Boris Godunov

by Alexsander Pushkin

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A Tent


   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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