Prologue to “Rouslan and Ludmila”.
A poem by Pouskine. Originally translated by Princess N. Yasehwill
A green oak on the seashore stands,
Encircled by a golden chain,
And day and Night a learned cat
Upon this chain walks round and round
When to the right it sings a song
When to the left a tale it tells
A world entranced! The Wood Imp skips
A Mermaid in the branches dips.
The unknown paths are marked all through
Withfootprints of unheard-of beasts.
A hut rests firm upon hen’s feet,
It has no windows, neither doors,
The woods and Dales are full of dreams.
At dawn the tide breaks forth in waves
Upon the empty sandy shore,
And from the waters clear emerge
A chief and thirty noble knights.
A bold young prince in passing by
Takes prisoner a wicked king
And in the clouds in sight of all,
Above the forests and the seas,
A wizard bears a gallant knight
A princess in jail repines,
Her faithful bay-wolf at her feet.
A mortar with a witch inside
Hobbles along all by itself.
With gold untold a miser starves.
There’s Russia’s spirit…Russia’s tang.
Once I was there and drank the air
And saw the green-oak near the sea
While under it I sat and heard
The cat his wondrous tales unfold.