The Bronze Horseman
Твори О.С. Пушкіна.Переклад англійською мовою.> The Bronze Horseman

 

The Bronze Horseman

A Tale of St. Petersburg

 


FOREWORD

The incident here described is based on fact.
Particulars relating to the flood have been
borrowed from contemporary publications.
The curious can compare them with the
account left by V. N. Bergh.

INTRODUCTION

Where lonely waters, struggling, sought
To reach the sea, he paused, in thought
Immersed, and gazed ahead. The river
Swept grandly past. In midstream caught,
A peeling bark did bounce and shiver
Upon the waves. And here and there,
On moss-grown, boggy shores a rare,
Ramshackle hut loomed dark, the dwelling
Of humble Finn... The sun’s bright glare
In milky fog was shrouded; falling
On forests dense, its sickly ray
Ne’er pierced their murk.

Thought he: the haughty
Swede here we’ll curb and hold at bay
And here, to gall him, found a city.
As nature bids so must we do:
A window will we cut here through
On Europe, and a foothold gaining
Upon this coast, the ships we’ll hail
Of every flag, and freely sail
These seas, no more ourselves restraining.
A century passed, and there it stood,
Of Northern lands the pride and beauty,
A young, resplendent, gracious city,
Sprung out the dark of mire and wood.
Where Finnish fisherman, forlorn
Stepchild of Fortune, came, disturbing
The peace and calm, to cast his worn,
Much mended net into the turbid,
Mysterious waters, now there rise
Great palaces and towers; a maze
Of sails and mastheads crowds the harbour;
Ships of all ports moor here beside
These rich and peopled shores; the wide,
Majestic Neva slowly labours,
In granite clad, to push its way
’Neath graceful bridges; gardens cover
The once bare isles that dot the river,
Its glassy surface calm and grey.
Old Moscow fades beside her rival:
A dowager, she is outshone,
O’ershadowed by the new arrival,
Who, robed in purple, mounts the throne.

I love thee, Peter’s proud creation,
Thy princely stateliness of line,
The regal Neva coursing patient
’Twixt sober walls of massive stone;
The iron lacework of thy fences,
Thy wistful, moonless, lustrous nights,
Dusk-clothed but limpid... Oft it chances
That in my chamber ’thout a light
I write or sit a book perusing
Whilst, luminous, the streets lie dozing
Beyond great, empty blocks... Up higher,
’Gainst sky, the Admiralty spire
Is clearly etched...
The darkness driving
From off the heavens, twilight hastes
To welcome twilight, scarcely giving
Night half an hour...
I love thy chaste,
Inclement winter with its bracing
And moveless air, the lusty bite
And pinch of frost, the sledges racing
On Neva banks, the bloom of bright
Young cheeks, the ballroom’s noise and glitter,
And, at a bachelors’ get-together,
The hiss and sparkle of iced champagne
And punch bowls topped with bluish flame.
I love the dash and animation
Of Fields of Mars where, trim and staid,
Both foot and horse pass on parade,
Their symmetry and neat formation
A pretty sight. In battles charred,
Here flags sail by, triumphant flowing,
There helmets meet the eye, their glowing,
Well furbished sides by bullets scarred.
I love to hear the thunder crashing,
O gallant city mine and fair,
When to the royal house of Russia
The tsar’s young spouse presents an heir;
When mark we, full of pride and glee,
Our latest martial victory,
Or when the Neva boldly smashes
Its pale-blue chains, and off to sea
The crumbling ice exultant rushes.

Stand thou, O Peter’s citadel,
Like Russia steadfast and enduring,
And let the elements rebel
No more but be subdued; your fury
Contain, O Finnish waves, and quell,
Forget the old feud and endeavour
To let it buried stay forever,
And undisturbed leave Peter’s sleep!..

Fresh in our memories we keep
A time most grim and dark and baneful...
Upon my narrative with dread
Do I embark — the task is painful,
Grave, friends, it needs must be and sad.


PART ONE


Chilled by the breath of bleak November,
The city dismal lay and sombre...
’Gainst granite banks its waves of lead
With plashing sound a restless Neva
Flung wildly as it fidgeted
And tossed like one abed with fever.
The hour was late: ‘twas dark; the rain
Beat angrily against the pane;
The wind howled plaintively, unceasing...
’Twas then that young Yevgeny came
Home from a party. By that name
Our hero will we call. ’Tis pleasing,
And suits him well enough, and then
It has been friendly with my pen
For many a year. Nor have we any
Need of a surname: our Yevgeny
Can do without. Although of yore
It might have shone and been accorded
A worthy place in Russian lore,
Though Karamzin might have recorded
Its fame, today ’tis mentioned not
And is by all the world forgot...
A clerk and in Kolomna living,
Our hero shunned the gentry, giving
No thought, of proud ambition free,
To his illustrious ancestry.

