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

Wife and Sword

By Sándor Petőfi (1823–1849)

Translation of Sir John Bowring

A DOVE upon the house-roof,

Above in heaven a star;

Thou on my bosom sleeping—

How sweet thy breathings are!

Soft as the morning dewdrops

Upon the rose leaves fall,

Thou in my arms reposest,

My love, my wife, my all!

Why should I not embrace thee

With kisses manifold?

My lips are rich with kisses,

So gushing, so untold.

We talk, we toy, we trifle,

We revel in love’s bliss;

And snatch at every breathing

A kiss—another kiss.

But who that bliss can measure,

Sparkling in every glance?

It crests thy lips with beauty,

It lights thy countenance.

I look upon my sabre,

’Tis idly hung above;

And does it not reproach me—

“Why so absorbed in love?”

Thou old—thou young companion!

So wildly looking down;

I hear thy voice of anger,

I see thy threatening frown.

“Shame—shame on thee, deserter!

Thus trifling with a wife;

Awake! thy country calls thee

For liberty, for life.”

And I—“She is so lovely,

So witching, so divine,—

The gift of heavenly beauty,

This angel-love of mine!

“Oh, recognize the mission,

Intrusted from the sky,

To this celestial envoy,

And hail her embassy.”

She heard the word; she echoed

That word—“‘The Fatherland!’

I buckle on the sabre,

With mine own plighted hand.

“I charge thee, save thy country—

’Tis mine, ’tis thine—for both;

Off to the field of victory,

And there redeem thy troth.”