Selections from The Bronze Horseman, by A.S. Pushkin
Trans. Joel Knopf
He thought: We’ll send
The Swedes a warning loud and clear.
A city shall be founded here
In spite of our prideful friend.
* * *
Where before the Finnish fisherman
Had reeled his meager catches in,
Where, standing on the shore, alone—
Poor Nature’s stepson—he had thrown
His tattered net to seas unknown,
Now there, on seashores come alive,
Palaces and towers crush
Together in a crowded maze;
And trade ships sailing in a rush
From all around the globe arrive
At rich and treasure-laden quays.
Now overhanging bridges glide
Along the Neva’s granite sides
And gardens of deep forest-green
Adorn the islands in between.
* * *
I love you, Peter’s grand creation,
I love your handsome, stern façade,
The Neva’s dignified duration
And riverbanks in granite shod;
Your patterned rail, your pensive nights’
Translucent dusk and moonless glow
When, sitting in my room, I know
I need no light to read or write;
As streets in sleeping piles lie
Deserted, deep in desolate dreams,
And blazing bright against the sky
The admiralty spire gleams.
And not permitting dusky eve
Upon the firmament of gold,
A new dawn rushes past the old
While night is but a short reprieve.
I love your cruel wintertime’s
Immobile air and frozen rime;
How sledding ‘long the Neva goes
And girls blush redder than a rose;
And the glitter and hubbub and chatter at balls,
The bachelors’ midnight bacchanals,
The hiss and froth of bubbling cup,
The punch whose bluish flame arcs up.
I love the sprightly martial cheer
Upon the Fields of Mars; to see
The hosts of troops and horses here
In beautiful monotony,
And in their neatly rippling line,
The rag-tag flags from battles won,
The bullet-battered helmets’ shine,
The copper glinting in the sun.
I love when, seat of martial might,
With thunder and smoke from fortress gun
The Empress of the northern lights
Presents the royal house a son;
Or when, another battle won,
Russia swells in celebration;
Or when the Neva, broken free,
Bears its dark blue ice to sea
And sensing spring, sings in exultation.
Be beautiful! Stand firm and fast:
Impregnable, like all of Rus.
The vanquished element, at last,
Shall lay down arms and make its truce
With you, and finally make its peace.
For may the Finnish waves forget
Their old imprisonment, and let
Their ancient hatreds cease.
Let malice not disturb in vain
The eternal dream of Peter’s name!
My friends—it was a terrible time,
A time we still remember well…
For you I shall begin my rhyme.
Twill be a tragic tale I tell.
* * *
Arriving home, Evgenii’d shake
His coat off, change, and take to bed.
For minutes more he’d lay awake
As musings tumbled through his head.
Evgenii heaved a heartfelt sigh,
Got lost, as poets do, in thought:
“Marry? Me? Don’t see why not.
It’s burdensome, you can’t deny;
But hell, I’m young and healthy, too,
Ready to work the whole night through.
Somehow or other I’ll take care
To make arrangements of my own:
Some simple, humble shelter where
I’ll make Parasha feel at home.
A year or so will go by, and I will
Land a comfy job somewhere,
And trust Parasha dear to handle
The housework and the childcare.
We’ll settle in, and go on thus
Until some day when, hand in hand,
We’ll reach the grave together, and
Our grandchildren will bury us.
 Two variants:
- “Marry? Me? Come on, why not? / It’s burdensome, of course, but I / Am young and strong and healthy, too
- “Marry? Me? Don’t see why not. / It’s burdensome, of course, but I / Am young and hell, I’m healthy, too