Who Can Be Happy And Free In Russia? by Nicholas Nekrassov

Produced by Jonathan Ingram, Tapio Riikonen and PG Distributed Proofreaders WHO CAN BE HAPPY AND FREE IN RUSSIA? BY NICHOLAS NEKRASSOV Translated by Juliet M. Soskice With an Introduction by Dr. David Soskice 1917 NICHOLAS ALEXEIEVITCH NEKRASSOV Born, near the town Vinitza, pro
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  • 1869-1877 (unfinished)
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Produced by Jonathan Ingram, Tapio Riikonen and PG Distributed Proofreaders




Translated by Juliet M. Soskice

With an Introduction by Dr. David Soskice


[Illustration: Nicholas Nekrassov]


Born, near the town Vinitza, province of Podolia, November 22, 1821

Died, St. Petersburg, December 27, 1877.

_’Who can be Happy and Free in Russia?’ was first published in Russia in 1879. In ‘The World’s Classics’ this translation was first published in 1917._















Western Europe has only lately begun to explore the rich domain of Russian literature, and is not yet acquainted with all even of its greatest figures. Treasures of untold beauty and priceless value, which for many decades have been enlarging and elevating the Russian mind, still await discovery here. Who in England, for instance, has heard the names of Saltykov, Uspensky, or Nekrassov? Yet Saltykov is the greatest of Russian satirists; Uspensky the greatest story-writer of the lives of the Russian toiling masses; while Nekrassov, “the poet of the people’s sorrow,” whose muse “of grief and vengeance” has supremely dominated the minds of the Russian educated classes for the last half century, is the sole and rightful heir of his two great predecessors, Pushkin and Lermontov.

Russia is a country still largely mysterious to the denizen of Western Europe, and the Russian peasant, the _moujik_, an impenetrable riddle to him. Of all the great Russian writers not one has contributed more to the interpretation of the enigmatical soul of the _moujik_ than Russia’s great poet, Nekrassov, in his life-work the national epic, _Who can be Happy in Russia?_

There are few literate persons in Russia who do not know whole pages of this poem by heart. It will live as long as Russian literature exists; and its artistic value as an instrument for the depiction of Russian nature and the soul of the Russian people can be compared only with that of the great epics of Homer with regard to the legendary life of ancient Greece.

Nekrassov seemed destined to dwell from his birth amid such surroundings as are necessary for the creation of a great national poet.

Nicholas Alexeievitch Nekrassov was the descendant of a noble family, which in former years had been very wealthy, but subsequently had lost the greater part of its estates. His father was an officer in the army, and in the course of his peregrinations from one end of the country to the other in the fulfilment of his military duties he became acquainted with a young Polish girl, the daughter of a wealthy Polish aristocrat. She was seventeen, a type of rare Polish beauty, and the handsome, dashing Russian officer at once fell madly in love with her. The parents of the girl, however, were horrified at the notion of marrying their daughter to a “Muscovite savage,” and her father threatened her with his curse if ever again she held communication with her lover. So the matter was secretly arranged between the two, and during a ball which the young Polish beauty was attending she suddenly disappeared. Outside the house the lover waited with his sledge. They sped away, and were married at the first church they reached.

The bride, with her father’s curse upon her, passed straight from her sheltered existence in her luxurious home to all the unsparing rigours of Russian camp-life. Bred in an atmosphere of maternal tenderness and Polish refinement she had now to share the life of her rough, uncultured Russian husband, to content herself with the shallow society of the wives of the camp officers, and soon to be crushed by the knowledge that the man for whom she had sacrificed everything was not even faithful to her.

During their travels, in 1821, Nicholas Nekrassov the future poet was born, and three years later his father left military service and settled in his estate in the Yaroslav Province, on the banks of the great river Volga, and close to the Vladimirsky highway, famous in Russian history as the road along which, for centuries, chained convicts had been driven from European Russia to the mines in Siberia. The old park of the manor, with its seven rippling brooklets and mysterious shadowy linden avenues more than a century old, filled with a dreamy murmur at the slightest stir of the breeze, stretched down to the mighty Volga, along the banks of which, during the long summer days, were heard the piteous, panting songs of the _burlaki_, the barge-towers, who drag the heavy, loaded barges up and down the river.

The rattling of the convicts’ chains as they passed; the songs of the _burlaki_; the pale, sorrowful face of his mother as she walked alone in the linden avenues of the garden, often shedding tears over a letter she read, which was headed by a coronet and written in a fine, delicate hand; the spreading green fields, the broad mighty river, the deep blue skies of Russia,–such were the reminiscences which Nekrassov retained from his earliest childhood. He loved his sad young mother with a childish passion, and in after years he was wont to relate how jealous he had been of that letter[1] she read so often, which always seemed to fill her with a sorrow he could not understand, making her at moments even forget that he was near her.

The sight and knowledge of deep human suffering, framed in the soft voluptuous beauty of nature in central Russia, could not fail to sow the seed of future poetical powers in the soul of an emotional child. His mother, who had been bred on Shakespeare, Milton, and the other great poets and writers of the West, devoted her solitary life to the development of higher intellectual tendencies in her gifted little son. And from an early age he made attempts at verse. His mother has preserved for the world his first little poem, which he presented to her when he was seven years of age, with a little heading, roughly to the following effect:

My darling Mother, look at this,
I did the best I could in it,
Please read it through and tell me if You think there’s any good in it.

The early life of the little Nekrassov was passed amid a series of contrasting pictures. His father, when he had abandoned his military calling and settled upon his estate, became the Chief of the district police. He would take his son Nicholas with him in his trap as he drove from village to village in the fulfilment of his new duties. The continual change of scenery during their frequent journeys along country roads, through forests and valleys, past meadows and rivers, the various types of people they met with, broadened and developed the mind of little Nekrassov, just as the mind of the child Ruskin was formed and expanded during his journeys with his father. But Ruskin’s education lacked features with which young Nekrassov on his journeys soon became familiar. While acquiring knowledge of life and accumulating impressions of the beauties of nature, Nekrassov listened, perforce, to the brutal, blustering speeches addressed by his father to the helpless, trembling peasants, and witnessed the cruel, degrading corporal punishments he inflicted upon them, while his eyes were speedily opened to his father’s addiction to drinking, gambling, and debauchery. These experiences would most certainly have demoralised and depraved his childish mind had it not been for the powerful influence the refined and cultured mother had from the first exercised upon her son. The contrast between his parents was so startling that it could not fail to awaken the better side of the child’s nature, and to imbue him with pure and healthy notions of the truer and higher ideals of humanity. In his poetical works of later years Nekrassov repeatedly returns to and dwells upon the memory of the sorrowful, sweet image of his mother. The gentle, beautiful lady, with her wealth of golden hair, with an expression of divine tenderness in her blue eyes and of infinite suffering upon her sensitive lips, remained for ever her son’s ideal of womanhood. Later on, during years of manhood, in moments of the deepest moral suffering and despondency, it was always of her that he thought, her tenderness and spiritual consolation he recalled and for which he craved.

