactly what life means to you?
A thought you've spoken is untrue.
You only cloud the streams you've stirred.
Be fed by them. Don't say a word.

Making living in yourself your goal.
There is a world within your soul
where mystery-magic thoughts abound.
By outer noise they will be drowned.
They'll scatter as day is bestirred.
Just heed their song. Don't say a word!
Yet another translation, by Anatoly Liberman:
Speak not, lie deep, do not reveal
Things that you wish or things you feel;
Within your soul's protected mine
Let them ascend and then decline
Like silent stars in heaven bleak:
Admire their sheen—but do not speak.

How can a heart be put in words?
By others—how can one be heard?
Will people know what you live by?
A thought expressed becomes a lie.
Don't muddy springs that are unique:
Drink from their depth—but do not speak.

Live only in yourself encased;
Your soul contains a world of chaste,
Mysterious thoughts, which outside noise
Robs of their magic and destroys;
The rays of morning make them weak—
Enjoy their song—but do not speak!

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