Translating the poem "Hermit"

This poem is a quote from one of the fairy tales Maximilian wrote for his foster daughter. It tells us a sad story in a lighthearted, almost cheerful manner, just like in “The Other”. The events Max mentions here are not a dream, though, but reality. After being grievously injured, he spent a lot of time recovering from his wounds. The man that treated him was a swamp hermit.

There are several details that link this poem to the events in the book: roots of calamus, rain water, Max walking with a limp, carrying a staff with him everywhere, and writing with his left hand (his right hand was damaged too much).

The original Russian text:

Отшельник

Корневища горькие аира.
Дождевая пресная вода.
Если б я хотел сбежать от мира,
То пришел бы, раненый, сюда.

Здесь растут диковинные травы,
Кровожадны и страшны на вид.
И из них варил бы я отраву,
А быть может, зелья для любви.

Здесь живут диковинные звери,
Здесь опасно и при свете дня.
Только отчего-то я не верю,
Что они убили бы меня.

Уж скорее я бы стал им страшен,
Одичавший и суровый маг.
Рисовал бы я вершины башен
И сходил бы иногда с ума.

Я б еще хромал, держась за посох,
Свыкшись с неизбежной хромотой.
И ответы на свои вопросы
Я писал бы левою рукой.

My rough translation

Hermit

Bitter roots of calamus,
Sweet rain water.
If I wanted to run away from the world,
Wounded, I’d come there.

There, outlandish herbs grow,
They look dangerous(bloodthirsty) and scary.
I’d make poisons of them
Or, maybe, love potions.

There, outlandish beasts roam,
It’s not safe there even in daylight,
But I don’t think they
Would kill me.

Most likely, they would be afraid of me,
An austere mage ran wild.
I’d draw pointy towers
And go crazy from time to time.

I’d also walk with a limp, leaning on a staff,
Not caring much about my fault(limp),
And would write the answers to my questions
With my left hand.

Alan Jackson's translation:

Hermit

The sweetflag roots their bitterness hide,
The rain falls soft on every side
If I fled the world with wounds still wide
I would come here.

Outlandish plants their roots set here,
Perilous, frightening, they appear,
Potions I’d brew that show death clear
Or love awake.

Outlandish beasts at night awake
But daylight too has risks to take –
But me? With me no beast will laik
They won’t touch me.

They see themselves as prey for me
A wounded mage, austere and free,
Drawing turrets so insanity
May free its grasp.

Leaning, limping, my staff I grasp;
Care not my limp will never pass,
Answers and rhymes for my young lass
My left hand writes.


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About the project:
My scifi and fantasy novels have a lot of poems in them that can not be removed without destroying the plot. Alas, my English in not good enough for translating poetry. Alan Jackson helps me to translate the poems. It makes the translation of my novels possible.