When Nekrassov was eleven years of age his father one day drove him to the town nearest their estate and placed him in the local grammar-school. Here he remained for six years, gradually, though without distinction, passing upwards from one class to another, devoting a moderate amount of time to school studies and much energy to the writing of poetry, mostly of a satirical nature, in which his teachers figured with unfortunate conspicuity.

One day a copy-book containing the most biting of these productions fell into the hands of the headmaster, and young Nekrassov was summarily ejected from the school.

His angry father, deciding in his own mind that the boy was good for nothing, despatched him to St. Petersburg to embark upon a military career. The seventeen-year-old boy arrived in the capital with a copy-book of his poems and a few roubles in his pocket, and with a letter of introduction to an influential general. He was filled with good intentions and fully prepared to obey his father’s orders, but before he had taken the final step of entering the nobleman’s regiment he met a young student, a former school-mate, who captivated his imagination by glowing descriptions of the marvellous sciences to be studied in the university, and the surpassing interest of student life. The impressionable boy decided to abandon the idea of his military career, and to prepare for his matriculation in the university. He wrote to his father to this effect, and received the stern and laconic reply:

“If you disobey me, not another farthing shall you receive from me.”

The youth had made his mind up, however, and entered the university as an unmatriculated student. And that was the beginning of his long acquaintance with the hardships of poverty.

“For three years,” said Nekrassov in after life, “I was hungry all day, and every day. It was not only that I ate bad food and not enough of that, but some days I did not eat at all. I often went to a certain restaurant in the Morskaya, where one is allowed to read the paper without ordering food. You can hold the paper in front of you and nibble at a piece of bread behind it….”

While sunk in this state of poverty, however, Nekrassov got into touch with some of the richest and most aristocratic families in St. Petersburg; for at that time there existed a complete comradeship and equality among the students, whether their budget consisted of a few farthings or unlimited wealth. Thus here again Nekrassov was given the opportunity of studying the contrasts of life.

For several years after his arrival in St. Petersburg the true gifts of the poet were denied expression. The young man was confronted with a terrible uphill fight to conquer the means of bare subsistence. He had no time to devote to the working out of his poems, and it would not have “paid” him. He was obliged to accept any literary job that was offered him, and to execute it with a promptitude necessitated by the requirements of his daily bill of fare. During the first years of his literary career he wrote an amazing number of prose reviews, essays, short stories, novels, comedies and tragedies, alphabets and children’s stories, which, put together, would fill thirty or forty volumes. He also issued a volume of his early poems, but he was so ashamed of them that he would not put his name upon the fly-leaf. Soon, however, his poems, “On the Road” and “My Motherland,” attracted the attention of Byelinsky, when the young poet brought some of his work to show the great critic. With tears in his eyes Byelinsky embraced Nekrassov and said to him:

“Do you know that you are a poet, a true poet?”

This decree of Byelinsky brought fame to Nekrassov, for Byelinsky’s word was law in Russia then, and his judgement was never known to fail. His approval gave Nekrassov the confidence he lacked, and he began to devote most of his time to poetry.

The epoch in which Nekrassov began his literary career in St. Petersburg, the early forties of last century, was one of a great revival of idealism in Russia. The iron reaction of the then Emperor Nicholas I. made independent political activity an impossibility. But the horrible and degrading conditions of serfdom which existed at that time, and which cast a blight upon the energy and dignity of the Russian nation, nourished feelings of grief and indignation in the noblest minds of the educated classes, and, unable to struggle for their principles in the field of practical politics, they strove towards abstract idealism. They devoted their energies to philosophy, literature, and art. It was then that Tolstoy, Turgenieff, and Dostoyevsky embarked upon their phenomenal careers in fiction. It was then that the impetuous essayist, Byelinsky, with his fiery and eloquent pen, taught the true meaning and objects of literature. Nekrassov soon joined the circles of literary people dominated by the spirit of Byelinsky, and he too drank at the fountain of idealism and imbibed the gospel of altruistic toil for his country and its people, that gospel of perfect citizenship expounded by Byelinsky, Granovsky, and their friends. It was at this period that his poetry became impregnated with the sadness which, later on, was embodied in the lines:

My verses! Living witnesses of tears Shed for the world, and born In moments of the soul’s dire agony, Unheeded and forlorn, Like waves that beat against the rocks, You plead to hearts that scorn.

Nekrassov’s material conditions meanwhile began to improve, and he actually developed business capacities, and soon the greatest writers of the time were contributing to the monthly review _Sovremenik_ (the Contemporary) which Nekrassov bought in 1847. Turgenieff, Herzen, Byelinsky, Dostoyevsky gladly sent their works to him, and Nekrassov soon became the intellectual leader of his time. His influence became enormous, but he had to cope with all the rigours of the censorship which had become almost insupportable in Russia, as the effect of the Tsar’s fears aroused by the events of the French Revolution of 1848.

Byelinsky died in that year from consumption in the very presence of the gendarmes who had come to arrest him for some literary offence. Dostoyevsky was seized, condemned to death, and when already on the scaffold, with the rope around his neck, reprieved and sent for life to the Siberian mines. The rigours still increased during the Crimean War, and it was only after the death of Nicholas I., the termination of the war, and the accession of the liberal Tsar, Alexander II., that Nekrassov and Russian literature in general began to breathe more freely. The decade which followed upon 1855 was one of the bright periods of Russian history. Serfdom was abolished and many great reforms were passed. It was then that Nekrassov’s activity was at its height. His review _Sovremenik_ was a stupendous success, and brought him great fame and wealth. During that year some of his finest poems appeared in it: “The Peasant Children,” “Orina, the Mother of a Soldier,” “The Gossips,” “The Pedlars,” “The Rail-way,” and many others.

