Secular Power

When the supreme event had come to pass, and He,
Our God, upon the cross had died in agony,
On either side the tree two looked on one another:
One, Mary Magdalene, and one, the Virgin Mother —
In grief two women stood.
But now whom do we see beneath the holy rood,
As though it were the porch of him who rules the city?
Not here the holy twain, borne down by pain and pity,
But, shakos on their heads and bayonet in hand,
Beside the crucifix two bristling sentries stand.
Are they set here to guard the cross as 'twere State cargo?
Do you fear mice or thieves? Wherefore this strict embargo?
Would you add dignity unto the King of kings?
What honor do you think your patronage thus brings,
You mighty of the earth, what help by you is rendered
To Him who's crowned with thorns, to Him who freely tendered
His body to the scourge, without complaint or fear,
The Christ who had to bear the cross, the nails, the spear?
You dread the mob's affront to Him who won remission
Of sins, and saved the race of Adam from perdition?
Is it to keep the way for strolling gentry clear
That thus the common folk are not admitted here?

Translated by Babette Deutsch

A.S. Pushkin. Secular Power (“When the supreme event had come to pass, and He...”). Translated by Babette Deutsch// Alexander Pushkin. Collected Works: Parallel Russian Text and English Translation.
© Электронная публикация — РВБ, 2022—2024. Версия 2.1 от 30 ноября 2023 г.