Boris Godunov by Alexander Pushkin

Russian LiteratureChildren BooksRussian PoetryAlexander Pushkin – Boris Godunov – Contents

< < < Palace Of The Tsar
Castle Of The Governor > > >



PRETENDER. Nay, father, there will be no trouble. I know
The spirit of my people; piety
Does not run wild in them, their tsar’s example
To them is sacred. Furthermore, the people
Are always tolerant. I warrant you,
Before two years my people all, and all
The Eastern Church, will recognise the power
Of Peter’s Vicar.

PRIEST. May Saint Ignatius aid thee
When other times shall come. Meanwhile, tsarevich,
Hide in thy soul the seed of heavenly blessing;
Religious duty bids us oft dissemble
Before the blabbing world; the people judge
Thy words, thy deeds; God only sees thy motives.

PRETENDER. Amen. Who’s there?

(Enter a Servant.)

Say that we will receive them.

(The doors are opened; a crowd of Russians and Poles enters.)

Comrades! Tomorrow we depart from Cracow.
Mnishek, with thee for three days in Sambor
I’ll stay. I know thy hospitable castle
Both shines in splendid stateliness, and glories
In its young mistress; There I hope to see
Charming Marina. And ye, my friends, ye, Russia
And Lithuania, ye who have upraised
Fraternal banners against a common foe,
Against mine enemy, yon crafty villain.
Ye sons of Slavs, speedily will I lead
Your dread battalions to the longed-for conflict.
But soft! Methinks among you I descry
New faces.

GABRIEL P. They have come to beg for sword
And service with your Grace.

PRETENDER. Welcome, my lads.
You are friends to me. But tell me, Pushkin, who
Is this fine fellow?

PUSHKIN. Prince Kurbsky.

PRETENDER. (To KURBSKY.) A famous name!
Art kinsman to the hero of Kazan?

KURBSKY. His son.

PRETENDER. Liveth he still?

KURBSKY. Nay, he is dead.

PRETENDER. A noble soul! A man of war and counsel.
But from the time when he appeared beneath
The ancient town Olgin with the Lithuanians,
Hardy avenger of his injuries,
Rumour hath held her tongue concerning him.

KURBSKY. My father led the remnant of his life
On lands bestowed upon him by Batory;
There, in Volhynia, solitary and quiet,
Sought consolation for himself in studies;
But peaceful labour did not comfort him;
He ne’er forgot the home of his young days,
And to the end pined for it.

PRETENDER. Hapless chieftain!
How brightly shone the dawn of his resounding
And stormy life! Glad am I, noble knight,
That now his blood is reconciled in thee
To his fatherland. The faults of fathers must not
Be called to mind. Peace to their grave. Approach;
Give me thy hand! Is it not strange?—the son
Of Kurbsky to the throne is leading—whom?
Whom but Ivan’s own son?—All favours me;
People and fate alike.—Say, who art thou?

A POLE. Sobansky, a free noble.

PRETENDER. Praise and honour
Attend thee, child of liberty. Give him
A third of his full pay beforehand.—Who
Are these? On them I recognise the dress
Of my own country. These are ours.

KRUSHCHOV. (Bows low.) Yea, Sire,
Our father; we are thralls of thine, devoted
And persecuted; we have fled from Moscow,
Disgraced, to thee our tsar, and for thy sake
Are ready to lay down our lives; our corpses
Shall be for thee steps to the royal throne.

PRETENDER. Take heart, innocent sufferers. Only let me
Reach Moscow, and, once there, Boris shall settle
Some scores with me and you. What news of Moscow?

KRUSHCHOV. As yet all there is quiet. But already
The folk have got to know that the tsarevich
Was saved; already everywhere is read
Thy proclamation. All are waiting for thee.
Not long ago Boris sent two boyars
To execution merely because in secret
They drank thy health.

PRETENDER. O hapless, good boyars!
But blood for blood! And woe to Godunov!
What do they say of him?

KRUSHCHOV. He has withdrawn
Into his gloomy palace. He is grim
And sombre. Executions loom ahead.
But sickness gnaws him. Hardly hath he strength
To drag himself along, and—it is thought—
His last hour is already not far off.

PRETENDER. A speedy death I wish him, as becomes
A great-souled foe to wish. If not, then woe
To the miscreant!—And whom doth he intend
To name as his successor?

KRUSHCHOV. He shows not
His purposes, but it would seem he destines
Feodor, his young son, to be our tsar.

PRETENDER. His reckonings, maybe, will yet prove wrong.
Who art thou?

KARELA. A Cossack; from the Don I am sent
To thee, from the free troops, from the brave hetmen
From upper and lower regions of the Cossacks,
To look upon thy bright and royal eyes,
And tender thee their homage.

PRETENDER. Well I knew
The men of Don; I doubted not to see
The Cossack hetmen in my ranks. We thank
Our army of the Don. Today, we know,
The Cossacks are unjustly persecuted,
Oppressed; but if God grant us to ascend
The throne of our forefathers, then as of yore
We’ll gratify the free and faithful Don.

POET. (Approaches, bowing low, and taking Gregory by the
hem of his caftan.)
Great prince, illustrious offspring of a king!

PRETENDER. What wouldst thou?

POET. Condescendingly accept
This poor fruit of my earnest toil.

PRETENDER. What see I?
Verses in Latin! Blest a hundredfold
The tie of sword and lyre; the selfsame laurel
Binds them in friendship. I was born beneath
A northern sky, but yet the Latin muse
To me is a familiar voice; I love
The blossoms of Parnassus, I believe
The prophecies of singers. Not in vain
The ecstasy boils in their flaming breast;
Action is hallowed, being glorified
Beforehand by the poets! Approach, my friend.
In memory of me accept this gift.

(Gives him a ring.)

When fate fulfils for me her covenant,
When I assume the crown of my forefathers,
I hope again to hear the measured tones
Of thy sweet voice, and thy inspired lay.
Musa gloriam Coronat, gloriaque musam.
And so, friends, till tomorrow, au revoir.

ALL. Forward! Long live Dimitry! Forward, forward!
Long live Dimitry, the great prince of Moscow!

< < < Palace Of The Tsar
Castle Of The Governor > > >

Russian LiteratureChildren BooksRussian PoetryAlexander Pushkin – Boris Godunov – Contents

Copyright holders –  Public Domain Book

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