Nekrassov became the idol of Russia. The literary evenings at which he used to read his poems aloud were besieged by fervent devotees, and the most brilliant orations were addressed to him on all possible occasions. His greatest work, however, the national epic, _Who can be Happy in Russia?_ was written towards the latter end of his life, between 1873 and 1877.

Here he suffered from the censor more cruelly than ever. Long extracts from the poem were altogether forbidden, and only after his death it was allowed, in 1879, to appear in print more or less in its entirety.

When gripped in the throes of his last painful illness, and practically on his deathbed, he would still have found consolation in work, in the dictation of his poems. But even then his sufferings were aggravated by the harassing coercions of the censor. His last great poem was written on his deathbed, and the censor peremptorily forbade its publication. Nekrassov one day greeted his doctor with the following remark:

“Now you see what our profession, literature, means. When I wrote my first lines they were hacked to pieces by the censor’s scissors–that was thirty-seven years ago; and now, when I am dying, and have written my last lines, I am again confronted by the scissors.”

For many months he lay in appalling suffering. His disease was the outcome, he declared, of the privations he had suffered in his youth. The whole of Russia seemed to be standing at his bedside, watching with anguish his terrible struggle with death. Hundreds of letters and telegrams arrived daily from every corner of the immense empire, and the dying poet, profoundly touched by these tokens of love and sympathy, said to the literary friends who visited him:

“You see! We wonder all our lives what our readers think of us, whether they love us and are our friends. We learn in moments like this….”

It was a bright, frosty December day when Nekrassov’s coffin was carried to the grave on the shoulders of friends who had loved and admired him. The orations delivered above it were full of passionate emotion called forth by the knowledge that the speakers were expressing not only their own sentiments, but those of a whole nation.

Nekrassov is dead. But all over Russia young and old repeat and love his poetry, so full of tenderness and grief and pity for the Russian people and their endless woe. Quotations from the works of Nekrassov are as abundant and widely known in Russia as those from Shakespeare in England, and no work of his is so familiar and so widely quoted as the national epic, now presented to the English public, _Who can be Happy in Russia?_



The year doesn’t matter,
The land’s not important,
But seven good peasants
Once met on a high-road.
From Province “Hard-Battered,”
From District “Most Wretched,”
From “Destitute” Parish,
From neighbouring hamlets–
“Patched,” “Barefoot,” and “Shabby,” “Bleak,” “Burnt-Out,” and “Hungry,”
From “Harvestless” also, 11 They met and disputed
Of who can, in Russia,
Be happy and free?

Luká said, “The pope,” [2]
And Román, “The Pomyéshchick,” [3] Demyán, “The official,”
“The round-bellied merchant,”
Said both brothers Goóbin,
Mitródor and Ívan. 20 Pakhóm, who’d been lost
In profoundest reflection,
Exclaimed, looking down
At the earth, “‘Tis his Lordship,
His most mighty Highness,
The Tsar’s Chief Adviser,”
And Prov said, “The Tsar.”

Like bulls are the peasants:
Once folly is in them
You cannot dislodge it 30 Although you should beat them
With stout wooden cudgels:
They stick to their folly,
And nothing can move them.
They raised such a clamour
That those who were passing
Thought, “Surely the fellows
Have found a great treasure
And share it amongst them!”

They all had set out 40
On particular errands:
The one to the blacksmith’s,
Another in haste
To fetch Father Prokóffy
To christen his baby.
Pakhóm had some honey
To sell in the market;
The two brothers Goóbin
Were seeking a horse
Which had strayed from their herd. 50

Long since should the peasants
Have turned their steps homewards, But still in a row
They are hurrying onwards
As quickly as though
The grey wolf were behind them.
Still further, still faster
They hasten, contending.
Each shouts, nothing hearing,
And time does not wait. 60 In quarrel they mark not
The fiery-red sunset
Which blazes in Heaven
As evening is falling,
And all through the night
They would surely have wandered
If not for the woman,
The pox-pitted “Blank-wits,”
Who met them and cried:

“Heh, God-fearing peasants, 70 Pray, what is your mission?
What seek ye abroad
In the blackness of midnight?”

So shrilled the hag, mocking,
And shrieking with laughter
She slashed at her horses
And galloped away.

The peasants are startled,
Stand still, in confusion,
Since long night has fallen, 80 The numberless stars
Cluster bright in the heavens,
The moon gliding onwards.
Black shadows are spread
On the road stretched before
The impetuous walkers.
Oh, shadows, black shadows,
Say, who can outrun you,
Or who can escape you?
Yet no one can catch you, 90 Entice, or embrace you!

Pakhóm, the old fellow,
Gazed long at the wood,
At the sky, at the roadway,
Gazed, silently searching
His brain for some counsel,
And then spake in this wise:
“Well, well, the wood-devil
Has finely bewitched us!
We’ve wandered at least 100 Thirty versts from our homes.
We all are too weary
To think of returning
To-night; we must wait
Till the sun rise to-morrow.”

Thus, blaming the devil,
The peasants make ready
To sleep by the roadside.
They light a large fire,
And collecting some farthings 110 Send two of their number
To buy them some vodka,
The rest cutting cups
From the bark of a birch-tree.
The vodka’s provided,
Black bread, too, besides,
And they all begin feasting:
Each munches some bread
And drinks three cups of vodka–
But then comes the question 120 Of who can, in Russia,
Be happy and free?

Luká cries, “The pope!”
And Román, “The Pomyéshchick!”
And Prov shouts, “The Tsar!”
And Demyán, “The official!”
“The round-bellied merchant!”
Bawl both brothers Goóbin,
Mitródor and Ívan.
Pakhóm shrieks, “His Lordship, 130 His most mighty Highness,
The Tsar’s Chief Adviser!”

The obstinate peasants
Grow more and more heated,
Cry louder and louder,
Swear hard at each other;
I really believe
They’ll attack one another!
Look! now they are fighting!
Román and Pakhom close, 140 Demyán clouts Luká,
While the two brothers Goóbin
Are drubbing fat Prov,
And they all shout together.
Then wakes the clear echo,
Runs hither and thither,
Runs calling and mocking
As if to encourage
The wrath of the peasants.
The trees of the forest 150 Throw furious words back:

“The Tsar!” “The Pomyéshchick!”
“The pope!” “The official!”
Until the whole coppice
Awakes in confusion;
The birds and the insects,
The swift-footed beasts
And the low crawling reptiles
Are chattering and buzzing
And stirring all round. 160 The timid grey hare
Springing out of the bushes
Speeds startled away;
The hoarse little jackdaw
Flies off to the top
Of a birch-tree, and raises
A harsh, grating shriek,
A most horrible clamour.
A weak little peewit
Falls headlong in terror 170 From out of its nest,
And the mother comes flying
In search of her fledgeling.
She twitters in anguish.
Alas! she can’t find it.
The crusty old cuckoo
Awakes and bethinks him
To call to a neighbour:
Ten times he commences
And gets out of tune, 180 But he won’t give it up….

