Boris Godunov, by Alexander Pushkin

Re: Boris Godunov, by Alexander Pushkin

Postby admin » Fri Aug 17, 2018 11:38 pm



ONE OF THE PEOPLE. Will the tsar soon come out of the

ANOTHER. The mass is ended; now the Te Deum is going on.

THE FIRST. What! Have they already cursed him?

THE SECOND. I stood in the porch and heard how the deacon
cried out:—Grishka Otrepiev is anathema!

THE FIRST. Let him curse to his heart's content; the
tsarevich has nothing to do with the Otrepiev.

THE SECOND. But they are now singing mass for the repose
of the soul of the tsarevich.

THE FIRST. What? A mass for the dead sung for a living
Man? They'll suffer for it, the godless wretches!

A THIRD. Hist! A sound. Is it not the tsar?

A FOURTH. No, it is the idiot.

(An idiot enters, in an iron cap, hung round with
chains, surrounded by boys.)

THE BOYS. Nick, Nick, iron nightcap! T-r-r-r-r—

OLD WOMAN. Let him be, you young devils. Innocent one,
pray thou for me a sinner.

IDIOT. Give, give, give a penny.

OLD WOMAN. There is a penny for thee; remember me in
thy prayers.

IDIOT. (Seats himself on the ground and sings:)

The moon sails on,
The kitten cries,
Nick, arise,
Pray to God.

(The boys surround him again.)

ONE OF THEM. How do you do, Nick? Why don't you
take off your cap?

(Raps him on the iron cap.)

How it rings!

IDIOT. But I have got a penny.

BOYS. That's not true; now, show it.

(They snatch the penny and run away.)

IDIOT. (Weeps.) They have taken my penny, they are
hurting Nick.

THE PEOPLE. The tsar, the tsar is coming!

(The TSAR comes out from the Cathedral; a boyar in
front of him scatters alms among the poor. Boyars.)

IDIOT. Boris, Boris! The boys are hurting Nick.

TSAR. Give him alms! What is he crying for?

IDIOT. The boys are hurting me...Give orders to slay
them, as thou slewest the little tsarevich.

BOYARS. Go away, fool! Seize the fool!

TSAR. Leave him alone. Pray thou for me, Nick.


IDIOT. (To himself.) No, no! It is impossible to pray for
tsar Herod; the Mother of God forbids it.
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Re: Boris Godunov, by Alexander Pushkin

Postby admin » Fri Aug 17, 2018 11:38 pm


The PRETENDER, surrounded by his supporters

PRETENDER. Where is the prisoner?

A POLE. Here.

PRETENDER. Call him before me.

(A Russian prisoner enters.)

Who art thou?

PRISONER. Rozhnov, a nobleman of Moscow.

PRETENDER. Hast long been in the service?

PRISONER. About a month.

PRETENDER. Art not ashamed, Rozhnov, that thou hast drawn
The sword against me?

PRISONER. What else could I do?
'Twas not our fault.

PRETENDER. Didst fight beneath the walls
Of Seversk?

PRISONER. 'Twas two weeks after the battle
I came from Moscow.

PRETENDER. What of Godunov?

PRISONER. The battle's loss, Mstislavsky's wound, hath caused him
Much apprehension; Shuisky he hath sent
To take command.

PRETENDER. But why hath he recalled
Basmanov unto Moscow?

PRISONER. The tsar rewarded
His services with honour and with gold.
Basmanov in the council of the tsar
Now sits.

PRETENDER. The army had more need of him.
Well, how go things in Moscow?

PRISONER. All is quiet,
Thank God.

PRETENDER. Say, do they look for me?

PRISONER. God knows;
They dare not talk too much there now. Of some
The tongues have been cut off, of others even
The heads. It is a fearsome state of things—
Each day an execution. All the prisons
Are crammed. Wherever two or three forgather
In public places, instantly a spy
Worms himself in; the tsar himself examines
At leisure the denouncers. It is just
Sheer misery; so silence is the best.

PRETENDER. An enviable life for the tsar's people!
Well, how about the army?

