A Cloud Of Darkness Has Appeared

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A cloud of darkness has appeared
from the mountains and the forest:
does it mean a gentle drizzle
or a terrifying tempest?
Ah, granddad, these are troubled times.
Hard the dragging of the plough'
and behind the seeds you soul:
hail from your eyes, sweat from your brow.
Tell me, granddad, why you weep
upon this long, black furrow-lines.
Do you fear the cloud of darkness
or do your little children die?
Tell me, granddad - I remember
how you once walked brave and proud.
Granny Stoyna was alive then -
she was singing while you ploughed.
And - remember? - when I passed
through the forest, but last year,
you were seated among heroes,
a father to them, with your beard.
What a real man you were then.
Now you're weeping - granddad, why?
Is it that your heart grows old
or that your flag no longer flies.
"Ah, my son, why you ask?
Listen to the raven croak…
But when you go down to the village
you'll find out why the tears choke
an aged chieftain, following his plough.
For the village gathers all around,
in the square, to graze upon
my children, my young men.
Impaled on rows of poles
and stakes, you'll there discover
the heads of both of my sons
who banded up to kill each other.
Two brothers were opposing leaders,
two sons on whom I could depend:
they quarreled over who would now
be leader of their father's men.
As if the mountains were to small,
this band of rivalry to keep.
So today their heads stick up
and everyone who passes weeps.
God - strike me with thunderbolt.
Wind - like dust - then scatter me.
Not to look upon small children
and mothers in their misery
gathering round the stakes to wail -
raising hands to clasp their heads,
suffering in their deep despair,
barefoot, in rags, and filled with dread…"
Large raindrops have begun to fall,
ducks and geese fly up and call.
A terrifying tempest howls -
this is no gentle drizzle now.
Everyone through the village races,
but granddad won't unhitch the traces,
- Granddad, come along. Be fast.
- Wait, am help me die at last.

© Hristo Botev