Verse > Anthologies > Deutsch and Yarmolinsky, comps. > Modern Russian Poetry
Deutsch and Yarmolinsky, comps.  Modern Russian Poetry.  1921.
“When, Heaving on the Stormy Waters”
By Fyodor Sologub (Pseudonym of Fyodor Teternikov) (b. 1863)
WHEN, heaving on the stormy waters,
I felt my ship begin to sink,
I prayed, “Oh, Father Satan, save me,
Forgive me at death’s utter brink!
“If you will save my soul embittered        5
From perishing before its hour,
The days to come, the nights that follow
I vow to vice, I pledge to power.”
The Devil forthwith snatched and flung me
Into a boat; the sides were frail,        10
But on the bench the oars were lying
And in the bow an old gray sail.
And landward once again I carried
My outcast soul, bereft of kin,
Upon its sickly vicious sojourn        15
My body and its gift of sin.
And I am faithful, Father Satan,
Unto my evil hour’s vow,
When from my drowning ship you saved me
And when I prayed you guide the prow.        20
To you descend my praises, Father,
No day from bitter blame exempt.
O’er worlds my blasphemy shall tower;
And I shall tempt—and I shall tempt.

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