Worldly Power (Мирская власть), Alexander Pushkin

Calvary, Ilya Repin, 1869

Pushkin is as radical today as he was in his lifetime. How long might he have survived if he hadn’t been killed in a duel?

When final triumph was accomplished there at last,
And thus the Son of God in agony had passed,
Beside the tree of life were mournful vigil keeping
The Magdalene and Blessèd Mother Mary weeping –
……………Two women standing plunged
Immeasurably in grief to see his life expunged.
But now beneath the cross renowned instead are standing –
As if at city ruler’s castle’s gate commanding,
And commandeering roughly holy women’s place –
Two armed and booted sentries, both of cruel face.
What is the reason then for taking such a measure?
Is crucifixion somehow governmental treasure,
And do you fear the harm that thieves and mice will bring?
Or is this how you honour him, of kings the king?
Or does your guarding somehow offer Lord salvation –
The one who suffered woven prickles’ coronation –
To Christ who in obedience went to meet his end
To lash and nails and gibe did silent condescend?
Or do you fear perhaps the rabble wasn’t rotten
To one whose death made all of Adam’s sins forgotten,
And are you here to see that toffs may freely stray
As you enforce an edict to keep the mob away?


Когда великое свершалось торжество,
И в муках на кресте кончалось божество,
Тогда по сторонам животворяща древа
Мария-грешница и пресвятая дева,
……………Стояли две жены,
В неизмеримую печаль погружены.
Но у подножия теперь креста честнаго,
Как будто у крыльца правителя градскаго,
Мы зрим – поставлено на место жен святых
В ружье и кивере два грозных часовых.
К чему, скажите мне, хранительная стража?-
Или распятие казенная поклажа,
И вы боитеся воров или мышей?-
Иль мните важности придать царю царей?
Иль покровительством спасаете могучим
Владыку, тернием венчанного колючим,
Христа, предавшего послушно плоть свою
Бичам мучителей, гвоздям и копию?
Иль опасаетесь, чтоб чернь не оскорбила
Того, чья казнь весь род Адамов искупила,
И, чтоб не потеснить гуляющих господ,
Пускать не велено сюда простой народ?

Translation by Rupert Moreton

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