And so, once in his house, Yevgeny
Shook out his rain-soaked cloak, undressed
And went to bed. He tried his best
To go to sleep, but failed: too many
Thoughts filled his brain. That he was poor,
Of this he mused; that to secure
A post was hard; that on his labours
His prospects hung and livelihood;
That wealth and wit and suchlike favours
Of God he was denied; that wooed
By Fortune were the least deserving
And worthy; that he’d now been serving
As office clerk for nigh on two
Whole years; that — look you now — the weather
Was turning nasty altogether;
That, as the river level grew,
The bridges would be raised above it,
Which meant that he and his beloved
Parasha might be parted for
A day or two, or even more.

He sighed, and, like a true-born poet,
Lost in a dream, let fancy roam:
"Why not get married, have a home,
A family?.. In fact, I owe it
To both of us... Things won’t be bad,
Though hard at first — I’m young, and glad
To toil ’thout respite, all else brushing
Aside... I’ll build us two a nest,
A modest one, and there Parasha
Install... In time, a year, at best,
Once I’ve secured a post and station,
To her will go the education
And rearing of our progeny...
With spirit calm life’s storms we’ll weather,
And buried at its end together
Will by our children’s children be..."

Such were his thoughts. Yet low of spirit
He was, and wished the wind would moan
A sight less mournfully, to hear it
Depressed one so, and that the rain
Were not so drear, so persevering...
He slept at last... And now the haze
Of night thinned out, fast disappearing...
And o’er the town pale day did rise...
A fearful day!
Throughout the night
The frenzied Neva had insanely
The storm been charging, trying vainly
To gain the sea, the tempest’s might
Its efforts foiling...
In the morning
Crowds came to watch the rising domes
Of waves that, all defences scorning,
Lashed at the banks with spray and foam.
Barred from the bay by wind, the Neva
Turned, chafing, back, and with a roar,
By savage wrath and passion driven,
The islands flooded... Ever more
Fierce grew the storm. The river, raving,
Did seethe and boil and fume and swell,
And like a beast, for vengeance craving,
Enraged, upon the city fell.
All fled before it; streets were emptied;
Canals rose high and overflowed;
Swift torrents into basements flowed
And cellars and, audacious, raided
The homes and warerooms they invaded...
The city, to the waist submerged,
Like Triton from the floods emerged.

A siege! An onslaught! Onward sweeping,
The waves advance, like robbers creeping
In through the windows, broken by
Boats flailed by wind... Where’er the eye
Can reach, a host of things comes drifting:
Logs, roofing, stalls, the wares of thrifty
Tradesmen, a bridge and furniture,
The prized belongings of the poor,
Huts, coffins from a graveyard... Stricken
By God’s unlooked-for, awful wrath,
The people wait for certain death!..
No food, no shelter... Doomed to sicken
Are they and perish all... The late
And reverenced tsar the scepter wielded
Of Russia then, and grief so great
Was his that, burdened by its weight,
He said: "Not e’en a prince is shielded
From God’s displeasure, for is he
Before the elements defenceless..."
And standing on his balcony,
He watched with pensive eye the senseless
And dire destruction wrought... The square
Was one vast lake and everywhere
The streets were streams; with seeming malice
They toward it rushed as if to snare
The lonely isle that was the palace...
The sovereign spoke — his generals brave,
’Cross deluged streets before them lying,
At once set forth, the floods defying,
The drowning, fear-crazed folk to save.

On Peter’s square where, built but lately,
A mansion stood, most rich and stately,
Beside whose entrance lions two
Rose lifelike, huge, their paws uplifted,
Yevgeny who had somehow drifted
To this fine neighbourhood and who
Was hatless, with his face the hue
Of death, immobile sat and quiet
Astride a marble beast... The riot
Of angry waves that raged below
He noticed not; it was as though
He did not see them upward rearing
And avid, hungry, lick his heels,
Nor hear the howling wind that, veering,
Had snatched his hat away, nor feel
The rain lash at his face... Despairing,
He stared ahead where mountain-high
The dreaded billows rose, ensnaring
All in their path, where, shattered by
The tempest, bits of wreckage floated...
’Twas not his safety, be it noted,
Our poor Yevgeny feared for — nay,
Far from’t... There stood beside the bay
A cottage by a willow shaded,
A tiny place, behind a faded
And crooked fence, and in it his
Parasha and her widowed mother
Lived all alone... Oh, God! Is this
A dream or is our life another
Of Heaven’s jests at man’s expense,
A fantasy, a nothingness?..

