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An Event by the Lake

The news spread like lightning
and all the people descended on the lakeshore,
where he lay exhausted and winded from his long journey—
the winged horse with starlight in his eyes,
Siberian hoarfrost in his nostrils,
the dust of the Saharan sand in his mane.
He had circled the world, crossed all seas and oceans,
and barely found the strength to alight here, by his native lake,
that he might drink its clear, cool, and health-giving water.
He flew down and lay on the shore, winded from his long travels;
he lay down next to the lake but lacked the strength to make
one final effort—to plunge into the clear and health-giving water
that would restore his strength to him
and would return his life to him.
The people were gathered around him, jostling
and murmuring,
the women praying to God for mercy, the children gawking.
For some of the men, this was inconceivable madness,
for others, a journey in vain, a pointless flight,
but for him, it was the highest purpose of his life:
to discover his native land by discovering the world.

Three days he lay by the water of the lake
without the strength to revive himself.
Three days he neither recovered nor died.
Three days the people waited with patience,
but on the fourth day they slowly began to make their way home,
leaving the horse alone by the lake.
And just as the last person was getting ready to leave,
the rain came down in torrents and the lake began to rise
and its waves began to lap against the horse beside the lake.
Revived by the clear and health-giving water,
the horse neighed a few times,as much as his throat could manage,
and the startled people began to return;
they could not take their eyes away as the horse plunged into the lake,
as he frolicked with the waves and drank the clear and health-giving water.
It lasted just a few moments,
and then the horse came out onto the shore
and lifted himself again into the air, as if this were his very first flight,
carrying with him his highest purpose:
to discover his native land and so discover the world.

Ацо Шопов, Песна на црната жена, 1976
Translated by Rawley Grau and Christina E. Kramer, 2022