Alexander Pushkin


In desert, withered and burned, On ground that is dry and sultry, Anchar, alone in the world, Stands like an awful, silent sentry. The nature of the thirsty land, Has borne him on the day of terror, And flesh of roots and boughs, dead, Was filled with venom blood forever. The poison oozes through his bark And melts at noon in beams from heaven, And thickens in the evening dark-- A tar, transparent one and heavy. And birds don't visit him at all, Not any tiger for him wishes And only, sometimes, comes a whirl, To fly away, but as pernicious. And if, by chance, a cloud sprays His leaves in wandering alone, From all his twigs, the poisoned rains Pour into scorching sand and stone. But once a man had sent a man, To desert -- to the poison demon, The slave obediently ran, And by the morn he brought the venom. He brought the resin of the death, A twig with faded leaves, by morning, And heavy sweat, on his pale face, In icy rivulets was rolling. He came, and lay, and fell in fit, In shadow of the tent, in fluster, The slave had died by the feet Of his inexorable master. The prince immediately breathed The evil tar into his arrows, And sent with them the poison-death, To alien lands--the lands of neighbors. Translated by Yevgeny Bonver The Upas Tree Deep in the desert's misery, far in the fury of the sand, there stands the awesome Upas Tree lone watchman of a lifeless land. The wilderness, a world of thirst, in wrath engendered it and filled its every root, every accursed grey leafstalk with a sap that killed. Dissolving in the midday sun the poison oozes through its bark, and freezing when the day is done gleams thick and gem-like in the dark. No bird flies near, no tiger creeps; alone the whirlwind, wild and black, assails the tree of death and sweeps away with death upon its back. And though some roving cloud may stain with glancing drops those leaden leaves, the dripping of a poisoned rain is all the burning sand receives. But man sent man with one proud look towards the tree, and he was gone, the humble one, and there he took the poison and returned at dawn. He brought the deadly gum; with it he brought some leaves, a withered bough, while rivulets of icy sweat ran slowly down his livid brow. He came, he fell upon a mat, and reaping a poor slave's reward, died near the painted hut where sat his now unconquerable lord. The king, he soaked his arrows true in poison, and beyond the plains dispatched those messengers and slew his neighbors in their own domains. Translated by Katharena Eiermann

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