To My First Love

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Put aside that song of love,
do not fill my heart with pain -
I'm young but I don't know of youth
and if I did I wouldn't claim
the thing I trample underfoot
before you, and begin to hate.
Forget about the time I craved
a gentle glance, a sigh or two:
you had me chained up like a slave -
and for a single smile from you
the world filled me with wild disgust
and I cast my feelings in the dust.
Forget the madness of those times,
there's no lovelight within this breast
and no way you can make it shine,
there, where a heavy sadness rests,
where everything is lacerated
and a hating heart is wrapped in hatred.
You have your youth - your voice enchants -
but do you hear the forest singing?
Do you hear the poor lament? -
That voice is the spirit longing
and there my wounded heart is called,
where blood is spattered over all.
O, don't say bitter things to me.
Hear the woods and foliage moan,
hear the thunder of past centuries
and, word by word, how they intone
tales which long ago took place
and songs of hardships yet to face.
I'd have you sing that song as well,
to sing it, girl, and make it ache,
to sing how brother, brothers sell,
how strength and youth but run to waste
and how a widow mourns her lover
and little homeless children suffer.
Sing - or, silent, go your way.
My heart is trembling - it will fly -
it will fly, beloved - come, awake -
to where malignant, terrifying cries
and a monstrous litany of death
break from the rumbling, shaking earth.
There - the storm tears trees aside
and a sword enfolds them in a wreath;
terrible chasms are gaping wide
and through them leaden bullets shriek;
and there death comes with smiling face
and sweet rest and a chilly grave.
O, those songs, that smiling face.
Whose voice will call and sing of me? -
My toast - a cup of blood - I'll raise
to drink that love pass silently,
and then, alone, I'll make my song
of what I love, for what I long…

© Hristo Botev