Like one bewitched and chained, a being
Lost to the world, he sits there, seeing
Naught but the water round him, and
Is powerless to move or stand!
And high above him, all undaunted
By foaming stream and flooded shores,
Deaf to the storm’s rebellious roars,
With hand outstretched, the Idol, mounted
On steed of bronze, majestic, soars.


PART TWO

At last, with wild destruction sated
And worn with so much violence,
Its thirst and fury now abated,
No more the Neva hesitated
But with a studied negligence
Decamped, its plunder shedding. So
A brigand and his band of low
Cutthroats and thieves into a village
Might break, and there maraud and pillage,
And shout, and curse, and smash, and shoot
Till, spent at last and nigh prostrated,
They fly, their confidence deflated
By fear of capture, of their loot
The greater part behind them leaving...

The water sank, and this perceiving,
Yevgeny hastened, quick of foot.
The sight he saw but half believing,
At once by hope and anguish led,
To where the river in its bed
Still seethed, by victory elated,
Its anger fierce, unmitigated.
As if by smouldering fires fed,
Still fumed, and tossed, and wept, and ranted,
Still foamed and like a charger panted
From field of combat newly fled...
Yevgeny now a skiff espying,
He hurries, for the boatman crying,
To where ‘tis moored. Ten copeks serve:
To carry him across agreeing,
The man takes charge in earnest, being
Not one to lightly lose his nerve.

Long did the practiced boatman follow
That risky course and ply his oars,
Oft were the waves about to swallow
The boat as flung into a hollow
Between two crests it was, before
The shore was reached.
In awe and terror
Yevgeny gazed about him, for
These streets he knew so well now bore
An unfamiliar look... What error
Was this?.. Destruction all around:
Some houses levelled were with the ground,
Some bent, their doors and windows shattered,
Some moved from place; nearby, lay scattered,
As on a battlefield, the dead...
Half-crazed, Yevgeny ran ahead,
The streets he traversed noting dimly,
Oblivious of all except
His torment, to the place where grimly,
As with a sealed-up letter kept
For him to open, Fate awaited
With tidings better left concealed...
Here was the suburb now. With bated
Breath did he stop to look. Revealed
To sight, the bay stretched grey and lonely.
Her house, he knew, stood near it... Only
Where was it? Where?..
He moved away,
Then stumbled back in stark dismay.
This was the spot, a willow growing
Nearby... Had house and fence been borne
Away by floods?.. He walked with slowing
Steps all around... Wild words were torn
From him in spasms, by fits of laughter
Succeeded... ’Twas a good time after
That like a shroud night’s haze upon
The weary city fell. Not one
Amongst its dwellers slept, however.
Instead, in talk did they endeavour
To ease their hearts, that troublous day
Discussing... When bright morning’s ray
From out the pallid clouds came stealing,
Of ruin it found but little trace,
The crimson robes of dawn concealing
The ravages of yesterday.
Life was resumed and went its way
In peace again. The townsfolk hurried,
As unconcerned and little worried
As ever, down the streets. Astir
At early hour the hucksters were
And office clerks. The former, chastened
But firm, to open storerooms by
The Neva robbed did fairly fly
And at expense of shoppers hastened
To make their losses good. Khvostov,
A count and bard beloved of
The gods, in deathless verse and ringing
Already of the trials was singing
By Peter’s city suffered. As
For poor Yevgeny, more’s the pity,
His muddled brain succumbed, alas,
To shock and grief. Alone the city
For days he prowled, and in his ear
The roar of wind and Neva sounded.
Tormented by a nameless fear
And crushing thought he was, and hounded
By fitful dreams. Weeks came and went,
A month, and still without intent
He stalked the streets. A gloom surrounded
And hemmed him in. He did not go
Back to his rooms again, and to
A poor young poet they were rented.
Nor did he ever think to call
For his belongings but contented
Himself with what he wore. To all
The world he soon became a stranger...
By day, he tramped about; at night,
Slept on the wharf. A sorry sight
He was, his clothes in rags, and eating
The morsels pity thrust into
His hand. A brood of urchins meeting,
He pelted was with stones, and, too,
Was often stung with whips, as, seeing
The passing coaches not, he crossed
The roads, to all about him lost,
Stunned, deafened by his pain, yet fleeing,
Unconscious, from’t... And thus did he
His days drag out in agony,
No man, no beast, no phantom, truly,
And yet no living soul... One day,
The transient summer ceding duly
To autumn, fast asleep he lay
Beside the quay... The Neva’s grey
Waves whined and sobbed, a plaint repeating
And ’gainst the steps in anguish beating
Like a petitioner at door
Of hardened judges who ignore
His plea... Yevgeny woke, and dreary
The scene about him was: a weary
Rain fell in drops, the wind of fall
Howled, and a sentry’s distant call
Came in reply, the darkness rending...
He rose in haste, not comprehending
Where ‘twas he found himself, and yet,
By horrors past his mind beset,
Seeing them clearly... Off he staggered,
Then stopped, his eye with terror glazed,
His countenance grown dark and haggard,
For what he saw left him full dazed:
There, ’fore him stood a pillared mansion,
And two stone lions to attention
Rose on its porch and flanked the door,
While ’bove the rock, by chains defended,
The fearsome Idol, hand extended,
On steed of bronze did proudly soar.

