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The Realm of Azure by Ivan Turgenev

O realm of azure! O realm of light and colour, of youth and happiness! I have beheld thee in dream. We were together, a few, in a beautiful little boat, gaily decked out. Like a swan's breast the white sail swelled below the streamers frolicking in the wind.

I knew not who were with me; but in all my soul I felt that they were young, light-hearted, happy as I!

But I looked not indeed on them. I beheld all round the boundless blue of the sea, dimpled with scales of gold, and overhead the same boundless sea of blue, and in it, triumphant and mirthful, it seemed, moved the sun.

And among us, ever and anon, rose laughter, ringing and gleeful as the laughter of the gods!

And on a sudden, from one man's lips or another's, would flow words, songs of divine beauty and inspiration, and power ... it seemed the sky itself echoed back a greeting to them, and the sea quivered in unison.... Then followed again the blissful stillness.

Riding lightly over the soft waves, swiftly our little boat sped on. No wind drove it along; our own lightly beating hearts guided it. At our will it floated, obedient as a living thing.

We came on islands, enchanted islands, half-transparent with the prismatic lights of precious stones, of amethysts and emeralds. Odours of bewildering fragrance rose from the rounded shores; some of these islands showered on us a rain of roses and valley lilies; from others birds darted up, with long wings of rainbow hues.

The birds flew circling above us; the lilies and roses melted away in the pearly foam that glided by the smooth sides of our boat.

And, with the flowers and the birds, sounds floated to us, sounds sweet as honey ... women's voices, one fancied, in them.... And all about us, sky, sea, the heaving sail aloft, the gurgling water at the rudder—all spoke of love, of happy love!

And she, the beloved of each of us—she was there ... unseen and close. One moment more, and behold, her eyes will shine upon thee, her smile will blossom on thee.... Her hand will take thy hand and guide thee to the land of joy that fades not!

O realm of azure! In dream have I beheld thee.