Boris Godunov

by Alexsander Pushkin

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Cracow. House of Vishnevetsky

The PRETENDER and a CATHOLIC PRIEST PRETENDER. Nay, father, there will be no trouble. I know The spirit of my people; piety Does not run wild in them, their tsar's example To them is sacred. Furthermore, the people Are always tolerant. I warrant you, Before two years my people all, and all The Eastern Church, will recognise the power Of Peter's Vicar. PRIEST. May Saint Ignatius aid thee When other times shall come. Meanwhile, tsarevich, Hide in thy soul the seed of heavenly blessing; Religious duty bids us oft dissemble Before the blabbing world; the people judge Thy words, thy deeds; God only sees thy motives. PRETENDER. Amen. Who's there? (Enter a Servant.) Say that we will receive them. (The doors are opened; a crowd of Russians and Poles enters.) Comrades! Tomorrow we depart from Cracow. Mnishek, with thee for three days in Sambor I'll stay. I know thy hospitable castle Both shines in splendid stateliness, and glories In its young mistress; There I hope to see Charming Marina. And ye, my friends, ye, Russia And Lithuania, ye who have upraised Fraternal banners against a common foe, Against mine enemy, yon crafty villain. Ye sons of Slavs, speedily will I lead Your dread battalions to the longed-for conflict. But soft! Methinks among you I descry New faces. GABRIEL P. They have come to beg for sword And service with your Grace. PRETENDER. Welcome, my lads. You are friends to me. But tell me, Pushkin, who Is this fine fellow? PUSHKIN. Prince Kurbsky. PRETENDER. (To KURBSKY.) A famous name! Art kinsman to the hero of Kazan? KURBSKY. His son. PRETENDER. Liveth he still? KURBSKY. Nay, he is dead. PRETENDER. A noble soul! A man of war and counsel. But from the time when he appeared beneath The ancient town Olgin with the Lithuanians, Hardy avenger of his injuries, Rumour hath held her tongue concerning him. KURBSKY. My father led the remnant of his life On lands bestowed upon him by Batory; There, in Volhynia, solitary and quiet, Sought consolation for himself in studies; But peaceful labour did not comfort him; He ne'er forgot the home of his young days, And to the end pined for it. PRETENDER. Hapless chieftain! How brightly shone the dawn of his resounding And stormy life! Glad am I, noble knight, That now his blood is reconciled in thee To his fatherland. The faults of fathers must not Be called to mind. Peace to their grave. Approach; Give me thy hand! Is it not strange?—the son Of Kurbsky to the throne is leading—whom? Whom but Ivan's own son?—All favours me; People and fate alike.—Say, who art thou? A POLE. Sobansky, a free noble. PRETENDER. Praise and honour Attend thee, child of liberty. Give him A third of his full pay beforehand.—Who Are these? On them I recognise the dress Of my own country. These are ours. KRUSHCHOV. (Bows low.) Yea, Sire, Our father; we are thralls of thine, devoted And persecuted; we have fled from Moscow, Disgraced, to thee our tsar, and for thy sake Are ready to lay down our lives; our corpses Shall be for thee steps to the royal throne. PRETENDER. Take heart, innocent sufferers. Only let me Reach Moscow, and, once there, Boris shall settle Some scores with me and you. What news of Moscow? KRUSHCHOV. As yet all there is quiet. But already The folk have got to know that the tsarevich Was saved; already everywhere is read Thy proclamation. All are waiting for thee. Not long ago Boris sent two boyars To execution merely because in secret They drank thy health. PRETENDER. O hapless, good boyars! But blood for blood! And woe to Godunov! What do they say of him? KRUSHCHOV. He has withdrawn Into his gloomy palace. He is grim And sombre. Executions loom ahead. But sickness gnaws him. Hardly hath he strength To drag himself along, and—it is thought— His last hour is already not far off. PRETENDER. A speedy death I wish him, as becomes A great-souled foe to wish. If not, then woe To the miscreant!—And whom doth he intend To name as his successor? KRUSHCHOV. He shows not His purposes, but it would seem he destines Feodor, his young son, to be our tsar. PRETENDER. His reckonings, maybe, will yet prove wrong. Who art thou? KARELA. A Cossack; from the Don I am sent To thee, from the free troops, from the brave hetmen From upper and lower regions of the Cossacks, To look upon thy bright and royal eyes, And tender thee their homage. PRETENDER. Well I knew The men of Don; I doubted not to see The Cossack hetmen in my ranks. We thank Our army of the Don. Today, we know, The Cossacks are unjustly persecuted, Oppressed; but if God grant us to ascend The throne of our forefathers, then as of yore We'll gratify the free and faithful Don. POET. (Approaches, bowing low, and taking Gregory by the hem of his caftan.) Great prince, illustrious offspring of a king! PRETENDER. What wouldst thou? POET. Condescendingly accept This poor fruit of my earnest toil. PRETENDER. What see I? Verses in Latin! Blest a hundredfold The tie of sword and lyre; the selfsame laurel Binds them in friendship. I was born beneath A northern sky, but yet the Latin muse To me is a familiar voice; I love The blossoms of Parnassus, I believe The prophecies of singers. Not in vain The ecstasy boils in their flaming breast; Action is hallowed, being glorified Beforehand by the poets! Approach, my friend. In memory of me accept this gift. (Gives him a ring.) When fate fulfils for me her covenant, When I assume the crown of my forefathers, I hope again to hear the measured tones Of thy sweet voice, and thy inspired lay. Musa gloriam Coronat, gloriaque musam. And so, friends, till tomorrow, au revoir. ALL. Forward! Long live Dimitry! Forward, forward! Long live Dimitry, the great prince of Moscow!


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