Hello! Whatever path brought you here, I am glad you made it to the destination! I’m Thomas Beavitt and this site is my brainchild. However, you will also find lots of work co-produced with my various collaborators: translators, singers, dancers, arrangers, musicians, graphic artists, poets, composers, producers and more. The main idea behind global village bard is that art – creativity, what we think our life is all about, etc. – is necessarily structured around a core activity. In this case, the core activity is translating songs and poetry and performing them at concerts, festivals, various get-togethers and… these days, increasingly… online.

Although I am a native English speaker, I live in Russia and speak Russian daily. I am constantly fascinated by the music of language and how this is revealed through the act of verse translation. This in turn seems to stimulate all kind of visualisations and creations featuring other peoples’ unique takes on what it means to be a human being.

I hope that you find the idea of the global village bard stimulating to your own creative process. Maybe, like many others already have, you will find a way to use the project to structure a future collaboration. Anyway, please don’t be a stranger. Introduce yourself! Tell me (and others) what you think! What is your mother tongue? Who is your favourite singer or poet? What art form makes you feel most alive?

The Bard is not dead! | Жив поэт!

The Bard is not dead! | Жив поэт! is a song cycle composed by Thomas Beavitt around English translations of eight poems written by the Russian poet Mikhail Yuryevitch Lermontov. Intended to be performed by a male singer either to a simple guitar or piano accompaniment or with full orchestra and choir, The Bard is not dead! | Жив поэт! can be performed in either the translated English version or the original Russian texts.

The demo version presented here, recorded in 2019 and 2020 by Andrey Bokovikov, is performed in Russian by Thomas Beavitt and features the voices of Ekaterina Ashrafzyanova, Rusha Grebenschikova and Ekaterina Maltseva.

Heraclitus Flow

Vitruvian Woman

In the beginning, the world started spinning – a disk that accreted from void.
Creator’s intentions produced more dimensions, each lest the last be destroyed.
And out of affinity strode masculinity, clutching his logos referral,
But deep in his core lurked a maiden, a whore, a temptress, a mother, a girl.
Then Adam knew Eve… well, he thought that he did… and that was original sin.
But when Cain and Abel were sat at the table, his judgements seemed petty and thin.
Playing the martyr’s a total non-starter when round such routines she runs rings!
What is this insanity? Everything’s vanity! Woman is the measure of all things!

The gods liked to toy with Helen of Troy, whose visage launched thirty contingents.
The judgement of Paris was heard on Solaris, albeit with many infringements.
And Hera sat on Ida with Athena there beside her; when Aphrodite was vindicated she rose.
But the Oath of Tyndareus exonerated Menelaus, thus launching the epoch of heroes.
Well, then Hector fought Achilles and Odysseus in series, but in the end they dragged his corpse around the walls;
With old Agamemnon leading them again on and on till at last his fate befalls
Each, who merits his portion of outrageous fortune, indignities, arrows and slings:
It’s all part of the plan, but he’s only a man – and woman is the measure of all things!

The bee’s knees, Alcibiades, in Plato’s book Protagoras
Was shown to please old Socrates, whose elenctic can still stagger us. 
But all those Archimedes greedies looking to lever the Earth
Still need a fulcrum to rest it upon – when all they have is its dearth.
Nobody can know the Heraclitus flow, who never steps into it twice:
Everything slides and nothing abides – and knowledge is never precise.
Man only knows the ebbs and the flows to which his identity clings:
For he’s not the same man and it’s not the same river – and woman is the measure of all things!

Then Aristotle went full-throttle into full-blown academia.
At a nearby clinic, Diogenes the Cynic diagnosed him with schizophrenia.
But Alexander wouldn’t pander to a fear of his own dark shadow;
After breaking his steed, he stood in great need of self-knowledge – a failure, a saddo?
Then, proceeding as taught, he did as he ought, according to Delphian principle: 
Dragged the old sybil out by the nipple till she screamed “My son, you’re invincible!
With your banner unfurled, you may conquer the world – it ain’t over till Pythia sings
That life is the school, love is the teacher – and woman is the measure of all things!”

