Boris Godunov

by Alexsander Pushkin

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Palace of the Tsar

Two Attendants

   1ST ATTENDANT. Where is the sovereign?

   2ND ATTENDANT.                  In his bed-chamber,
   Where he is closeted with some magician.

   1ST ATTENDANT. Ay; that's the kind of intercourse he loves;
   Sorcerers, fortune-tellers, necromancers.
   Ever he seeks to dip into the future,
   Just like some pretty girl. Fain would I know
   What 'tis he would foretell.

   2ND ATTENDANT.             Well, here he comes.
   Will it please you question him?

   1ST ATTENDANT.                How grim he looks!


   TSAR. (Enters.) I have attained the highest power. Six years
   Already have I reigned in peace; but joy
   Dwells not within my soul. Even so in youth
   We greedily desire the joys of love,
   But only quell the hunger of the heart
   With momentary possession. We grow cold,
   Grow weary and oppressed! In vain the wizards
   Promise me length of days, days of dominion
   Immune from treachery—not power, not life
   Gladden me; I forebode the wrath of Heaven
   And woe. For me no happiness. I thought
   To satisfy my people in contentment,
   In glory, gain their love by generous gifts,
   But I have put away that empty hope;
   The power that lives is hateful to the mob,—
   Only the dead they love. We are but fools
   When our heart vibrates to the people's groans
   And passionate wailing. Lately on our land
   God sent a famine; perishing in torments
   The people uttered moan. The granaries
   I made them free of, scattered gold among them,
   Found labour for them; furious for my pains
   They cursed me! Next, a fire consumed their homes;
   I built for them new dwellings; then forsooth
   They blamed me for the fire! Such is the mob,
   Such is its judgment! Seek its love, indeed!
   I thought within my family to find
   Solace; I thought to make my daughter happy
   By wedlock. Like a tempest Death took off
   Her bridegroom—and at once a stealthy rumour
   Pronounced me guilty of my daughter's grief—
   Me, me, the hapless father! Whoso dies,
   I am the secret murderer of all;
   I hastened Feodor's end, 'twas I that poisoned
   My sister-queen, the lowly nun—all I!
   Ah! Now I feel it; naught can give us peace
   Mid worldly cares, nothing save only conscience!
   Healthy she triumphs over wickedness,
   Over dark slander; but if in her be found
   A single casual stain, then misery.
   With what a deadly sore my soul doth smart;
   My heart, with venom filled, doth like a hammer
   Beat in mine ears reproach; all things revolt me,
   And my head whirls, and in my eyes are children
   Dripping with blood; and gladly would I flee,
   But nowhere can find refuge—horrible!
   Pitiful he whose conscience is unclean!


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