Vladimir Vysotsky. A Tale about the Wood Dwellers.

A Tale about the Ill-Fated Wood Dwellers.

At the world’s end, where the sky is free of clouds,
Where it viewlessly gets over the frontier,
On the hill, stood a magnificent firm house,
Which was by the deathless one in old times built.

Many lights there glowed and glared,
Were all round pomps and shines;
But one queen, who looked so fair,
In this house was confined.

And Koshchey the Deathless set to guard the entrance
A thick-bodied and uncultivated beast,
But in his own way ill-fated, kind and gracious,
Maybe, was that not attractive looking beast.

With his mother he was sundered,
And therefore he always shed
Bitter tears from every one of
His twelve eyes on his seven heads.

That Koshchey, who was in old times stout and doughty,
Grew consumed of his deep love to the fine queen.
He in his own way ill-fated was, fond dotard,
But the guardsbeast didn’t allow him to come in.

When Koshchey kicked him and summoned,
“Let me pass, look how I shake!”
Said the beast, “At first to mummy
Let me go, then pass the gate!”

Once Ivan, a fine young man, went to this house,
Having said, “I’ll see what thing is that lost soul!”
In each case, he wished to know the ins and outs,
Yes, in his own way ill-fated was this dolt.

Either crows began to croak,
Or an ass began to bawl...
On a sudden, felt heart-broken
That brave man, Ivan the Dolt.

From this moment, he began his needless war ’gainst
Hags and witches with no pity, to the death.
But in their own way ill-fated also were they,
Poor wood women spending life in great distress.

How he hunted for those witches!
Two condemned ones were so young...
Having caught it, he even screeched,
And shed tears he as they sunk.

Having wiped his eyes, Ivan discerned before him
A big house and pronouncedly came in.
In a hallway, there a poor beast saw his soft dreams,
Being utterly worn-out from the heat.

To the beast Ivan is running,
Chops his heads off in great haste,
Thereon to Koshchey he’s coming,
Brandishing his magic blade.

Threatens he this ancient man aged twenty hundred,
“I’ll at once make thy long beard as sparse as short!
Get thee gone, Koshchey!” And that poor person answers,
“I’d be glad, but I’m immortal, I cannot!”

But Ivan doesn’t curb his passion,
“Break off filling life with gloom!
There’s the queen in thy grand mansion,
Tell me quickly where’s her room!”

“I’ve taken duty to have finished this affair!”
Gave his cry Ivan, and of these words, so fey,
Faced his death Koshchey the Deathless with no care,
He was backward and unlettered, that Koshchey.

Yet Ivan didn’t stop to rate him,
Kicked Koshchey, spat on the floor...
Thus, in her own way ill-fated,
Was the queen freed by that dolt.

1967.

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