That diamond geezer, Julius Caesar, had a scene with Cleopatra.
In the palace, he unsheathed his phallus, while the eunuch Ganymedes tried to capture
His fleet, but was forced to retreat, while Alexandria, still besieged, burned.
After the Battle of the Nile, he tarried a while, then returned
To Rome, the place he called home, to await his doom in the Senate
At the Ides of March. Thus, we recall the indispensable tenet:
When back to Egypt his mother Caesarion brings,
It all becomes clear, I fear, that woman is the measure of all things.

Jesus Christ had a tryst with Mary Magdalene.
Those who knew this wandering Jew could never quite explain
Just how he was able to turn the table on all hypocritical sinners,
But then, at a loss, he was nailed to a cross: this game of life sure has no winners.
As thunderclouds loomed, he adopted a spread-eagle pose
And, pondering death, exhaled his last breath and arose…
Who’ll square the circle in this murk’ll be the king of kings –
But in the land of the blind, the deaf don’t mind if woman is the measure of all things.

It was easy for Leonardo to bring his masterpiece to fruition;
Harder for Galileo to go square up against the Roman Inquisition.
Truth falls like two cannonballs straight from the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa
And Michelangelo’s David was wholly created in the shadow of the Mona Lisa.
Logical proof is offensive to truth – who can say how the heliocentre moves?
And the anthropic principle is clearly evincible for he whom the calculus proves
That the puppeteer need never fear when jerking on his strings –
Vitruvian man does what he can… but woman is the measure of all things!

Immanuel Kant had a rant, producing a moral monstrosity.
With his golden rule, he started to drool, forgetting about reciprocity.
In a season of reason, he promised perpetual peace,
Where pleasure in measure to ethics could only increase.
He continued like that, from his conjuror’s hat, a sequence of white rabbits
To produce, and from them to deduce, based on his own clocklike habits,
A constructed reality, lame like an amputee, where eternal springs
Of hope elope with cash for rope, but woman’s not the measure of all things!

Napoleon Bonaparte practised the art of loving his wife, Josephine.
His “ne te laves pas, en trois jours je reviens” ‘s still thought to be somewhat obscene.
He wrote: “I have been endowed with a nature that is proud, but I still place you above me;
In your alluring case, out of gossamer and lace – have you really ceased to love me…?”
Then, in despair, in search of an heir, he wed Marie Louise for her womb,
Who cried: “He’s a bit of a tyrant, but not when alone in his room.
He’s only a temporary emperor, but [sigh] love gives him wings…
Let him conquer the globe, but take off his robe… and woman is the measure of such things!”

Karl Marx made some remarks about dialectical materialism.
For Lenin, well, that was capital, but the ultimate stage is imperialism.
And, despite such brains, some doubt remains concerning what to do about that:
Что делать? Как быть? Куда бежать? Кто виноват?
And while the Mao effect demands respect for a single blooming flower,
Only the totally corrupt could ever dare to interrupt the prerogative of absolute power,
Cutting closer to the bone to get blood out of a stone – the last drop that he wrings…
But it’s all in vain and demonstrably insane – because woman is the measure of all things!

Albert Einstein began to shine, making e equal to m c squared.
Putting theory into practice, his conjugals seem tactless, but I doubt he really cared
That their mothers were sisters and grandfathers brothers – relativity should be kept in the family!
Elsa, like Monroe, was a sapiosexual ho. Giving him brain, albeit somewhat clammily,
Was objectively sexier than a troupe of virgin nuns with anorexia, but I don’t mean to make light
Of his depravity; to equate specific gravity with absolute momentum is quite right.
And now Higgs has chosen the boson, along with quarks and superstrings…
But why is there something rather than nothing? Because woman is the measure of all things!

It’s getting rather hard to be a global village bard amidst all of these overlapping framings,
Trying from the start to perform a minor part within linguistic Wittgensteinian gamings.
And the nebulous assumption that per capita consumption has any kind of bearing on autonomy
Has impuberal misconduct as the gross domestic product of an ailing low attention span economy.
And I don’t like to mention the blank incomprehension that greets attempts to re-enchant the world –
Just put it into storage while you try to pay the mortgage and never pause to think how we’ve been hurled
Into these bum trades, while unicorns and mermaids cleave to deep affairs and shallow flings.
It’s all been said before, just another kind of war… and woman’s still the measure of all things.

