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Konstantin Ivanov



Cheboksary - 2011 
ИВАНОВ Константин Васильевич (1890-1915), чувашский поэт-демократ, зачинатель чувашской литературы. Поэма “Нарспи” (1908) о судьбе чувашской женщины, сказки “Вдова”, “Железная мялка”, “Раб дьявола” проникнуты протестом против социального и национального угнетения.

IVANOV Konstantin Vasilyevich (1890-1915), the Chuvash poet-democrat, the initiator of the Chuvash literature. His poem “Narspi” (1908) about the destiny of the Chuvash woman, and fairy tales “Widow”, “Iron breaker”, “Slave of the devil” are filled with the protest against social and national oppression.

© Translated from Chuvash into English by Vladimir Shashkov,
assisted by Luiza Mikhailova and Lyudmila Prokoshenkova.
© Перевел с чувашского на английский язык Владимир Шашков при участии Луизы Михайловой и Людмилы Прокошенковой.

Edited by: Alan Steadman (UK), Peter White (UK), Marinus Potter (the Netherlands), Franz Ontal (the USA), and Jair Spolador (Brasil).
Редакторы: Алан Стедман (Соединенное Королевство), Питер Уайт (Соединенное Королевство), Маринус Поттер (Нидерланды), Франц Онталь (США) и Жаир Споладор (Бразилия).

1. In the village of Silbi

The sun began shining gently
All of a sudden in late March.
Snow is melting fast
In Silbi, a Chuvash yal*.
Slopes and hills became dark,
‘Cause there is no snow.
A wealth of green grass
Brings sunshine at last.
Winter, cold and severe
Weeping, grieving starts.
Bitterly cries with cold tears
And mourns for old days.
In ravines and hollows
Water’s flowing with a roar;
Winter’s weeping. What to do?
The sun is shining warmer.
Winter tears with a noise
Away have gone, sparkling.
And along the street
Children frolic, playing.
* Yal - village.

* * *
The salutary spring
Glitters in hot rays.
It gives pleasure to all,
Awakening from hibernation.
The dark forest comes back to life,
And puts on green clothes,
The steppe is blossoming,
And is proud of beauty.
Everywhere gentle flowers
Blossom smelling sweet.
Birds’ chirping from a height
Is heard, not abating.
A lark’s trill shivers
In the immense skies.
And lambs jump nimbly
On grass at the boundary.
A small adept shepherd
Plays a small horn.
Being hungry, with melancholy
Looks at the village of Silbi.

And in Silbi riches are numerous,
Crowns of trees are like tents.
Under willow branches here
Houses are like temples.
The whole settlement in its term
Is surrounded by wattle fences.
Many ricks at threshing floors,
Gardens are full of vegetables.
There are rows of houses
Covered with durable boards.
Along the streets there are gardens
Yielding honey every spring.
As if stone walls, there are
Fences stand around houses.
Folds of every gate are
Decorated with carvings.
From afar Silbi may be taken
Even as a certain small town.
A famous Chuvash family, it seems,
Made a great fortune here.

* * *
Along the ravine, near the village -
The river’s flow is turbulent.
There play, having fun,
The sun’s patches gaily.
Radiant and happy, -
The sky’s the river – a violence of colours,
The willow still looks at ripples,
And admires its own beauty.
On the bridge an old man
Fishes - he is anxious,
With a wrinkled worm
He wants to deceive fishes.
A bit far from him, some
Children splash in the river,
But for grandfather himself
Their tricks are unpleasant.
Someone goes along the bridge,
It seems, he goes across the river,
And then in the thick woods
Disappears a passer-by.

* * *
Life in Silbi’s like paradise
For all people in the village,
One cannot even feel,
As merry days are passing by.
Chirping of birds and human speech
Are heard everywhere...
Spring song in zenith
Comes in your ears.
Along the streets, as ulputs*
Peasants walk proudly.
In the background here and there
Children play gaily.
Beautiful girls walk as swans,
Along the streets also,
Their attractive ornaments
Glitter in the sunshine.
Men dance at the gate, -
There is clatter, a singing burst.
People live in prosperity
Here, in Silbi, a rich yal.
*Ulput - a nobleman, a rich man.

* * *
There is nobody stronger than man,
None in the whole world:
Neither in waters, nor in steppes
There’s nobody stronger than man.
But a strong man too is
Subject to circumstances:
Money and alcohol too
Make people mad.
And any Chuvash would become
Drunk in the week of Great Kalym*!
In the cellars not by chance
Beer barrels became empty.
They drank a lot and ate a lot,
And danced there all enough.
Isn’t it the only way
To make a holiday merry?
There are more and more
Tipsy people after noon.
Loud voices in the evening
Echo through the woods.
* Kalym - religious festival coinciding with Easter.

* * *
Drinking alcohol too much
Chuvash becomes too tired -
Even spring mud for him
Is like a place to have a rest.
Chuvash’s lying as an ulput,
And doesn’t think where he is,
Along the street he cries
His song as loud as he can:
“Work hard, and eat a lot,
Perspire much, and drink much!
If there is vodka, any man
Will drink it, won’t say no.
When it’s time - we shall work,
When it’s time - we shall drink.
If there’s nothing to drink at home,
We’ll visit our neighbour.
If he hasn’t any drink,
We’ll drink uiran*.
If there’s no uiran -
We’ll wait for God to bring.”
*Uiran - sour milk.

* * *
Kalym is over, the snow has melted,
It’s high time to plough the land;
Chuvash can’t become sober,
Hangover’s passing hard.
Enough! Drunken Chuvashes,
Get up to begin your work!
The hills have become green,
Water in the river falls.
Hey, brothers, get up,
Look around yourselves:
Repair your wooden ploughs,
And put the cart in order.
Wash with cold water
Your hands and face.
Eat your meal to better
Your strength to plough.
Harness your horse
And go to sow,
Hey, God, bless us,
Let the harvest be a success!

2. A beauty
* * *
A yellow flower is growing
Amongst the greenest grass.
In the village of Silbi
Narspi, a girl, is raised.
Her appearance is nice,
Like a yellow field flower.
Her eyes are as dark as
Two black beads.
She has a curly braid
Down her back.
When she walks along the street,
Ornaments and coins jingle.
When she looks at a boy,
His heart throbs gently.
Seeing her lips smiling,
The boy’s soul softens.
Who won’t look kindly at
A yellow field flower?
Who won’t fall in love at
Once, seeing such beauty?

* * *
When the sun sets,
She washes her face and dries herself.
And puts shulgheme* on her chest
To go to the evening games.
She puts her tevet**
Over her shoulders.
Ties up her red silk kerchief -
Just like it is worn by girls.
At the games her voice is
Like a chirping of a bird.
When she laughs - everyone
Believes her to be a healthy girl.
Till the games are over,
All are happy with her voice.
The morning star, having risen,
Twinkles in the bright sky.
Narspi sleeps calmly
In her father’s house.
Dreaming sweet dreams,
She is happy sleeping.
*Shulgheme - girl’s ornaments.
**Tevet - girl’s ornaments worn over shoulders.

* * *
Arising early in the morning,
Narspi starts her favourite job:
Either taking a silk thread,
She embroiders, singing;
Or her needlework’s like beads,
When she begins sewing:
A steel dog with a hemp tail’s*
Coming out, coming in;
Either she begins weaving -
Her shuttle moves like playing;
Or she takes a khultarch** -
Thread is wound onto a spool.
Or when lying on the bench,
The cat washes its face,
Which means she has already cooked
Tasty food for any guest.
The girl’s life had been prospering
Until she reached the age,
When to her father’s house
Came matchmakers one day.
*A steel dog with a hemp tail (A needle and a thread) –
a Chuvash riddle.
**Khultarch - a device for winding thread onto a special spool.

