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- Boris Godunov - 1/16 -


A Drama in Verse


Rendered into English verse by Alfred Hayes


BORIS GODUNOV, afterwards Tsar. PRINCE SHUISKY, Russian noble. PRINCE VOROTINSKY, Russian noble. SHCHELKALOV, Russian Minister of State. FATHER PIMEN, an old monk and chronicler. GREGORY OTREPIEV, a young monk, afterwards the Pretender to the throne of Russia. THE PATRIARCH, Abbot of the Chudov Monastery. MISSAIL, wandering friar. VARLAAM, wandering friar. ATHANASIUS MIKAILOVICH PUSHKIN, friend of Prince Shuisky. FEODOR, young son of Boris Godunov. SEMYON NIKITICH GODUNOV, secret agent of Boris Godunov. GABRIEL PUSHKIN, nephew of A. M. Pushkin. PRINCE KURBSKY, disgraced Russian noble. KHRUSHCHOV, disgraced Russian noble. KARELA, a Cossack. PRINCE VISHNEVETSKY. MNISHEK, Governor of Sambor. BASMANOV, a Russian officer. MARZHERET, officer of the Pretender. ROZEN, officer of the Pretender. DIMITRY, the Pretender, formerly Gregory Otrepiev. MOSALSKY, a Boyar. KSENIA, daughter of Boris Godunov. NURSE of Ksenia. MARINA, daughter of Mnishek. ROUZYA, tire-woman of Ksenia. HOSTESS of tavern.

Boyars, The People, Inspectors, Officers, Attendants, Guests, a Boy in attendance on Prince Shuisky, a Catholic Priest, a Polish Noble, a Poet, an Idiot, a Beggar, Gentlemen, Peasants, Guards, Russian, Polish, and German Soldiers, a Russian Prisoner of War, Boys, an old Woman, Ladies, Serving-women.

*The list of Dramatis Personae which does not appear in the original has been added for the convenience of the reader--A.H.


(FEBRUARY 20th, A.D. 1598)


VOROTINSKY. To keep the city's peace, that is the task Entrusted to us twain, but you forsooth Have little need to watch; Moscow is empty; The people to the Monastery have flocked After the patriarch. What thinkest thou? How will this trouble end?

SHUISKY. How will it end? That is not hard to tell. A little more The multitude will groan and wail, Boris Pucker awhile his forehead, like a toper Eyeing a glass of wine, and in the end Will humbly of his graciousness consent To take the crown; and then--and then will rule us Just as before.

VOROTINSKY. A month has flown already Since, cloistered with his sister, he forsook The world's affairs. None hitherto hath shaken His purpose, not the patriarch, not the boyars His counselors; their tears, their prayers he heeds not; Deaf is he to the wail of Moscow, deaf To the Great Council's voice; vainly they urged The sorrowful nun-queen to consecrate Boris to sovereignty; firm was his sister, Inexorable as he; methinks Boris Inspired her with this spirit. What if our ruler Be sick in very deed of cares of state And hath no strength to mount the throne? What Say'st thou?

SHUISKY. I say that in that case the blood in vain Flowed of the young tsarevich, that Dimitry Might just as well be living.

VOROTINSKY. Fearful crime! Is it beyond all doubt Boris contrived The young boy's murder?

SHUISKY. Who besides? Who else Bribed Chepchugov in vain? Who sent in secret The brothers Bityagovsky with Kachalov? Myself was sent to Uglich, there to probe This matter on the spot; fresh traces there I found; the whole town bore witness to the crime; With one accord the burghers all affirmed it; And with a single word, when I returned, I could have proved the secret villain's guilt.

VOROTINSKY. Why didst thou then not crush him?

SHUISKY. At the time, I do confess, his unexpected calmness, His shamelessness, dismayed me. Honestly He looked me in the eyes; he questioned me Closely, and I repeated to his face The foolish tale himself had whispered to me.

VOROTINSKY. An ugly business, prince.

SHUISKY. What could I do? Declare all to Feodor? But the tsar Saw all things with the eyes of Godunov. Heard all things with the ears of Godunov; Grant even that I might have fully proved it, Boris would have denied it there and then, And I should have been haled away to prison, And in good time--like mine own uncle--strangled Within the silence of some deaf-walled dungeon. I boast not when I say that, given occasion, No penalty affrights me. I am no coward, But also am no fool, and do not choose Of my free will to walk into a halter.

VOROTINSKY. Monstrous misdeed! Listen; I warrant you Remorse already gnaws the murderer; Be sure the blood of that same innocent child Will hinder him from mounting to the throne.

SHUISKY. That will not baulk him; Boris is not so timid! What honour for ourselves, ay, for all Russia! A slave of yesterday, a Tartar, son By marriage of Maliuta, of a hangman, Himself in soul a hangman, he to wear The crown and robe of Monomakh!--

VOROTINSKY. You are right; He is of lowly birth; we twain can boast A nobler lineage.

SHUISKY. Indeed we may!

VOROTINSKY. Let us remember, Shuisky, Vorotinsky Are, let me say, born princes.

SHUISKY. Yea, born princes, And of the blood of Rurik.

VOROTINSKY. Listen, prince; Then we, 'twould seem, should have the right to mount Feodor's throne.

SHUISKY. Rather than Godunov.

VOROTINSKY. In very truth 'twould seem so.

SHUISKY. And what then? If still Boris pursue his crafty ways, Let us contrive by skilful means to rouse The people. Let them turn from Godunov; Princes they have in plenty of their own; Let them from out their number choose a tsar.

VOROTINSKY. Of us, Varyags in blood, there are full many, But 'tis no easy thing for us to vie With Godunov; the people are not wont To recognise in us an ancient branch Of their old warlike masters; long already Have we our appanages forfeited, Long served but as lieutenants of the tsars, And he hath known, by fear, and love, and glory, How to bewitch the people.

SHUISKY. (Looking through a window.) He has dared, That's all--while we--Enough of this. Thou seest Dispersedly the people are returning. We'll go forthwith and learn what is resolved.



Boris Godunov - 1/16

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