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  • 1831
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I dared not to dissemble; love alone, Love, jealous, blind, constrained me to tell all.

MARINA. What’s that to boast of, idiot? Who demanded Confession of thee? If thou, a nameless vagrant Couldst wonderfully blind two nations, then At least thou shouldst have merited success, And thy bold fraud secured, by constant, deep, And lasting secrecy. Say, can I yield
Myself to thee, can I, forgetting rank And maiden modesty, unite my fate
With thine, when thou thyself impetuously Dost thus with such simplicity reveal
Thy shame? It was from Love he blabbed to me! I marvel wherefore thou hast not from friendship Disclosed thyself ere now before my father, Or else before our king from joy, or else Before Prince Vishnevetsky from the zeal Of a devoted servant.

PRETENDER. I swear to thee
That thou alone wast able to extort My heart’s confession; I swear to thee that never, Nowhere, not in the feast, not in the cup Of folly, not in friendly confidence,
Not ‘neath the knife nor tortures of the rack, Shall my tongue give away these weighty secrets.

MARINA. Thou swearest! Then I must believe. Believe, Of course! But may I learn by what thou swearest? Is it not by the name of God, as suits
The Jesuits’ devout adopted son?
Or by thy honour as a high-born knight? Or, maybe, by thy royal word alone
As a king’s son? Is it not so? Declare.

PRETENDER. (Proudly.) The phantom of the Terrible hath made me His son; from out the sepulchre hath named me Dimitry, hath stirred up the people round me, And hath consigned Boris to be my victim. I am tsarevich. Enough! ‘Twere shame for me To stoop before a haughty Polish dame.
Farewell for ever; the game of bloody war, The wide cares of my destiny, will smother, I hope, the pangs Of love. O, when the heat Of shameful passion is o’erspent, how then Shall I detest thee! Now I leave thee–ruin, Or else a crown, awaits my head in Russia; Whether I meet with death as fits a soldier In honourable fight, or as a miscreant
Upon the public scaffold, thou shalt not Be my companion, nor shalt share with me My fate; but it may be thou shalt regret The destiny thou hast refused.

MARINA. But what
If I expose beforehand thy bold fraud To all men?

PRETENDER. Dost thou think I fear thee? Think’st thou They will believe a Polish maiden more
Than Russia’s own tsarevich? Know, proud lady, That neither king, nor pope, nor nobles trouble Whether my words be true, whether I be
Dimitry or another. What care they? But I provide a pretext for revolt
And war; and this is all they need; and thee, Rebellious one, believe me, they will force To hold thy peace. Farewell.

MARINA. Tsarevich, stay!
At last I hear the speech not of a boy, But of a man. It reconciles me to thee.
Prince, I forget thy senseless outburst, see Again Dimitry. Listen; now is the time!
Hasten; delay no more, lead on thy troops Quickly to Moscow, purge the Kremlin, take Thy seat upon the throne of Moscow; then Send me the nuptial envoy; but, God hears me, Until thy foot be planted on its steps,
Until by thee Boris be overthrown,
I am not one to listen to love-speeches.

PRETENDER. No–easier far to strive with Godunov. Or play false with the Jesuits of the Court, Than with a woman. Deuce take them; they’re beyond My power. She twists, and coils, and crawls, slips out Of hand, she hisses, threatens, bites. Ah, serpent! Serpent! ‘Twas not for nothing that I trembled. She well-nigh ruined me; but I’m resolved; At daybreak I will put my troops in motion.


(OCTOBER 16TH, 1604)

on horseback. Troops approach the Frontier

KURBSKY. (Galloping at their head.)
There, there it is; there is the Russian frontier! Fatherland! Holy Russia! I am thine!
With scorn from off my clothing now I shake The foreign dust, and greedily I drink
New air; it is my native air. O father, Thy soul hath now been solaced; in the grave Thy bones, disgraced, thrill with a sudden joy! Again doth flash our old ancestral sword, This glorious sword–the dread of dark Kazan! This good sword–servant of the tsars of Moscow! Now will it revel in its feast of slaughter, Serving the master of its hopes.