PRISONER. What of them?
Clothed and full-fed they are content with all.

PRETENDER. But is there much of it?

PRISONER. God knows.

Will there be thirty thousand?

PRISONER. Yes; 'twill run
Even to fifty thousand.

(The Pretender reflects; those around him glance at
one another.)

PRETENDER. Well! Of me
What say they in your camp?

PRISONER. Your graciousness
They speak of; say that thou, Sire, (be not wrath),
Art a thief, but a fine fellow.

PRETENDER. (Laughing.) Even so
I'll prove myself to them in deed. My friends,
We will not wait for Shuisky; I wish you joy;
Tomorrow, battle.


ALL. Long life to Dimitry!

A POLE. Tomorrow, battle! They are fifty thousand,
And we scarce fifteen thousand. He is mad!

ANOTHER. That's nothing, friend. A single Pole can challenge
Five hundred Muscovites.

PRISONER. Yes, thou mayst challenge!
But when it comes to fighting, then, thou braggart,
Thou'lt run away.

POLE. If thou hadst had a sword,
Insolent prisoner, then (pointing to his sword) with this I'd soon
Have vanquished thee.

PRISONER. A Russian can make shift
Without a sword; how like you this (shows his fist), you fool?

(The Pole looks at him haughtily and departs in
silence. All laugh.)
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Re: Boris Godunov, by Alexander Pushkin

Postby admin » Fri Aug 17, 2018 11:38 pm



(In the background lies a dying horse)

PRETENDER. Ah, my poor horse! How gallantly he charged
Today in the last battle, and when wounded,
How swiftly bore me. My poor horse!

PUSHKIN. (To himself.) Well, here's
A great ado about a horse, when all
Our army's smashed to bits.

PRETENDER. Listen! Perhaps
He's but exhausted by the loss of blood,
And will recover.

PUSHKIN. Nay, nay; he is dying.

PRETENDER. (Goes to his horse.)
My poor horse!—what to do? Take off the bridle,
And loose the girth. Let him at least die free.

(He unbridles and unsaddles the horse. Some Poles

Good day to you, gentlemen! How is't I see not
Kurbsky among you? I did note today
How to the thick of the fight he clove his path;
Around the hero's sword, like swaying ears
Of corn, hosts thronged; but higher than all of them
His blade was brandished, and his terrible cry
Drowned all cries else. Where is my knight?

POLE. He fell
On the field of battle.

PRETENDER. Honour to the brave,
And peace be on his soul! How few unscathed
Are left us from the fight! Accursed Cossacks,
Traitors and miscreants, you, you it is
Have ruined us! Not even for three minutes
To keep the foe at bay! I'll teach the villains!
Every tenth man I'll hang. Brigands!

PUSHKIN. Whoe'er
Be guilty, all the same we were clean worsted,

PRETENDER. But yet we nearly conquered. Just
When I had dealt with their front rank, the Germans
Repulsed us utterly. But they're fine fellows!
By God! Fine fellows! I love them for it. From them
I'll form an honourable troop.

PUSHKIN. And where
Shall we now spend the night?

PRETENDER. Why, here, in the forest.
Why not this for our night quarters? At daybreak
We'll take the road, and dine in Rilsk. Good night.

(He lies down, puts a saddle under his head, and falls

PUSHKIN. A pleasant sleep, tsarevich! Smashed to bits,
Rescued by flight alone, he is as careless
As a simple child; 'tis clear that Providence
Protects him, and we, my friends, will not lose heart.
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Re: Boris Godunov, by Alexander Pushkin

Postby admin » Fri Aug 17, 2018 11:39 pm



TSAR. He is vanquished, but what profit lies in that?
We are crowned with a vain conquest; he has mustered
Again his scattered forces, and anew
Threatens us from the ramparts of Putivl.
Meanwhile what are our heroes doing? They stand
At Krom, where from its rotten battlements
A band of Cossacks braves them. There is glory!
No, I am ill content with them; thyself
I shall despatch to take command of them;
I give authority not to birth, but brains.
Their pride of precedence, let it be wounded!
The time has come for me to hold in scorn
The murmur of distinguished nobodies,
And quash pernicious custom.

