I keep a horseshoe in the drawer of my desk
that ought to bring me luck by all beliefs.
I found it on a cliff by Chersonese
Upon a battlefield long since at peace.
Five nails in it,
there, facing me, it lay above the precipice.
Ungoverned by the bridle,
gripped by some fear, the horse had backed away
and hurtled waterward together with the rider.
Sixteen long years I kept the fateful shoe
yet till not long ago I never thought-
too full with all I had to feel and do-
about the hard-earned luck the horseshoe brought.
Long years of work there were.
No cause for shame
not in a single thought or word or line.
All from my very heart of hearts they came,
never to be disowned,
Unfettered thoughts, straightforward words and deeds,
my country's dreams, its happiness and sorrow
have all been mine. Good, hard-won luck indeed,
the horseshoe pledges it will still be mine tomorrow.
And you, my love, perpetually ready
for everything-death, drought and headlong leaps-
with all its magic power the horseshoe pledges
these joys are mine as well, yes, mine for keeps.
My fortune never chose the safest paths,
no more than did that rider and his horse
whose rusty horseshoe I am clenching in my palm,
whose fate took so precipitous a course.
I, too, drive to the brink of the abyss
and then return again
to live, to be;
but happiness like yours-what you call bliss -
is not for me.
Translated by Dorian Rottenberg