Alexander Pushkin


Children run into their izba, Hail their father, drip with sweat: "Daddy, Daddy! Come — there is a Deadman caught inside our net." "Scary, scary fabrication", Grumbled back the weary Pa, "Oh these imps' imagination... Deadman, really: ya-ha-ha! Hmm... the court may come to bother; What'll I say before the judge?.. Hey you brats, go have your mother Bring my coat; I'd better trudge... So, where is he?" — "There, Dad, farther!" On the sand where dragnet ropes Lay spread out, the children's father Saw a veritable corpse. Badly mangled, ugly, frightening, Blue and swollen on each side — Has he fished in storm and lightning Or committed suicide? Could this be a careless drunkard Or a mermaid-seeking monk Or a trusting merchant, conquered By some bandits, robbed and sunk? To the peasant, what's it matter? Quick: he grabs the dead man's hair, Drags the body to the water, Looks around: nobody there: Good; relieved of the concern he Grabbed a paddle, gave a toss, And the stiff resumed his journey Downstream for a grave and cross. Long the dead man as one living Rolled on waves amid the foam. Having watched his gradual leaving, Our glum peasant started home. "Come you pups! let's go, don't scatter. Each of you will get his bun. But remember: just you chatter — And I'll whip you, every one". Dark and stormy it was turning. High the river ran in gloom. Now the torch has finished burning In the peasant's smoky room. Kids asleep, the wife aslumber, He lies listening to the rain... Bang! he hears a sudden comer Knocking on the windowpane. "Yeah?" — "Hey, let me in there, master!" "Cain, you found the time to roam! Well, what is it, your disaster? Let you in? It's dark at home, Dark and crowded... What a pest you are! Where'd I put you in my cot?.." Finally with lazy gesture He lifts up the pane — and what? Out of clouds the moon was showing. Well, a naked man was there, Water down his beard a-flowing, Wide the eyes, unmoved the stare. Wholly numb the dreadful body, Arms were hanging, feeble, thin; Crabs and cancers, black and bloody, Sucked into the swollen skin. And the peasant slammed the shutter: Recognized his visitant, Horror-struck he could but mutter "May you burst!" and start to pant. He was shivering, awful chaos All night through stirred in his brain, While the knocking shook the house By the gates and at the pane. Folks relate a frightful rumor: Ever since, each year they say The poor peasant, out of humor, Waits a visitor that day. Early on, the storm's increasing, Nightfall brings a hurricane, And the drowned man knocks, unceasing, By the gates and at the pane. Translated by Genia Gurarie

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