PRETENDER. (Moves quietly with bowed head.) How happy Is he, how flushed with gladness and with glory His stainless soul! Brave knight, I envy thee! The son of Kurbsky, nurtured in exile,
Forgetting all the wrongs borne by thy father, Redeeming his transgression in the grave, Ready art thou for the son of great Ivan To shed thy blood, to give the fatherland Its lawful tsar. Righteous art thou; thy soul Should flame with joy.

KURBSKY. And dost not thou likewise Rejoice in spirit? There lies our Russia; she Is thine, tsarevich! There thy people’s hearts Are waiting for thee, there thy Moscow waits, Thy Kremlin, thy dominion.

PRETENDER. Russian blood,
O Kurbsky, first must flow! Thou for the tsar Hast drawn the sword, thou art stainless; but I lead you Against your brothers; I am summoning
Lithuania against Russia; I am showing To foes the longed-for way to beauteous Moscow! But let my sin fall not on me, but thee, Boris, the regicide! Forward! Set on!

KURBSKY. Forward! Advance! And woe to Godunov.

(They gallop. The troops cross the frontier.)


The TSAR, the PATRIARCH and Boyars

TSAR. Is it possible? An unfrocked monk against us Leads rascal troops, a truant friar dares write Threats to us! Then ’tis time to tame the madman! Trubetskoy, set thou forth, and thou Basmanov; My zealous governors need help. Chernigov Already by the rebel is besieged;
Rescue the city and citizens.

BASMANOV. Three months
Shall not pass, Sire, ere even rumour’s tongue Shall cease to speak of the pretender; caged In iron, like a wild beast from oversea, We’ll hale him into Moscow, I swear by God.

(Exit with TRUBETSKOY.)

TSAR. The Lord of Sweden hath by envoys tendered Alliance to me. But we have no need
To lean on foreign aid; we have enough Of our own warlike people to repel
Traitors and Poles. I have refused.–Shchelkalov! In every district to the governors
Send edicts, that they mount their steeds, and send The people as of old on service; likewise Ride to the monasteries, and there enlist The servants of the churchmen. In days of old, When danger faced our country, hermits freely Went into battle; it is not now our wish To trouble them; no, let them pray for us; Such is the tsar’s decree, such the resolve Of his boyars. And now a weighty question We shall determine; ye know how everywhere The insolent pretender hath spread abroad His artful rumours; letters everywhere,
By him distributed, have sowed alarm And doubt; seditious whispers to and fro Pass in the market-places; minds are seething. We needs must cool them; gladly would I refrain From executions, but by what means and how? That we will now determine. Holy father, Thou first declare thy thought.

PATRIARCH. The Blessed One,
The All-Highest, hath instilled into thy soul, Great lord, the spirit of kindness and meek patience; Thou wishest not perdition for the sinner, Thou wilt wait quietly, until delusion
Shall pass away; for pass away it will, And truth’s eternal sun will dawn on all. Thy faithful bedesman, one in worldly matters No prudent judge, ventures today to offer His voice to thee. This offspring of the devil, This unfrocked monk, has known how to appear Dimitry to the people. Shamelessly
He clothed himself with the name of the tsarevich As with a stolen vestment. It only needs To tear it off–and he’ll be put to shame By his own nakedness. The means thereto
God hath Himself supplied. Know, sire, six years Since then have fled; ’twas in that very year When to the seat of sovereignty the Lord Anointed thee–there came to me one evening A simple shepherd, a venerable old man,
Who told me a strange secret. “In my young days,” He said, “I lost my sight, and thenceforth knew not Nor day, nor night, till my old age; in vain I plied myself with herbs and secret spells; In vain did I resort in adoration
To the great wonder-workers in the cloister; Bathed my dark eyes in vain with healing water From out the holy wells. The Lord vouchsafed not Healing to me. Then lost I hope at last, And grew accustomed to my darkness. Even Slumber showed not to me things visible, Only of sounds I dreamed. Once in deep sleep I hear a childish voice; it speaks to me: `Arise, grandfather, go to Uglich town,
To the Cathedral of Transfiguration; There pray over my grave. The Lord is gracious– And I shall pardon thee.’ `But who art thou?’ I asked the childish voice. `I am the tsarevich Dimitry, whom the Heavenly Tsar hath taken Into His angel band, and I am now
A mighty wonder-worker. Go, old man.’ I woke, and pondered. What is this? Maybe God will in very deed vouchsafe to me
Belated healing. I will go. I bent
My footsteps to the distant road. I reached Uglich, repair unto the holy minster,
Hear mass, and, glowing with zealous soul, I weep Sweetly, as if the blindness from mine eyes Were flowing out in tears. And when the people Began to leave, to my grandson I said:
`Lead me, Ivan, to the grave of the tsarevich Dimitry .’ The boy led me–and I scarce
Had shaped before the grave a silent prayer, When sight illumed my eyeballs; I beheld The light of God, my grandson, and the tomb.” That is the tale, Sire, which the old man told.