Now Assange rots in Belmarsh prison pending extradition with nobody to come and go his bail;
And many a sordid sex scene’s relived by Jeffrey Epstein, who may or may not have killed himself in jail;
And whether Greta Thunberg’s financed by Michael Bloomberg or Soros himself appears beside the point,
While the orgulous accusers of Satanic sex abusers for prurient viewers rarely disappoint.
And the wombs of Muslim wives are being weaponised in an ongoing war against absurdity, 
Bequeathing to posterity an heirloom of austerity downloaded from the web of postmodernity.
Now the dog and bone are long since overgrown, just like the one for whom the iPhone rings –
It rings for me to the approximate degree that woman is the measure of all things!

The Trees in the Forest

All living trees have strategies
Some try to spread their canopies
To overarch the other trees,
Deprive them of their light.
Others may be more astute
They try to bore a deeper root
Into the soil, or bear a fruit
In which the birds delight.

You told me that I couldn’t see the forest for the trees
Couldn’t hear the birdsong for the rustling of the leaves
Couldn’t smell the flowers for the price I paid the florist
Can you see the trees for the forest?

But overarching canopies
Can limit what each tree species
Achieves in terms of strategies
To combat storm or drought.
With energies and boundaries,
All trees give rise to harmonies
That maximise for each species
The aptitude to sprout.

You told me that I couldn’t see the forest for the trees
Couldn’t hear the birdsong for the rustling of the leaves
Couldn’t smell the flowers for the price I paid the florist
But can you see the trees for the forest?

Just like sunlight onto leaves,
I don’t quite like to mention –
It’s the giver who receives:
I’m being paid for my attention.

This Particular Entanglement

Since at birth we were not strangled
And by chance became entangled,
All that matters is our energy
To realise possibility.
In general, everything falls:
States have borders, cells have walls;
Confusion reigns; disorder increases;
All must dance to fate’s caprices…

But this is a particular case
For our limited human race;
And, though this quality is rare,
I can be certain that you care
Whether I’m up or down, left or right.
Keep on journeying into the light –
For you have too lovely a soul
To let it fall into a black hole.

You and I defy such gravity
And don’t think it depravity
To store some salt on dry shelves.
Then, should we find ourselves
At opposite ends of the universe,
It’s a blessing, not a curse,
To have no significant interactions
With sundry invested factions,

Being entangled in this world
Into which we’ve both been hurled.
And, although there may be others –
As with fathers, sons and brothers,
Mothers, sisters, daughters –
I can feel you in my waters…
Though never stepping twice,
The feeling’s quite precise

And absolutely real;
This sensation that I feel;
From your equal and opposite spin,
I know exactly the state you’re in.
This particular entanglement
Can convert our angular
Momentum into linear,
Our paths becoming skinnier;

With you, I’m eternally at home
Somewhere in the glome.
And this spooky action at a distance
Can combine with the insistence
That you’re mine and I’m yours;
That, together, in what nature abhors,
We’ll pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps
Until the inevitable wave-function collapse.

Lovely Jubilee
You shall make this year holy,
Proclaim pandemic liberty;
All must bow down and worship me!
Who can disagree?
Each vagabond and refugee
Returning to his family
To occupy his property
And ponder jubilee.
Slaves and prisoners set free,
All debts erased from memory,
Each grace-and-favour tenancy
Disposed without a fee.
From each, to his ability,
Who populates this colony;
The trend repeated globally –
This lovely jubilee.
But, lacking the propensity
To live in close community,
The working class and bourgeoisie
Could not but disagree.
All coming under scrutiny,
We’re drowning in hypocrisy,
Increasing in intensity,
In spite of jubilee.
Then leaders, ruling by decree,
Who were not able to foresee
The scope of herd immunity,
Provide a guarantee.
Astounding ingenuity,
Resolving ambiguity
To nationalise each company
And gild the jubilee.
But everyone turned out to be,
As usual, much too cowardly
To reach potentiality
And turn the master key.
Norms of herd morality
Applying, all too humanly,
The principle of me, me, me…
And that’s no jubilee!
Breakthroughs in technology
And crowd-control psychology
With eyeball-tracking constantly
To see what we can see.
The subsequent economy
Is based on the commodity
Of focused attentivity
In aid of jubilee.

