On Petrograd, sunk into darkness, November breathed with fall cold’s harshness. And, splashing, with the noisy waves Into the brims of her trim fences, The Neva raved, like the seek raves In a bed, that has become the restless. Now it was very dark and late; The rain stroke ‘gainst the window’s flat. And the wind blew with sadly wailing. Right at this time, from being a guest Evgeny, for his nightly rest, Came home. This name was most prevailing In our young hero’s name choice. It sounds pleasantly. Of course, With it my pen’s had long connections It needn’t the special commendations, Though in the times, in Lithe gone, It might have been the most attractive And under Karamzin’s pen, fine, Sung in some legends, our native; But now it is forgotten by The world and rumors. Our guy Lives in Kolomna: he’s in service, Avoids the rich ones, and ne’er sad is For his kin which had left the world, Or for the well-forgotten old.
So, he is home – our Evgeny, Took off his greatcoat, undressed, Lay in his poor bed, but oppressed He was by his thoughts, so many. What did he thought of? Well, of that That he was poor and that his bread, His honour and his independence Just by hard work must be achieved, That God should send to him from heavens More mind and money. That do live Such idle, fully happy creatures – The lazy-bones, quite ludicrous,. Whose life is absolutely light! That he had served for two long years; And that the weather, former fierce, Hadn’t come less fierce, that the flood In the Neva is getting higher, The bridges might be got entire, And that his sweet Parasha’s place For two-free days wouldn’t be accessed. There sighed Evgeny with his soul, And dreamed as dreams a real bard:
“To marry then? Of course it’s hard. But why don’t marry, in a whole? I’m of the young and healthy sight, Ready to work for day and night; I’ll someway find the good repose, The simple and shy place, at last, Parasha will be there composed. The year or, may be, two will pass – I’m in position, to my dear I’ll give all family to bear And bring our children up, at once... Such we’ll start life, at last repose, With hand-in-hand, such we’ll come both, And our grandsons will bury us...”
Thus he did dream. And a great sadness Embraced his soul in that night, He wished the wind’s weep to be lesser, Rain’s siege of windows – not so tight. At last his sleepy eyes were closed... And now the night is getting gray – That night, so nasty and morose, And it is coming – the pale day The awful day! During the night Neva had strived for sea ‘gainst tempests But, having lost all her great battles, The river ceased the useless fight… And in the morn on her shores proud, Stood people in a pressed in lot And saw the tall and heard the loud Fierce waters’ mountains, it had brought. But by the force of airy breathing Blocked from the Gulf, the wide Neva Came back – the wrathful one and seething - And flooded islands, near and far; The weather grew into the cruel, Neva – more swelling and more brutal, Like in a kettle boiled and steamed, And then, as a wild creature seemed, Jumped on the city. And before it, All ran away from its strait path, And all got emptied there; at once. The waters flew into the cellars, And raised up to the fence of canals – And, like Triton, Petropol sails Sunk in the water till his waist.
Siege and assault! The evil waters Thrust into windows, like slaughters. The mad boats row into a glass. The stalls are under the wet mass. The wrecks of huts, the logs, roofs’ pieces, The stores of the tread, auspicious, The things, carried the pale want from, The bridges got away by storm, The coffins from the graveyards - float, Along the streets! The populace Sees God’s great wrath and waits for death. All is destroyed: bread and abode. And how to live? The monarch, blessed, Tsar Aleksandr, in a good fashion, Still governed Russia that year, dread, And from the balcony he, sad And pale, said: “Ne’er the God-made nature Can be subdued by any tsars.” And, in a thought, looked at the evil’s With his full of deep sadness eyes. The streets turned into the fast rivers, Running to made lakes, dark and grievous, The Palace was an island, sad, That loomed over the blackened waters. The Tsar decreed – from end to end, Down the shortest streets and longest, On danger routs over the waves, His generals set into the sailing – To save the drawing and straining On streets and in their homes-graves.
Then on the widest Square of Peter, Where with his glass a new pile glittered, Where on its porch, too highly placed, With their paw raised, as if they’re living, Stood two marble lions, overseeing. On one of them, as for a race, Without his hat, arms – tightly pressed, Awfully pale – no stir appeared – Evgeny sat. And there he feared Not his own death. He did not hear How the wrathful roller neared, Greedily licking his shoes’ soles, And how flagged him the rain coarse, And how the fierce wind there wailed, Or how it’d blown off his hat. His looks of deepest desperation Were all set on a single place Without a move. The waves, impatient, Had risen there, like tallest crags, Lifted from waked deeps in a madness, There wreckage swam, there wailed a tempest … O, God! O, God! – Right on that place, Alas! so close to the waves, And by the shores of the Gulf Finnish, A willow-tree, a fence unfinished And an old hut: there they must be – A widow and her child Parasha – His soul’s dream … Or does he see It in a dream? … And, like the usher Of dreams – a sleep, is our life none – Just Heavens make of Earth a fun?
And he, like under conjuration, Like in jail irons’ limitation, Cannot come down. Him around Only black waters could be found! And turned to him with his back, proudest, On height that never might be tossed, Over Neva’s unending wildness, Stands, with his arm, stretched to skies, lightless, The idol on his brazen horse.
-- ALEKSANDR PUSHKIN (Born 1799, Died 1837)
Come back tomorrow for Part 2