Mikhail Lermontov is known as “the poet of the Caucasus” for his chronicling of the expansion of the Russian empire. Here, his poem is updated by changing the geography (slightly) and making the young woman modern.
In high noon’s heat in an Afghan valley
I lay quite still, a bullet in my breast;
The smoke still rose from my deep wound,
As drop by drop my blood flowed out.
I lay alone upon the valley’s sand;
The mountain ledges closed in all around,
Sun burned their yellow peaks
It burned me, too-but deep as death I slept.
I dreamt I saw the shining lights
Of evening shopping in my homeland.
Young women with highlights in their hair
Spoke gaily of me ‘mongst themselves.
But one girl sat apart in thought
And did not enter gaily in,
Her youthful soul was caught it seemed,
Lord God knows how, in some sad dream:
She dreamt about a valley in Afghanistan;
She knew the corpse that lay upon the ground;
His breast was blackened by a smoking wound,
His cooling blood was flowing in a stream.