On Transience by Gavrila Derzhavin

Time’s river in its rushing course
carries away all human things,
drowns in oblivion’s abyss
peoples and kingdoms and their kings.

And if the trumpet or the lyre
should rescue something, small or great,
eternity will gulp it down
and it will share the common fate.

(July 1816, written on a slate a few days or perhaps only hours before Derzhavin’s death)

From: Chandler, Robert; Dralyuk, Boris; and Mashinski, Irina (eds.), The Penguin Book of Russian Poetry, 2015, Penguin Random House UK: London, p. 28.
(https://books.google.com.au/books?id=V8xbBAAAQBAJ)

Date: 1816 (original in Russian); 2015 (translation in English)

By: Gavrila Derzhavin (1743-1816)

Translated by: Peter France (1935- )

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