Mikhail Yuryevich Lermontov (1814 - 1841 / Russia)
With sadness I survey our present generation!
Their future seems so empty, dark, and cold,
Weighed down beneath a load of knowing hesitation,
In idleness stagnating, growing old.
We have received, when barely finished weaning,
The errors of our sires, their tardiness of mind,
And life oppresses us, a flat road without meaning,
An alien feast where we have dined.
T'ward good and evil shamefully uncaring
We wilt without a fight when starting on life's race;
When danger threatens us - ignoble want of daring,
Before those set on high - despicable and base.
A wizened fruit grown ripe before its hour,
No pleasure to the eye and no delight to taste,
An orphan stranger there, he hangs beside the flower -
The time of its full bloom is his to fall and waste.
For we have dried our brains with fruitless speculations,
Withholding enviously from friends and those ahout
The ringing voice of lofty aspirations
And noble passions, undermined by doubt.
Our lips have barely brushed the cup of delectation,
But youthful strength we did not thus retain;
From every joy we found, in fear of saturation,
We took the best and never came again.
The dreams of poesy, pure art, and its creation
With its sweet ecstasy our senses never move;
We greedily retain the remnants of sensation -
Dug deep and miserly, a useless treasure trove.
And we both love and hate by chance, without conviction,
We make no sacrifice for malice, or for good,
There reigns within our souls a kind of chill constriction,
Whene'er the flame ignites the blood.
The pastimes of our sires we think a boring story,
Their guileless, boyish dissipations unrefined;
We hurry to our graves, unhappy, without glory,
With one last sneering glance behind.
A gloomy throng are we, condemned and soon forgotten,
We pass across the world in silence, without trace,
No thoughts that might bear fruit for ages unbegotten,
No work of genius to inspire the race.
Our ashes will receive a harsh and just portrayal,
Posterity will sneer with skilled and scornful verse,
A curse of bitterness from sons at their betrayal
By their own father's spendthrift purse.
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