Poetry International Poetry International
Poem

Roni Margulies

LEGACY

The spear thrust in front of the pavilion
announced that the Khan was seriously ill.
First, and most importantly, among his four sons
he divided his far-flung territories,
the continent he had conquered in twenty years.

Then he called his sons to his bedside.
He gave them a single arrow. Break it, he said.
It was easily broken. Next, he gave them five arrows each.
Break them, he said. They couldn’t be broken. So you’ll
stick together
, he said. He who’s on his own will be broken.

He dismissed his sons; his last task too was finished.
The great Khan turned over slowly in his bed,
brought before his eyes the world he had built,
the Caspian at one end, the Great Wall of China at the other.
I can die at last, he said. My forefathers await me

my grandsons will dress up in golden robes,
ride horses swifter than the wind
embrace the prettiest of women.

And, alas, they will forget
in whose debt they are for all that,
I haven’t the slightest doubt.

ERFENIS

De lans die voor de grote tent in de grond stak
kondigde de ernstige ziekte van de Khan aan.
In de allereerste plaats deelde hij zijn
onmetelijke rijk tussen zijn vier zonen.
In vieren verdeelde hij de vrucht van twintig jaar verovering.

Toen riep hij zijn zonen bij zijn ziekbed.
Aan elk van hen gaf hij één pijl. Breek hem! sprak hij.
Ze deden het met gemak. Toen gaf hij hun er ieder vijf.
Breek ze! sprak hij. Het lukte hen niet.
Blijft samen! sprak hij. Wie alleen staat, wordt gebroken.

Hij liet zijn zonen gaan; zijn laatste werk was verricht.
Moeizaam draaide de grote Khan zich om in zijn bed,
en haalde zich de wereld voor ogen die hij had geschapen.
Aan één kant de Kaspische zee aan de andere de Chinese muur.
Ik kan rustig sterven, dacht hij, de voorvaderen verwachten mij.

En mijn kleinzoons zullen gewaden van gouddraad dragen
en paarden bestijgen, sneller dan de wind,
ze zullen de mooiste vrouwen omarmen.

En aan wie zij dat alles te danken hebben,
helaas, ik weet het zeker,
dat zullen ze vergeten.

MIRAS

Büyük çadırın önünde yere saplı kargı
Ağır hastalığını haber ediyordu Han’ın.
Önce ve en önemlisi dört oğlu arasında
bölüştürdü uçsuz bucaksız topraklarını,
dörde böldü yirmi yılda fethettiği kıtayı.

Yatağının başına çağırdı sonra oğullarını.
Her birine tek bir ok verdi. Kırın, dedi.
Kolayca kırdılar. Beşer ok verdi bu kez.
Kırın, dedi. Kırılmadı oklar. Siz de, dedi,
birlik durun. Tek duran kırılır, dedi.

Savdı oğullarını; son işi de bitmişti.
Ağır ağır döndü koca Han yatağında,
kurduğu dünyayı gözlerinin önüne getirdi,
bir ucunda Hazar Denizi, bir yanda Çin Seddi.
Ölebilirim artık, dedi. Atalarım beni bekliyor

ve torunlarım altın kumaşlar kuşanacaklar,
rüzgârdan hızlı koşan atlara binecek
en güzel kadınları kucaklayacaklar.


Ve bunları kime borçlu olduklarını,
heyhat, hiç kuşkum yok,
unutacaklar.
Close

LEGACY

The spear thrust in front of the pavilion
announced that the Khan was seriously ill.
First, and most importantly, among his four sons
he divided his far-flung territories,
the continent he had conquered in twenty years.

Then he called his sons to his bedside.
He gave them a single arrow. Break it, he said.
It was easily broken. Next, he gave them five arrows each.
Break them, he said. They couldn’t be broken. So you’ll
stick together
, he said. He who’s on his own will be broken.

He dismissed his sons; his last task too was finished.
The great Khan turned over slowly in his bed,
brought before his eyes the world he had built,
the Caspian at one end, the Great Wall of China at the other.
I can die at last, he said. My forefathers await me

my grandsons will dress up in golden robes,
ride horses swifter than the wind
embrace the prettiest of women.

And, alas, they will forget
in whose debt they are for all that,
I haven’t the slightest doubt.

LEGACY

The spear thrust in front of the pavilion
announced that the Khan was seriously ill.
First, and most importantly, among his four sons
he divided his far-flung territories,
the continent he had conquered in twenty years.

Then he called his sons to his bedside.
He gave them a single arrow. Break it, he said.
It was easily broken. Next, he gave them five arrows each.
Break them, he said. They couldn’t be broken. So you’ll
stick together
, he said. He who’s on his own will be broken.

He dismissed his sons; his last task too was finished.
The great Khan turned over slowly in his bed,
brought before his eyes the world he had built,
the Caspian at one end, the Great Wall of China at the other.
I can die at last, he said. My forefathers await me

my grandsons will dress up in golden robes,
ride horses swifter than the wind
embrace the prettiest of women.

And, alas, they will forget
in whose debt they are for all that,
I haven’t the slightest doubt.
Sponsors
Gemeente Rotterdam
Nederlands Letterenfonds
Stichting Van Beuningen Peterich-fonds
Ludo Pieters Gastschrijver Fonds
Hendrik Muller fonds
Lira fonds
J.E. Jurriaanse
Literature Translation Institute of Korea
Partners
LantarenVenster – Verhalenhuis Belvédère