* * *
Narspi’s father Mikheter
Is a very rich landlord.
He loves his daughter very much,
And boasts about Narspi.
“Who has daughter like mine?
Where else is there such a girl?
She has shoes, and if she wants,
She can wear ornaments.
In the village of Silbi
There are no girls like mine!
No Chuvash will bring up
A daughter like Mikheter!
Was I ever short of anything?
Is there anything I haven’t?
And I have in my supse*
Silver coins and sackcloth.
Haven’t I got in my barn
Sacks of grain?
Don’t I store in my cellar
Butter, dairy products, beer, honey?”
*Supse - a wooden tub.

* * *
There is no lie in the truth:
Mikheter has everything.
He is the only ulput
In the whole village.
His house is like a castle,
One can get lost in it.
And the sheds are very big,
No cock and hen can climb.
The yard is full of utensils.
And the barn - of grain.
That means the host
Is a successful farmer.
He feeds all his animals
With hay and oats only.
His pigs and gelded hogs
Are like barrels really.
This house in Turikas*
Is seen from a distance.
As he deserves, Mikheter
Is proud of it, and not in vain.
*Turikas - an upper or main street in the village.

* * *
This kind person Mikheter
Loves his daughter very much.
She was engaged right
After Shrovetide at once.
All the people of the village
Await the wedding with impatience.
“If two rich become related,
The wedding will be lavish!”
When will Sinze* come
And how to kill the time?
And when will Simek** come?
Everyone is on tenterhooks.
In Mikheter’s house are gathered
All the relatives together;
And try hurriedly to sew
The dowry for the bride.
But the latter, by the way,
Over the coming party grieves.
Narspi cries out secretly,
Whispering her Setner’s name.
*Sinze - an ancient ritual of protection of land, when any work on land is prohibited during twelve days.
**Simek - a spring holiday coinciding with Whitsunday, the day of recalling of the deceased.

* * *
At the end of the village
A miserable hut stands.
Here with his mother
Lives Setner, her son.
Setner, a handsome fellow,
Has an argamak, a horse,
And an old woman - mother,
And a heart with hot blood.
To work days and nights
He has strong hands,
To destroy the enemies
He has fury and rage.
And that is all that he is rich in.
He has grown a poor man.
(But keep in mind: Mikheter
Won’t give his daughter to the poor.)
Our Narspi, a beautiful girl,
Loves that boy Setner,
Therefore she does not sleep -
And is sad about the wedding.

* * *
A white willow stands by the stream,
And under it - high trough.
Every morning Setner
Waits for Narspi here.
He waters his horse
In expectation at the brook.
He sees Narspi
Coming down with buckets.
As he sees Narspi
Carrying two buckets,
His heart begins throbbing
Happily at once.
Narspi’s thin lips begin
Smiling from afar.
And at the brook Setner
Shines with pleasure.
He looks with loving eyes
At the beautiful girl.
And through his moustache
He whispers gentle words to her.

3. Evening on the eve of Simek
* * *
Water from the brook flows
Ringing like a bell.
And it glitters like silver
In the sun beams.
There in tukhya*, leaning forward,
She collects water from the spring.
The man there waters his horse,
And has a long talk.
A bird sings its song
High in the green willows;
The man speaks lovely
While his horse is drinking:
“So, my beloved Narspi,
Why is my destiny so bitter?
Can an enemy break
Your happiness far from here?
Oh, I have no happiness.
Your parents are so rich.
Your parents will never
Have a poor son-in-law.”
*Tukhya - an ancient maiden headdress with a pointed top, and trimmed with beads and silver coins.

* * *
“Oh, do not complain so, Setner,
Do not grumble so!
Where should I go now
From my rich parents?
The old men are stupid,
I worry as well as you do:
What should we do, please,
Tell me - you and me?
When the sun sets this evening,
I’ll be forced to get married
To a rich man from Khushalka.
My wedding will begin.
The enemy is said to be cruel.
How to get rid of him?
Setner, Setner, please tell me,
What should I do, where to go?
I love you so very much,
With all my heart I have loved you...
I never dreamt of such a day.
What should I do, my beloved?”

* * *
“I have only my head,
I have my bleeding heart,
I have also my old mother,
And a horse like a whirlwind.
And even dearer than all this
I have you, my love.
But today there is an enemy,
Who is going to take you away.
To overcome that enemy,
I have two strong hands.
Even if I kill that enemy,
The world remains, ungrateful.
If you agree, we should
Ride away, my dear.
I’d take you like a bird
From this village on horseback.”
“Setner, leave me alone,
A woman is coming for water...
While talking to my loving man
I didn’t feel I’ll part with you.”

* * *
“Well, Narspi, good-bye.
Remember your poor fellow!"
And he rode on his horse
Homewards, sighing heavily.
And Narspi in sorrow
Looked at him riding away,
Until the lovely silhouette
Disappeared behind the hill.
“Well, good-bye, my dear!
How shall I forget you?
While being far from you,
How to live in a strange world?”
“Narspi, why are you so sad?”
A woman approached her suddenly.
“Either is your groom so old?
Or is the dowry not enough?”
Holding buckets full of water,
Narspi went home in grief.
Coming home, began crying
For Setner once again.

* * *
In the house, the old mother
Grumbles without reason.
In the yard Mikheter alone
Repairs the wedding cart.
The old man perspires,
Cutting boards with an axe.
But he is full of efforts for
The sake of his lovely daughter.
“Waiting for this day,
From childhood I brought her up.
Let it be my parting work
Today for my lovely daughter.
The daughter has grown up,
A rich husband is necessary.
And we have found the husband,
Let the cart be cosy.
Simek has come, it’s high time
To celebrate the wedding party.
When my relatives arrive,
We will start this evening.”

* * *
The beer barrel is rolling
In the house of Mikheter.
All the relatives have gathered
And are eager to drink beer.
Steam is coming from two furnaces -
Tasty food is being cooked.
All the relatives from the village
Are in anticipation of dishes.
The shabar* player is getting ready
And adjusts his instrument.
All the fellows in the village
Are eager to dance.
Waiting for the wedding,
Everybody is like a bird.
Only the bride - an orphan soul -
Is afraid of sumptuous feasting.
Narspi is working in the las**,
She oils pancakes there.
Remembering the engagement,
She sits in sorrow.
*Shabar - bubble, musical tool, a kind of bagpipe.
**Las - summer kitchen.

* * *
“Oh, a stranger came to my father’s
House as a match-maker.
He is making the girl her match
To a rich man far away.
Please, parents, do not hurry,
And wait for another year.
Please keep your only daughter
For another year at home.
Father and mother being drunk
Did not listen to the girl.
The groom being rich,
Didn’t understand the girl’s soul.”
The old man’s soul is stale,
As felting of a boot.
The soul of a girl, though small,
Is as gentle as nectar.
If she had a bird’s soul
She would cry or laugh.
If she had wings,
She would fly away.

* * *
The sunset turning crimson
Behind the dark forest.
And the herd comes down roaring
To the village of Silbi.
Here and there girls are chasing
Their butting cows.
And the boys being cunning -
Do not leave the girls alone.
Look, a man is chasing his brown cow
Mooing with all its might.
And a pig is squealing loudly,
There is noise everywhere.
Behind the herd black dust arises,
Along the whole street.
And in the dust an old woman
Is dragging herself along the street.
She is carrying cheres* of beer
In one of her hands.
Oh, it seems so difficult to carry,
But oh, it’s so easy to drink!
*Cheres - a small bucket or tub made from a hollowed tree.

