Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Rusalka (excerpts) - Alexander Pushkin



You’ve finally remembered me, my love!
You ought to be ashamed to let me suffer,
To torture me with such an endless wait.
What terrible imaginings I’ve known!
What dreadful dreams have shrivelled up my soul!
I thought your horse might suddenly have bolted,
And thrown you in a swamp or down a cliff;
That bears had overcome you in the woods,
That you were ill... or out of love with me...



What’s the matter, girl?


Oh, tell me, father, what I could have done
To vex him so? In just a week, one week,
Is all my beauty gone?... Or has some witch
Put poison in his drink?


What’s wrong with you?


He’s left me, father. And he’s riding off!—
And, like a mindless wretch, I let him go,
I didn’t try to clasp him by his mantle,
Or hang upon the bridle of his horse!
I should have let him vent his angry spleen
By hacking off my arms above the wrist,
Or trampling me beneath his horse’s hooves.


You’re mad!


You see, these princes, when they wed,
Aren’t free, like girls, to listen to their hearts;
They’re only free, it seems, to lead you on,
Swear solemn oaths, entice you with their tears,
And say: I’ll fly you to the secret room,
The gilded chamber of my castle keep;
I’ll clothe you in brocade and crimson velvet...
They’re free to teach poor girls to rise at night,
And hasten at their whistles in the dark
To meet behind the mill until the dawn.
Their princely hearts are entertained to hear
Our petty woes... and then it’s just—goodbye,
Go wander where you will, my pretty thing,
Go love some other chap.


The Dnieper. Night


A joyous assembly,
From waters below
We rise in the moonlight
To bask in its glow.

Late at night we sisters gladly
Quit the deep in which we lie,
Rising from the river madly,
Bursting forth to reach the sky;
We can hear each other crying,
Voices ringing through the air,
As we shake our long and drying
Strands of green and dripping hair.



No... I have no mill!
I sold it to the ghosts behind the stove,
And gave the money to a water-nymph,
My prophet-daughter, so she’d keep it safe.
It’s buried in the Dnieper river sand;
A one-eyed fish stands watch and guards it close.

(Translated in English by James E. Falen, 2007)

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