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The Drowned Man

Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin 1799 (Aleksandr Sergeyevich Pushkin Moscow) – 1837 (Saint Petersburg)

Children running into izba,
Calling father, dripping sweat:
"Daddy, daddy! come -- there is a
Deadman caught inside our net."
"Fancy, fancy fabrication..."
Grumbled off their weary Pa,
"Have these imps imagination!
Deadman, really! ya-ha-ha...

"Well... the court may come to bother -
What'll I say before the judge?
Hey you brats, go have your mother
Bring my coat; I better trudge...
Show me, where?" -- "Right there, Dad, farther!"
On the sand where netting ropes
Lay spread out, the peasant father
Saw the veritable corpse.

Badly mangled, ugly, frightening,
Blue and swollen on each side...
Has he fished in storm and lightning,
Or committed suicide?
Could this be a careless drunkard,
Or a mermaid-seeking monk,
Or a merchandizer, conquered
By some bandits, robbed and sunk?

To the peasant, what's it matter!
Quick: he grabs the dead man's hair,
Drags his body to the water,
Looks around: nobody's there:
Good... relieved of the concern he
Shoves his paddle at a loss,
While the stiff resumes his journey
Down the stream for grave and cross.

Long the dead man as one living
Rocked on waves amid the foam...
Surly as he watched him leaving,
Soon our peasant headed home.
"Come you pups! let's go, don't scatter.
Each of you will get his bun.
But remember: just you chatter --
And I'll whip you, every one."

Dark and stormy it was turning.
High the river ran in gloom.
Now the torch has finished burning
In the peasant's smoky room.
Kids asleep, the wife aslumber,
He lies listening to the rain...
Bang! he hears a sudden comer
Knocking on the window-pane.

"What the..." -- "Let me in there, master!"
"Damn, you found the time to roam!
Well, what is it, your disaster?
Let you in? It's dark at home,
Dark and crowded... What a pest you are!
Where'd I put you in my cot..."
Slowly, with a lazy gesture,
He lifts up the pane and - what?

Through the clouds, the moon was showing...
Well? the naked man was there,
Down his hair the water flowing,
Wide his eyes, unmoved the stare;
Numb the dreadful-looking body,
Arms were hanging feeble, thin;
Crabs and cancers, black and bloody,
Sucked into the swollen skin.

As the peasant slammed the shutter
(Recognized his visitant)
Horror-struck he could but mutter
"Blast you!" and began to pant.
He was shuddering, awful chaos
All night through stirred in his brain,
While the knocking shook the house
By the gates and at the pane.

People tell a dreadful rumor:
Every year the peasant, say,
Waiting in the worst of humor
For his visitor that day;
As the rainstorm is increasing,
Nightfall brings a hurricane -
And the drowned man knocks, unceasing,
By the gates and at the pane.

Translated by: Genia Gurarie, 11/95
Copyright retained by Genia Gurarie.
email: egurarie@princeton.edu
http://www.princeton.ed u/~egurarie/
For permission to reproduce, write personally to the translator.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

2:29 min read
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Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin

Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin was a Russian poet, playwright, and novelist of the Romantic era who is considered by many to be the greatest Russian poet and the founder of modern Russian literature. Pushkin was born into Russian nobility in Moscow. His father, Sergey Lvovich Pushkin, belonged to Pushkin noble families. His maternal great-grandfather was African-born general Abram Petrovich Gannibal. He published his first poem at the age of 15, and was widely recognized by the literary establishment by the time of his graduation from the Tsarskoye Selo Lyceum. Upon graduation from the Lycee, Pushkin recited his controversial poem "Ode to Liberty", one of several that led to his exile by Tsar Alexander I of Russia. While under the strict surveillance of the Tsar's political police and unable to publish, Pushkin wrote his most famous play, the drama Boris Godunov. His novel in verse, Eugene Onegin, was serialized between 1825 and 1832. Pushkin was fatally wounded in a duel with his brother-in-law, Georges-Charles de Heeckeren d'Anthès, also known as Dantes-Gekkern, a French officer serving with the Chevalier Guard Regiment, who attempted to seduce the poet's wife, Natalia Pushkina.  more…

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