Poems (Pushkin, Panin, 1888)/Narrative Poems
On a rainy autumn evening
Into desert places went a maid;
And the secret fruit of unhappy love
In her trembling hands she held.
All was still: the hills and the woods
Asleep in the darkness of the night.
And her searching glances
In terror about she cast.
And on this babe, the innocent,
Her glance she paused with a sigh:
Asleep thou art, my child, my grief.
Thou knowest not my sadness.
Thine eyes will ope, and tho' with longing,
To my breast shalt no more cling.
No kiss for thee to-morrow
From thine unhappy mother.
Beckon in vain for her thou wilt,
My everlasting shame, my guilt!
Me forget thou shalt for aye,
But thee forget shall not I.
Shelter thou shalt receive from strangers,
Who'll say: Thou art none of ours!
Thou wilt ask, Where are my parents?
But for thee no kin is found!
Hapless one! With heart filled with sorrow,
Lonely amid thy mates,
Thy spirit sullen to the end,
Thou shalt behold fondling mothers.
A lonely wanderer everywhere
Cursing thy fate at all times,
Thou the bitter reproach shalt hear.…
Forgive me, oh, forgive me then!
Asleep! let me then, О hapless one
To my bosom press thee once for all.
A law unjust and terrible
Thee and me to sorrow dooms.
While the years have not yet chased
The guiltless joy of thy days,
Sleep, my darling, let no griefs bitter
Mar thy childhood's quiet life!
But lo! behind the woods, near by
The moon brings a hut to light.
Forlorn, pale, and trembling
To the doors nigh she came.
She stooped and gently laid she down
The babe on the threshold strange.
In terror away her eyes she turned
And in the dark night disappeared.
THE BLACK SHAWL.
I gaze demented on the black shawl
And my cold soul is torn by grief.
When young I was and full of trust
I passionately loved a young Greek girl.
The charming maid, she fondled me,
But soon I lived the black day to see.
Once as were gathered my jolly guests
A detested Jew knocked at my door.
Thou art feasting (he whispered) with friends
But betrayed thou art by thy Greek maid.
Moneys I gave him and curses,
And called my servant the faithful.
We went: I flew on the wings of my steed;
And tender mercy was silent in me.
Her threshold no sooner I espied
Dark grew my eyes, and my strength departed.
The distant chamber I enter alone,
An Armenian embraces my faithless maid.
Darkness around me; flashed the dagger;
To interrupt his kiss the wretch had no time.
And long I trampled the headless corpse,—
And silent and pale at the maid I stared.
I remember her prayers, her flowing blood,
But perished the girl, and with her my love.
The shawl I took from the head now dead
And wiped in silence the bleeding steel.
When came the darkness of eve, my serf
Threw their bodies into the Danube's billows—
Since then I kiss no charming eyes,
Since then I know no cheerful days.
I gaze demented on the black shawl,
And my cold soul is torn by grief.
By a lake once in forest darkness
A monk his soul was saving,
Ever in stern occupation
Of prayer, fast, and labor.
Already with slackened shovel
The aged man his grave was digging,
And only for death in peace and quiet
To his saintly patrons prayed he.
Once in summer at the threshold
Of his drooping little hut
To God was praying the hermit.
Darker grew the forest.
Over the lake was rising fog.
And in the clouds the reddish moon
Was gently rolling along the sky.
Upon the waters the hermit gazed.
He looks, and fears, and knows not why,
Himself he cannot understand.…
Now he sees: the waves are seething
And suddenly again are quiet.…
Suddenly … as light as shade of night,
As white as early snow of hills,
Out cometh a woman naked
And on the shore herself she seats.
Upon the aged monk she gazes
And she combs her moistened tresses—
The holy monk with terror trembles,
Upon her charms still he gazes;
With her hand to him she beckons
And her head she's quickly nodding.…
And suddenly like a falling star
The dreamy wave she vanished under.
The sober monk, all night he slept not,
And all day he prayed not
The shadow unwittingly before him
Of the wondrous maid he ever sees.
Again the forest is clad in darkness,
Along the clouds the moon is sailing.
Again the maid above the water,
Pale and splendent there she sits.
Gaze her eyes, nods her head,
Throws kisses, and she 's sporting,
The wave she sprinkles, and she frolics;
Child-like weeping now and laughing;
Sobbing tender—the monk she calls:
Monk, О monk, to me, to me!
Into the waves transparent she dashes;
And again is all in silence deep.
But on the third day the roused hermit
The enchanted shores nigh sitting was,
And the beautiful maid he awaited.
