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

Our Country

By Sándor Petőfi (1823–1849)

Translation of Sir John Bowring

THE SUN went down, but not a starlet

Appeared in heaven,—all dark above;

No light around, except the taper

Dim glimmering, and my homely love.

That homely love’s a star in heaven

That shines around both near and far,

A home of sadness—sad Hungaria!

Where wilt thou find that lovely star?

And now my taper flickers faintly,

And midnight comes; but in the gleam,

Faint as it is, I see a shadow

Which half reveals a future dream.

It brightens as the daybreak brightens

Each flame brings forth a mightier flame;

There stand two figures in the nimbus,—

Old Magyar honor, Magyar fame.

O Magyars! look not on your fathers,

But bid them hide their brows in night;

Your eyes are weak, those suns are dazzling,

Ye cannot bear that blasting light.

Time was those ancient, honored fathers

Could speak the threatening, thundering word;

’Twas like the bursting of the storm-wind,

And Europe, all responsive, heard!

Great was the Magyar then: his country

Honored, his name a history

Of glory,—now a star extinguished,

A fallen star in Magyar sea.

’Twas long ago the laurel garland

Was round the Magyar forehead bound;

Shall fancy, eagle-pinioned, ever

See Magyar hero-brow recrowned?

That laurel crown so long has faded,

So long thy light has ceased to gleam,

Thy greatness seems a myth, thy story

A fable of the past—a dream!

Long have mine eyes been dry and tearless,

But now I weep; and can it be

That these are dews of spring—the dawning

Of brighter days for Hungary?

And can it—can it be a meteor,

That for a moment burst and blazed,

Lighted with brightness all the heavens,

And sunk in darkness while we gazed?

No! ’tis a comet, whose returning

Is sure as is the march of doom;

Hungary shall hail it, blazing, burning,—

It cannot, will not fail to come.