Not quantity, but quality –
The strains of sacred melody
Combine in perfect harmony
To form the base of “we”.
But imprecative blasphemy
From Gomorrah and Sodomy
Rang out in animosity
To taint the jubilee.
Further than the eye can see,
With yields increasing constantly,
Despair: to be or not to be –
I’m counting: one, two, three…
But there’s no sense of urgency;
We live in modest luxury
To face the bare contingency
Of holy jubilee.
Those born in the last century
Are buried in the cemetery
Or ashes from the crematory
Scattered out at sea.
Redemptive contiguity
Assures the lasting legacy
Of long-conjoined humanity
In lovely jubilee.


The hurdles are formidable;
Solutions aren’t affordable;
Conflict unavoidable –
Nothing is dependable.
The fact that we’re expendable
Still strikes me as incredible –
To lunar gods we’re edible
And action seems impossible.

We are not delusional!
Our actions are provisional –
Based on the empirical,
But verging on the lyrical.
Brains may be material, 
But minds can be ethereal
And no one is intentional
Whose motives are conventional.

Everything’s permissible!
This Rubicon is crossable!
Our love song is translatable;
Emotions are transferable…
Our history is tragical
But passion fruit is magical
If feelings are reciprocal –
Though God may be satirical…

Our love is not respectable
But you are so delectable!
And I’m somewhat susceptible
To see you as collectable…
Since secrets aren’t perceptible,
Let alone deductible,
And hearts not indestructible –
Just tell me what’s acceptable!

I hope we don’t get comfortable;
We can be TOO compatible –
Everything’s debatable
And we are so excitable!
Hearts are more hospitable
When nothing is immutable:
Mine is not inscrutable,
Its proofs not irrefutable.

Our actions are regrettable
And lives are less than portable;
Everything’s lamentable
That isn’t unpredictable.
And, though paths inadvisable
And thoroughly unsuitable
At times may seem intractable,
I’m adaptable – to you.

My Happiness

How I miss my happiness! I walk beside the precipice,
Wearing my world weariness with holiness and queasiness:
Uneasiness, unsteadiness and painful solitariness;
Creativeness, destructiveness and ever-present drunkenness.

I look to see my happiness out strolling with my cleverness –
Clinging to his arm, my former carelessness and coziness –
His cockiness contrasting with my emptiness and helplessness:
His sturdiness – my recklessness; his righteousness – my foolishness.

My happiness is otherness; her sacredness with suddenness
And callousness deprived me of my steadfastness and usefulness:
My tenderness, responsiveness, now banished to the wilderness;
My youthfulness and truthfulness increasing in their weightlessness.

In frankness, she’s slap-happiness, possessiveness and crappiness,
Just hopefulness in harness hauling heinous arbitrariness.
Her fastness and assertiveness in time become vindictiveness;
Her gracefulness – my loneliness; her beingness – my nothingness!

The Law of Noncontradiction

Although people say I’m a bit of a one, to tango or foxtrot takes two.
Still, having the same sense at the same time, both of us cannot be true.
For a state to willingly give up its sovereignty, that would be gross dereliction:
On behalf of the crown, I therefore lay down the law of noncontradiction.

For every system that’s sufficiently expressive, there’s a provable – or not – proposition:
If I’m right, then you’re wrong – that’s the dialectic that structures our personal mission.
But all analytic statements are somewhat tautologous: is it a fact or a fiction?
I don’t care what you say if you don’t disobey my law of noncontradiction.

In violating each other’s identities thus, we find ourselves in a situation.
We run to extremes, excluding the middle, to obviate equivocation.
We aim to be justified, strive to always proceed from a moral conviction:
Though blissful, such ignorance is no defence against the law of noncontradiction.

If ‘fire’ and ‘not fire’ are thought to be equal, the thinker’s subjected to burning.
Since feasting and fasting are one and the same, the student through hunger is learning.
We’re all of a surety lacking security, all of us facing eviction,
But on my high horse, I still have to enforce the law of noncontradiction.

Like the self-amputation of a broad-snouted caiman undergoing a caudal autotomy,
Or the diachronic change in a epileptic’s brain following a frontal lobotomy,
Dividing into two antagonistic parts results in a vasoconstriction:
Permission dispensed to go up against the law of noncontradiction.