Upon the trees were falling shades.…
Night at last by dawn was chased—
And nowhere monk could be found,
His beard alone, the gray one
In the water the boys could see.
Once at midnight hour,
Darkness thro' and fog,
Quiet by the river
Rode a Cossak brave.
Black his cap upon his ear,
Dust-covered is his coat,
By his knee the pistols hang
And nigh the ground his sword.
The faithful steed, rein not feeling
Is walking slowly on,
(Long its mane is, and is waving)
Ever further it keeps on.
Now before him two—three huts:
Broken is the fence;
To the village here the road,
To the forest there.
"Not in forest maid is found,"
Dennis thinks, the brave.
"To their chambers went the maids;
Are gone for the night."
The son of Don he pulls the rein
And the spur he strikes:
Like an arrow rushed the steed—
To the huts he turned.
In the clouds the distant sky
Was silvering the moon;
A Beauty-Maid in melancholy
By the window sits.
Espies the brave the Beauty-Maid,
Beats his heart within:
Gently steed to left, to left—
Under the window now is he.
"Darker growing is the night
And hidden is the moon;
Quick, my darling, do come out,
Water give my steed."
"No, not unto a man so young;
Right fearful 't is to go;
Fearful 't is my house to leave,
And water give thy steed."
"Have no fear, О Beauty-Maid,
And friendship close with me"—
"Brings danger night to Beauty-Maids,"—
"Fear me not, О joy of mine!
"Trust me, dear, thy fear is vain,
Away with terror groundless!
Time thou losest precious,
Fear not, О my darling!
Mount my steed; with thee I will
To distant regions gallop;
Blest with me be thou shalt,
Heaven with mate is everywhere."
And the maid? Over she bends,
Her fear is overcome,
Bashfully to ride consents,
And the Cossak happy is.
Off they dart, away they fly;
Are loving one another.
Faithful he for two brief weeks,
Forsook her on the third.
Into the hut the children run,
In haste they called their father:
"Papa, papa, oh, our nets
Out a corpse have dragged."
"Ye lie, ye lie, ye little devils"
Upon them father grumbled.
"I declare, those wicked brats!
Corpse now too have they must!
"Down will come the court, 'Give answer!'
And for an age no rest from it.
But what to do? Heigh, wife, there,
My coat give me, must get there somehow.…
Now where 's the corpse?"—"Here, papa, here!"
And in truth along the river,
Where is spread the moistened net,
Upon the sand is seen the corpse.
Disfigured terribly the corpse is,
Is blue, and all is swollen.
Is it a hapless sorrower,
Who ruined has his sinful soul,
Or by the waves a fisher taken,
Or some fellow, drunkard,
Or by robbers stripped, perchance,
Trader some, unbusinesslike?
To the peasant, what is this?
About he looks and hastens.…
Seizes he the body drowned,
By the feet to water drags it,
And from the shore the winding
Off he pushes it with oar
Downward 'gain floats the corpse,
And grave, and cross still is seeking.
And long the dead among the waves,
As if living, swinging, floated;
With his eyes the peasant him
Homeward going, followed.
"Ye little dogs, now follow me,
Each of you a cake shall have;
But look ye out, and hold your tongues!
Else a thrashing shall ye have.
At night the wind to blow began
Full of waves became the river;
Out the light was already going
In the peasant's smoky hut.
The children sleep; the mother slumbers.
On the oven husband lies.
Howls the storm; a sudden knocking
He hears of some one at the window.
"Who's there?"—"Ope the door I say!"
"Time eno'; what is the matter?
Wherefore comes tramp at night?
By the devil art hither brought!
Wherefore with you should I bother?
Crowded my house and dark is."
So saying, he with lazy hand
Open throws the window.
Rolls the moon from behind the clouds—
And now? A naked man before him stands;
From his beard a stream is flowing
His glance is fixed, and is open.
All about him is frightful dumbness
And his hands are dropped down;
And to the puffed-out, swollen body
Black crabs are fastened.
The peasant quickly shuts the window;
He recognized his naked guest,
Is terror-struck. "May you burst!"
Out he whispered and trembled.
In great confusion now his thoughts are,
And all night he shakes in fever;
And till the morrow still the knocking
'S heard on the window and at the gates.
Report there was among the people:
Saying, since then every year
Waiting is the hapless peasant
For his guest on the appointed day.
In the morning the weather changes
And at night the storm arrives,
And the dead man is ever knocking
By the window, and at the gates.