of the sage Tolstoy

In the midst of the mountain-range of Seven Deaths
is a valley where no bird stirs, no branches, no leaf;
the smoke encircling it turns the moon’s light to pitch, 855
the sun in its broad heavens seems dying of thirst.
A river of quicksilver flows through that valley
meandering like the stream of the Milky Way.
Before it the hollows and heights of the road are nothing,
so swift its current, wave on wave, twist on twist. 860
A man stood, drowned up to his waist, in that quicksilver
uttering a thousand ineffectual laments,
Rain, wind and water were not his portion—
athirst he, and no water save the quicksilver.
On the bank I espied a slim-bodied woman 865
whose eyes would have waylaid a hundred caravans,
one that taught infidelity to the Church-elders,
her glance turned ugly to beautiful, beautiful to ugly.
I said to her, ‘Who are you? What is your name?
What is this utter lamentation and weeping?’ 870
She said, ‘In my eye is the spell of the Samiri;
my name is Ifrangin, my profession is wizardry.’
All of a sudden that silvery stream froze,
the bones of that youth broke in his body.
He cried -aloud, ‘Alas, alas for my destiny! 875
Alas for my ineffectual lamentation!’
Ifrangin said, ‘If you have eyes to see,
look a little also at your own deeds.
The Son of Mary, that Lamp of all creation
whose light lit up the world dimensioned and undimensioned— 880
that Pilate, and that cross, that pallid face—
what wrought you, what wrought he beneath the skies!
You, to whose soul the joy of faith is forbidden,
worshipper of idols fashioned of raw silver,
you did not know the worth of the Holy Spirit, 885
you bought the body, gambled away the soul!’
The reproach of that fair woman, drunken with blandishment,
was a lancet that pierced the youth’s heart.
He said, ‘You who display wheat and sell barley,
because of you Shaikh and Brahmin sell their own country. 890
Your infidelities have debased reason and religion,
your profit-mongerings have cheapened love.
Your love is torment, and secret torment at that;
your hatred is death, and sudden death at that!
You have associated with water and clay, 895
you have stolen away God’s servant from Him.
Wisdom, which loosened the knots of things,
to you has given only thoughts of devastation.
That man whose substance is true knows well
your crime is heavier than my crime. 900
His breath restored the departed soul to the body;
you make the body a mausoleum for the soul.
What we have done unto His humanity
His community has done unto His divinity.
Your death is life for the people of the world: 905
wait now, and see what your end shall be!’