* * *
The old man Mikheter decided
To invite all relatives.
And his wife with foamy beer
In cheres went to them.
She comes to a relative
And opens the cheres,
And treating him to beer
Invites him to the wedding party.
“Dear relatives and friends,
Please come to our house.
We are marrying our daughter,
Will you come to Turikas?”
“Yes, we’ll come definitely,
We’ll not stay at home.
If God helps, if we aren’t ill,
We shall visit you, indeed!”
Having finished her tour,
She returned at night.
And is busy once again,
Setting the table at home.

* * *
“It’s high time to go to
Turikas, dear relatives,
There is a lot of beer for us -
Let’s celebrate the wedding!
Our relative marries his daughter,
And invites us to the wedding.
He will begin the wedding party
Devoted to his daughter.
First it’s our duty according
To Chuvash tradition,
With bread and salt we shall
Recall our ancestors:
“Great-grandmothers and -fathers
Remain always in paradise,
And let our food too,
Be in your hands.
And let our dear Narspi,
Have a happy life.
And let her life be
Full of fortune.”

* * *
They recalled all the deceased
According to ancient customs.
And then came to the barn
To begin the wedding party.
With the scoop full of beer,
The mother and the father bless.
In front of them their daughter
In tears her discord expresses.
“Our pekhil*, Narspi, to you:
Do not leave your husband;
Live in harmony with him,
Let there be peace in your house.
Listen to him, be obedient,
Do not contact bad people.
Do your work, do not contradict,
Be quick in any work,”-
Teach the mother with the father,
Not noticing Narspi’s tears.
At last the shabar voice is heard,
That means the wedding has begun.
*Pekhil - blessing.

* * *
Everybody in Silbi
Sleeps like a log.
Seeing that all is well,
The moon shines with joy.
Girls and boys end their play
And sleep in their houses.
The wedding people also sleep,
And dream their dreams.
Warm air becomes cool.
Silence, silence everywhere.
Only somewhere behind a corner
A sleepy dog barks lonely.
At midnight a rooster crowed,
Not coming from a dream.
And the moon slowly
Disappeared behind the forest.
Chuvash people sleep
While having sweet dreams.
Only one heart cannot
Sleep - it is going off.

4. Wedding party
* * *
As soon as the sun rises,
Smoke smells are felt in the village.
As soon as Chuvash opens his eyes,
Goes to his baths to wash.
It goes from century to century.
Following ancient traditions,
In Simek all people go to the baths,
And sweat using Simek grass.
(This rite was practised by
Our grandmothers and fathers.)
So today Chuvashes wash off
The dirt and all their troubles.
Putting on clean clothes,
They all went to the street.
All moving slowly
To see the wedding.
“Our wedding is cheerful.
Oh, yes, it’s wonderful!”
Songs are heard in half the village -
Turikas is full of people.

* * *
Mikheter’s house, like a palace
Can be seen from afar.
Through his gates on the street
People come and go.
In front of the house
There are a lot of people.
The old men, open-mouthed,
Wait for beer to be offered.
The melody of shabar
Makes everyone dance.
All people have fun,
All celebrate the wedding.
The wedding people are
A bit tired, but merry.
When the shabar stops playing,
And starts a wedding song:
“Why do you sit silent,
Why do you sit silent?
We must not be silent,
We’re not baby nightingales!”

* * *
But unmoven, the shabar
Invites all to dance once again.
With all the dancing,
The floor is bent from jolting.
The guests sit proudly
At the table, in the room.
Having fun, drinking, eating,
They toast the young couple:
“Be always healthy and stay wealthy,
Have a lot of children,
Live in peace, and never
Hear bad words.
Let us eat and drink,
And live together forever!
Loving the bride and the groom,
Let us celebrate this better!”
Look, like a young boy
How the khuzya* is dancing -
He, though old, is pleased with
His daughter’s wedding party.
*Khuzya - owner.

And boys compete in dancing,
Making a circle, while
The songs and jokes of girlfriends
Echo along these dances.
* * *
Curtains with a silk fringe
From the ceiling tremble.
And behind the red curtain
Sits the bride under a veil.
Under her bridal veil she grieves,
And cries while in distress.
As her girlfriends sing,
Her voice is not heard.
They say that Mikheter
Marries Narspi, they recollect;
Her happy days have already passed,
They celebrate her wedding.
Her spouse Takhtaman
Will take Narspi away.
She is to part with her love,
How to forget the maiden years?
When you leave us here,
What will your Setner do?
Dear Narspi, our sister,
Where is your good fortune?
* * *
There is no end to the wedding
It is crowded and magnificent.
If you visit your friends,
There are many - no end.
The leather covered cart
Is very high indeed.
The song of girlfriends
Is heard far away.
The whole day and night,
Not abating, strange enough,
Shabar is not tired to play,
And boys dance incessantly.
And the children play
Around the wedding party.
An old man behind the house
Sleeps, as if he’s dead.
Let’s celebrate the tuy* party,
But the old man is exhausted.
He wants to dance,
But he cannot, he is so weary.
*Tuy – wedding.

5. At the quack’s
* * *
A grey old man
Is sitting on his bench in hut.
The window, very small
Lets no light in at all.
Being open, the door
Brings some light into the room.
A beam of sunlight slowly
Crawls along the floor.
The old man is busy,
He’s patching up his bast shoes.
His hands are rather clumsy
Because of old age.
We see the sunbeam moving,
Moving slowly again.
And all at once at lightning speed
It jumps on the old grey head.
The Whitsunday of summer
Fills his heart with joy.
And the sun shining brightly
Makes his locks of hair glitter.

* * *
Muttering and puffing
While patching up his bast shoes,
He doesn’t even see or hear
Anybody come to him.
At the door, it being open
An old woman stands.
To the busy old man
Kindly words she says.
The woman speaking warmly
Setner’s old mother was.
Her son Setner, poor thing
Was seized with an evil spirit.
That is why his mother
Came to the old quack.
And with sorrow in her heart
Told him her grief.
For a long time they sat
Speaking warmly, quietly.
Every now and then they
Recollected bygone days.

* * *
At long last the old man
Conceded to the old woman.
And the latter in her turn
Promised him a new shirt and socks.
And the old man stood up
Leaving his work for a while.
Came up to the door
And shut it with a poker.
Having put on a sheepskin coat,
He took his cap under his arm.
Put a hackle beneath his feet,
Took a coin in his hand.
With his beard stroked
And his hair combed.
With blind eyes he stared
At the coin with care.

* * *
Staring at the coin,
He stroked his beard again.
And quietly he said,
Turning to the old woman:
“A hole in his head will never close,
A wound in his heart will never heal.
He has nothing to do
To overcome God’s will.
The Lord has granted him
A gentle heart and ardent blood.
The Lord predestined him
Life-span so short and days so hard.
Cold days will come,
His ardent blood will freeze.
These hard times will turn
His gentle heart to ice.
With the air becoming hot,
The frozen blood will warm.
And while melting, the icy
Heart will burn away, for ever...”

* * *
The old man grew silent,
Became thoughtful for a while.
Having put his sheepskin coat
And then his cap on the bench.
The old man said again
Turning to the old woman
(Who was sitting on the bench,
Rocking her body to and fro):
“This is not the evil spirit,
No dirty deed of Kiremet*,
Nor pestilence of any kind,
Nor bewitchment, evil eye.
No, my dear, your son
Is in God’s power.
Crying is of no help,
You can’t withstand the Lord.”