We are and are not what is now or to come, in a constant and fixed state of flux:
Though the road up and down are one and the same, both entail the giving of fucks.
Our action consists in the mills and the grists to work up the requisite friction
To provide an explanation of each and every violation of the law of noncontradiction.

The one that is and ever must be is a truth that is always immutable;
The other that’s not – and must always not be – is a path that is wholly inscrutable;
For you cannot know what is not, or is so, to refute my despondent prediction:
All that’s desired must be paid for as required by the law of noncontradiction.

Respect things that are in the sense that they are, preserving the ship and the treasure.
Show all proper deference when making reference to that of which man is the measure.
Take on this handyman to feed the biters, all due to his excellent diction:
The collection of rent is ninety percent of the law of noncontradiction.

It’s both mutually exclusive and jointly exhaustive, now that I’m giving the flag salute,
But everything must be absolutely relativised in order to relate to the absolute.
Elenctic negation results in stagnation, all due to a chronic addiction
To think yourself better than the spirit or letter of the law of noncontradiction.

Restricting reaction in the same part or relation, a utopian state is thus frozen; 
At the same time, on the contrary, somehow, must always an action be chosen.
To be fixed like a hero on the frieze of the Parthenon’s to suffer a grievous affliction:
Till the day that I die, I’ll never comply with the law of noncontradiction.

Magnetic Moment

I want you as much, even more than myself,
All due to magnetic attraction. On the Arctic Shelf,
My moral compass gets confused in your toroidal field,
In which a motive power is revealed!

You are my lodestone, divulging my true north;
Though dipolarity ensures, in setting forth,
Increasing with distance, reduction in plasma:
Reflexive patterning of anomalous phantasma!

You and I are poles apart, yet grafted at the hip;
With your declination, I have been known to flip!
Then, with reversal of polarity, compulsion.
In wanting what we cannot have, allure becomes repulsion!

This closed, repeating loop back makes my soul annoyed,
Like the ghost of Michael Faraday haunting Sigmund Freud,
Or how a dipole moment begets external fields
In which some new attraction is concealed!

In this magnetic moment, powered by bosons,
Positron resonance generates photons,
Producing either heat or light, whose redux
Help us find a happy medium in a constant state of flux!

I will survive

I will survive. The words make up the phrase
Sung by Gloria Gaynor to a tearful crowd of gays
In sad self-isolation. I’ll call a spade a spade.
The barman’s calling time on this identity parade…
I feel the longing of the lone long-distance lover,
Though, when it comes to sentiment, I keep it undercover.
My life matters… at least, to me… but why?
Who wills survives to will again… but who am I?

At breakneck speed, my form depends on vigorous mutation,
Cytoplasmic inheritance blown on constant replication,
At rates of reproduction, where the fastest is the slowest,
I infect my hosts, but only whose resistance is the lowest;
I’ll get my protein coat, I’m leaving, all these sad farewells…
I cannot live in freedom, spend my time locked up in cells,
Parasitically depend on that of which I’m most desirous:
I’m a virus.

Constructed by colonials to prove their reign of terror,
Bounded by my neighbour, whom I’m doomed to always mirror –
Encroachment, conquest, slavery, revolt, extermination –
Reluctant to assimilate, I combat integration
In these rivers of blood, in which no man steps twice,
I want to play, but don’t want to play nice –
You’ll dominate, I’ll be your bitch, just tell me to my face…
I am a race. 

In my urge to penetrate into the secret of the other
I’ll impregnate my sister, lift my hand against my brother –
He, whose sacrifice was pleasing to the Lord,
I’ll end his torment with my perfect sword –
And, wandering the earth, condemned to arbitrary freedom,
I’ll invent bizarre machines to ease my suppurating tedium;
Inhabiting the world since time began…
I am a man.

Receptive, all-embracing, I anticipate deflowering
That my idiot compassion spawn a Mother all-devouring,
Or an icy queen, whose reign entails a thousand years of winter:
I’m Karaba the sorceress, whose spine conceals a splinter,
To be plucked by Kirikou, who ungirds my underbodice,
To bloom into a beautiful and open-hearted goddess;
Embodying in truth exactly half of what is human…
I am a woman.

All history is murderous, for dead men tell no tales.
As a player on this stage, my life expectancy entails
That, in waging war or trade, I give no quarter:
I’ll be pensioned in the form of bricks and mortar;
And, like all such men rewarded for their violence,
I’ll endeavour that my victims rest in silence.
In terms of slave religion, yes, a sinner…
But I’m a winner.

