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

Gavrila Derzhavin (1743–1816)


Translation of Sir John Bowring

O THOU eternal One! whose presence bright

All space doth occupy, all motion guide,—

Unchanged through time’s all-devastating flight!

Thou only God—there is no God beside!

Being above all beings! Mighty One,

Whom none can comprehend and none explore!

Who fill’st existence with thyself alone,—

Embracing all, supporting, ruling o’er,—

Being whom we call God, and know no more!

Thou from primeval nothingness didst call

First chaos, then existence. Lord! in thee

Eternity had its foundation; all

Sprung forth from thee; of light, joy, harmony,

Sole Origin—all life, all beauty thine.

Thy word created all, and doth create;

Thy splendor fills all space with rays divine.

Thou art, and wert, and shalt be! Glorious! great!

Light-giving, life-sustaining Potentate!

A million torches lighted by thy hand

Wander unwearied through the blue abyss;

They own thy power, accomplish thy command,

All gay with life, all eloquent with bliss.

What shall we call them? Piles of crystal light—

A glorious company of golden streams—

Lamps of celestial ether burning bright—

Suns lighting systems with their joyous beams?

But thou to these art as the noon to night.

Thou art!—directing, guiding all—thou art!

Direct my understanding then to thee;

Control my spirit, guide my wandering heart:

Though but an atom ’midst immensity,

Still I am something, fashioned by thy hand!

I hold a middle rank ’twixt heaven and earth—

On the last verge of mortal being stand,

Close to the realms where angels have their birth,

Just on the boundaries of the spirit-land!

The chain of being is complete in me:—

In me is matter’s last gradation lost.

And the next step is spirit—Deity!

I can command the lightning, and am dust!

A monarch and a slave—a worm, a god!

Whence came I here, and how, so marvelously

Constructed and conceived? Unknown! This clod

Lives surely through some higher energy;

For from itself alone it could not be!

Creator, yes! Thy wisdom and thy word

Created me! Thou source of life and good!

Thou spirit of my spirit, and my Lord!

Thy light, thy love, in their bright plenitude,

Filled me with an immortal soul, to spring

Over the abyss of death; and bade it wear

The garments of eternal day, and wing

Its heavenly flight beyond this little sphere,

Even to its source—to thee—its Author there.