어느 외딴 바닷가
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There’s a green oak by the bay,
on the oak a chain of gold:
a learned cat, night and day,
walks round on that chain of old:
to the right – it spins a song,
to the left – a tale of wrong.
Marvels there: the wood-sprite rides,
in the leaves a mermaid hides:
on deep paths of mystery
unknown creatures leave their spoor:
huts on hen’s legs you can see,
with no window and no door.
Wood and valley vision-brimming:
there at dawn the waves come washing
over sands and silent shore,
and thirty noble knights appear
one by one, from waters clear,
attended there by their tutor:
a king’s son passing by
takes a fierce king prisoner:
a wizard carries through the sky
a knight, past all the people there,
over forests, seas they fly:
a princess in a prison pines,
whom a brown wolf serves with pride:
A mortar, Baba Yaga inside,
takes that old witch for a ride.
King Kaschey grows ill with gold.
It’s Russia! – Russian scents unfold!
And I was there and I drank mead,
I saw the green oak by the sea,
I sat there while the learned cat
told its stories – here’s one that
I remember, and I’ll unfurl,
a story now for all the world…
- Tony Kline – Prologue to Ruslan and Lyudmila