I am the spark of grace that sets the universe ablaze,
Scintillating everywhere until the end of days;
The suffering and pain amongst the human population
Are but food for me; my drink – their rank humiliation.
The older that I get, the more I’m saving up my semen,
Storing vital energy for battling these demons;
While I’m waiting for the angels to arrive,
I will survive.

Rhyming Thomas & the Faery Queen | Томас Рифмач и Королева эльфов

Rhyming Thomas & the Faery Queen

‘Twas at the breaking of the day
As wandered I in heartsome moan
All in the merry month of May
By Huntly Banks, myself alone.
The chirping finch, the warbling thrush
The blackbird trilling as he sang
The wild wood vale all in a rush
Till all the forest pealed and rang.

All in a longing as I lay
On mosses ’neath a spreading tree
Espied I then a lady fey
Come riding o’er the bonny lee.
And though I sit until Doomsday,
My fluent tongue to twist and try,
I could not hope in any way
To tell what vision met my eye.

Her palfrey was a dapple grey,
A finer mount you ne’er did see.
Her saddle shone so bright and gay,
All set with pearls down to her knee.
I looked upon her in a daze,
For ’neath the raiment she had on,
Reflecting all the sun’s glad rays,
I swear, her skin it fairly shone.

Her fair hair o’er her head it hung
As she rode o’er the bonny lee.
A while she blew, a while she sang
With no one to observe but me.
There was no man to hear her noise
Save Thomas as he lay alone –
Whose eyes appraised her graceful poise,
Whose heart at once was all undone.

Her hands they were as white as snow
That loosely held her raches’ trace
Her greyhounds ran in even flow
In concert with that lady’s pace.
Her hunting horn, she blew with pride;
On either flank hung tinkling bells;
A golden lyre set at her side,
Of which the minstrel’s rapture tells.

I lay there to behold that sight
From underneath the spreading tree
Said: “Thon is Mary, great in dight
That bare the child that died for me.
If I speak with that lady bright
I trow my heart should brak in three
But I will go with all my might
To meet her at the Eildon tree.”

Thomas gladly up he rose
And bounded o’er the hill so high
If it be as the story says
He met her at the Eildon tree.
He bent before her on his knee
All underneath a green wood spray:
“Lovely lady, rewe on me
O Queen of Heav’n, as well ye may.”

Then answered back that lady bright:
“True Thomas, let such phrases be.
For Queen of Heaven, I am not;
I’d never claim such high degree.
For I am of an ilk country
Where I am held most high in praise
When I ride o’er the bonny lee
My raches cleave to my device.”

“If thou be held most high in praise
And ride all o’er the bonny lee
Of love thou also must be wise –
Then give me leave to lie by thee.”
But she said: “Thomas, tell me why
I’d fain come down to lie with thee
To lose my virtue in your eye?
I pray thee, Thomas, let me be!”

“Ah lady, should’st thou pity me
Forever shall I with thee dwell
And here my troth I plight to thee
Whether thou go’st to heav’n or hell.”
“Man of mould, thou wilt me mar
Albeit thou shalt have thy will
But know it well, thy thrust be war:
For all my beauty thou shalt spill.”

Down then lit that lady bright
All underneath the greenwood lee
And, if the tale’s remembered right,
He seven times with her made free
She said: “Thou lovest well thy play
What bird in bow’r could dwell with thee?
Thou marrest me this lingering day
I tell thee Thomas, let me be!”

Thomas leapt up with a shout
As he beheld that lady fair
For horror! Seemed her eye was out
And on her head such loathsome hair!
With all her clothing laid away
Her naked body in its stead
Was fifty hideous shades of grey
All black and blue as beaten lead!

Then Thomas cried: “Alack! Alas!
In faith this is a dreadful sight
How thou art faded thus in face
That shone before like sunshine bright”.
On every side he looked about
But saw no place that he might flee
She was so haggard, grey and stout
He felt the devil she must be.

But she said: “Thomas, don’t displease,
For fiend of hell I’m surely none.
Albeit now I’m ill at ease
And suffer pains for what we’ve done.
You’ve pledged your troth, you’ve bound your hog
For seven years you’ll share my life.
You’ll serve your Queen in Tir nan Og –
Then hold your tongue and cease your strife!”

