April is National Poetry Month: “Silentium!”

Here is a translation of my favorite poem. Submitted by Peggy Burge

Silentium!
Fyodor Tyutchev’s poem, translated by John Dewey

Be silent, guard your tongue, and keep
All inmost thoughts and feelings deep
Within your heart concealed. There let
Them in their courses rise and set,
Like stars in jewelled night, unheard:
Admire them, and say not a word.

How can the soul its flame impart?
How can another know your heart,
The truths by which you live and die?
A thought, once uttered, is a lie,
The limpid spring defiled, once stirred:
Drink of it, and say not a word.

Make but the inward life your goal -
Seek out that world within your soul:
Mysterious, magic thoughts are there,
Which, if the outer din and glare
Intrude, will fade and be not heard:
Drink in their song – and not a word!

First published 2010 in John Dewey’s Mirror of the Soul – A Life of the Poet Fyodor Tyutchev, which also contains Dewey’s verse translations of nearly 100 of Tyutchev’s best poems

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