* * *
Having said these words, the old man.
Had nothing to do
And settled to his own work,
And no more word pronounced he.
Bending her head to the breast,
The mother grieving went away.
The old man got down
To patching up his bast shoes.
Muttering and puffing,
Sits he in perplexity.
How did this happen?
He asked himself the question.
Very often people came
To be told fortunes.
*Kiremet - a vicious deity.

I used to tell untruth
And deceived them many times.
How did it happen now?
Did I really tell the truth?
I was going to cheat,
What a wonder! Am I right?

6. Escape
* * *
The sun is setting, hiding.
Silbi village is becoming calm.
With the darkness of the evening
Our wedding comes to an end.
The girls and fellows of the village
Are singing, dancing in a ring.
Our Narspi is here too
To say good-bye to girlhood days.
She will enjoy herself
Before she is a married woman.
She will see Setner last time
Before she goes far away.
Setner is standing there
With hanging head and sad.
Tears are running down
From the beauty’s cheeks.
After having sung and danced,
Young people talked a lot.
Hugging one another
Disappeared in the dark.

* * *
Small stars have hidden
In the sky already.
Above the woods
Dark clouds are gathering.
It is raining, water’s flowing.
The dark forest is moaning.
And the wind is rising, falling,
As a wolf is howling.
With the flashes of lightning
The woods brighten for a while.
Through the dense and gloomy forest
A horse is galloping.
The horse is running at top speed.
The woods are roaring.
Two riders are on horseback,
The horse gets weary.
A tree is like a giant
In the dark it drones.
As if it says: “Good luck!”
Bends its branches, clears the way.

* * *
Daybreak whitens far away.
The sun’s on the point of rising.
As soon as daylight comes,
People hurry to the wedding.
Following the customs, it is time
For fellows to dance already.
Following the customs, it is time
For girls to sing already.
The shabar is keeping silence,
The shabar player isn’t seen.
Among the honourable guests
Neither wine, nor beer flows.
The husband and wife in the house
Are abusing each other.
What has happened?
The guests are keeping silence.
The guests can’t break the silence,
Their lass has gone away.
Narspi and insolent Setner
Ran away after a round of dances.

* * *
Three riders in the forest
Are hot on the trail.
One is here, others there -
They are treading in some tracks.
They are treading in the tracks
And are listening to the sounds.
The sun is shining brightly.
Won’t it help to find the way?
But nothing can be heard or seen,
Maybe, go to the forest’s heart?
They feel annoyed and want
To find the fugitives quicker.
The forest is dense and wild.
It is howling and rustling.
No tracks are seen,
Which way to choose, anyhow?
Three riders in the forest
Are hot on the trail.
One is here, others there.
They are treading in some tracks.

* * *
Under a lofty oak
Setner is sleeping sweetly.
But Narspi’s sleep is light,
She is sitting at his head.
Narspi is dreaming that
Her father turned into a dog
And showing his teeth,
Is running all over the woods:
“Where are you, unruly daughter,
I’ll thrash the life out of you!”
Under the dog’s paws
The forest is howling.
He is near, he is coming,
Narspi wakes up at once.
And looks and sees:
Three riders are approaching them.
“Setner, Setner, they’ve caught us!
We should run, get up!
It’s all over with us!
We can do nothing to escape!”

* * *
A brave shabar player today
With two neighbour fellows
Has caught Narspi and
Setner in the woods.
Narspi’s mother dashing out,
Took the daughter by the hair;
Narspi’s father running out,
Punched Setner with all his might.
“Oh, mummy, mummy,
Don’t pull me by the hair,
If you punish me like this,
You can’t expect good from me!”
“Oh, Mikheter, old man,
There is no use beating.
Beating me, you can’t
Make firewood out of ashes.”
Like a mad dog, Mikheter
Took a lash in his hand
And began whipping Setner,
Who stood motionless, being tied.

* * *
Many people are in the yard,
As if they are watching a wedding.
Having fallen to the ground,
Setner is lying lifeless.
Setner’s mother is there,
She is crying and cursing.
And asks two people
To carry home her ill-fated son.
In the house Narspi
She is being washed and cleaned.
And again she is sitting
Under a veil behind the curtain.
Everyone is fussing and glad
To have a merry wedding.
And let the son-in-law
Be unaware of that shameful deed.
Oh, wedding, this wedding,
A great, but marred wedding!

7. Two wedding parties
* * *
The scorching spring sun
Will be setting soon.
The forest near the village
Is moaning, why?
The people are waiting patiently
On the village outskirts.
And soon they saw the wedding party coming
And told the match-maker.
At full speed galloping
From the forest came in sight,
Being in advance of all,
Son-in-law Takhtaman.
With big nose, narrow eyes,
Fair hair, fair beard,
The horse running at top speed
He looks rather malicious.
In black sakhman*, light-coloured cap,
With tenke** on his head,
White socks and bast shoes
The son-in-law looks rather well.
*Sakhman - men’s clothes.
**Tenke - men’s wedding decoration.

* * *
The bridegroom’s wedding party
Is going along the street.
The honourable match-maker’s gate
Keeps on opening and closing.
The bride’s wedding party too
Is coming to meet them from Tukas*.
Narspi being under the veil
Is coming too, crying bitterly.
The heart of a fair maiden
Is burning and bleeding.
Seeing her elderly bridegroom,
Narspi is suffering, grieving.
“Oh, father and mother,
Why have you ruined my life?
Why have you given your daughter
Into a stranger’s hands?
Oh, my bridegroom Takhtaman,
You won’t be happy with me,
Even if I die,
I won’t be with you!”
*Tukas - name of the street.

* * *
The respectable match-maker
Meets the wedding with beer.
The wedding head from Khushalka*
Is singing his takmak**.
His beer is streaming,
He is treating his guests.
The black horse is stamping,
The son-in-law’s impatient.
Near the son-in-law
Seven riders are dancing.
The whole village is roaring
With their loud singing.
Through the new gate
Carts keep on coming.
The top of it is flopping,
Being cracked by whips.
In the match-maker’s house
The wedding went on a long time.
Next day in the streets
People made merry and played.
*Khushalka - Takhtaman’s village.
**Takmak - a four line folk verse for singing.

* * *
Khushalka guests for three days
Were celebrating the wedding.
And next day they say
Time has come to leave.
The bridegroom’s wedding party
Is ready to leave for Khushalka.
“We have celebrated the wedding here,
It is time to start out now.”
“Don’t hurry, match-makers,
Let us visit one more house.
Before leaving home,
Let us make merry once again.
And once again the guests
Went on celebrating the wedding
And at last the match-makers
Got weak and weary.
The bridegroom’s wedding party
Started on their way.
And the whole Silbi village
Gathered to see them off.

* * *
Near the village graveyard
Wedding horses are waiting.
The mother and father are here
To see the bride’s wedding off.
The village people
Are standing all around.
Having prayed for the deceased,
Are watching the bride leave.
Though unwell, Setner is here
Standing with his mother.
His sore eyes are looking for
His beloved Narspi.
Mikheter and his wife,
Blessing their daughter,
Have caused all her friends
To shed their tears.
They haven’t said a word
To their dear daughter,
Being ashamed of her eloping
To the forest with Setner.

* * *
After parents’ blessing
The wedding started out.
Narspi cast a look at Setner
And went away sobbing.
After the wedding she went away,
The forest was roaring a long time.
All the people broke up,
When the wedding passed out of sight.
Setner and his mother
Grieving go to their home.
They have parted him
From his beloved for ever.
“Oh, life, my life,
What else to do, but die.
Oh, my life, Narspi
Has gone to the stranger.
What shall I do without her?
With my unfortunate fate?
Where am I to go now
With my broken heart?”