(General agitation. In the course of this speech Boris several times wipes his face with his handkerchief.)

To Uglich then I sent, where it was learned That many sufferers had found likewise
Deliverance at the grave of the tsarevich. This is my counsel; to the Kremlin send
The sacred relics, place them in the Cathedral Of the Archangel; clearly will the people See then the godless villain’s fraud; the might Of the fiends will vanish as a cloud of dust.


PRINCE SHUISKY. What mortal, holy father, knoweth the ways Of the All-Highest? ‘Tis not for me to judge Him. Untainted sleep and power of wonder-working He may upon the child’s remains bestow;
But vulgar rumour must dispassionately And diligently be tested; is it for us,
In stormy times of insurrection,
To weigh so great a matter? Will men not say That insolently we made of sacred things A worldly instrument? Even now the people Sway senselessly this way and that, even now There are enough already of loud rumours; This is no time to vex the people’s minds With aught so unexpected, grave, and strange. I myself see ’tis needful to demolish
The rumour spread abroad by the unfrocked monk; But for this end other and simpler means Will serve. Therefore, when it shall please thee, Sire, I will myself appear in public places,
I will persuade, exhort away this madness, And will expose the vagabond’s vile fraud.

TSAR. So be it! My lord Patriarch, I pray thee Go with us to the palace, where today
I must converse with thee.

(Exeunt; all the boyars follow them.)

1ST BOYAR. (Sotto voce to another.) Didst mark how pale Our sovereign turned, how from his face there poured A mighty sweat?

2ND BOYAR. I durst not, I confess,
Uplift mine eyes, nor breathe, nor even stir.

1ST BOYAR. Prince Shuisky has pulled it through. A splendid fellow!


(DECEMBER 21st, 1604)


SOLDIERS. (Run in disorder.) Woe, woe! The Tsarevich! The Poles! There they are! There they are!

(Captains enter: MARZHERET and WALTHER ROZEN.)

MARZHERET. Whither, whither? Allons! Go back!

ONE OF THE FUGITIVES. You go back, if you like, cursed infidel.

MARZHERET. Quoi, quoi?

ANOTHER. Kva! kva! You like, you frog from over the sea, to croak at the Russian tsarevich; but we–we are orthodox.

MARZHERET. Qu’est-ce a dire “orthodox”? Sacres gueux, maudite canaille! Mordieu, mein Herr, j’enrage; on dirait que ca n’a pas de bras pour frapper, ca n’a que des jambes pour fuir.

ROZEN. Es ist Schande.

MARZHERET. Ventre-saint gris! Je ne bouge plus d’un pas; puisque le vin est tire, il faut le boire. Qu’en dites-vous, mein Herr?

ROZEN. Sie haben Recht.

MARZHERET. Tudieu, il y fait chaud! Ce diable de “Pretender,” comme ils l’appellent, est un bougre, qui a du poil au col?–Qu’en pensez-vous, mein Herr?


