Boris Godunov by Alexander Pushkin

Russian LiteratureChildren BooksRussian PoetryAlexander Pushkin – Boris Godunov – Contents

< < < The Lithuanian Frontier
A Plain Near Novgorod Seversk > > >


The TSAR, the PATRIARCH and Boyars

TSAR. Is it possible? An unfrocked monk against us
Leads rascal troops, a truant friar dares write
Threats to us! Then ’tis time to tame the madman!
Trubetskoy, set thou forth, and thou Basmanov;
My zealous governors need help. Chernigov
Already by the rebel is besieged;
Rescue the city and citizens.

BASMANOV. Three months
Shall not pass, Sire, ere even rumour’s tongue
Shall cease to speak of the pretender; caged
In iron, like a wild beast from oversea,
We’ll hale him into Moscow, I swear by God.

(Exit with TRUBETSKOY.)

TSAR. The Lord of Sweden hath by envoys tendered
Alliance to me. But we have no need
To lean on foreign aid; we have enough
Of our own warlike people to repel
Traitors and Poles. I have refused.—Shchelkalov!
In every district to the governors
Send edicts, that they mount their steeds, and send
The people as of old on service; likewise
Ride to the monasteries, and there enlist
The servants of the churchmen. In days of old,
When danger faced our country, hermits freely
Went into battle; it is not now our wish
To trouble them; no, let them pray for us;
Such is the tsar’s decree, such the resolve
Of his boyars. And now a weighty question
We shall determine; ye know how everywhere
The insolent pretender hath spread abroad
His artful rumours; letters everywhere,
By him distributed, have sowed alarm
And doubt; seditious whispers to and fro
Pass in the market-places; minds are seething.
We needs must cool them; gladly would I refrain
From executions, but by what means and how?
That we will now determine. Holy father,
Thou first declare thy thought.

PATRIARCH. The Blessed One,
The All-Highest, hath instilled into thy soul,
Great lord, the spirit of kindness and meek patience;
Thou wishest not perdition for the sinner,
Thou wilt wait quietly, until delusion
Shall pass away; for pass away it will,
And truth’s eternal sun will dawn on all.
Thy faithful bedesman, one in worldly matters
No prudent judge, ventures today to offer
His voice to thee. This offspring of the devil,
This unfrocked monk, has known how to appear
Dimitry to the people. Shamelessly
He clothed himself with the name of the tsarevich
As with a stolen vestment. It only needs
To tear it off—and he’ll be put to shame
By his own nakedness. The means thereto
God hath Himself supplied. Know, sire, six years
Since then have fled; ’twas in that very year
When to the seat of sovereignty the Lord
Anointed thee—there came to me one evening
A simple shepherd, a venerable old man,
Who told me a strange secret. “In my young days,”
He said, “I lost my sight, and thenceforth knew not
Nor day, nor night, till my old age; in vain
I plied myself with herbs and secret spells;
In vain did I resort in adoration
To the great wonder-workers in the cloister;
Bathed my dark eyes in vain with healing water
From out the holy wells. The Lord vouchsafed not
Healing to me. Then lost I hope at last,
And grew accustomed to my darkness. Even
Slumber showed not to me things visible,
Only of sounds I dreamed. Once in deep sleep
I hear a childish voice; it speaks to me:
`Arise, grandfather, go to Uglich town,
To the Cathedral of Transfiguration;
There pray over my grave. The Lord is gracious—
And I shall pardon thee.’ `But who art thou?’
I asked the childish voice. `I am the tsarevich
Dimitry, whom the Heavenly Tsar hath taken
Into His angel band, and I am now
A mighty wonder-worker. Go, old man.’
I woke, and pondered. What is this? Maybe
God will in very deed vouchsafe to me
Belated healing. I will go. I bent
My footsteps to the distant road. I reached
Uglich, repair unto the holy minster,
Hear mass, and, glowing with zealous soul, I weep
Sweetly, as if the blindness from mine eyes
Were flowing out in tears. And when the people
Began to leave, to my grandson I said:
`Lead me, Ivan, to the grave of the tsarevich
Dimitry.’ The boy led me—and I scarce
Had shaped before the grave a silent prayer,
When sight illumed my eyeballs; I beheld
The light of God, my grandson, and the tomb.”
That is the tale, Sire, which the old man told.

(General agitation. In the course of this speech Boris
several times wipes his face with his handkerchief.)

To Uglich then I sent, where it was learned
That many sufferers had found likewise
Deliverance at the grave of the tsarevich.
This is my counsel; to the Kremlin send
The sacred relics, place them in the Cathedral
Of the Archangel; clearly will the people
See then the godless villain’s fraud; the might
Of the fiends will vanish as a cloud of dust.


PRINCE SHUISKY. What mortal, holy father, knoweth the ways
Of the All-Highest? ‘Tis not for me to judge Him.
Untainted sleep and power of wonder-working
He may upon the child’s remains bestow;
But vulgar rumour must dispassionately
And diligently be tested; is it for us,
In stormy times of insurrection,
To weigh so great a matter? Will men not say
That insolently we made of sacred things
A worldly instrument? Even now the people
Sway senselessly this way and that, even now
There are enough already of loud rumours;
This is no time to vex the people’s minds
With aught so unexpected, grave, and strange.
I myself see ’tis needful to demolish
The rumour spread abroad by the unfrocked monk;
But for this end other and simpler means
Will serve. Therefore, when it shall please thee, Sire,
I will myself appear in public places,
I will persuade, exhort away this madness,
And will expose the vagabond’s vile fraud.

TSAR. So be it! My lord Patriarch, I pray thee
Go with us to the palace, where today
I must converse with thee.

(Exeunt; all the boyars follow them.)

1ST BOYAR. (Sotto voce to another.) Didst mark how pale
Our sovereign turned, how from his face there poured
A mighty sweat?

2ND BOYAR. I durst not, I confess,
Uplift mine eyes, nor breathe, nor even stir.

1ST BOYAR. Prince Shuisky has pulled it through. A
splendid fellow!

< < < The Lithuanian Frontier
A Plain Near Novgorod Seversk > > >

Russian LiteratureChildren BooksRussian PoetryAlexander Pushkin – Boris Godunov – Contents

Copyright holders –  Public Domain Book

If you liked this site, subscribe , put likes, write comments!

Share on social networks

Check out Our Latest Posts

© 2023 Akirill.com – All Rights Reserved

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s