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.