MARZHERET. He! Voyez donc, voyez donc! L’action s’engage sur les derrieres de l’ennemi. Ce doit etre le brave Basmanov, qui aurait fait une sortie.

ROZEN. Ich glaube das.

(Enter Germans.)

MARZHERET. Ha, ha! Voici nos allemands. Messieurs! Mein Herr, dites-leur donc de se raillier et, sacrebleu, chargeons!

ROZEN. Sehr gut. Halt! (The Germans halt.) Marsch!

THE GERMANS. (They march.) Hilf Gott!

(Fight. The Russians flee again.)

POLES. Victory! Victory! Glory to the tsar Dimitry!

DIMITRY. (On horseback.) Cease fighting. We have conquered. Enough! Spare Russian blood. Cease fighting.



ONE OF THE PEOPLE. Will the tsar soon come out of the Cathedral?

ANOTHER. The mass is ended; now the Te Deum is going on.

THE FIRST. What! Have they already cursed him?

THE SECOND. I stood in the porch and heard how the deacon cried out:–Grishka Otrepiev is anathema!

THE FIRST. Let him curse to his heart’s content; the tsarevich has nothing to do with the Otrepiev.

THE SECOND. But they are now singing mass for the repose of the soul of the tsarevich.

THE FIRST. What? A mass for the dead sung for a living Man? They’ll suffer for it, the godless wretches!

A THIRD. Hist! A sound. Is it not the tsar?

A FOURTH. No, it is the idiot.

(An idiot enters, in an iron cap, hung round with chains, surrounded by boys.)

THE BOYS. Nick, Nick, iron nightcap! T-r-r-r-r–

OLD WOMAN. Let him be, you young devils. Innocent one, pray thou for me a sinner.

IDIOT. Give, give, give a penny.

OLD WOMAN. There is a penny for thee; remember me in thy prayers.

IDIOT. (Seats himself on the ground and sings:)

The moon sails on,
The kitten cries,
Nick, arise,
Pray to God.

(The boys surround him again.)

ONE OF THEM. How do you do, Nick? Why don’t you take off your cap?

(Raps him on the iron cap.)

How it rings!

IDIOT. But I have got a penny.

BOYS. That’s not true; now, show it.

(They snatch the penny and run away.)

IDIOT. (Weeps.) They have taken my penny, they are hurting Nick.

THE PEOPLE. The tsar, the tsar is coming!

(The TSAR comes out from the Cathedral; a boyar in front of him scatters alms among the poor. Boyars.)

IDIOT. Boris, Boris! The boys are hurting Nick.

TSAR. Give him alms! What is he crying for?

IDIOT. The boys are hurting me…Give orders to slay them, as thou slewest the little tsarevich.

BOYARS. Go away, fool! Seize the fool!

TSAR. Leave him alone. Pray thou for me, Nick.


IDIOT. (To himself.) No, no! It is impossible to pray for tsar Herod; the Mother of God forbids it.


The PRETENDER, surrounded by his supporters

PRETENDER. Where is the prisoner?

A POLE. Here.

PRETENDER. Call him before me.

(A Russian prisoner enters.)

Who art thou?

PRISONER. Rozhnov, a nobleman of Moscow.

PRETENDER. Hast long been in the service?

PRISONER. About a month.

PRETENDER. Art not ashamed, Rozhnov, that thou hast drawn The sword against me?

PRISONER. What else could I do?
‘Twas not our fault.

PRETENDER. Didst fight beneath the walls Of Seversk?

PRISONER. ‘Twas two weeks after the battle I came from Moscow.

PRETENDER. What of Godunov?

PRISONER. The battle’s loss, Mstislavsky’s wound, hath caused him Much apprehension; Shuisky he hath sent
To take command.

PRETENDER. But why hath he recalled Basmanov unto Moscow?

PRISONER. The tsar rewarded
His services with honour and with gold. Basmanov in the council of the tsar
Now sits.

PRETENDER. The army had more need of him. Well, how go things in Moscow?

