Boris Godunov

by Alexsander Pushkin

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Night. The Garden


   PRETENDER. (Enters.) Here is the fountain; hither will she come.
   I was not born a coward; I have seen
   Death near at hand, and face to face with death
   My spirit hath not blenched. A life-long dungeon
   Hath threatened me, I have been close pursued,
   And yet my spirit quailed not, and by boldness
   I have escaped captivity. But what
   Is this which now constricts my breath? What means
   This overpowering tremor, or this quivering
   Of tense desire? No, this is fear. All day
   I have waited for this secret meeting, pondered
   On all that I should say to her, how best
   I might enmesh Marina's haughty mind,
   Calling her queen of Moscow. But the hour
   Has come—and I remember naught, I cannot
   Recall the speeches I have learned by rote;
   Love puts imagination to confusion—
   But something there gleamed suddenly—a rustling;
   Hush—no, it was the moon's deceitful light,
   It was the rustling of the breeze.

   MARINA. (Enters.)                Tsarevich!

   PRETENDER. 'Tis she. Now all the blood in me stands still.

   MARINA. Dimitry! Is it thou?

   PRETENDER.                 Bewitching voice!

   (Goes to her.)

   Is it thou, at last? Is it thou I see, alone
   With me, beneath the roof of quiet night?
   How slowly passed the tedious day! How slowly
   The glow of evening died away! How long
   I have waited in the gloom of night!

   MARINA.                            The hours
   Are flitting fast, and time is precious to me.
   I did not grant a meeting here to thee
   To listen to a lover's tender speeches.
   No need of words. I well believe thou lovest;
   But listen; with thy stormy, doubtful fate
   I have resolved to join my own; but one thing,
   Dimitry, I require; I claim that thou
   Disclose to me thy secret hopes, thy plans,
   Even thy fears, that hand in hand with thee
   I may confront life boldly—not in blindness
   Of childlike ignorance, not as the slave
   And plaything of my husband's light desires,
   Thy speechless concubine, but as thy spouse,
   And worthy helpmate of the tsar of Moscow.

   PRETENDER. O, if it be only for one short hour,
   Forget the cares and troubles of my fate!
   Forget 'tis the tsarevich whom thou seest
   Before thee. O, behold in me, Marina,
   A lover, by thee chosen, happy only
   In thy regard. O, listen to the prayers
   Of love! Grant me to utter all wherewith
   My heart is full.

   MARINA.         Prince, this is not the time;
   Thou loiterest, and meanwhile the devotion
   Of thine adherents cooleth. Hour by hour
   Danger becomes more dangerous, difficulties
   More difficult; already dubious rumours
   Are current, novelty already takes
   The place of novelty; and Godunov
   Adopts his measures.

   PRETENDER.         What is Godunov?
   Is thy sweet love, my only blessedness,
   Swayed by Boris? Nay, nay. Indifferently
   I now regard his throne, his kingly power.
   Thy love—without it what to me is life,
   And glory's glitter, and the state of Russia?
   On the dull steppe, in a poor mud hut, thou—
   Thou wilt requite me for the kingly crown;
   Thy love—

   MARINA. For shame! Forget not, prince, thy high
   And sacred destiny; thy dignity
   Should be to thee more dear than all the joys
   Of life and its allurements. It thou canst not
   With anything compare. Not to a boy,
   Insanely boiling, captured by my beauty—
   But to the heir of Moscow's throne give I
   My hand in solemn wise, to the tsarevich
   Rescued by destiny.

   PRETENDER.        Torture me not,
   Charming Marina; say not that 'twas my rank
   And not myself that thou didst choose. Marina!
   Thou knowest not how sorely thou dost wound
   My heart thereby. What if—O fearful doubt!—
   Say, if blind destiny had not assigned me
   A kingly birth; if I were not indeed
   Son of Ivan, were not this boy, so long
   Forgotten by the world—say, then wouldst thou
   Have loved me?

   MARINA.      Thou art Dimitry, and aught else
   Thou canst not be; it is not possible
   For me to love another.

   PRETENDER.            Nay! Enough—
   I have no wish to share with a dead body
   A mistress who belongs to him; I have done
   With counterfeiting, and will tell the truth.
   Know, then, that thy Dimitry long ago
   Perished, was buried—and will not rise again;
   And dost thou wish to know what man I am?
   Well, I will tell thee. I am—a poor monk.
   Grown weary of monastic servitude,
   I pondered 'neath the cowl my bold design,
   Made ready for the world a miracle—
   And from my cell at last fled to the Cossacks,
   To their wild hovels; there I learned to handle
   Both steeds and swords; I showed myself to you.
   I called myself Dimitry, and deceived
   The brainless Poles. What say'st thou, proud Marina?
   Art thou content with my confession? Why
   Dost thou keep silence?

   MARINA.               O shame! O woe is me!