Yevgeny shivered. Anew there bound him
The old, consuming, cruel pain.
With lucid mind he saw again
The waves, rapacious, press around him
And hiss and roar in spite. He knew
The square, the house, the lions two,
And him who towered, by murk surrounded,
Above them all, detached and still,
One who, Fate bowing to his will,
The city on the sea had founded...
Enclosed by night, how fearful he!
How deeply plunged in revery!
In him what dreaded force is hidden!
His horse, what fire is in its eye!
Where dost thou, steed, in frenzy fly
And where to halt wilt thou be bidden?..
’Twas thus, O sovereign great and steer
Of Fate, the captain of her choosing,
That Rus, a bridle of iron using,
Above the chasm you forced to rear!

Around the pedestal, dejected,
Poor, sick Yevgeny made his way,
His gaze on him who had in sway
Held half the world, in awe directed.
His chest felt tight. Against a grille
He pressed his burning face, but still
His blood flamed and his heart went racing
And pounding madly... Weak of limb,
Wild-eyed, his fingers clenched, the grim
And haughty Idol sullen facing,
Like one possessed, he, trembling, stood,
And in a quivering voice and breaking
Brought faintly out, with fury shaking,
"Good, thou most wondrous builder, good!
Just wait and see!.." ’Twas all he could
Give utterance to, but stopped, and stricken
With terror, turned and fled: the tsar
Was eyeing him... That wrathful stare
That never left him, made him quicken
His steps. Across the empty square
Yevgeny ran and seemed to hear
Great, swelling, mighty peals of thunder,
And feel the pavement quaking under
A horse’s heavy hoofs. For there,
Behind him, to the darkness wedded,
Lit by the moon’s pale ray and slight,
One hand in warning raised, the dreaded
Bronze Horseman galloped through the night.
Till morn, where’er Yevgeny, frighted,
Did bend his steps and wander, mute,
The fell Bronze Horseman rode, benighted,
In mad, in thunderous pursuit.

And ever since, when, little knowing
Where ‘twas he went, he chanced to cross
That square, confused and restless growing,
He’d stand there, cowed and at a loss,
And to his heart his hand press quickly
To still the pain within, a sickly
Look on his face; then in dismay
Removed his cap and slink away,
Nor once look up... A lonely island
Lies off the coast. At end of day
A tardy fisherman his way
Might there make in his boat, and, silent,
His scanty supper on the shore
Cook in the dusk of evening, or
A clerk might choose it for an outing
On Sabbath day. The isle is bare
Of shrubbery, no grasses sprouting
Upon its soil. The flood did there
A cottage bring that perched, forsaken,
Above the water like a dark,
Misshapen stump till spring, when taken
Away it was. The ugly mark
It bore of waves that had, unhurried,
Wrought its destruction and decay...
Beside it, dead, my madman lay,
And there, so God willed, he was buried.


1833





 

Оригінал твору

Бібліотека ім. О. С. Пушкіна (м. Київ).
А.С. Пушкин. Полное собрание сочинений в десяти томах