PRISONER. All is quiet,
Thank God.

PRETENDER. Say, do they look for me?

PRISONER. God knows;
They dare not talk too much there now. Of some The tongues have been cut off, of others even The heads. It is a fearsome state of things– Each day an execution. All the prisons
Are crammed. Wherever two or three forgather In public places, instantly a spy
Worms himself in; the tsar himself examines At leisure the denouncers. It is just
Sheer misery; so silence is the best.

PRETENDER. An enviable life for the tsar’s people! Well, how about the army?

PRISONER. What of them?
Clothed and full-fed they are content with all.

PRETENDER. But is there much of it?

PRISONER. God knows.

Will there be thirty thousand?

PRISONER. Yes; ’twill run
Even to fifty thousand.

(The Pretender reflects; those around him glance at one another.)

PRETENDER. Well! Of me
What say they in your camp?

PRISONER. Your graciousness
They speak of; say that thou, Sire, (be not wrath), Art a thief, but a fine fellow.

PRETENDER. (Laughing.) Even so
I’ll prove myself to them in deed. My friends, We will not wait for Shuisky; I wish you joy; Tomorrow, battle.


ALL. Long life to Dimitry!

A POLE. Tomorrow, battle! They are fifty thousand, And we scarce fifteen thousand. He is mad!

ANOTHER. That’s nothing, friend. A single Pole can challenge Five hundred Muscovites.

PRISONER. Yes, thou mayst challenge! But when it comes to fighting, then, thou braggart, Thou’lt run away.

POLE. If thou hadst had a sword, Insolent prisoner, then (pointing to his sword) with this I’ld soon Have vanquished thee.

PRISONER. A Russian can make shift Without a sword; how like you this (shows his fist), you fool?

(The Pole looks at him haughtily and departs in silence. All laugh.)



(In the background lies a dying horse)

PRETENDER. Ah, my poor horse! How gallantly he charged Today in the last battle, and when wounded, How swiftly bore me. My poor horse!

PUSHKIN. (To himself.) Well, here’s A great ado about a horse, when all
Our army’s smashed to bits.

PRETENDER. Listen! Perhaps
He’s but exhausted by the loss of blood, And will recover.

PUSHKIN. Nay, nay; he is dying.

PRETENDER. (Goes to his horse.)
My poor horse!–what to do? Take off the bridle, And loose the girth. Let him at least die free.

(He unbridles and unsaddles the horse. Some Poles enter.)

Good day to you, gentlemen! How is’t I see not Kurbsky among you? I did note today
How to the thick of the fight he clove his path; Around the hero’s sword, like swaying ears Of corn, hosts thronged; but higher than all of them His blade was brandished, and his terrible cry Drowned all cries else. Where is my knight?

POLE. He fell
On the field of battle.

PRETENDER. Honour to the brave,
And peace be on his soul! How few unscathed Are left us from the fight! Accursed Cossacks, Traitors and miscreants, you, you it is
Have ruined us! Not even for three minutes To keep the foe at bay! I’ll teach the villains! Every tenth man I’ll hang. Brigands!

PUSHKIN. Whoe’er
Be guilty, all the same we were clean worsted, Routed!

PRETENDER. But yet we nearly conquered. Just When I had dealt with their front rank, the Germans Repulsed us utterly. But they’re fine fellows! By God! Fine fellows! I love them for it. From them I’ll form an honourable troop.

PUSHKIN. And where
Shall we now spend the night?

PRETENDER. Why, here, in the forest. Why not this for our night quarters? At daybreak We’ll take the road, and dine in Rilsk. Good night.

(He lies down, puts a saddle under his head, and falls asleep.)

PUSHKIN. A pleasant sleep, tsarevich! Smashed to bits, Rescued by flight alone, he is as careless As a simple child; ’tis clear that Providence Protects him, and we, my friends, will not lose heart.



