The Pass Across The Abyss In The Tschufut-Kale

A poem by Adam Bernard Mickiewicz


Pray! Pray! Let loose the bridle. Look not down!
The humble horse alone has wisdom here.
He knows where blackest the abysses leer
And where the path in safety leads us down.
Pray, and look upward to the mountain's crown!
The deep below is endless where you peer;
Stretch not the hand out as you pass, for fear
The added weight of that might plunge you down.

And check your thoughts' free flight, too, while you go;
Let all of Fancy's fluttering sails be furled
Here where Death watches o'er the riven world.


I lived to cross the bridge of ancient snow!
But what I saw my tongue no more can tell,
The angels only could rehearse that well.


Behold blue Heaven in that deep abyss!
The sea is that! Behold the long waves shine!
Watch how they rock that giant bird divine,
Whose swinging white wings wide horizons kiss.
Is that an iceberg in the blue abyss?
No, no--a cloud! Watch how 'tis veiling fine
The sea, the land, out-blotting every line
To drown it all in darkness soon I wis.

The lightning comes now! Frightful is its sweep.
But softly--softly! Watch my spur--my whip!
I'll leap across unto that chasm's lip.
What still and chilling sternness great cliffs keep!
Down there light calls to me. Soon there I'll be.
Uncanny is such loneliness to me.

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