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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        5
  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?        10
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        15
  A kiss—another kiss.
 
But who that bliss can measure,
  Sparkling in every glance?
It crests thy lips with beauty,
  It lights thy countenance.        20
 
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!        25
  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;        30
Awake! thy country calls thee
  For liberty, for life.”
 
And I—“She is so lovely,
  So witching, so divine,—
The gift of heavenly beauty,        35
  This angel-love of mine!
 
“Oh, recognize the mission,
  Intrusted from the sky,
To this celestial envoy,
  And hail her embassy.”        40
 
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—        45
  ’Tis mine, ’tis thine—for both;
Off to the field of victory,
  And there redeem thy troth.”
 
 
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