Call, call, little cuckoo,
For all the young cornfields
Will shoot into ear soon,
And then it will choke you–
The ripe golden grain,
And your day will be ended![4]

From out the dark forest
Fly seven brown owls,
And on seven tall pine-trees 190 They settle themselves
To enjoy the disturbance.
They laugh–birds of night–
And their huge yellow eyes gleam
Like fourteen wax candles.
The raven–the wise one–
Sits perched on a tree
In the light of the fire,
Praying hard to the devil
That one of the wranglers, 200 At least, should be beaten
To death in the tumult.
A cow with a bell
Which had strayed from its fellows
The evening before,
Upon hearing men’s voices
Comes out of the forest
And into the firelight,
And fixing its eyes,
Large and sad, on the peasants, 210 Stands listening in silence
Some time to their raving,
And then begins mooing,
Most heartily moos.
The silly cow moos,
The jackdaw is screeching,
The turbulent peasants
Still shout, and the echo
Maliciously mocks them–
The impudent echo 220 Who cares but for mocking
And teasing good people,
For scaring old women
And innocent children:
Though no man has seen it
We’ve all of us heard it;
It lives–without body;
It speaks–without tongue.

The pretty white owl
Called the Duchess of Moscow 230 Comes plunging about
In the midst of the peasants,
Now circling above them,
Now striking the bushes
And earth with her body.
And even the fox, too,
The cunning old creature,
With woman’s determined
And deep curiosity,
Creeps to the firelight 240 And stealthily listens;
At last, quite bewildered,
She goes; she is thinking,
“The devil himself
Would be puzzled, I know!”

And really the wranglers
Themselves have forgotten
The cause of the strife.

But after awhile
Having pummelled each other 250 Sufficiently soundly,
They come to their senses;
They drink from a rain-pool
And wash themselves also,
And then they feel sleepy.
And, meanwhile, the peewit,
The poor little fledgeling,
With short hops and flights
Had come fluttering towards them.
Pakhóm took it up 260 In his palm, held it gently
Stretched out to the firelight,
And looked at it, saying,
“You are but a mite,
Yet how sharp is your claw;
If I breathed on you once
You’d be blown to a distance,
And if I should sneeze
You would straightway be wafted
Right into the flames. 270 One flick from my finger
Would kill you entirely.
Yet you are more powerful,
More free than the peasant:
Your wings will grow stronger,
And then, little birdie,
You’ll fly where it please you.
Come, give us your wings, now,
You frail little creature,
And we will go flying 280 All over the Empire,
To seek and inquire,
To search and discover
The man who in Russia–
Is happy and free.”

“No wings would be needful
If we could be certain
Of bread every day;
For then we could travel
On foot at our leisure,” 290 Said Prov, of a sudden
Grown weary and sad.

“But not without vodka,
A bucket each morning,”
Cried both brothers Goóbin,
Mitródor and Ívan,
Who dearly loved vodka.

“Salt cucumbers, also,
Each morning a dozen!”
The peasants cry, jesting. 300

“Sour qwass,[5] too, a jug
To refresh us at mid-day!”

“A can of hot tea
Every night!” they say, laughing.

But while they were talking
The little bird’s mother
Was flying and wheeling
In circles above them;
She listened to all,
And descending just near them 310 She chirruped, and making
A brisk little movement
She said to Pakhóm
In a voice clear and human:
“Release my poor child,
I will pay a great ransom.”

“And what is your offer?”

“A loaf each a day
And a bucket of vodka,
Salt cucumbers also, 320 Each morning a dozen.
At mid-day sour qwass
And hot tea in the evening.”

“And where, little bird,”
Asked the two brothers Goóbin,
“And where will you find
Food and drink for all seven?”

“Yourselves you will find it,
But I will direct you
To where you will find it.” 330 “Well, speak. We will listen.”

“Go straight down the road,
Count the poles until thirty:
Then enter the forest
And walk for a verst.
By then you’ll have come
To a smooth little lawn
With two pine-trees upon it.
Beneath these two pine-trees
Lies buried a casket 340 Which you must discover.
The casket is magic,
And in it there lies
An enchanted white napkin.
Whenever you wish it
This napkin will serve you
With food and with vodka:
You need but say softly,
‘O napkin enchanted,
Give food to the peasants!’ 350 At once, at your bidding,
Through my intercession
The napkin will serve you.
And now, free my child.”

“But wait. We are poor,
And we’re thinking of making
A very long journey,”
Pakhóm said. “I notice
That you are a bird
Of remarkable talent. 360 So charm our old clothing
To keep it upon us.”

“Our coats, that they fall not
In tatters,” Román said.

“Our laputs,[6] that they too
May last the whole journey,”
Demyan next demanded.

“Our shirts, that the fleas
May not breed and annoy us,”
Luká added lastly. 370

The little bird answered,
“The magic white napkin
Will mend, wash, and dry for you.
Now free my child.”

Pakhóm then spread open
His palm, wide and spacious,
Releasing the fledgeling,
Which fluttered away
To a hole in a pine-tree.
The mother who followed it 380 Added, departing:
“But one thing remember:
Food, summon at pleasure
As much as you fancy,
But vodka, no more
Than a bucket a day.
If once, even twice
You neglect my injunction
Your wish shall be granted;
The third time, take warning: 390 Misfortune will follow.”

The peasants set off
In a file, down the road,
Count the poles until thirty
And enter the forest,
And, silently counting
Each footstep, they measure
A verst as directed.
They find the smooth lawn
With the pine-trees upon it, 400 They dig all together
And soon reach the casket;
They open it–there lies
The magic white napkin!
They cry in a chorus,
“O napkin enchanted,
Give food to the peasants!”

Look, look! It’s unfolding!
Two hands have come floating
From no one sees where; 410 Place a bucket of vodka,
A large pile of bread
On the magic white napkin,
And dwindle away.

“The cucumbers, tea,
And sour qwass–where are they then?” At once they appear!

