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« En la ciudad sin límites | Main | Pushkin, "Медный всадник" (part 1) »
Tuesday
Dec152009

Pushkin, "Медный всадник" (part 2)

The final part of Pushkin's masterpiece ("The Bronze Horseman").  You can read the original here.

And so, gorged on destruction's scent,      
Fatigued by wanton havoc's pace,             
The Neva turned away and bent              
Admiring its own scornful face,                  
And carelessly forsook its loot.               
Then villains in ferocious gangs                
In rampage through the farmland flew,   
They broke, they cut, they crashed, they banged,
They robbed, they shattered, howled and scratched,
Alarm and vulgar violence raged ...
And burdened with their plundered batch 
Pursuit seemed likely, so they waged  
A quick retreat for home to stay,           
And dropped some goods along the way.

Receding water came to pass,                
The bridges drew and our Eugene           
Made haste, his heart like ice hard-cast,   
In hope, in fear, and yearning's plea                    
Up to the newly gentled seas.                  
But full of solemn triumph's burn,              
Malicious waves recoiled and seethed,    
As if below a fiery urn                            
Concealed as yet its foamy teeth,        
The Neva panted in attack.         
A warrior steed from battle back. 
Eugene looked and beheld a boat:        
And running to what he thought lost,    
He beckoned to a ferryman;                
Indifferent, the latter tossed                 
His hand out for a silver piece               
The price to ride the wave-tops fierce. 

And long upon the stormy crests,           
The grizzled rower fought his way;      
While deep beneath these strata strayed          
Still hiding their emboldened chests         
Some swimmers by our lonely craft  
And then he reached the shore at last. 
          A well-known street                  
Caught his sad steps                                         
To well-known haunts.  He looked and found      
It all too strange.  A horrid view!          
Before him lay upon the ground                   
All jettisoned, expelled, eschewed,  
Distorted thresholds, roofs collapsed        
And houses razed or drowned in foam,             
Near were as foulest sight perhaps,            
As if on battlefields he roamed                  
Cadavers floating.  Our Eugene                  
Moved headlong, mindful of no thing,   
Exhausted from the tortures seen        
And felt, and so himself did bring          
To where an unknown fate detained    
A dooming letter foreordained.             
His paths criss-crossed the suburb map:   
Here was the gulf, and then a house,        
Now what was this? ...                                   
    He stopped, quite rapt.                                
Then turned around and headed back.              
He looked, he walked, then looked agape: 
Here was the land their home once cloaked;    
The willow, too; here were the gates.         
Removed, it seemed.  What of their home? 
To twilight cares was he so yoked            
And on he walked, and on he roamed,          
Conversing loudly with himself,                  
When suddenly, his forehead met              
His open palm,                                         
       And then he laughed.                  
The nighttime gloom beset our town; 
But residents took little sleep,                 
Discussing thoughts that victims keep 
Of yesterday.                                 
       At dawn the light                         
In pale and tired rays came down,        
The wan and quiet capital,                   
Without a trace of recent thrall        
To crimson woe; so evil passed,     
No longer visible at last.                  
The prior order reigned anew.          
And on free streets patrolled the folk, 
Insensible to what occurred;           
High-ranking persons left their homes,
Their nighttime shelter, without a word,           
And went to work.  And pedlars brave 
Began to open basement caves,         
The Neva's burial work undone,           
And swallowed their big minus sums,              
To relocate.  The boats set forth,
From the same gates.                       
       Khvostov the Count,                  
A poet loving satin skies,           
Had sung immortal verse and cried  
Misfortune for the Neva shores.

