4. THE AGED CRANE.
ON the bank of the river, in the row of cranes,
That one drooped its head,
Put its beak under its wing, and with itsaged
Dim pupils, awaited
Its last black moment.
When its comrades wished to depart,
It could not join them in their flight.
Scarcely could it open its eyes and watch in the air
The path of the little flock that went along
Calling down to those under the roofs
The tidings, the greetings and the tears
Entrusted to them by the exile.
Ah, the poor bird! In the bleak embrace
Of that cold autumnal silence, it is dying.
It is vain to dream any more
Of a distant spring, of cool currents of air
Under strong and soaring wings,
Or of passing through cool brooks
With naked feet, of dipping its long neck
Amongst the green reeds;
It is vain to dream any more!
The wings of the Armenian crane
Are tired of traveling. It was true
To its heart-depressing calling;
It has transported so many tears!
How many young wives have put among its soft feathers
Their hearts, ardently beating!
How many separated mothers and sons
Have loaded its wings with kisses!
Now, with a tremor on its dying day,
It shakes from its shoulders
The vast sorrow of an exiled race.
The vows committed to it, the hidden sighs
Of a betrothed bride who saw at length
Her last rose wither unkissed;
A mother’s sad blessing;
Loves, desires, longings,
It shakes at last from its shoulders.
And on the misty river-bank
Its weary wings, spread for the last time,
Point straight toward
The Armenian hills, the half-ruined villages.
With the voice of its dying day
It curses immigration,
And falls, in silence, upon the coarse sand of the river bank.
It chooses its grave,
And, thrusting its purple beak
Under a rock, the dwelling-place of a lizard,
Stretching out its curving neck .
Among the songs of the waves,
With a noble tremor it expires!
A serpent there, which had watched that death-agony
Silently for a long time with staring pupils,
Crawls up from the river-bank,
And, to revenge a grudge of olden days,
With an evil and swift spring
Coils around its dead neck.
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