The Horse's Face

Nikolay Zabolotsky

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Animals don't sleep. In the dark after nightfall
They stand over the world like a stone wall.

The cow's sloping head
Rustles its smooth horns in the straw.
Its stony brow bears down
Dividing ancient cheekbones,
And inarticulate eyes
Look around with effort.

The horse's face is lovelier and wiser.
He hears the speech of leaf and stone.
Watchful, he knows the roar of beasts
And the nightingale's murmur in the decrepit wood.

And, knowing all, whom will he tell
Of his enchanted visions?
The night is deep, and on the dark horizon
Formations of stars rise.
The horse stands like a knight on guard
A wind plays across his fine hairs,
His eyes blaze like two enormous worlds,
His mane spreads like the mantle of a king.

And if a man could see
The horse's magic face,
He would tear out his feeble tongue
And give it to the horse. Indeed
The magic horse deserves a tongue!

Then we would hear words.
Words as big as apples. Thick
As honey or creamy milk.
Words that pierce like flame
And, flying into the soul, like fire into a hut,
Illuminate its beggarly attire.
Words that do not die
And about which we sing songs.

But now the stable is empty,
The trees have also gone away,
A stingy morning has swaddled the hills,
Opened the fields for work.
And the horse in the cage of its traces,
Pulling a covered wagon,
Looks with resigned eyes
At the mysterious, immobile world.

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