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The Head of Hadji Murat


The  Head of Hadji Murat

Rasul Gamzatov

I look upon the severed head before me,

I hear somewhere the distant battle’s roar,

And blood runs freely over the bare stones

Through villages at peace no more.

And sabres that have seen much action, whirl,

Honed razor-sharp upon the rocks,

And hillmen loyal t the Caucasus

Gallop along the mountain tracks

Then to that gory head I put this question:

“Were you once famous in these lands,

And whose were you, to meet with such a fate

And come to gried in alien hands?”

“Hadji Murat’s was I.”

came the head’s answer,

“And I am not ashamed to say,

That I tumbles off his shoulders simply

Because I went too far astray.”

The path I chose indeed was not the best one,

Vanity brought me to this plight…”

Sadly I contemplate the erring head

Cut off in the unequal fight.

By paths that reach far out into the distance

As men up in the mountains born,

Dead of alive, back to those summits

It is our duty to return.

Translated by Alex Miller

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