The peasants unloosen
Their waistbelts, and gather
Around the white napkin 420 To hold a great banquet.
In joy, they embrace
One another, and promise
That never again
Will they beat one another
Without sound reflection,
But settle their quarrels
In reason and honour
As God has commanded;
That nought shall persuade them 430 To turn their steps homewards
To kiss wives and children,
To see the old people,
Until they have settled
For once and forever
The subject of discord:
Until they’ve discovered
The man who, in Russia,
Is happy and free.

They swear to each other 440 To keep this, their promise,
And daybreak beholds them
Embosomed in slumber
As deep and as dreamless
As that of the dead.




The broad sandy high-road
With borders of birch-trees
Winds sadly and drearily
Into the distance;
On either hand running
Low hills and young cornfields,
Green pastures, and often–
More often than any–
Lands sterile and barren.
And near to the rivers 10 And ponds are the hamlets
And villages standing–
The old and the new ones.
The forests and meadows
And rivers of Russia
Are lovely in springtime,
But O you spring cornfields,
Your growth thin and scanty
Is painful to see.

“‘Twas not without meaning 20 That daily the snow fell
Throughout the long winter,”
Said one to another
The journeying peasants:–
“The spring has now come
And the snow tells its story:
At first it is silent–
‘Tis silent in falling,
Lies silently sleeping,
But when it is dying 30 Its voice is uplifted:
The fields are all covered
With loud, rushing waters,
No roads can be traversed
For bringing manure
To the aid of the cornfields;
The season is late
For the sweet month of May
Is already approaching.”
The peasant is saddened 40 At sight of the dirty
And squalid old village;
But sadder the new ones:
The new huts are pretty,
But they are the token
Of heartbreaking ruin.[8]

As morning sets in
They begin to meet people,
But mostly small people:
Their brethren, the peasants, 50 And soldiers and waggoners,
Workmen and beggars.
The soldiers and beggars
They pass without speaking.
Not asking if happy
Or grievous their lot:
The soldier, we know,
Shaves his beard with a gimlet,
Has nothing but smoke
In the winter to warm him,– 60 What joy can be his?

As evening is falling
Appears on the high-road
A pope in his cart.
The peasants uncover
Their heads, and draw up
In a line on the roadway,
Thus barring the passage
In front of the gelding.
The pope raised his head, 70 Looked inquiringly at them.
“Fear not, we won’t harm you,”
Luká said in answer.
(Luká was thick-bearded,
Was heavy and stolid,
Was obstinate, stupid,
And talkative too;
He was like to the windmill
Which differs in one thing
Alone from an eagle: 80 No matter how boldly
It waves its broad pinions
It rises no higher.)

“We, orthodox peasants,
From District ‘Most Wretched,’
From Province ‘Hard Battered,’
From ‘Destitute’ Parish,
From neighbouring hamlets,
‘Patched,’ ‘Barefoot,’ and ‘Shabby,’ ‘Bleak,’ ‘Burnt-Out,’ and ‘Hungry,’ 90 From ‘Harvestless’ also,
Are striving to settle
A thing of importance;
A trouble torments us,
It draws us away
From our wives and our children,
Away from our work,
Kills our appetites too.
Pray, give us your promise
To answer us truly, 100 Consulting your conscience
And searching your knowledge,
Not feigning nor mocking
The question we put you.
If not, we will go
Further on.”

“I will promise
If you will but put me
A serious question
To answer it gravely, 110 With truth and with reason,
Not feigning nor mocking,

“We are grateful,
And this is our story:
We all had set out
On particular errands,
And met in the roadway.
Then one asked another:
Who is he,–the man 120 Free and happy in Russia?
And I said, ‘The pope,’
And Román, ‘The Pomyéshchick,’
And Prov said, ‘The Tsar,’
And Demyán, ‘The official’;
‘The round-bellied merchant,’
Said both brothers Goóbin,
Mitródor and Ívan;
Pakhóm said, ‘His Lordship,
The Tsar’s Chief Adviser.’ 130

“Like bulls are the peasants;
Once folly is in them
You cannot dislodge it
Although you should beat them
With stout wooden cudgels,
They stick to their folly
And nothing can move them.
We argued and argued,
While arguing quarrelled,
While quarrelling fought, 140 Till at last we decided
That never again
Would we turn our steps homeward
To kiss wives and children,
To see the old people,
Until we have found
The reply to our question,
Until we’ve discovered
For once and forever
The man who, in Russia, 150 Is happy and free.
Then say, in God’s truth,
Is the pope’s life a sweet one?
Would you, honoured father,
Proclaim yourself happy?”

The pope in his cart
Cast his eyes on the roadway,
Fell thoughtful and answered:

“Then, Christians, come, hear me:
I will not complain 160 Of the cross that I carry,
But bear it in silence.
I’ll tell you my story,
And you try to follow
As well as you can.”


“But first tell me
The gifts you consider
As true earthly welfare;
Peace, honour, and riches,– 170 Is that so, my children?”

They answer, “It is so.”

“And now let us see, friends,
What peace does the pope get?
In truth, then, I ought
To begin from my childhood,
For how does the son
Of the pope gain his learning,
And what is the price
That he pays for the priesthood? 180 ‘Tis best to be silent.” [9]

* * * * *

“Our roadways are poor
And our parishes large,
And the sick and the dying,
The new-born that call us,
Do not choose their season:
In harvest and hay-time,
In dark nights of autumn,
Through frosts in the winter,
Through floods in the springtime, 190 Go–where they may call you.
You go without murmur,
If only the body
Need suffer alone!
But no,–every moment
The heart’s deepest feelings
Are strained and tormented.
Believe me, my children,
Some things on this earth
One can never get used to: 200 No heart there exists
That can bear without anguish
The rattle of death,
The lament for the lost one,
The sorrow of orphans,
Amen! Now you see, friends,
The peace that the pope gets.”

Not long did the peasants
Stand thinking. They waited
To let the pope rest, 210 Then enquired with a bow:
“And what more will you tell us?”
“Well, now let us see
If the pope is much honoured;
And that, O my friends,
Is a delicate question–
I fear to offend you….
But answer me, Christians,
Whom call you, ‘The cursed
Stallion breed?’ Can you tell me?”

The peasants stand silent 221 In painful confusion;
The pope, too, is silent.

“Who is it you tremble
To meet in the roadway[10]
For fear of misfortune?”

The peasants stand shuffling
Their feet in confusion.

