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C.D. Warner, et al., comp. The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

One Only Thought

By Sándor Petőfi (1823–1849)

Translation of Sir John Bowring

ONE thought torments me sorely—’tis that I

Pillowed on a soft bed of down may die;

Fade slowly, like a flower, and pass away

Under the gentle pressure of decay;

Paling as pales a fading, flickering light

In the dark, lonesome solitude of night.

O God! let not my Magyar name

Be linked with such a death of shame;

No! rather let it be

A lightning-struck, uprooted tree—

A rock, which, torn from mountain-brow,

Comes rattling, thundering down below.

Where every fettered race, tired with their chains,

Muster their ranks and seek the battle plains,

And with red flushes the red flag unfold,

The sacred signal there inscribed in gold,—

“For the world’s liberty!”

And far and wide the summons to be free

Fills east and west, and to the glorious fight

Heroes press forward, battling for the right,—

There will I die!

There drowned in mine own heart’s blood lie,

Poured out so willingly; th’ expiring voice,

Even in its own extinction shall rejoice.

While the sword’s clashing, and the trumpet’s sound,

And rifles and artillery thunder round;

Then may the trampling horse

Gallop upon my corse,

When o’er the battle-field the warriors fly.

There let me rest till glorious victory

Shall crown the right; my bones upgathered be

At the sublime interment of the free!

When million voices shout their elegy

Under the unfurled banners waving high;

On the gigantic grave which covers all

The heroes, who for freedom fall,

And welcome death because they die for thee,

All holy! world-delivering liberty!