BASMANOV. Ay, my lord
Blessed a hundredfold will be that day
When fire consumes the lists of noblemen
With their dissensions, their ancestral pride.

TSAR. That day is not far off; let me but first
Subdue the insurrection of the people.

BASMANOV. Why trouble about that? The people always
Are prone to secret treason; even so
The swift steed champs the bit; so doth a lad
Chafe at his father's ruling. But what then?
The rider quietly controls the steed,
The father sways the son.

TSAR. Sometimes the horse
Doth throw the rider, nor is the son at all times
Quite 'neath the father's will; we can restrain
The people only by unsleeping sternness.
So thought Ivan, sagacious autocrat
And storm-subduer; so his fierce grandson thought.
No, no, kindness is lost upon the people;
Act well—it thanks you not at all; extort
And execute—'twill be no worse for you.

(Enter a boyar.)

What now?

BOYAR. The foreign guests are come.

TSAR. I go
To welcome them. Basmanov, wait, stay here;
I still have need to speak: a word with thee.


BASMANOV. High sovereign spirit! God grant he may subdue
The accurst Otrepiev; and much, still much
Of good he'll do for Russia. A great thought
Within his mind has taken birth; it must not
Be suffered to grow cold. What a career
For me when the ancestral horn he breaks
Of the nobility. I have no rivals
In war. I shall stand closest to the throne—
And it may chance—But what is that strange sound?

(Alarum. Boyars and court-attendants run in
disorder, meet each other and whisper.)

ONE. Fetch a physician!

ANOTHER. Quickly to the Patriarch!

A THIRD. He calls for the tsarevich, the tsarevich!

A FOURTH. A confessor!

BASMANOV. What has happened?

A FIFTH AND SIXTH. The tsar is ill,
The tsar is dying.


A FIFTH. Upon the throne
He sat, and suddenly he fell; blood gushed
From his mouth and ears.

(The TSAR is carried in on a chair. All the Tsar's
household; all the boyars.)

TSAR. Let all depart—alone
Leave the tsarevich with me. (All withdraw.) I am dying;
Let us embrace. Farewell, my son; this hour
Thou wilt begin to reign.—O God, my God!
This hour I shall appear before Thy presence—
And have no time to purge my soul with shrift.
But yet, my son, I feel thou art dearer to me
Than is my soul's salvation—be it so!
A subject was I born; it seemed ordained
That I should die a subject in obscurity.
Yet I attained to sovereignty; but how?
Ask not. Enough that thou art innocent.
In justice now thou'lt reign; and I alone
Am answerable for all to God. Dear son,
Cherish no false delusion, of thy free will
Blind not thyself. Stormy the days wherein
Thou dost assume the crown. He is dangerous,
This strange pretender; with a fearful name
He is armed. For many a year experienced
In rule, I could restrain revolt and treason;
They quaked with fear before me; treachery
Dared not to raise its voice; but thou, a boy,
An inexperienced ruler, how wilt thou
Govern amid the tempests, quench revolt,
Shackle sedition? But God is great! He gives
Wisdom to youth, to weakness strength.—Give ear;
Firstly, select a steadfast counsellor,
Of cool, ripe years, loved of the people, honoured
Mid the boyars for birth and fame—even Shuisky.
The army craves today a skilful leader;
Basmanov send, and firmly bear the murmurs
Of the boyars. Thou from thy early years
Didst sit with me in council, thou dost know
The formal course of government; change not
Procedure. Custom is the soul of states.
Of late I have been forced to reinstate
Bans, executions—these thou canst rescind;
And they will bless thee, as they blessed thy uncle
When he obtained the throne of the Terrible.
At the same time, little by little, tighten
Anew the reins of government; now slacken;
But let them not slip from thy hands. Be gracious,
Accessible to foreigners, accept
Their service trustfully. Preserve with strictness
The Church's discipline. Be taciturn;
The royal voice must never lose itself
Upon the air in emptiness, but like
A sacred bell must sound but to announce
Some great disaster or great festival.
Dear son, thou art approaching to those years
When woman's beauty agitates our blood.
Preserve, preserve the sacred purity
Of innocence and proud shamefacedness;
He, who through passion has been wont to wallow
In vicious pleasures in his youthful days,
Becomes in manhood bloodthirsty and surly;
His mind untimely darkens. Of thy household
Be always head; show honour to thy mother,
But rule thy house thyself; thou art a man
And tsar to boot. Be loving to thy sister—
Thou wilt be left of her the sole protector.