* * *
Narspi has gone to the stranger;
Setner has gone home.
Two souls, two beloved souls
Couldn’t overcome their enemy.
The forest couldn’t hide
Two loving hearts’ escape.
Narspi, fair maiden,
Has been taken away by Takhtaman.
Futile efforts, vain hopes,
Setner’s beloved has gone away.
So is God’s will,
Such are the times.
The village gossiped much
About Setner and his deed.
Even very clever people
Failed to understand the matter.
Narspi has gone to the stranger,
And Setner is left alone.
The father ruined his daughter’s life,
The relationship ruined the relation’s life.

8. In Khushalka
* * *
They say there is a wedding in Khushalka,
They say the wedding is great.
White-bearded Takhtaman
Is celebrating his wedding.
Handsome fellow Takhtaman
Has married a girl from Silbi.
He has made a good match.
And is having a sumptuous feast.
Young fellows are dancing
To celebrate the wedding.
Singing many wedding songs
They finally get tired.
Yesterday from Silbi
The wedding party came home.
Today the son-in-law is feasting
And waiting for his bride’s wedding party.
Today, when evening falls,
They will close the doors.
And in the early morning he will rise,
A wife will become the bride.

* * *
Great village Khushalka
Is between two hills.
Takhtaman is sitting
At his wedding table.
The table made of lime wood
Sagging under the weight of food.
The son-in-law feels giddy,
Being rather drunk.
The sun is shining outside,
Midday will be soon.
The son-in-law growing drunk
Is hanging his head on the table.
On the steppe a quail
Is singing now and then.
The son-in-law is waiting for
The bride’s wedding party.
Tails of the son-in-law’s
White shirt are swaying.
Waiting for the wedding to come
The old man feels anxious.

* * *
The bells are heard
Singing on the road.
The bridal party is coming
Along the streets of the village.
Ten women in khushpu*
Are seen in a tarantass**,
Forty-three more carts
Are coming after the tarantass.
At seven houses along the street
Were stopped the wedding people.
And everywhere they were met
With beer by Khushalka dwellers.
They are singing and entering
The respectable son-in-law’s gate.
They are drinking and eating
After having travelled long.
It’s only midday now,
There is much time before evening.
Before evening we have enough time
To celebrate wedding.
*Khushpu - woman’s headdress.
**Tarantass - a springless carriage.

* * *
When the feast began,
Till the sunset they danced.
And soon Narspi and Takhtaman
Were shut together in the room.
The respectable men
Locked the door with a key,
Smiling at each other
Went all of them away.
A fellow, one fellow
Is hovering around.
He is looking for a place
To see or hear something.
Four or five children
Are hovering around, too.
Oh, shameless children,
What is here for them to do?
Look, they are listening,
Perhaps, they hear something.
The madcaps are standing silent,
The girl is saying something.

* * *
Inside Narspi has told
Something to Takhtaman.
Having whispered in low voice,
Nobody heard the words.
“You dare, Narspi,
Now you are in my hands!”
Said Takhtaman loudly,
He was angry, could not control himself.
“Let me see your wedding party off,
I shall teach you!
You don’t know your future,
You will see what you deserve!”
Nothing more was heard,
No more word was said.
Those who were listening
Couldn’t hear a thing.

* * *
The children, all at once
Ran away to home.
And soon the whole village
Knew what they’d heard.
A young fellow who was there
Went to the forest.
The words he heard
Were hidden deep at heart.
His eyes, full of anger
Were burning like a flame.
The village people
Didn’t look at him.
Only an oak in the woods
Told to his neighbour tree.
The young man in the forest
Was our friend Setner.

* * *
In the house on the table
There is hot porridge.
Son-in-law Takhtaman
Is seeing his guests home.
Respectable son-in-law Takhtaman
Is treating them to wedding porridge.
And is thanking his guests,
Saying the following words:
“Don’t judge, my dear guests,
My food is not so sumptuous.
Eat and drink your heart’s desire,
Let us live in peace for ever.”
The match-makers being drunk,
Are noisy and roaring.
Though being rather drunk,
They do know what to say:
“Son-in-law Takhtaman,
We are pleased with you.
Take care of our girl,
And live in peace for ever.”

* * *
In the yard the horses
Are waiting, are dancing.
The guests are going home
And are singing a song:
“Let us go our way
With a cup full of honey...”
The carriages are leaving,
And the dust is rolling.
You hear the bell ringing,
It is hurrying to Silbi.
The horse is running,
The drunken master is driving on.
The wedding’s over, the guests are leaving.
They are going along the beaten track.
When being met by an old man,
They hear him cry “Good bye!”
Narspi is standing there,
She sees the wedding leave.
Somewhere in the distance
The dust is settling down.

9. After Simek
* * *
Simek is over, the wedding is over.
Merry wedding days are over.
Every day resembles another,
Life goes on.
In the field sowing’s in progress,
The wooden plough’s cutting the earth.
With sorrow Narspi’s heart
Is breaking, it is heavy.
In the meadow a scythe
Is throwing down the grass.
With anguish Narspi
Is sick at heart.
From day to day the sun rays
Are getting warmer and warmer.
From day to day Narspi’s heart
Is breaking from unbearable anguish.
Every day a whip is taken
From the nail on the wall.
Apparently Takhtaman
Holds his wife well in hand.

* * *
A nice little boy Sentti
Is always running outside.
Often straddling a yoke
He is playing as a rider.
Along the streets
He raises dust.
Dirty as a Gypsy boy
Returns home in the evening.
A nice little boy Sentti
Runs home with his horse.
And has his baby-talk
With his aunt Narspi.
Daughter-in-law Narspi
Is always sad, alone.
And she loves only Sentti,
Little son of her brother-in-law.
Daughter-in-law Narspi
Is always sad, alone.
And only talking to Sentti
She unburdens her heavy heart.
* * *
God has given him
Such a kind heart.
God has given him a bird’s soul
To smile, to jump, to play.
A seven-year old boy
Has truly a Chuvash heart.
Even when his eyes are full of tears,
His gentle lips are smiling.
A nice little boy Sentti
Longs for his aunt Narspi.
With his baby-talk
Gives some consolation to his aunt:
“Don’t cry, my auntie, don’t cry,
Wipe away your tears.
Don’t grieve, auntie,
Drive away your sorrow.”

* * *
Respectable son-in-law Takhtaman
Still remembers the wedding room.
Day after day mercilessly
He whips his wife.
And his wife, poor thing,
Stands his beating silently,
The short-witted husband whips
Not knowing what may happen.
Once a man came to the house
And had a talk with Takhtaman.
Narspi was out then,
They were speaking in whispers.
Narspi returns with a beer,
She is treating the guest.
As soon as he goes away,
The whip is taken from the wall:
“Well, this is how matters stand!
That sort of girl you are!
Having your own wedding,
You ran away with Setner!”

* * *
Takhtaman is beating, beating,
He is torturing his wife.
Among the village people
Soon the news is spread.
That’s how things are!
It happens very often.
Evil is done on the sly,
Under the cover of night.
The mother and father
Foster their daughter.
When she becomes a wife,
An old husband tortures her.
The mother and father have found
A wealthy husband for the daughter.
But what’s the use of it?
If they don’t love each other.
If a husband and wife
Live in peace and friendship.
Then a poor man is
Much happier than a rich one.