TSAR. He is vanquished, but what profit lies in that? We are crowned with a vain conquest; he has mustered Again his scattered forces, and anew
Threatens us from the ramparts of Putivl. Meanwhile what are our heroes doing? They stand At Krom, where from its rotten battlements A band of Cossacks braves them. There is glory! No, I am ill content with them; thyself
I shall despatch to take command of them; I give authority not to birth, but brains. Their pride of precedence, let it be wounded! The time has come for me to hold in scorn The murmur of distinguished nobodies,
And quash pernicious custom.

BASMANOV. Ay, my lord
Blessed a hundredfold will be that day When fire consumes the lists of noblemen With their dissensions, their ancestral pride.

TSAR. That day is not far off; let me but first Subdue the insurrection of the people.

BASMANOV. Why trouble about that? The people always Are prone to secret treason; even so
The swift steed champs the bit; so doth a lad Chafe at his father’s ruling. But what then? The rider quietly controls the steed,
The father sways the son.

TSAR. Sometimes the horse
Doth throw the rider, nor is the son at all times Quite ‘neath the father’s will; we can restrain The people only by unsleeping sternness. So thought Ivan, sagacious autocrat
And storm-subduer; so his fierce grandson thought. No, no, kindness is lost upon the people; Act well–it thanks you not at all; extort And execute–’twill be no worse for you.

(Enter a boyar.)

What now?

BOYAR. The foreign guests are come.

TSAR. I go
To welcome them. Basmanov, wait, stay here; I still have need to speak: a word with thee.


BASMANOV. High sovereign spirit! God grant he may subdue The accurst Otrepiev; and much, still much Of good he’ll do for Russia. A great thought Within his mind has taken birth; it must not Be suffered to grow cold. What a career
For me when the ancestral horn he breaks Of the nobility. I have no rivals
In war. I shall stand closest to the throne– And it may chance– But what is that strange sound?

(Alarum. Boyars and court-attendants run in disorder, meet each other and whisper.)

ONE. Fetch a physician!

ANOTHER. Quickly to the Patriarch!

A THIRD. He calls for the tsarevich, the tsarevich!

A FOURTH. A confessor!

BASMANOV. What has happened?

A FIFTH AND SIXTH. The tsar is ill, The tsar is dying.


A FIFTH. Upon the throne
He sat, and suddenly he fell; blood gushed From his mouth and ears.

(The TSAR is carried in on a chair. All the Tsar’s household; all the boyars.)

TSAR. Let all depart–alone
Leave the tsarevich with me. (All withdraw.) I am dying; Let us embrace. Farewell, my son; this hour Thou wilt begin to reign.–O God, my God! This hour I shall appear before Thy presence– And have no time to purge my soul with shrift. But yet, my son, I feel thou art dearer to me Than is my soul’s salvation–be it so!
A subject was I born; it seemed ordained That I should die a subject in obscurity. Yet I attained to sovereignty; but how?
Ask not. Enough that thou art innocent. In justice now thou’lt reign; and I alone Am answerable for all to God. Dear son,
Cherish no false delusion, of thy free will Blind not thyself. Stormy the days wherein Thou dost assume the crown. He is dangerous, This strange pretender; with a fearful name He is armed. For many a year experienced In rule, I could restrain revolt and treason; They quaked with fear before me; treachery Dared not to raise its voice; but thou, a boy, An inexperienced ruler, how wilt thou
Govern amid the tempests, quench revolt, Shackle sedition? But God is great! He gives Wisdom to youth, to weakness strength.–Give ear; Firstly, select a steadfast counsellor,
Of cool, ripe years, loved of the people, honoured Mid the boyars for birth and fame–even Shuisky. The army craves today a skilful leader;
Basmanov send, and firmly bear the murmurs Of the boyars. Thou from thy early years Didst sit with me in council, thou dost know The formal course of government; change not Procedure. Custom is the soul of states. Of late I have been forced to reinstate
Bans, executions–these thou canst rescind; And they will bless thee, as they blessed thy uncle When he obtained the throne of the Terrible. At the same time, little by little, tighten Anew the reins of government; now slacken; But let them not slip from thy hands. Be gracious, Accessible to foreigners, accept
Their service trustfully. Preserve with strictness The Church’s discipline. Be taciturn;
The royal voice must never lose itself Upon the air in emptiness, but like
A sacred bell must sound but to announce Some great disaster or great festival.
Dear son, thou art approaching to those years When woman’s beauty agitates our blood.
Preserve, preserve the sacred purity Of innocence and proud shamefacedness;
He, who through passion has been wont to wallow In vicious pleasures in his youthful days, Becomes in manhood bloodthirsty and surly; His mind untimely darkens. Of thy household Be always head; show honour to thy mother, But rule thy house thyself; thou art a man And tsar to boot. Be loving to thy sister– Thou wilt be left of her the sole protector.