FEODOR. (On his knees.) No, no; live on, my father, and reign long;
Without thee both the folk and we will perish.

TSAR. All is at end for me—mine eyes grow dark,
I feel the coldness of the grave—

(Enter the PATRIARCH and prelates; behind them all
the boyars lead the TSARITSA by the hand; the
TSAREVNA is sobbing.)

Who's there?
Ah, 'tis the vestment—so! The holy tonsure—
The hour has struck. The tsar becomes a monk,
And the dark sepulchre will be my cell.
Wait yet a little, my lord Patriarch,
I still am tsar. Listen to me, boyars:
To this my son I now commit the tsardom;
Do homage to Feodor. Basmanov, thou,
And ye, my friends, on the grave's brink I pray you
To serve my son with zeal and rectitude!
As yet he is both young and uncorrupted.
Swear ye?

BOYARS. We swear.

TSAR. I am content. Forgive me
Both my temptations and my sins, my wilful
And secret injuries.—Now, holy father,
Approach thou; I am ready for the rite.

(The rite of the tonsure begins. The women are
carried out swooning.)
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Re: Boris Godunov, by Alexander Pushkin

Postby admin » Fri Aug 17, 2018 11:39 pm



BASMANOV. Here enter, and speak freely. So to me
He sent thee.

PUSHKIN. He doth offer thee his friendship
And the next place to his in the realm of Moscow.

BASMANOV. But even thus highly by Feodor am I
Already raised; the army I command;
For me he scorned nobility of rank
And the wrath of the boyars. I have sworn to him

PUSHKIN. To the throne's lawful successor
Allegiance thou hast sworn; but what if one
More lawful still be living?

BASMANOV. Listen, Pushkin:
Enough of that; tell me no idle tales!
I know the man.

PUSHKIN. Russia and Lithuania
Have long acknowledged him to be Dimitry;
But, for the rest, I do not vouch for it.
Perchance he is indeed the real Dimitry;
Perchance but a pretender; only this
I know, that soon or late the son of Boris
Will yield Moscow to him.

BASMANOV. So long as I
Stand by the youthful tsar, so long he will not
Forsake the throne. We have enough of troops,
Thank God! With victory I will inspire them.
And whom will you against me send, the Cossack
Karel or Mnishek? Are your numbers many?
In all, eight thousand.

PUSHKIN. You mistake; they will not
Amount even to that. I say myself
Our army is mere trash, the Cossacks only
Rob villages, the Poles but brag and drink;
The Russians—what shall I say?—with you I'll not
Dissemble; but, Basmanov, dost thou know
Wherein our strength lies? Not in the army, no.
Nor Polish aid, but in opinion—yes,
In popular opinion. Dost remember
The triumph of Dimitry, dost remember
His peaceful conquests, when, without a blow
The docile towns surrendered, and the mob
Bound the recalcitrant leaders? Thou thyself
Saw'st it; was it of their free-will our troops
Fought with him? And when did they so? Boris
Was then supreme. But would they now?—Nay, nay,
It is too late to blow on the cold embers
Of this dispute; with all thy wits and firmness
Thou'lt not withstand him. Were't not better for thee
To furnish to our chief a wise example,
Proclaim Dimitry tsar, and by that act
Bind him your friend for ever? How thinkest thou?

BASMANOV. Tomorrow thou shalt know.

PUSHKIN. Resolve.

BASMANOV. Farewell.

PUSHKIN. Ponder it well, Basmanov.


