Boris Godunov by Alexander Pushkin

Russian LiteratureChildren BooksRussian PoetryAlexander Pushkin – Boris Godunov – Contents

< < < Tavern On The Lithuanian Frontier
Palace Of The Tsar > > >


SHUISKY. A number of Guests. Supper

SHUISKY. More wine! Now, my dear guests.

(He rises; all rise after him.)

The final draught!
Read the prayer, boy.

Boy. Lord of the heavens, Who art
Eternally and everywhere, accept
The prayer of us Thy servants. For our monarch,
By Thee appointed, for our pious tsar,
Of all good Christians autocrat, we pray.
Preserve him in the palace, on the field
Of battle, on his nightly couch; grant to him
Victory o’er his foes; from sea to sea
May he be glorified; may all his house
Blossom with health, and may its precious branches
O’ershadow all the earth; to us, his slaves,
May he, as heretofore, be generous.
Gracious, long-suffering, and may the founts
Of his unfailing wisdom flow upon us;
Raising the royal cup, Lord of the heavens,
For this we pray.

SHUISKY. (Drinks.) Long live our mighty sovereign!
Farewell, dear guests. I thank you that ye scorned not
My bread and salt. Farewell; good-night.

(Exeunt Guests: he conducts them to the door.)

PUSHKIN. Hardly could they tear themselves away; indeed,
Prince Vassily Ivanovitch, I began to think that we
should not succeed in getting any private talk.

SHUISKY. (To the Servants.) You there, why do you stand
Gaping? Always eavesdropping on gentlemen! Clear
the table, and then be off.

(Exeunt Servants.)

What is it, Athanasius

PUSHKIN. Such a wondrous thing!
A message was sent here to me today
From Cracow by my nephew Gabriel Pushkin.


PUSHKIN. ‘Tis strange news my nephew writes. The son
Of the Terrible—But stay—

(Goes to the door and examines it.)

The royal boy,
Who murdered was by order of Boris—

SHUISKY. But these are no new tidings.

PUSHKIN. Wait a little;
Dimitry lives.

SHUISKY. So that’s it! News indeed!
Dimitry living!—Really marvelous!
And is that all?

PUSHKIN. Pray listen to the end;
Whoe’er he be, whether he be Dimitry
Rescued, or else some spirit in his shape,
Some daring rogue, some insolent pretender,
In any case Dimitry has appeared.

SHUISKY. It cannot be.

PUSHKIN. Pushkin himself beheld him
When first he reached the court, and through the ranks
Of Lithuanian gentlemen went straight
Into the secret chamber of the king.

SHUISKY. What kind of man? Whence comes he?

PUSHKIN. No one knows.
‘Tis known that he was Vishnevetsky’s servant;
That to a ghostly father on a bed
Of sickness he disclosed himself; possessed
Of this strange secret, his proud master nursed him,
From his sick bed upraised him, and straightway
Took him to Sigismund.

SHUISKY. And what say men
Of this bold fellow?

PUSHKIN. ‘Tis said that he is wise,
Affable, cunning, popular with all men.
He has bewitched the fugitives from Moscow,
The Catholic priests see eye to eye with him.
The King caresses him, and, it is said,
Has promised help.

SHUISKY. All this is such a medley
That my head whirls. Brother, beyond all doubt
This man is a pretender, but the danger
Is, I confess, not slight. This is grave news!
And if it reach the people, then there’ll be
A mighty tempest.

PUSHKIN. Such a storm that hardly
Will Tsar Boris contrive to keep the crown
Upon his clever head; and losing it
Will get but his deserts! He governs us
As did the tsar Ivan of evil memory.
What profits it that public executions
Have ceased, that we no longer sing in public
Hymns to Christ Jesus on the field of blood;
That we no more are burnt in public places,
Or that the tsar no longer with his sceptre
Rakes in the ashes? Is there any safety
In our poor life? Each day disgrace awaits us;
The dungeon or Siberia, cowl or fetters,
And then in some deaf nook a starving death,
Or else the halter. Where are the most renowned
Of all our houses, where the Sitsky princes,
Where are the Shestunovs, where the Romanovs,
Hope of our fatherland? Imprisoned, tortured,
In exile. Do but wait, and a like fate
Will soon be thine. Think of it! Here at home,
Just as in Lithuania, we’re beset
By treacherous slaves—and tongues are ever ready
For base betrayal, thieves bribed by the State.
We hang upon the word of the first servant
Whom we may please to punish. Then he bethought him
To take from us our privilege of hiring
Our serfs at will; we are no longer masters
Of our own lands. Presume not to dismiss
An idler. Willy nilly, thou must feed him!
Presume not to outbid a man in hiring
A labourer, or you will find yourself
In the Court’s clutches.—Was such an evil heard of
Even under tsar Ivan? And are the people
The better off? Ask them. Let the pretender
But promise them the old free right of transfer,
Then there’ll be sport.

SHUISKY. Thou’rt right; but be advised;
Of this, of all things, for a time we’ll speak
No word.

PUSHKIN. Assuredly, keep thine own counsel.
Thou art—a person of discretion; always
I am glad to commune with thee; and if aught
At any time disturbs me, I endure not
To keep it from thee; and, truth to tell, thy mead
And velvet ale today have so untied
My tongue…Farewell then, prince.

SHUISKY. Brother, farewell.
Farewell, my brother, till we meet again.

(He escorts PUSHKIN out.)

< < < Tavern On The Lithuanian Frontier
Palace Of The Tsar > > >

Russian LiteratureChildren BooksRussian PoetryAlexander Pushkin – Boris Godunov – Contents

Copyright holders –  Public Domain Book

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