FEODOR. (On his knees.) No, no; live on, my father, and reign long; Without thee both the folk and we will perish.

TSAR. All is at end for me–mine eyes grow dark, I feel the coldness of the grave–

(Enter the PATRIARCH and prelates; behind them all the boyars lead the TSARITSA by the hand; the TSAREVNA is sobbing.)

Who’s there?
Ah, ’tis the vestment–so! The holy tonsure– The hour has struck. The tsar becomes a monk, And the dark sepulchre will be my cell.
Wait yet a little, my lord Patriarch, I still am tsar. Listen to me, boyars:
To this my son I now commit the tsardom; Do homage to Feodor. Basmanov, thou,
And ye, my friends, on the grave’s brink I pray you To serve my son with zeal and rectitude! As yet he is both young and uncorrupted. Swear ye?

BOYARS. We swear.

TSAR. I am content. Forgive me
Both my temptations and my sins, my wilful And secret injuries.–Now, holy father,
Approach thou; I am ready for the rite.

(The rite of the tonsure begins. The women are carried out swooning.)



BASMANOV. Here enter, and speak freely. So to me He sent thee.

PUSHKIN. He doth offer thee his friendship And the next place to his in the realm of Moscow.

BASMANOV. But even thus highly by Feodor am I Already raised; the army I command;
For me he scorned nobility of rank
And the wrath of the boyars. I have sworn to him Allegiance.

PUSHKIN. To the throne’s lawful successor Allegiance thou hast sworn; but what if one More lawful still be living?

BASMANOV. Listen, Pushkin:
Enough of that; tell me no idle tales! I know the man.

PUSHKIN. Russia and Lithuania
Have long acknowledged him to be Dimitry; But, for the rest, I do not vouch for it. Perchance he is indeed the real Dimitry; Perchance but a pretender; only this
I know, that soon or late the son of Boris Will yield Moscow to him.

BASMANOV. So long as I
Stand by the youthful tsar, so long he will not Forsake the throne. We have enough of troops, Thank God! With victory I will inspire them. And whom will you against me send, the Cossack Karel or Mnishek? Are your numbers many? In all, eight thousand.

PUSHKIN. You mistake; they will not Amount even to that. I say myself
Our army is mere trash, the Cossacks only Rob villages, the Poles but brag and drink; The Russians–what shall I say?–with you I’ll not Dissemble; but, Basmanov, dost thou know Wherein our strength lies? Not in the army, no. Nor Polish aid, but in opinion–yes,
In popular opinion. Dost remember
The triumph of Dimitry, dost remember His peaceful conquests, when, without a blow The docile towns surrendered, and the mob Bound the recalcitrant leaders? Thou thyself Saw’st it; was it of their free-will our troops Fought with him? And when did they so? Boris Was then supreme. But would they now?–Nay, nay, It is too late to blow on the cold embers Of this dispute; with all thy wits and firmness Thou’lt not withstand him. Were’t not better for thee To furnish to our chief a wise example,
Proclaim Dimitry tsar, and by that act Bind him your friend for ever? How thinkest thou?

BASMANOV. Tomorrow thou shalt know.

PUSHKIN. Resolve.

BASMANOV. Farewell.

PUSHKIN. Ponder it well, Basmanov.