My poor Eugene, my poor Eugene ...    
His troubled mind could be no match    
For horrid thoughts and awful fears.     
The Neva swirled in noisy crash,      
And mutiny screamed in his ears.          
He wandered off in silent haze,           
And then fell prey to baleful dreams.        
A week was gone, then thirty days,    
Yet he did not revisit home.                
His cozy, empty corner spot               
Was rented out at deadline's stroke      
To an impoverished poet when                  
His landlord thought Eugene done in.     
But for his things Eugene came not.    
So soon did he detest the world,          
So alien now.  All day on foot             
He strayed; and on the pier he curled 
In sleep; on measly alms he fed,                  
His worn-out clothes decayed, in shreds; 
And hateful children pelted him                      
With stones and rocks cast forth in vim.        
It was no rarity to taste                 
The lashes of a passing cab;                 
He never could make out in haste        
The map of streets; to all the drab,      
Faint hum of men he paid no heed;    
Alarm within was noise indeed.           
And so his woeful time dragged on,        
Not here, not there, not of this earth,     
Not human or beast, neither one,    
Not dead man's ghost ...                  
       He found a berth                      
One time upon the Neva's pier.              
The days of summer were few left;          
Unfriendly wind and billows dark               
Splashed on the pier, as foamy sparks    
Still murmured, beating on smooth steps,
An applicant behind the door                      
Of judges unobeyed before.                         
Our poor Eugene awoke to night,           
A darkness thick; here dreary gales       
Attacked with rain, and in this fight           
The sentry called forth the assailed ...   
Eugene jumped up; his memory cropped         
To the last horror.  With due haste                  
He rose, began to roam, then stopped            
Most suddenly.  His eyes gave chase                                 
Around his person while his face             
Was wild in illness unexplained.            
By columns he had left his sleep,                      
Of a large house, above whose wing,      
With elevated paw to roam,              
As if alive, two lions moaned.    
And straight within these blackish heights,   
Above the statue medal-bound,                   
An idol with an outstretched hand             
Upon a bronzy horse was found.

Eugene was startled; curious thoughts 
Appeared to him.  He knew the place   
In which the flood's incessant rage,        
And greedy waves had stacked and fought
Around him like a battle waged.      
He knew the lions, square and who,   
Unmoving, arched his bronzy brow      
To dark's long reign, whose fateful will
Had made a city rise that now               
Each heart and mind ne'er ceased to thrill...
So horrid was he in the gloom! 
What power lay within that frame! 
What intellect that skull entombed!  
And then within that steed what flame! 
Proud horse, wherever will you leap?     
Where will you leave your cloven mark?  
O mighty lord of fate and chart!          
Above this chasm was it thus,           
On high with reins in iron truss,  
That Russia reared its legs to sweep?

Around the idol's plinth anon              
Our poor sick lad began to pace,        
With savage looks upon that face,      
Our hemisphere's great hegemon.      
His heart was shy; he leaned his skull
Against the railing cold and blue,      
Within the fog his eyes went dull,      
A flame bequeathed its strength anew.  
His blood a-boil, he came to speak          
Before the haughty idol's glance,                
Each tooth tight-clenched, his fists in knots,
As if by blackest force entranced:
"O wondrous builder," whispered he,  
Still quivering in obvious spite,          
"You I salute!" Then headlong flight
He undertook.  For he had seen            
If for a moment the Tsar's face,            
At such affront inflamed with wrath,      
Cut with a smile a treach'rous path ... 

He ran onto the empty square,  
Behind him came a sound unreal
As if of thunder and its peal,          
The heavy ringing of hard hooves,  
Upon the shaken roadway grooves. 
And then beneath the pale moonlight,
A hand held out in unmatched height,
Behind him rode the Horseman Bronze 
Upon a horse in ringing bounds! 
And that whole night our poor sick lad,
Wherever he would turn his course,
Behind him came the Horseman Bronze,
In tireless trot and heavy force. 

And from that time, whenever he      
So happened to traverse that square,
Upon his face one clearly gleaned       
Confusion. Though to his own chest   
His wretched hand was tightly pressed,
As if to quell some torture there;
He bore a pointed cap well-worn,
His troubled eyes were never torn
From where he trod. 
       Upon the shore      
A tiny island could be seen.       
And sometimes moored with fishing trawl,
An angler late to find his catch,             
Would cook his meager mealtime batch,
Or an official came to call,    
A Sunday boat ride the excuse, 
And visit the deserted isle.                           
Not one grass blade adorned that earth.             
More floods had brought a wretched hut,
Above the water it would perch,      
A blackish bush or orphaned mutt. 
And this past spring this hut they took   
Aboard a barge, and it was bare,           
Caved in, destroyed.  The threshold held  
Our poor sick lad still lying there.  
His cold corpse was interred apace,
For God's own sake in that same place.

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