“Of whom do you make
Little scandalous stories? 230 Of whom do you sing
Rhymes and songs most indecent?
The pope’s honoured wife,
And his innocent daughters,
Come, how do you treat them?
At whom do you shout
Ho, ho, ho, in derision
When once you are past him?”

The peasants cast downwards
Their eyes and keep silent. 240 The pope too is silent.
The peasants stand musing;
The pope fans his face
With his hat, high and broad-rimmed, And looks at the heavens….

The cloudlets in springtime
Play round the great sun
Like small grandchildren frisking
Around a hale grandsire,
And now, on his right side 250 A bright little cloud
Has grown suddenly dismal,
Begins to shed tears.
The grey thread is hanging
In rows to the earth,
While the red sun is laughing
And beaming upon it
Through torn fleecy clouds,
Like a merry young girl
Peeping out from the corn. 260 The cloud has moved nearer,
The rain begins here,
And the pope puts his hat on.
But on the sun’s right side
The joy and the brightness
Again are established.
The rain is now ceasing….
It stops altogether,
And God’s wondrous miracle,
Long golden sunbeams, 270 Are streaming from Heaven
In radiant splendour.

* * * * *

“It isn’t our own fault;
It comes from our parents,”
Say, after long silence,
The two brothers Goóbin.
The others approve him:
“It isn’t our own fault,
It comes from our parents.”

The pope said, “So be it! 280 But pardon me, Christians,
It is not my meaning
To censure my neighbours;
I spoke but desiring
To tell you the truth.
You see how the pope
Is revered by the peasants;
The gentry–“
“Pass over them,
Father–we know them.” 290 “Then let us consider
From whence the pope’s riches.
In times not far distant
The great Russian Empire
Was filled with estates
Of wealthy Pomyéshchicks.[11]
They lived and increased,
And they let us live too.
What weddings were feasted!
What numbers and numbers 300 Of children were born
In each rich, merry life-time!
Although they were haughty
And often oppressive,
What liberal masters!
They never deserted
The parish, they married,
Were baptized within it,
To us they confessed,
And by us they were buried. 310 And if a Pomyéshchick
Should chance for some reason
To live in a city,
He cherished one longing,
To die in his birthplace;
But did the Lord will it
That he should die suddenly
Far from the village,
An order was found
In his papers, most surely, 320 That he should be buried
At home with his fathers.
Then see–the black car
With the six mourning horses,–
The heirs are conveying
The dead to the graveyard;
And think–what a lift
For the pope, and what feasting
All over the village!
But now that is ended, 330 Pomyéshchicks are scattered
Like Jews over Russia
And all foreign countries.
They seek not the honour
Of lying with fathers
And mothers together.
How many estates
Have passed into the pockets
Of rich speculators!
O you, bones so pampered 340 Of great Russian gentry,
Where are you not buried,
What far foreign graveyard
Do you not repose in?

“Myself from dissenters[12]
(A source of pope’s income)
I never take money,
I’ve never transgressed,
For I never had need to;
Because in my parish 350 Two-thirds of the people
Are Orthodox churchmen.
But districts there are
Where the whole population
Consists of dissenters–
Then how can the pope live?

“But all in this world
Is subjected to changes:
The laws which in old days
Applied to dissenters 360 Have now become milder;
And that in itself
Is a check to pope’s income.
I’ve said the Pomyéshchicks
Are gone, and no longer
They seek to return
To the home of their childhood;
And then of their ladies
(Rich, pious old women),
How many have left us 370 To live near the convents!
And nobody now
Gives the pope a new cassock
Or church-work embroidered.
He lives on the peasants,
Collects their brass farthings,
Their cakes on the feast-days,
At Easter their eggs.
The peasants are needy
Or they would give freely– 380 Themselves they have nothing;
And who can take gladly
The peasant’s last farthing?

“Their lands are so poor,
They are sand, moss, or boggy,
Their cattle half-famished,
Their crops yield but twofold;
And should Mother Earth
Chance at times to be kinder,
That too is misfortune: 390 The market is crowded,
They sell for a trifle
To pay off the taxes.
Again comes a bad crop—
Then pay for your bread
Three times higher than ever,
And sell all your cattle!
Now, pray to God, Christians,
For this year again
A great misery threatens: 400 We ought to have sown
For a long time already;
But look you–the fields
Are all deluged and useless….
O God, have Thou pity
And send a round[13] rainbow
To shine in Thy heavens!”

Then taking his hat off
He crossed himself thrice,
And the peasants did likewise.

“Our village is poor 411 And the people are sickly,
The women are sad
And are scantily nourished,
But pious and laborious;
God give them courage!
Like slaves do they toil;
‘Tis hard to lay hands
On the fruits of such labour.

“At times you are sent for 420 To pray by the dying,
But Death is not really
The awful thing present,
But rather the living–
The family losing
Their only support.
You pray by the dead.
Words of comfort you utter,
To calm the bereaved ones;
And then the old mother 430 Comes tottering towards you,
And stretching her bony
And toil-blistered hand out;
You feel your heart sicken,
For there in the palm
Lie the precious brass farthings!
Of course it is only
The price of your praying.
You take it, because
It is what you must live on; 440 Your words of condolence
Are frozen, and blindly,
Like one deep insulted,
You make your way homeward.

* * * * *

The pope finished
His speech, and touched lightly
The back of the gelding.
The peasants make way,
And they bow to him deeply. 450 The cart moves on slowly,
Then six of the comrades
As though by agreement
Attack poor Luká
With indignant reproaches.

“Now, what have you got?–
You great obstinate blockhead,
You log of the village!
You too must needs argue;
Pray what did you tell us? 460 ‘The popes live like princes,
The lords of the belfry,
Their palaces rising
As high as the heavens,
Their bells set a-chiming
All over God’s world.

“‘Three years,’ you declared,
‘Did I work as pope’s servant.
It wasn’t a life–
‘Twas a strawberry, brethren; 470 Pope’s kasha[14] is made
And served up with fresh butter.
Pope’s stchee[14] made with fish,
And pope’s pie stuffed to bursting; The pope’s wife is fat too,
And white the pope’s daughter,
His horse like a barrel,
His bees are all swollen
And booming like church bells.’

“Well, there’s your pope’s life,– 480 There’s your ‘strawberry,’ boaster!
For that you’ve been shouting
And making us quarrel,
You limb of the Devil!
Pray is it because
Of your beard like a shovel
You think you’re so clever?
If so, let me tell you
The goat walked in Eden
With just such another 490 Before Father Adam,
And yet down to our time
The goat is considered
The greatest of duffers!”

