A Pushkin epigram in two translations


A pithy epigram about the Decembrist uprising that presents quite a challenge. One of the two translations below the literal one is mine; the other is Ian Mac Eochagáin’s.

Едва царем он стал,
То разом начудесил:
Сто двадцать человек тотчас в Сибирь послал
Да пятерых повесил.

He had hardly become tsar
Than he all at once worked wonders:
One hundred and twenty people he straightaway sent to Siberia
And hanged five.

He’d barely been crowned tsar
When he set wonders clanging:
One hundred twenty men he banished to afar
And sent five to their hanging.

No sooner was he tsar
A sign he made of hallows:
Without delay he sent to exile full six score
And five he hanged on gallows.

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