“Take now your leave of sun and moon,
The leaf that springs from every tree –
For seven years you will be gone
And middle earth you shall not see.”
“Alas”, he cried. “My heart is dust.
I trow my acts shall wage me care.
My soul to Jesus I entrust
Where’er on earth my bones shall fare.”

She led him down at Eildon Hill
All underneath the greenwood lee
For three long days and three long nights
He trudged through red blood to the knee.
And he saw neither sun nor moon,
But heard the roaring of the sea.
At last he cried: “Let help come soon!
For want of food I think I’ll die!”

They came then to an orchard fair
Where luscious fruit bore every tree.
Pear and apple, ripe they were,
Figs and grapes and sweet cherry.
The popinjay, the nightingale,
Canaries flitting tree to tree:
The chatter of the orchard vale
Collapsing into unity.

Thomas reached out with his hand –
With hunger he was nigh on faint.
But she said: “Thomas, let it stand
Or else the fiend will thee acquaint.
If ye pluck fruit, the sooth to say,
Your soul goes out to the fires of hell
And comes not out until Doomsday
But there in pain shall ever dwell.

She said: “Now Thomas, take not fright
And lay thy head upon my knee
And thou shalt see the fairest sight
That e’er saw man of thy country”.
Thomas did as he was bade
A sigh of yielding joy he heaved.
His head upon her knee he laid
His longing for the while relieved.

“See ye now yon simple way
That’s set amongst the distant hills –
That’s the path, the sooth to say,
For restless souls to break their wills.
And see ye now yon narrow way
That lies beneath the distant rise –
That’s the path, the sooth to say,
To all the joys of paradise.

“And see ye now yon desolate way
That’s set amongst the weary plain –
That’s the path, the sooth to say,
Where all damned sinners writhe in pain!
But see ye now yon citadel
That glitters high upon the green –
Of town and tow’r it bears the bell
On earth its like was ne’er yet seen.

“In faith, True Thomas, there I dwell
My lord’s the king of this country
You’d better burn for aye in hell
Than he should learn ye lay wi’ me.
So when ye walk wi’ me this way
I trow a courteous man ye be:
No matter what to you they say
Ye speak no word, except to me.

“My lord waits in a mighty hall
With thirty gallant knights and three
And I will say, in front of all
I took your tongue at the Eildon tree.”
Thomas stood as still as stone
As he beheld that lady fair,
Who once again shone like the sun,
And wondered at her golden hair.

Said Thomas: “Lady, what delight!
To live to see this happy day
For now thou art so fair and bright
When ere thou wert so old and grey
I beg thee, Thomas only tell,
Sweet Lady, if thy will it be,
At Eildon, when thou wert not well –
I trow ’twas not ascribed to me?”

“Indeed, and had it not been so,
The certain sooth I shall thee tell,
I had as well myself to go
Into the burning fires of hell.
My lord he needed but to sniff,
Who is the king of this country,
And straight away he’d caught the whiff
Of all the things I did with thee.

Into that hall they boldly went
With Thomas walking at her side
Ladies came and lithely bent
Their knees as they did curtsey wide –
Harp and fiddle they did play
The fife and drum, the psaltery
The lute, the bagpipe, singers fey
All manner of fine minstrelsy.

There was feasting, merry games,
Lords a dancing three by three,
Uisge beatha, comely dames,
Feats of strength and archery.
Thomas watched, his heart a thud,
As forty hinds were carried in –
The greyhounds lapping at their blood
The cooks with knives to flay their skin.

He heard and saw more in that place
Than word or phrase could ever tell
Until one day his lady says:
“True Thomas, we must say farewell.”
“My lady, I’ve but lately come,
My servitude is in arrears.”
“True Thomas,” she just laughed at him.
“In Tir nan Og, that’s seven years”.

“You must make haste your ways to wend
And take your leave of this country
For on the morn shall come the fiend
Among our folk to claim his fee.
Well do I know that demon’s way
He’ll crave your soul so couth and bold
Thus never shall your Queen betray
Her own true Thomas, man of mould.”

