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- Boris Godunov - 10/16 -

Orders it; we are ready; but 'tis clear The lady Mnishek and Dimitry mean To keep us prisoners here.

DAME. A pleasant durance.

CAVALIER. Truly, if you...

(They walk off; the rooms become empty.)

MNISHEK. We old ones dance no longer; The sound of music lures us not; we press not Nor kiss the hands of charmers--ah! My friend, I've not forgotten the old pranks! Things now Are not what once they were, what once they were! Youth, I'll be sworn, is not so bold, nor beauty So lively; everything--confess, my friend-- Has somehow become dull. So let us leave them; My comrade, let us go and find a flask Of old Hungarian overgrown with mould; Let's bid my butler open an old bottle, And in a quiet corner, tete-a-tete, Let's drain a draught, a stream as thick as fat; And while we're so engaged, let's think things over. Let us go, brother.

VISHNEVETSKY. Yes, my friend, let's go.



PRETENDER. (Enters.) Here is the fountain; hither will she come. I was not born a coward; I have seen Death near at hand, and face to face with death My spirit hath not blenched. A life-long dungeon Hath threatened me, I have been close pursued, And yet my spirit quailed not, and by boldness I have escaped captivity. But what Is this which now constricts my breath? What means This overpowering tremor, or this quivering Of tense desire? No, this is fear. All day I have waited for this secret meeting, pondered On all that I should say to her, how best I might enmesh Marina's haughty mind, Calling her queen of Moscow. But the hour Has come--and I remember naught, I cannot Recall the speeches I have learned by rote; Love puts imagination to confusion-- But something there gleamed suddenly--a rustling; Hush--no, it was the moon's deceitful light, It was the rustling of the breeze.

MARINA. (Enters.) Tsarevich!

PRETENDER. 'Tis she. Now all the blood in me stands still.

MARINA. Dimitry! Is it thou?

PRETENDER. Bewitching voice!

(Goes to her.)

Is it thou, at last? Is it thou I see, alone With me, beneath the roof of quiet night? How slowly passed the tedious day! How slowly The glow of evening died away! How long I have waited in the gloom of night!

MARINA. The hours Are flitting fast, and time is precious to me. I did not grant a meeting here to thee To listen to a lover's tender speeches. No need of words. I well believe thou lovest; But listen; with thy stormy, doubtful fate I have resolved to join my own; but one thing, Dimitry, I require; I claim that thou Disclose to me thy secret hopes, thy plans, Even thy fears, that hand in hand with thee I may confront life boldly--not in blindness Of childlike ignorance, not as the slave And plaything of my husband's light desires, Thy speechless concubine, but as thy spouse, And worthy helpmate of the tsar of Moscow.

PRETENDER. O, if it be only for one short hour, Forget the cares and troubles of my fate! Forget 'tis the tsarevich whom thou seest Before thee. O, behold in me, Marina, A lover, by thee chosen, happy only In thy regard. O, listen to the prayers Of love! Grant me to utter all wherewith My heart is full.

MARINA. Prince, this is not the time; Thou loiterest, and meanwhile the devotion Of thine adherents cooleth. Hour by hour Danger becomes more dangerous, difficulties More difficult; already dubious rumours Are current, novelty already takes The place of novelty; and Godunov Adopts his measures.

PRETENDER. What is Godunov? Is thy sweet love, my only blessedness, Swayed by Boris? Nay, nay. Indifferently I now regard his throne, his kingly power. Thy love--without it what to me is life, And glory's glitter, and the state of Russia? On the dull steppe, in a poor mud hut, thou-- Thou wilt requite me for the kingly crown; Thy love--

MARINA. For shame! Forget not, prince, thy high And sacred destiny; thy dignity Should be to thee more dear than all the joys Of life and its allurements. It thou canst not With anything compare. Not to a boy, Insanely boiling, captured by my beauty-- But to the heir of Moscow's throne give I My hand in solemn wise, to the tsarevich Rescued by destiny.

PRETENDER. Torture me not, Charming Marina; say not that 'twas my rank And not myself that thou didst choose. Marina! Thou knowest not how sorely thou dost wound My heart thereby. What if--O fearful doubt!-- Say, if blind destiny had not assigned me A kingly birth; if I were not indeed Son of Ivan, were not this boy, so long Forgotten by the world--say, then wouldst thou Have loved me?

MARINA. Thou art Dimitry, and aught else Thou canst not be; it is not possible For me to love another.

PRETENDER. Nay! Enough-- I have no wish to share with a dead body A mistress who belongs to him; I have done With counterfeiting, and will tell the truth. Know, then, that thy Dimitry long ago Perished, was buried--and will not rise again; And dost thou wish to know what man I am? Well, I will tell thee. I am--a poor monk. Grown weary of monastic servitude, I pondered 'neath the cowl my bold design, Made ready for the world a miracle-- And from my cell at last fled to the Cossacks, To their wild hovels; there I learned to handle Both steeds and swords; I showed myself to you. I called myself Dimitry, and deceived The brainless Poles. What say'st thou, proud Marina? Art thou content with my confession? Why Dost thou keep silence?

MARINA. O shame! O woe is me!


PRETENDER. (Sotto voce.) O whither hath a fit of anger led me? The happiness devised with so much labour I have, perchance, destroyed for ever. Idiot, What have I done? (Aloud.) I see thou art ashamed Of love not princely; so pronounce on me The fatal word; my fate is in thy hands. Decide; I wait.

(Falls on his knees.)

MARINA. Rise, poor pretender! Think'st thou To please with genuflex on my vain heart, As if I were a weak, confiding girl? You err, my friend; prone at my feet I've seen Knights and counts nobly born; but not for this Did I reject their prayers, that a poor monk--

PRETENDER. (Rises.) Scorn not the young pretender; noble virtues May lie perchance in him, virtues well worthy Of Moscow's throne, even of thy priceless hand--

MARINA. Say of a shameful noose, insolent wretch!

PRETENDER. I am to blame; carried away by pride I have deceived God and the kings--have lied To the world; but it is not for thee, Marina, To judge me; I am guiltless before thee. No, I could not deceive thee. Thou to me Wast the one sacred being, before thee 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,

Boris Godunov - 10/16

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