* * *
Whip her, whip her, Takhtaman,
Take out her heart!
Torture your wife, Takhtaman,
Treat her like a dog!
Whip her, whip her, Takhtaman,
Don’t let youth mock you!
Torture your wife, Takhtaman,
Let Narspi get old quicker!
Later perhaps you’ll reproach yourself,
Perhaps you will be sorry for this.
Whip her, whip her, Takhtaman,
Don’t let youth mock you!
Three weeks have passed
After Whitsunday days.
So much time Narspi stood
Her old husband’s torments.
But the next week
Once, a warm and clear night...
(But stop, wait a little.
Now is not the time.)

10. The crime of Narspi
* * *
The sun has risen.
The tops of mountains,
Dales and rivers -
Everything is light.
The bright summer day
Generously caresses Khushalka.
Everything alive in the world
Is dancing, jumping and glad.
Everything alive is dancing, riding
In the dense forests
The birds have started their song,
Girls, as if they were swans
Came down to the stream.
Only in one spacious house
There is not a sound. Complete calmness.
There is a young wife
With her head down, sitting pale.
Takhtaman after his early meal
Left for his field at dawn.
His wife has been left alone to pine
And her melancholy is endless.

* * *
Married against her will,
Through her parents’ decision…
The fiancé chosen by you
Is not for her happiness.
Without taking pity upon your daughter
A long way from yourselves,
You have passed her to the hands
Of a strict unknown person.
And now she is suffering
And feels no joy.
The old husband jeers at her
As if she were a dog.
Oh! Why have you parted me
So cruelly with my sweetheart?
Oh! Why hadn’t I ruined my head
Before I came here?
Oh! Why should I live under one roof
With an enemy so cruel?
Shouldn’t I commit suicide?
How should I endure all this?

* * *
Married against my will, -
I won’t find any happiness here.
Yes, the parents’ will causes
Only misfortune and trouble.
Married against my will, -
And the world around me is gloomy.
It is through you, my dear parents,
That my sweetheart is so lonely.
Married against my will, -
And my pride is trampled.
Regarding the parents’ will,
I have worn myself out with sufferings.
Married against my will, -
My life is full of pain and torment.
Because of my parents’ short-sightedness
What will I get? What shall I do?
Married against my will, -
I won’t find any happiness here.
Yes, the parents’ will causes
Only misfortune and trouble.

* * *
“But my sweetheart lives in Silbi,
Might I find defence in him?
Might he with his powerful hands
Punish this enemy of mine?
No, I’d better ruin the villain
Rather than commit suicide.
Rather than endure all the tortures
I will kill Takhtaman.
But, is there enough strength?
How will I escape from here?
Oh! My pulekh, please, do help me!
What should I do? I’m all burning through…
Vanish, villain, otherwise I will die!
Hell torments make the life unbearable.
Please, fulfil your task to me,
Please, serve your duty, poison!”
This is how Narspi is suffering,
All her inner is aching.
Her angry decision gave birth
To a horrible intention.

* * *
The hot sun is playing,
Raising to zenith
And quietly tending to noon.
It’s glittering as a flame.
The world is shining, rejoicing;
Everything is singing and buzzing.
Narspi is sitting in the house, sobbing,
Her heart is being torn.
Here is little Sentti
Riding the yoke
Gaily and noisy
To visit his aunt.
He is driving on his brave horse
With a fresh writhe;
And he touches his aunt
As if by accident with a little kick.
But even he stopped playing
With her, puzzled.
And rode quickly away
His horse along the street.

* * *
The young woman is blowing and spitting
Stirring her soup;
The fire is burning under the pot
And coiling like a snake.
“Across seven seas
An old woman Shabadan* is coming.
Do blow, do spit in the soup, -
Let Takhtaman die!
Across approximately sixty islands
Copper chair is jumping.
Come quicker, chair,
Let Takhtaman die!
On thirty-one hills
Let the soup boil
In a copper pot.
Let the snake boil in it;
Let the angry husband boil in it!”
The young woman is blowing and spitting
Stirring her soup.
The deadly soup is boiling
And hissing as a snake.
*Shabadan - a fairytale image, a witch.

* * *
In the dark late dusk
The husband returned from the field.
On the table
The soup is steaming.
Takhtaman took a spoon,
Sat down at the table.
“The soup is very tasty today!”
He said to his wife.
And then, having flashed his eyes,
He showed his wife a big fist:
“The soup is tasty, sit at the table
And eat it. Come on!” shouted he.
- It’s all right, I’ll eat later
I am not too hungry. –
And Narspi could not bear it any more
And off she went.
She is sitting at the passage,
Tears are dropping on the ground
Takhtaman goes on eating
And becomes unsteady as if drunken.

* * *
Eat, eat, Takhtaman,
Your poisoned soup.
From now on you are not
The husband to your wife.
You have perished forever,
You are not the master of the world.
“Hey, Narspi, come in quickly!
I feel like sleeping, make my bed.
I have ploughed and got tired,
All my inside’s burning in fire.
I have washed down the soup with water
And it tasted like wine”.
Now, Narspi has come obediently.
The husband is sitting on the floor.
He is squirming from pain
Choking and shivering.
The wife has made him the bed,
Helped him into it.
He trembled all over
And his soul left him.

* * *
One more life vanished
For all the evils done.
The man has calmed down forever,
His heart ceased beating.
The woman is afraid
Of the table and chairs.
They are looking with pity
At their master’s cold body.
Night has come.
Covered the house with haze.
Its long hands
Frighten Narspi so much.
The Chuvash is gone
He can’t get up from his bed.
He can’t feed any more
His hungry cattle.
The horses are neighing hungry
After the day’s plough; alas!
You, my poor orphans,
Will never see your master again.

* * *
Beyond the outskirts there’s a dense forest
Rustling its leafs,
Above it there’s wind
Playing with a midnight star.
Khushalkian Chuvashes
Have been sleeping for a long time.
Only the owl is calling
Flying across the threshing-floor.
The moon appeared behind the forest
And it is protruding like a white horn.
Very quietly and slowly
Narspi has stepped over the threshold.
As a shade she crept over the fence
To the threshing-floor.
She left the village
And rushed into the forest.
The moon wishing to watch her
Was following her long.
And the forest whispered something
After Narspi went away.

* * *
Narspi is running, rushing
Quicker and quicker along the dark forest.
The forest has been paralysed.
It’s so terrifying, so weird in the thicket.
Awkward trees are waving
With their twigs and leaves.
They continually block Narspi’s way
In the thick darkness.
Arziouris* are playing and jumping
And are trying to catch her,
And now and then they
Protrude their long hands to Narspi.
A sudden wind has come.
The forest is raging:
“Takhtaman, hold your wife!”-
Cries out the wind.
“Here she is coming, the villain!
The husband, get hold of your wife!”
And as if there were thirty-three shaitans
The forest is howling: Uh-Uh-Uh!
*Arziouri - wood-goblin.

* * *
Sentti got up, put on his clothes
And ran out to play.
Having straddled the yoke,
Rushed to his aunt.
On arriving he discovers she is out.
The uncle is sleeping still
He can’t wake him up.
The boy is standing puzzled.
Now enters some adult
And stops paralysed
For a minute he keeps silent,
Then quickly goes away.
In a little while the house
Becomes crowded with people:
“How did our Takhtaman die?
Where did Narspi disappear?”
You may ask many times,
But the dead body will say nothing.
Narspi is in the forest,
You will not find her.

11. In Silbi
* * *
In Silbi life is as usual
The village leads a quiet life.
Care-free simek
And revelry passed.
Gay-coloured shirts
Are seen everywhere in the fields.
The Chuvash works like draught oxen,
He started working with songs.
He gets up at the dawn
And goes to the wide steppe.
After a quick snack
He takes the light scythe.
After uchuk* the Chuvash people
Have started mowing;
Huge cocks of hay are standing
In the meadow as if towers.
The tinkling of scythes hasn’t yet ceased
Above the unmowed grass,
But already rye ripens,
Sparkling with ripe ears.
*Uchuk - an ancient holiday of sacrifice in the field.

