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Ruslan and Luidmila

    "It is impossible to find anything with which to compare the enthusiasm and indignation aroused by Pushkin's first poem. Few works of great genius have caused as much furor as this poem, which could hardly be more juvenile or more lacking in that quality. The partisans of the avant-garde group treated it as a colossus, and glorified Pushkin for years with the curious title of 'bard of Ruslan and Ludmila.' "
V. Belinsky.      

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Russian literature / A. Pushkin

  Ruslan and Liudmila
  Tale of the pope and of his workman Balda
  Tale of tsar Saltan
  Tale of the fisherman and the little fish
  Tale of the golden cockerel
  Marya Volkonsky
  Natalya Goncharova

V.Brovkin "Ruslan and Liudmila"

V.Brovkin "Ruslan and Liudmila" (fragment)
Plate. 1996   Palekh

...And here they lead the bridal maiden
To couch her on the marriage-bed;
And Lel, another lamps are fading,
Lights his nocturnal torch instead.
Now readies Love his gifts to lovers,
Long-cherished hopes are winning home;
And downward sink the grudging covers
Upon the rugs of Eastern Rome...
Can you not hear the lovelorn whispers,
The dulcet sounds of kisses there,
The gently intercepted lisping
Of final shyness?... Tokens fair
Of ecstasy beforehand given,
The groom now tastes it... Flash! By glare
Of lightning, thunderpeal, is riven
The dusk, the flame dies, smoke is drifting,
All's sunk in sooty murk, all shifting,
Ruslan struck senseless in the gloom...


V.Brovkin "Ruslan and Liudmila"

V.Brovkin "Ruslan and Liudmila" (fragment)
Plate. 1996   Palekh

Ruslan, though, worse for him, is living.
What did the Great Duke have to say?
Crushed by the fearful tiding given,
To fury at Ruslan a prey,
"Where, where's Liudmila?" asked he, trembling,
Dread glare of wrath upon his brow.
Ruslan is deaf. "Sons, vassals all!
Your former merits I recall,
Take pity on an old man now!
Well then, which one of you engages
In quest to save my daughter's life?
His exploit shall not lack for wages:
To him - yes, villain, wail and writhe!
Not man enough to guard his wife! —
Liudmila's hand I hereby proffer,
With half my ancestors' domain.
Who, sons and noble friends, will offer?.."
"I!" spoke the brokenhearted swain.
"I!" "I!" Rogdai's cry reinforces
Those of Farlaf and glad Ratmir...



V.Brovkin "Ruslan and Liudmila"

V.Brovkin "Ruslan and Liudmila" (fragment)
Plate. 1996   Palekh

.... The night
Was rent apart by sudden beaming,
The door became a shaft of light,
And wordlessly, majestic-seeming,
With scimitars unsheathed and gleaming,
A long twin file of moors appeared,
Most solemn of expressions wearing,
On pillows sedulously bearing
An equal length of silver beard.
And chin in air, there stalks behind it,
With measured gravity highminded,
A hunchbacked dwarf of haughty mien;



O.An "Ruslan and Liudmila"

O.An. "Ruslan and Liudmila"
Plate. 2000  Palekh

...Our champion sprang aside, unstruck,
And he, with impact overpowering,
Crashed to the snow - and there he stuck.
Dismounting in a flash, refraining
From speech, Ruslan rushed over, neared,
Caught up the dwarf and gripped his beard;
The trapped magician, groaning, straining-
Loops up with him into the air!
Well might the fiery charger stare –
They're up amid the clouds' dim scope;
Ruslan suspended by this rope.
They cross the wildwood's sullen verges,
They cross the frowning mountain gorges,
They fly above the plumbless deep;
Though stiffened from the strain and blistered,
Ruslan maintains upon the whiskered
Hellhound his unrelenting grip.
His buoyant magic draining, failing,
In awe by now of Russian strength,
The sorcerer, more slowly sailing,
Says slyly to Ruslan at length:
"I prize young valor-I feel guided
To cease from hurting you at last;
I pardon you, forget the past,
And start descending now - provided..."



N.Karavaev. "Ruslan and Liudmila"

N.Karavaev. "Ruslan and Liudmila"
Box. 1999  Palekh

...Ruslan rode silently along,
The dwarf behind his saddle slung;
In his bent arm Liudmila nested,
Fresh as the vernal dawn, and rested
Her peaceful rosy countenance
Against the shoulder of her prince.
The winds of wildernesses flutter
Her tresses in their ring-shaped braid;
How often, drowsy, she will utter
A sigh, her quiet profile show
A flush of roses come and go!
Love and the sway of slumber bring
Ruslan before the secret dreamer,
Her lips with fervent whispering
Pronounce the name of her redeemer...
Ruslan, in turn, has ear and eye
But for the wonder of her breathing,
Her smile, her tears, her tender sigh,
The slumbrous bosom's gentle heaving.
Through hills and dales, along, away,
In black of night, in white of day,
Course steed and knight, and never tire.
Still far the land of heart's desire -
The maiden sleeps...



V.Brovkin "Ruslan and Liudmila"

V.Brovkin "Ruslan and Liudmila" (fragment)
Plate. 1996   Palekh

...Before his eyes a glade discloses
A mound; Liudmila on a mead,
Stretched at her feet, Ruslan reposes;
Around the barrow walks the steed.
Farlaf in quick alarm stands idle;
The witch becomes a wisp of mist;
As, quavering, he drops his wrist,
From clammy hands rein and bridle fall.
Advancing stealthily and drawing,
He hopes to cut in two our knight
By one fell stroke, without a fight...
In vain the hero's stallion, pawing
In anger as he sees him creep,
Lets out a whinny. Useless token!
It seems that nothing would have woken
Ruslan from his oppressive sleep...
Spurred by the witch, the traitor lunges-
Into the sleeper's breast he plunges
Three times the steel with impious hand...
Then rides in panic overland,
Propped on his mount his priceless prey...


Translated by Walter Arndt

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