The culprit was silent,
Afraid of a beating;
And he would have got it
Had not the pope’s face,
Turning sadly upon them,
Looked over a hedge 500 At a rise in the road.



No wonder the peasants
Dislike a wet spring-tide:
The peasant needs greatly
A spring warm and early.
This year, though he howl
Like a wolf, I’m afraid
That the sun will not gladden
The earth with his brightness.
The clouds wander heavily,
Dropping the rain down 10 Like cows with full udders.
The snow has departed,
Yet no blade of grass,
Not a tiny green leaflet,
Is seen in the meadows.
The earth has not ventured
To don its new mantle
Of brightest green velvet,
But lies sad and bare
Like a corpse without grave-clothes Beneath the dull heavens. 21
One pities the peasant;
Still more, though, his cattle:
For when they have eaten
The scanty reserves
Which remain from the winter,
Their master will drive them
To graze in the meadows,
And what will they find there
But bare, inky blackness? 30 Nor settled the weather
Until it was nearing
The feast of St. Nichol,
And then the poor cattle
Enjoyed the green pastures.

The day is a hot one,
The peasants are strolling
Along ‘neath the birch-trees.
They say to each other,
“We passed through one village, 40 We passed through another,
And both were quite empty;
To-day is a feast-day,
But where are the people?”

They reach a large village;
The street is deserted
Except for small children,
And inside the houses
Sit only the oldest
Of all the old women. 50 The wickets are fastened
Securely with padlocks;
The padlock’s a loyal
And vigilant watch-dog;
It barks not, it bites not,
But no one can pass it.

They walk through the village
And see a clear mirror
Beset with green framework–
A pond full of water; 60 And over its surface
Are hovering swallows
And all kinds of insects;
The gnats quick and meagre
Skip over the water
As though on dry land;
And in the laburnums
Which grow on the banksides
The landrails are squeaking.

A raft made of tree-trunks 70 Floats near, and upon it
The pope’s heavy daughter
Is wielding her beetle,
She looks like a hay-stack,
Unsound and dishevelled,
Her skirts gathered round her.
Upon the raft, near her,
A duck and some ducklings
Are sleeping together.

And hark! from the water 80 The neigh of a horse comes;
The peasants are startled,
They turn all together:
Two heads they see, moving
Along through the water–
The one is a peasant’s,
A black head and curly,
In one ear an ear-ring
Which gleams in the sunlight;
A horse’s the other, 90 To which there is fastened
A rope of some yards length,
Held tight in the teeth
Of the peasant beside it.
The man swims, the horse swims;
The horse neighs, the man neighs;
They make a fine uproar!
The raft with the woman
And ducklings upon it
Is tossing and heaving. 100

The horse with the peasant
Astride has come panting
From out of the water,
The man with white body
And throat black with sunburn;
The water is streaming
From horse and from rider.

“Say, why is your village
So empty of people?
Are all dead and buried?” 110

“They’ve gone to Kousminsky;
A fair’s being held there
Because it’s a saint’s day.”

“How far is Kousminsky?”
“Three versts, I should fancy.”
“We’ll go to Kousminsky,”
The peasants decided,
And each to himself thought,
“Perhaps we shall find there
The happy, the free one.” 120

The village Kousminsky
Is rich and commercial
And terribly dirty.
It’s built on a hill-side,
And slopes down the valley,
Then climbs again upwards,–
So how could one ask of it
Not to be dirty?[15]
It boasts of two churches.
The one is “dissenting,” 130 The other “Established.”
The house with inscription,
“The School-House,” is empty,
In ruins and deserted;
And near stands the barber’s,
A hut with one window,
From which hangs the sign-board
Of “Barber and Bleeder.”
A dirty inn also
There is, with its sign-board 140 Adorned by a picture:
A great nosy tea-pot
With plump little tea-cups
Held out by a waiter,
Suggesting a fat goose
Surrounded by goslings.
A row of small shops, too,
There is in the village.

The peasants go straight
To the market-place, find there 150 A large crowd of people
And goods in profusion.
How strange!–notwithstanding
There’s no church procession
The men have no hats on,
Are standing bare-headed,
As though in the presence
Of some holy Image:
Look, how they’re being swallowed– The hoods of the peasants.[16] 160

The beer-shop and tavern
Are both overflowing;
All round are erected
Large tents by the roadside
For selling of vodka.
And though in each tent
There are five agile waiters,
All young and most active,
They find it quite hopeless
To try to get change right. 170 Just look how the peasants
Are stretching their hands out,
With hoods, shirts, and waistcoats!

Oh, you, thirst of Russia,
Unquenchable, endless
You are! But the peasant,
When once he is sated,
Will soon get a new hood
At close of the fair….

The spring sun is playing 180 On heads hot and drunken,
On boisterous revels,
On bright mixing colours;
The men wear wide breeches
Of corduroy velvet,
With gaudy striped waistcoats
And shirts of all colours;
The women wear scarlet;
The girls’ plaited tresses
Are decked with bright ribbons; 190 They glide about proudly,
Like swans on the water.
Some beauties are even
Attired in the fashion
Of Petersburg ladies;
Their dresses spread stiffly
On wide hoops around them;
But tread on their skirts–
They will turn and attack you,
Will gobble like turkeys! 200

Blame rather the fashion
Which fastens upon you
Great fishermen’s baskets!

A woman dissenter
Looks darkly upon them,
And whispers with malice:
“A famine, a famine
Most surely will blight us.
The young growths are sodden,
The floods unabated; 210 Since women have taken
To red cotton dresses
The forests have withered,
And wheat–but no wonder!”

“But why, little Mother,
Are red cotton dresses
To blame for the trouble?
I don’t understand you.”
“The cotton is _French_,
And it’s reddened in dog’s blood! 220 D’you understand now?”

The peasants still linger
Some time in the market,
Then go further upward,
To where on the hill-side
Are piled ploughs and harrows,
With rakes, spades, and hatchets,
And all kinds of iron-ware,
And pliable wood
To make rims for the cart-wheels. 230 And, oh, what a hubbub
Of bargaining, swearing,
Of jesting and laughter!
And who could help laughing?

A limp little peasant
Is bending and testing
The wood for the wheel-rims.
One piece does not please him;
He takes up another
And bends it with effort; 240 It suddenly straightens,
And whack!–strikes his forehead.
The man begins roaring,
Abusing the bully,
The duffer, the block-head.
Another comes driving
A cart full of wood-ware,
As tipsy as can be;
He turns it all over!
The axle is broken, 250 And, trying to mend it,
He smashes the hatchet.