* * *
Many different words are around,
The tongue is loose, you know.
Perhaps, there is some truth
In what people say.
In Silbi there are also
Talks about Narspi and Takhtaman.
People have always known how cruel
How cruel is Takhtaman.
Being afraid of Mikheter,
Silently and secretly,
Lowering their heads, peasants
Gossip about his daughter.
As soon as Setner heard those words
He immediately left for somewhere
He left his mother alone,
Without saying her good-bye.
People, having worked in the field
Come back home for supper;
And the names of Setner and Narspi
Are mentioned at the meal.

* * *
Setner started walking and quickly
Escaped in the thicket, feeling furious.
Aware of his sweetheart’s sufferings,
He wishes death to the enemy:
“It’ll get dark, the night will come
And I’ll meet the enemy.
The heart will cease to beat in him.
Long before the sunrise.
It’ll become light and the day’ll break out.
The man will wake up.
But my enemy will still sleep
And will never wake up again.
The sun will rise and warm everything around
I’ll be in the forest. You, the enemy
Will never get up. Narspi will
Never be in your house.”
Tonight Narspi left the house
All by herself;
And before meeting her friend
She left her enemy.

12. In the forest
* * *
The forest is noisy, it’s moaning,
There’s not a ray of hope in it.
The wind will come suddenly
And all around will start howling.
The forest is noisy, it’s moaning,
It’s roaring infernally.
Are there demons and arziouris
So furiously raging?
The wind grows into the storm,
Everything is being twisted.
The dark forest is howling,
The trees are being bent to the ground.
The endless dark clouds
Are running above the forest.
The lightnings are cutting the ground
Through the thick darkness.
It is thundering, crashing and choking,
The world is hardly alive.
The rain fall is racketing
Through the hollows.

* * *
The thick forest, the thick forest,
Why are you making so much noise?
Why are you frightening the poor soul
By your howling and wild whistling?
The forest starts crying
And howling even more restlessly.
Don’t leave me, for goodness sake!
The last day is approaching!
Oh, where can I only hide?
Oh, my felonious head!
Oh, how can I only get on
With my sinful soul?
Poor Setner with his grief
Is walking in the forest.
The trees in the forest are singing
Their violent song over him!
Here he comes along the path
And he’s walking and singing,
As if trying to drown the storm,
And to suppress his heartache:

* * *
“The thick forest, the thick forest,
Why are you storming so threateningly?
Why are you frightening my poor soul
By your howling, by your wild whistling?
Oh, my sorrow, oh, my sorrow!
Don’t burn my dreams!
Why are you leaving the orphan
Without happiness?
Sure, I was given birth only
For the torments, for sufferings.
Better to die than
To endure all these sufferings.
My life wouldn’t be ruined
If only I were rich.
And even more than that
Human stupidity ruined my life.
And more than human stupidity
There appeared a hateful enemy.
God’s will prevented me
From overcoming the hateful enemy.

* * *
Setner is singing and the storm
Having taken this song,
Crying flies away with howlings
Over the thick forest.
This gloomy song is rather bitter,
It breaks the soul.
The yells and moans fly
Away together with the storm.
And little by little the sounds
Are dying in the forest’s thicket.
These tears are felt
By the other dear soul.
Someone is crying in return
In the thicket, stunning the heartache.
The other soul is suffering
From severe grief.
The fellow hears somebody’s song
And he catches every sound.
He starts singing again
With the storm’s howling.

* * *
“The black forest, the thick forest,
Why are you storming so threateningly
And waking up my deadly dreams
By singing as if my sweetheart?
The black forest, the thick forest,
Don’t cheat the orphan;
Singing like my sweetheart
Don’t lure my soul in vain!
The great forest, the thick forest,
Tell me the truth!
Take pity upon me: show me
My girl-friend alive.
Hark! Somebody is approaching me…
I see the female:
Oh, dear and kind God!
Isn’t it my Narspi..?”

* * *
The ancient oak blessed
The young with a bow.
The wind calmed down
And the dark forest became quiet.
The dark clouds behind the forest
Dispelled in the distance.
The birds sing in their nests.
The bright sun is hot.
The sun pours its warmth generously
Onto the dew on the grass.
The loving couple gets
The bright light from the sun.
The bright day is gleaming and sparkling,
And there is no mention of dreadful days!
The two are walking gaily
And there are no thoughts about the others.
However, in the sinister thicket
One can hear the black bird’s chirp:
Takhtaman’s ghost is wandering
And demanding Narspi’s soul.

13. The father and the mother
* * *
There are the two sweethearts
In the ramshackle house of Setner:
They are having a scanty supper
At the low and wretched table.
Setner’s mother has brought
Sour milk from the neighbours
She’s got the salt in the salt-cellar
And the hunk of bread on the table.
The young are speaking lively
While having supper.
The old mother standing aside
Is silently listening to their words.
They are remembering peaceful days,
Of the round dances and gatherings,
Of happy pre-Simek evenings.
Suddenly, somebody’s feet hammered
In the passage outside
And the old Mikheter has entered
The house with his old wife.

The mother:
We have come to find out
If our daughter is here.
The kind people have said
She is here… Oh, here she is!

Oh, daughter, daughter, are you our daughter?
How could you dare Disgrace me in front of
These honest people?
What on earth were you dissatisfied with?
What on earth didn’t you have?
What do you like Setner for,
My dear daughter?
What does he have, this poor man?
How could you behave like this,
The daughter of the rich parents?
You’ve cast a stain on the old father.

The mother:
Why did she, silly thing, have
To kill her husband
And to walk with the bad lot Setner
In the night forest?

Thank God, I have never heard
A bad word in my life.
My peace has never been
Broken even by Kiremet.
My house has always been
Taken care by Pireshti*.
That’s why everybody in the village
Respected and honoured me.
I was marked by Pulekh,
I was loved by Kharban**.
*Pireshti - a good spirit.
**Kharban - a paganist deity.
The blue sky and the bright sun
Have given me the true wealth.
Now, however, I have been bowed
Too low with my grey head.
My bright day has been shadowed
By your black deed.

The mother (to Mikheter):
You should scold Setner,
He should know his place!
He shouldn’t grasp our daughter
By his callous hands!

I have been taking care of her
Since early age.
I have been saving up for her
My wealth for ages.
I haven’t had a wink of sleep
In the dark night and
In the bright day
For my daughter’s sake.
I have been thinking hard
How to make her a good match;
I was trying hard to find
A rich bridegroom for her.
I have married her,
I have arranged a wedding party!
Such a misfortune!
Evidently, it is all over, when my head is grey?

The mother:
You don’t take pity upon your old mother
I wish the floor would open beneath your feet!
Who has brought you up? Wasn’t it me,
Who took care of your destiny?

I have been taking care of you
Since your early age.
And everybody admired you.
You, my daughter, has killed me today.
You have ignored our will,
Haven’t spared your mother’s
And father’s grey old heads
Because of this poor Setner.
Not even all our wealth
And words have helped you.
Even a fool wouldn’t have behaved
Like this with such a bridegroom!
Oh, my parents! How could I
Live with such a mean old man?
Good is not in wealth; good –
Is in the man, only in him.

The mother:
Hush, you, minx, it is enough,
Close your lips and do not chat,
You are making your mother suffer,
And you will be punished by God!

