Ode (from Job) by Mikhail Vasilyevich Lomonosov

O man! whose weakness dares rebel 
Against the Almighty’s strength, draw nigh 
And listen, for my tongue shall tell 
His message from the clouded sky. 
Midst rain, and storm, and hail, he spoke,
Around the piercing thunder broke; 
At his proud word the clouds disperse, 
And thus he shakes the universe:

‘Come forth, then, in thy pride and power — 
Come answer me, thou son of earth! 
Where wert thou in that distant hour 
When first I gave creation birth?
When all the mountain’s heights were rear’d. 
When all the heavenly hosts appeared. 
My wisdom and my strength’s display? 
Man! let thy towering wisdom say! 

‘Where wert thou when the stars, new born. 
Sprung into light at my command,
And fill’d the bounds of eve and morn. 
And sung the intelligence that plann’d 
Their course sublime? When first the sun 
On wings of glory had begun 
His race, and oceans of pure light 
Wafted mild Luna through the night. 

‘Who bid the ascending mountains rise? 
Who fix’d the boundary of the sea? 
Who, when the waves attack’d the skies. 
Confined their furious revelry? 
The caverns hid in darkness I 
Unveil’d — my breath of majesty 
Dispersed the gathering mists — my hand 
Divided ocean from the land. 

‘Say, canst thou bid the morning dawn 
At earlier hour than I have given, — 
Or water the rain-thirsty lawn 
When I have shut the gates of heaven? 
Canst thou a favouring breeze prepare 
To waft the anxious mariner; 
Or guide this earthly ball— to crush 
The vile— and the tumultuous hush? 

‘Say, hast thou scaled the mountain’s height. 
Or sounded ocean’s vast abyss;
Or measured all that infinite 
Immensity that o’er thee is? 
Or couldst thou ever penetrate 
Those clouds so dark, so desolate. 
That round death’s midnight-portal dwell? 
Or dive into the depth of hell?

‘Couldst thou with tempests fill the cloud, 
The glory of the sun to hide;
And in yon bright cerulean shroud 
The lightning and the watery tide: 
With swiftly-gathering fiery flash. 
And with the mountain-shaking crash. 
Tear earth’s foundations up, and show 
What dust is thy poor world below? 

‘Tell me, thou scrutinizing mind. 
Who leads the eagle’s flight sublime?
His pinions are the mighty wind. 
His path beyond or earth or time; 
Far o’er the sea, on some tall rock. 
He looks upon the surge’s shock. 
Who could his craving wants supply? 
Who gave him that sun-dazzling eye?

‘ Look at the awful behemoth—
Read there, vain man! my power’s display:
Go! see him trample, in his wrath,
The thorny forests in his way. 
His veins are kard as cables — try 
With him thy arm of potency! 
His ribs are brass— his giant horn 
Pats all thy boastful strength to scorn. 

‘Go! hook the huge leviathan,
And draw him subject to the shores 
The ocean is his kingdom — man! 
His coarse, the boundless waters o’er: 
The scales upon his sides are bright 
As silver shields in Luna’s light: 
He sees, in mockery, frowning lord! 
Thy threatening spear and sharpen d sword. 

‘A millstone is his heart — his row 
Of teeth like sickles, threat’ning still: 
Who shall attack him — hero! who? 
He waits the strife with ready will. 
He basks him in the sunny beam 
On the sharp rock — ’tis smooth to him — 
His strong impenetrable mass 
Sleeps as it were on sand or grass. 

‘When he prepares him for the fray. 

The ocean like a furnace gleams;
The thundering surges mark his way,
His anger like a caldron steams; 
His eyes with burning fury roll,
As in a forge the scarlet coal. 
All fly before him —  Who shall stand 
Before my frown, when I command?’

‘When my high will creation’s plan 
And self-supported wisdom drew. 
Did I consult thee, feeble man! 
To tell me what my hand should do? 
Why didst thou not my purpose check, 
Thou who wert then an atom speck,
And say, when I was framing thee, 
‘Why art thou thus creating me?’ ‘ 

Insolent mortal! — bow thy head: 
God’s wisdom and God’s goodness trace; 
In the safe path He marks thee — tread — 
‘Tis He who fix’d thy earthly place; 
And joy and grief alike are given 
To lead thee on thy way to heaven: 
Then hope and bear — in patience bear —
And throw on Him thy woe, thy care. 

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