He gazes upon it,
Abusing, reproaching:
“A villain, a villain,
You are–not a hatchet.
You see, you can’t do me
The least little service.
The whole of your life
You spend bowing before me, 260 And yet you insult me!”

Our peasants determine
To see the shop windows,
The handkerchiefs, ribbons,
And stuffs of bright colour;
And near to the boot-shop
Is fresh cause for laughter;
For here an old peasant
Most eagerly bargains
For small boots of goat-skin 270 To give to his grandchild.
He asks the price five times;
Again and again
He has turned them all over;
He finds they are faultless.

“Well, Uncle, pay up now,
Or else be off quickly,”
The seller says sharply.
But wait! The old fellow
Still gazes, and fondles 280 The tiny boots softly,
And then speaks in this wise:

“My daughter won’t scold me,
Her husband I’ll spit at,
My wife–let her grumble–
I’ll spit at my wife too.
It’s her that I pity–
My poor little grandchild.
She clung to my neck,
And she said, ‘Little Grandfather, 290 Buy me a present.’
Her soft little ringlets
Were tickling my cheek,
And she kissed the old Grand-dad.
You wait, little bare-foot,
Wee spinning-top, wait then,
Some boots I will buy you,
Some boots made of goat-skin.”
And then must old Vavil
Begin to boast grandly, 300 To promise a present
To old and to young.
But now his last farthing
Is swallowed in vodka,
And how can he dare
Show his eyes in the village?
“My daughter won’t scold me,
Her husband I’ll spit at,
My wife–let her grumble–
I’ll spit at my wife too. 310 It’s her that I pity–
My poor little grandchild.”

And then he commences
The story again
Of the poor little grandchild.
He’s very dejected.
A crowd listens round him,
Not laughing, but troubled
At sight of his sorrow.

If they could have helped him 320 With bread or by labour
They soon would have done so,
But money is money,
And who has got tenpence
To spare? Then came forward
Pavlóosha Varénko,
The “gentleman” nicknamed.
(His origin, past life,
Or calling they knew not,
But called him the ‘Barin’.) 330 He listened with pleasure
To talk and to jesting;
His blouse, coat, and top-boots
Were those of a peasant;
He sang Russian folk-songs,
Liked others to sing them,
And often was met with
At taverns and inns.
He now rescued Vavil,
And bought him the boots 340 To take home to his grandchild.

The old man fled blindly,
But clasping them tightly,
Forgetting to thank him,
Bewildered with joy.
The crowd was as pleased, too,
As if had been given
To each one a rouble.

The peasants next visit
The picture and book stall; 350 The pedlars are buying
Their stock of small pictures,
And books for their baskets
To sell on the road.

“‘Tis generals, _you_ want!”
The merchant is saying.

“Well, give us some generals;
But look–on your conscience–
Now let them be real ones,
Be fat and ferocious.” 360

“Your notions are funny,”
The merchant says, smiling;
“It isn’t a question
Of looks….”

“Well, of what, then?
You want to deceive us,
To palm off your rubbish,
You swindling impostor!
D’you think that the peasants
Know one from another? 370 A shabby one–he wants
An expert to sell him,
But trust me to part with
The fat and the fierce.”

“You don’t want officials?”

“To Hell with officials!”

However they took one
Because he was cheap:
A minister, striking
In view of his stomach 380 As round as a barrel,
And seventeen medals.

The merchant is serving
With greatest politeness,
Displaying and praising,
With patience unyielding,–
A thief of the first-class
He is, come from Moscow.
Of Blücher he sells them
A hundred small pictures, 390 As many of Fótyi[17]
The archimandrite,
And of Sipko[17] the brigand;
A book of the sayings
Of droll Balakireff[17]
The “English Milord,” too.
The books were put into
The packs of the pedlars;
The pictures will travel
All over great Russia, 400 Until they find rest
On the wall of some peasant–
The devil knows why!

Oh, may it come quickly
The time when the peasant
Will make some distinction
Between book and book,
Between picture and picture;
Will bring from the market,
Not picture of Blücher, 410 Not stupid “Milord,”
But Belinsky and Gógol!
Oh, say, Russian people,
These names–have you heard them?
They’re great. They were borne
By your champions, who loved you,
Who strove in your cause,
‘Tis _their_ little portraits
Should hang in your houses!

“I’d walk into Heaven 420 But can’t find the doorway!”
Is suddenly shouted
By some merry blade.
“What door do you want, man?”
“The puppet-show, brothers!”
“I’ll show you the way!”

The puppet-show tempted
The journeying peasants;
They go to inspect it.
A farce is being acted, 430 A goat for the drummer;
Real music is playing–
No common accordion.
The play is not too deep,
But not stupid, either.
A bullet shot deftly
Right into the eye
Of the hated policeman.
The tent is quite crowded,
The audience cracking 440 Their nuts, and exchanging
Remarks with each other.
And look–there’s the vodka!
They’re drinking and looking,
And looking and drinking,
Enjoying it highly,
With jubilant faces,
From time to time throwing
A right witty word
Into Peterkin’s speeches, 450 Which _you’d_ never hit on,
Although you should swallow
Your pen and your pad!…

Some folk there are always
Who crowd on the platform
(The comedy ended),
To greet the performers,
To gossip and chat.

“How now, my fine fellows,
And where do you come from?” 460

“As serfs we used only
To play for the masters,[18]
But now we are free,
And the man who will treat us
Alone is our Master!”
“Well spoken, my brothers;
Enough time you’ve wasted
Amusing the nobles;
Now play for the peasants!
Here, waiter, bring vodka, 470 Sweet wine, tea, and syrup,
And see you make haste!”

The sweet sparkling river
Comes rolling to meet them;
They’ll treat the musicians
More handsomely, far,
Than their masters of old.

It is not the rushing
Of furious whirlwinds,
Not Mother Earth shaking– 480 ‘Tis shouting and singing
And swearing and fighting
And falling and kissing–
The people’s carouse!
It seems to the peasants
That all in the village
Was reeling around them!
That even the church
With the very tall, steeple
Had swayed once or twice! 490

When things are in this state,
A man who is sober
Feels nearly as awkward
As one who is naked….

The peasants recrossing
The market-place, quitted
The turbulent village
At evening’s approach.



This village did not end,