You’ve put me to such a shame!
What will people say?
“Don’t forget about your daughter, you, old man”,
They will talk and point at me.
However, for them, the chatter-boxes,
Not to gossip day and night,
No matter that you’ve lost your honour,
You are still my daughter.
Let’s leave that shabby house,
Let us do it quicker, daughter.
And we’ll find you a new husband
Until you are not all withered with shame.
Don’t grieve, Narspi, let’s return,
Your father is still alive, you know
And he is still well off,
No matter that your honour has been lost.

The mother:
Let’s go away quickly, you, the dog!
You’d better listen to your mother…
You, Setner, shameless dog, should know:
You are not a son-in-law to the rich!

Oh, my father, my father,
Why are you reproaching me now?
Why are you calling the daughter
Who disgraced you..?

The mother:
You only listen to what she is saying!
Listen to your daughter!

That’s it, old woman! Keep silent!
Let’s listen to what she has to say.

Being not a girl, a wife,
Why should I return home?
Again to marry the unloved?
Again to suffer, and to grieve?
No, father, don’t you ask me:
I won’t return home.
It’s too late. After all the troubles
I won’t wait for a bridegroom any more.
It’s right. You brought me up,
You loved your daughter;
But I have grown up,
And you failed to see my soul.
I kept asking you, I kept begging you
I pleaded tearfully;
And at that last and horrible hour
I was lying at your feet.
Yes, you brought your daughter up
And for the money
You’ve sold her away,
Thus you have ruined her life.
In my childhood you used to say
You loved me so.
You gave me everything
I wanted, in your house.
I begged the father to wait
For only a year,
But he scolded me severely
And my mother pulled me by the hair.
Oh, why you, my dear father,
Didn’t only fulfil my innermost desire!
I would now be different.
Everything would be different now.
Oh, why did you let the greedy wolf
Has your daughter only?
You were looking for your happiness
Hoping that it was in money.
You are the only one guilty
For all my sufferings and torments.
And if Setner is not your son-in-law
I will not remain your daughter.
Oh, my parents, I ask you
To give us your blessing.
We will all live now
In peace and love forever.

The mother:
Your daughter is talking nonsense!
This devil Setner has evidently tempted her!
Let us not care about her,
Let us leave her alone and return home.

You, Setner, remember this!
You have ruined my daughter.
And you, cruel daughter, live
In this hut without a chimney.
The time will come
And you’ll return to your father’s house!
And you will understand
That your father wished you good.
Now, let us, my wife go
Let us return home
We have nothing left to say
To our dear daughter.

The mother:
Suffer and pine here
Like naked boughs!
Live a dog’s life
Until your bones ..!
Cursing their own daughter
The mother and father retired.
In the street the mother
Is still using bad language.
The sun went down ashamed.
The dark has come.
Setner’s mother is clearing the table,
Giving a deep sigh.

14. Four deaths
* * *
Of all the earthly gifts
Sleep is the most desired
For the one who’s tired,
For the one who works much.
People in Silbi too
Subside into sleep today.
The dark forest sleeps; sometimes
It wakes up due to the wind.
Two carts appeared from the forest.
Now they are harnessed with two horses
And are turning their steps
Towards the village in the darkness.
A terrible cry was shrilled
Which immediately pierced the soul,
Someone heard it and on the spot
Rushed headlong to the cry.
But the carts turned around quickly
With a loud rumble
And approached the dark thicket
Where they escaped again.

* * *
Noise and uproar stirred around
Everybody took alarm at night.
“Mikheter has been robbed”,
Somebody was heard crying.
Crowds of people, panting
Are running to Turikas.
- What’s the matter? What has happened?
They are asking each other.
“Mikheter has been robbed,
Everything has been taken from his house!
They were not afraid of even God
Let the thieves collapse!
Mikheter and his wife
Have both been murdered!
Their seven farm-hands have been
Given much venomous vodka.
Setner had time to come
To the woman’s cry,
But the damned thief stabbed
The axe into his skull!”

* * *
Mikheter has been murdered.
All his riches are taken away,
The thieves were not afraid of God,
Let the earth swallow them!
Setner has also died, poor thing,
Through the scoundrel’s axe.
Nobody has witnessed
Anything like this in Silbi.
Mikheter’s daughter can not cry,
She is not shedding tears.
In the empty parents’ house
She is standing motionless.
But in her heart there is
A heavy millstone made of flint.
Under it there is a deathly-still heart
Being painfully torn…
As soon as the pain burst through
Narspi crashed down;
And only later, regaining consciousness,
She burst into tears saying the words:

* * *
“Oh, my father and mother,
Why have you given birth to me?
I was shown the world
And I see only suffering in this world.
Oh, my God, my kind pulekh,
Why have you given me the soul,
And deprived me of happy fate?
Oh, my poor young soul!
My soul, poor young soul,
What for are you sentenced to death?
You turned out to be the only unwanted
In the whole world.”
Thus, grieving and crying,
She went through the gates to the field,
She left the village
And strolled pensively to the hemp valley.
The people who met her
Showed sadness in their eyes.
And they gossiped till dark
About the events of the day.

* * *
The next morning corn-growers
Did not go to the field:
Remembering Friday the Chuvash
Used to spend the day idly.
However, the girls didn’t dare
Sing and play as they used to.
The guys didn’t dare dance
At leisure either.
The old men gathered in the lane:
They want to sell Mikheter’s house
And they are conspiring secretly.
But Narspi is somewhere away
The riders have been sent to look for her.
The rest went to see off those killed,
To bury Mikheter and his wife.
There’s a freshly made mound
Over the spacious grave.
And Setner lies in the oak coffin,
In deep and everlasting sleep.

* * *
In the afternoon people started
Spreading their hands in amazement:
Narspi was found dead
And nobody knows what to do.
Having ridden the horses to death
All the riders returned with one news:
She was found hung on the white willow
In the hemp valley.
She was buried at the same place
Under the willow.
And her grave was surrounded
By a nut-tree fence.
The sun went down and the night came.
The Chuvashes are sleeping;
The east has reddened and the people
Again arise to start working.
The night for our poor Narspi
Will last forever.
And only in her dark coffin
She can overcome her sorrow.

* * *
This is how her destiny turned out.
This is how Narspi died
In the prime of life
Having become the victim of severe morals.
The generous pulekh has opened for her
The world without boundaries and ends.
She’s become the comely girl
Grown up in her parents’ kindness.
Through the mercy of the pulekh
She has become clever and kind;
And her parents’ will
Has become the noose for her.
She was put into a narrow coffin,
Having left her honest fame.
She has made sad songs,
All the village people remember them.
And even today Silbi settlers pour
The spring water on the turf
Over her in dry wind,
Remembering the poor girl.



( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 7th, 2012 10:45 pm (UTC)
Для таких текстов существует "кат". Вся френдлента поехала в тартарары...
Feb. 8th, 2012 03:26 am (UTC)
Спасибо, попробую разобраться.
Feb. 8th, 2012 06:32 am (UTC)
А этот текст будет под катом
Gabriele Tecchiato
Feb. 22nd, 2012 08:03 pm (UTC)
What a wonderful surprise!!!!!! Narspi translated into English!!!!

Congratulations!!!! I completed my translation of Narspi into Italian last July 2011!!!!

Mar. 10th, 2012 01:03 am (UTC)
lost cousin
afternoon everyone im looking for peter handers is he still on here
Oct. 25th, 2012 11:53 am (UTC)
The Muscle Maximizer Overview Have The Program You May Have Normally Dreamed Of
And a desire commences having a nagging thought one example is the aforementioned queries that seem to annoy most people today
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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