   PRETENDER. (Sotto voce.) O whither hath a fit of anger led me?
   The happiness devised with so much labour
   I have, perchance, destroyed for ever. Idiot,
   What have I done? (Aloud.) I see thou art ashamed
   Of love not princely; so pronounce on me
   The fatal word; my fate is in thy hands.
   Decide; I wait.

   (Falls on his knees.)

   MARINA.       Rise, poor pretender! Think'st thou
   To please with genuflex on my vain heart,
   As if I were a weak, confiding girl?
   You err, my friend; prone at my feet I've seen
   Knights and counts nobly born; but not for this
   Did I reject their prayers, that a poor monk—

   PRETENDER. (Rises.) Scorn not the young pretender; noble virtues
   May lie perchance in him, virtues well worthy
   Of Moscow's throne, even of thy priceless hand—

   MARINA. Say of a shameful noose, insolent wretch!

   PRETENDER. I am to blame; carried away by pride
   I have deceived God and the kings—have lied
   To the world; but it is not for thee, Marina,
   To judge me; I am guiltless before thee.
   No, I could not deceive thee. Thou to me
   Wast the one sacred being, before thee
   I dared not to dissemble; love alone,
   Love, jealous, blind, constrained me to tell all.

   MARINA. What's that to boast of, idiot? Who demanded
   Confession of thee? If thou, a nameless vagrant
   Couldst wonderfully blind two nations, then
   At least thou shouldst have merited success,
   And thy bold fraud secured, by constant, deep,
   And lasting secrecy. Say, can I yield
   Myself to thee, can I, forgetting rank
   And maiden modesty, unite my fate
   With thine, when thou thyself impetuously
   Dost thus with such simplicity reveal
   Thy shame? It was from Love he blabbed to me!
   I marvel wherefore thou hast not from friendship
   Disclosed thyself ere now before my father,
   Or else before our king from joy, or else
   Before Prince Vishnevetsky from the zeal
   Of a devoted servant.

   PRETENDER.          I swear to thee
   That thou alone wast able to extort
   My heart's confession; I swear to thee that never,
   Nowhere, not in the feast, not in the cup
   Of folly, not in friendly confidence,
   Not 'neath the knife nor tortures of the rack,
   Shall my tongue give away these weighty secrets.

   MARINA. Thou swearest! Then I must believe. Believe,
   Of course! But may I learn by what thou swearest?
   Is it not by the name of God, as suits
   The Jesuits' devout adopted son?
   Or by thy honour as a high-born knight?
   Or, maybe, by thy royal word alone
   As a king's son? Is it not so? Declare.

   PRETENDER. (Proudly.) The phantom of the Terrible hath made me
   His son; from out the sepulchre hath named me
   Dimitry, hath stirred up the people round me,
   And hath consigned Boris to be my victim.
   I am tsarevich. Enough! 'Twere shame for me
   To stoop before a haughty Polish dame.
   Farewell for ever; the game of bloody war,
   The wide cares of my destiny, will smother,
   I hope, the pangs Of love. O, when the heat
   Of shameful passion is o'erspent, how then
   Shall I detest thee! Now I leave thee—ruin,
   Or else a crown, awaits my head in Russia;
   Whether I meet with death as fits a soldier
   In honourable fight, or as a miscreant
   Upon the public scaffold, thou shalt not
   Be my companion, nor shalt share with me
   My fate; but it may be thou shalt regret
   The destiny thou hast refused.

   MARINA.                      But what
   If I expose beforehand thy bold fraud
   To all men?

   PRETENDER. Dost thou think I fear thee? Think'st thou
   They will believe a Polish maiden more
   Than Russia's own tsarevich? Know, proud lady,
   That neither king, nor pope, nor nobles trouble
   Whether my words be true, whether I be
   Dimitry or another. What care they?
   But I provide a pretext for revolt
   And war; and this is all they need; and thee,
   Rebellious one, believe me, they will force
   To hold thy peace. Farewell.

   MARINA.                    Tsarevich, stay!
   At last I hear the speech not of a boy,
   But of a man. It reconciles me to thee.
   Prince, I forget thy senseless outburst, see
   Again Dimitry. Listen; now is the time!
   Hasten; delay no more, lead on thy troops
   Quickly to Moscow, purge the Kremlin, take
   Thy seat upon the throne of Moscow; then
   Send me the nuptial envoy; but, God hears me,
   Until thy foot be planted on its steps,
   Until by thee Boris be overthrown,
   I am not one to listen to love-speeches.

   PRETENDER. No—easier far to strive with Godunov.
   Or play false with the Jesuits of the Court,
   Than with a woman. Deuce take them; they're beyond
   My power. She twists, and coils, and crawls, slips out
   Of hand, she hisses, threatens, bites. Ah, serpent!
   Serpent! 'Twas not for nothing that I trembled.
   She well-nigh ruined me; but I'm resolved;
   At daybreak I will put my troops in motion.


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