Where sea waves crash against
The barren cliffs with all their might,
Where the glowing moon enchants
In the twilight of the night,
Where, in a harem, a Muslim, daily
Spends his time without a care,
The sorceress, caressing, gave me
A sacred talisman to wear.
And then, embracing me, she said:
“It contains mysterious force!
Cherish it and keep it safe!
Understand that love’s its source.
Also know - it can’t prevent
Sudden death or serious illness,
It cannot protect you head
From the hurricane or tempest.
It cannot bestow upon you
All the riches of the East,
Prophet’s crowds won’t applaud you
Or obey you in the least.
It cannot transport you forth
From the gloomy foreign lands,
From the south to the north,
Home to be embraced by friends…
But whenever cunning eyes
Charm you and you can’t resist,
Or hiding in the night’s disguise,
Wicked lips aim for your lips,
Then, this talisman will guard
From dishonesty, my friend!
And protect your fragile heart,
From betrayals and neglect!”
By Alexander Pushkin
Translation by Andrey Kneller