Oh what a night! There’s biting frost,
There are no clouds on the coast;
The azure arch, a woven plaid,
Is dazzled with the frequent stars.
All homes are dark. And every gate
Is safely locked with bolts and bars.
And all is peaceful as of late.
At last, the marketplace is calm,
The guarding dog just barks alone,
And with the loud chains it rumbles.
While all of Moscow’s dead in slumber,
The restlessness of fear forgetting.
The square, in murkiness of night,
Stands filled with yesterday’s beheading.
The torture’s imprints still abide:
Where with a blade a man was struck,
Where there are pitchforks, where there are
The cooled off cauldrons filled with tar;
Where there are tumbled over blocks;
And metal teeth are sticking out,
And bones with ashes are consumed,
Upon the stakes, above the ground,
Dead bodies darken from the fume...
Not long ago, fresh blood was sliding
Pigmenting snow along the way
And languid moans were rising, rising,
But death embraced them, tranquilizing,
And overtook her easy prey.
Who’s there? Whose horse is it that’s speeding
Across the gloomy square to fight?
Whose blaring whistle, loud speaking
Is heard in twilight of the night?
Who is he? – Overfilled with greed.
The brave one hurries to his date,
By his desire made irate
He pleads: “My valiant, intrepid steed,
Fly like an arrow at full speed!
Oh faster, faster!...” The ardent horse
Just swings its mane, and comes to pause.
In gloominess, between the posts
Upon the long and wooden crossbeam,
A corpse is swaying. And the horseman
Is ready to advance and cross,
But for some reason under lashes
The steed just sniffs and snorts and rushes
Back. “Where to?! Ahead, ahead!
What is with you! What is to dread?
We rode here yesterday at night,
Wasn’t it us who stomped with pride,
Inflamed with vengeance from afar,
The evil traitors of the czar?
Remember, it's their blood we used
To wash and clean your steely hooves?!
Have you forgotten all, with spite?
My daring steed, this is your course
Now gallop, fly...” The tired horse,
Beneath the corpse, begins her stride.
By Alexander Pushkin
Translation by Andrey Kneller