The Bronze Horseman A Petersburg Story 1833
The incident, described in this story is based on a truth. The details of the flood are taken from the contemporary magazines. The curious ones can consult the record, prepared by V. I. Berkh.
PROLOGUE On a deserted, wave-swept shore, He stood – in his mind great thoughts grow – And gazed afar. The northern river Sped on its wide course him before; One humble skiff cut the waves’ silver. On banks of mosses and wet grass Black huts were dotted there by chance – The miserable Finn’s abode; The wood unknown to the rays Of the dull sun, by clouds stowed, Hummed all around. And he thought so: ‘The Swede from here will be frightened; Here a great city will be wrought To spite our neighborhood conceited. From here by Nature we’re destined To cut a door to Europe wide, To step with a strong foot by waters. Here, by the new for them sea-paths, Ships of all flags will come to us – And on all seas our great feast opens.’
An age passed, and the young stronghold, The charm and sight of northern nations, From the woods’ dark and marshes’ cold, Rose the proud one and precious. Where once the Finnish fisherman, Sad stepson of the World, alone, By low riverbanks’ a sand, Cast into waters, never known, His ancient net, now on the place, Along the full of people banks, Cluster the tall and graceful masses Of castles and palaces; and sails Hasten in throng to the rich quays From all the lands our planet masters; The Neva-river’s dressed with rocks; Bridges hang o’er the waters proud; Abundantly her isles are covered With dark-green gardens’ gorgeous locks…
By the new capital, the younger, Old Moscow’s eclipsed at once - Such is eclipsed a queen-dowager By a new queen when her time comes. I love you, Peter’s great creation, I love your view of stern and grace, The Neva wave’s regal procession, The grayish granite – her bank’s dress, The airy iron-casting fences, The gentle transparent twilight, The moonless gleam of your nights restless, When I so easy read and write Without a lamp in my room lone, And seen is each huge buildings’ stone Of the left streets, and is so bright The Admiralty spire’s flight, And when, not letting the night’s darkness To reach the golden heaven’s height, The dawn after the sunset hastens – And a half-hour’s for the night. I love your so sever winter’s Quite still and fresh air and strong frost, The sleighs race on the shores river’s, The girls – each brighter than a rose, The gleam and hum of the balls’ dances, And, on the bachelors’ free feast, The hissing of the foaming glasses And the punch’s bluish flaming mist. I love the warlike animation Of the play-fields of the god Mars, And horse-and-footmen priests’ of wars So homogeneous attraction, In their ranks, in the rhythmic moves, Those flags, victories and rended, The glitter of those helmets, splendid, Shot through in military strives. I love, O capital my fairest, Your stronghold guns’ thunder and smoke, In moments when the northern empress Adds brunches to the regal oak Or Russia lauds a winning stroke To any new and daring foe, Or, breaking up the light-blue ice, The Neva streams it and exults, Scenting the end of cold and snow.
City of Peter, just you shine And stand unshakable as Russia! May make a peace with beauty, thine, The conquered nature’s casual rushes; And let the Finnish waves forget Their ancient bondages and malice And not disturb with their hate senseless The endless sleep of Peter, great!
The awful period was that, It’s fresh in our recollection… This time about, my dear friend, I am beginning my narration. My story will be very sad. -- ALEKSANDR PUSHKIN (Born 1799, Died 1837) Come back tomorrow for Part One