BASMANOV. He is right.
Everywhere treason ripens; what shall I do? Wait, that the rebels may deliver me
In bonds to the Otrepiev? Had I not better Forestall the stormy onset of the flood, Myself to–ah! But to forswear mine oath! Dishonour to deserve from age to age!
The trust of my young sovereign to requite With horrible betrayal! ‘Tis a light thing For a disgraced exile to meditate
Sedition and conspiracy; but I?
Is it for me, the favourite of my lord?– But death–but power–the people’s miseries…

(He ponders.)

Here! Who is there? (Whistles.) A horse here! Sound the muster!


PUSHKIN enters, surrounded by the people

THE PEOPLE. The tsarevich a boyar hath sent to us. Let’s hear what the boyar will tell us. Hither! Hither!

PUSHKIN. (On a platform.) Townsmen of Moscow! The tsarevich Bids me convey his greetings to you. (He bows.) Ye know How Divine Providence saved the tsarevich From out the murderer’s hands; he went to punish His murderer, but God’s judgment hath already Struck down Boris. All Russia hath submitted Unto Dimitry; with heartfelt repentance
Basmanov hath himself led forth his troops To swear allegiance to him. In love, in peace Dimitry comes to you. Would ye, to please The house of Godunov, uplift a hand
Against the lawful tsar, against the grandson Of Monomakh?


PUSHKIN. Townsmen of Moscow!
The world well knows how much ye have endured Under the rule of the cruel stranger; ban, Dishonour, executions, taxes, hardships, Hunger–all these ye have experienced.
Dimitry is disposed to show you favour, Courtiers, boyars, state-servants, soldiers, strangers, Merchants–and every honest man. Will ye Be stubborn without reason, and in pride Flee from his kindness? But he himself is coming To his ancestral throne with dreadful escort. Provoke not ye the tsar to wrath, fear God, And swear allegiance to the lawful ruler; Humble yourselves; forthwith send to Dimitry The Metropolitan, deacons, boyars,
And chosen men, that they may homage do To their lord and father.

(Exit. Clamour of the People.)

THE PEOPLE. What is to be said? The boyar spake truth. Long live Dimitry, our father!

A PEASANT ON THE PLATFORM. People! To the Kremlin! To the Royal palace!
The whelp of Boris go bind!

THE PEOPLE. (Rushing in a crowd.)
Bind, drown him! Hail
Dimitry! Perish the race of Godunov!


A GUARD on the Staircase. FEODOR at a Window

BEGGAR. Give alms, for Christ’s sake.

GUARD. Go away; it is forbidden to speak to the prisoners.

FEODOR. Go, old man, I am poorer than thou; thou art at liberty.

(KSENIA, veiled, also comes to the window.)

ONE OF THE PEOPLE. Brother and sister–poor children, like birds in a cage.

SECOND PERSON. Are you going to pity them? Accursed Family!

FIRST PERSON. The father was a villain, but the children are innocent.

SECOND PERSON. The apple does not fall far from the apple-tree.

KSENIA. Dear brother! Dear brother! I think the boyars are coming to us.

FEODOR. That is Golitsin, Mosalsky. I do not know the others.

KSENIA. Ah! Dear brother. my heart sinks.

(GOLITSIN, MOSALSKY, MOLCHANOV, and SHEREFEDINOV; behind them three archers.)

THE PEOPLE. Make way, make way; the boyars come. (They enter the house.)

ONE OF THE PEOPLE. What have they come for?

SECOND. Most like to make Feodor Godunov take the oath.

THIRD. Very like. Hark! What a noise in the house! What an uproar! They are fighting!

THE PEOPLE. Do you hear? A scream! That was a woman’s voice. We will go up. We will go up!–The doors are fastened–the cries cease–the noise continues.

(The doors are thrown open. MOSALSKY appears on the staircase.)

MOSALSKY. People! Maria Godunov and her son Feodor have poisoned themselves. We have seen their dead bodies.

(The People are silent with horror.)

Why are ye silent? Cry, Long live the tsar Dimitry Ivanovich!

(The People are speechless.)


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