BASMANOV. He is right.
Everywhere treason ripens; what shall I do?
Wait, that the rebels may deliver me
In bonds to the Otrepiev? Had I not better
Forestall the stormy onset of the flood,
Myself to—ah! But to forswear mine oath!
Dishonour to deserve from age to age!
The trust of my young sovereign to requite
With horrible betrayal! 'Tis a light thing
For a disgraced exile to meditate
Sedition and conspiracy; but I?
Is it for me, the favourite of my lord?—
But death—but power—the people's miseries...

(He ponders.)

Here! Who is there? (Whistles.) A horse here!
Sound the muster!
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Re: Boris Godunov, by Alexander Pushkin

Postby admin » Fri Aug 17, 2018 11:39 pm


PUSHKIN enters, surrounded by the people

THE PEOPLE. The tsarevich a boyar hath sent to us.
Let's hear what the boyar will tell us. Hither!

PUSHKIN. (On a platform.) Townsmen of Moscow! The tsarevich
Bids me convey his greetings to you. (He bows.) Ye know
How Divine Providence saved the tsarevich
From out the murderer's hands; he went to punish
His murderer, but God's judgment hath already
Struck down Boris. All Russia hath submitted
Unto Dimitry; with heartfelt repentance
Basmanov hath himself led forth his troops
To swear allegiance to him. In love, in peace
Dimitry comes to you. Would ye, to please
The house of Godunov, uplift a hand
Against the lawful tsar, against the grandson
Of Monomakh?


PUSHKIN. Townsmen of Moscow!
The world well knows how much ye have endured
Under the rule of the cruel stranger; ban,
Dishonour, executions, taxes, hardships,
Hunger—all these ye have experienced.
Dimitry is disposed to show you favour,
Courtiers, boyars, state-servants, soldiers, strangers,
Merchants—and every honest man. Will ye
Be stubborn without reason, and in pride
Flee from his kindness? But he himself is coming
To his ancestral throne with dreadful escort.
Provoke not ye the tsar to wrath, fear God,
And swear allegiance to the lawful ruler;
Humble yourselves; forthwith send to Dimitry
The Metropolitan, deacons, boyars,
And chosen men, that they may homage do
To their lord and father.

(Exit. Clamour of the People.)

THE PEOPLE. What is to be said?
The boyar spake truth. Long live Dimitry, our father!

A PEASANT ON THE PLATFORM. People! To the Kremlin!
To the Royal palace!
The whelp of Boris go bind!

THE PEOPLE. (Rushing in a crowd.)
Bind, drown him! Hail
Dimitry! Perish the race of Godunov!
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Re: Boris Godunov, by Alexander Pushkin

Postby admin » Fri Aug 17, 2018 11:40 pm


A GUARD on the Staircase. FEODOR at a Window

BEGGAR. Give alms, for Christ's sake.

GUARD. Go away; it is forbidden to speak to the prisoners.

FEODOR. Go, old man, I am poorer than thou; thou art at

(KSENIA, veiled, also comes to the window.)

ONE OF THE PEOPLE. Brother and sister—poor children, like
birds in a cage.

SECOND PERSON. Are you going to pity them? Accursed

FIRST PERSON. The father was a villain, but the children are

SECOND PERSON. The apple does not fall far from the

KSENIA. Dear brother! Dear brother! I think the boyars
are coming to us.

FEODOR. That is Golitsin, Mosalsky. I do not know the

KSENIA. Ah! Dear brother, my heart sinks.

behind them three archers.)

THE PEOPLE. Make way, make way; the boyars come.
(They enter the house.)

ONE OF THE PEOPLE. What have they come for?

SECOND. Most like to make Feodor Godunov take the oath.

THIRD. Very like. Hark! What a noise in the house!
What an uproar! They are fighting!

THE PEOPLE. Do you hear? A scream! That was a
woman's voice. We will go up. We will go up!—The
doors are fastened—the cries cease—the noise continues.

(The doors are thrown open. MOSALSKY appears on
the staircase.)

MOSALSKY. People! Maria Godunov and her son Feodor
have poisoned themselves. We have seen their dead

(The People are silent with horror.)

Why are ye silent? Cry, Long live the tsar Dimitry

(The People are speechless.)

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