She took him out at Eildon hill
All underneath the greenwood spray
By Huntly banks, where the burn flows still
All in the merry month of May.
The chirping finch, the warbling thrush
The blackbird trilling as he sang
The wild wood vale all in a rush
Till all the forest pealed and rang.

Томас Рифмач и Королева эльфов

На листьях капельки росы
Игривый лучик озарил.
И лес невиданной красы
Свои объятия мне открыл.
Я в Хантли-Бэнкс, на берегу,
Встречал рассвет, и пение птиц
Звучало радостно в лесу,
И мой восторг не знал границ.

Раскинув руки я лежал,
Мне мох был мягче всех перин.
Вдруг топот конский услыхал.
– Похоже, здесь я не один!
Верхом на сказочном коне,
Навстречу мне летит она.
Красивей не встречалась мне,
Прекрасней, чем сама весна.

Сверкает жемчугом седло,
И сбруя золотом горит.
Вокруг всё стало так светло,
Горячий конь вперёд летит.
Его хозяйка так легка,
И вьются кудри за спиной.
Так пляшут огоньки в глазах…
Не понимаю, что со мной.

Завороженный я смотрел,
Как солнца луч играет с ней.
Пошевелиться я не смел,
Чтоб не спугнуть мечты своей.
Под тонким платьем кожи блеск
Мой взгляд цепями приковал.
Охотница, что вышла в лес,
Меня сразила наповал.

И даже гончих быстрый бег
Был грациозен, ей подстать.
Рукою, что белей, чем снег,
Легко ли было их держать?
Вот гордо в горн трубит она,
Перекрывая лай собак.
И лиры золотой струна
Поэту шлёт счастливый знак.

Своей догадкой потрясён,
Скрывался я в листве густой.
– О Боже! Это ли не сон?
Дева Мария предо мной!
Хотя бы слово прошепчу,
Осколки сердца не собрать.
Но, Боже, как я с ней хочу
У древа Элдон побывать.

Томас быстро побежал,
Перемахнул через ручей.
И если правду рассказал,
У древа Элдон был он с ней.
– Ты мне подарена судьбой,
Сказал он, пересилив страх,
– Я на коленях пред тобой,
Царица Неба, я твой раб.

– Томас, ты не угадал,
Сказала Леди так легко.
– Во мне Царицу ты признал,
Но до небес мне далеко.
Ведь я живу в таком краю,
Где каждый угодить мне рад.
Когда охочусь я в лесу,
Ищейки ждут моих команд.

– Уж если королева ты,
В любви, должно быть, знаешь толк.
Ты женщина моей мечты,
Дай мне твоей любви глоток.
– Зачем же, Томас, стану я
Тебе дарить свою любовь?
Чтоб тотчас ты забыл меня?
Прощай, не нужно больше слов!

– О, Королева, я клянусь,
Тебя не брошу никогда!
Я от тебя не отвернусь,
С тобой останусь навсегда!
– Ну как тебя не полюбить?
Таких как ты не знала я,
Но помни, после, может быть,
Исчезнет красота моя.

По телу пробежала дрожь,
И в жилах закипела кровь,
И если это всё не ложь,
Семь раз он доказал любовь.
– Ты, Томас, явно не из тех,
Кто просто любит тишину.
Тебе достаточно утех?
Теперь оставь меня одну!

Томас крикнул от испуга –
Так внезапно изменилась.
Его новая подруга
Вдруг в старуху превратилась.
На него она смотрела
Одним глазом, точно ведьма.
Её сморщенное тело
Было серое, как небо.

Томас крикнул: – Боже мой!
Какой же совершил я грех!
Что вдруг произошло с тобой?
Ведь ты была прекрасней всех!
Он посмотрел по сторонам,
Но некуда было уйти.
Как смерть она была страшна,
Ну просто Дьявол во плоти!

– Ну что ты, Томас, перестань,
Не стоит дьявола винить.
Мне и самой ужасно жаль,
Но ничего не изменить.
Ты дал мне слово, и теперь
Семь лет со мною будешь жить.
Придётся перестать скорбеть,
И Королеве послужить.

Прощайся с солнцем и луной,
Запомни этот дивный лес.
Ты покидаешь дом родной,
Семь лет тебя не будет здесь.
– Увы, разбито сердце в прах!
За свой поступок я плачу!
И умоляю я Христа,
Чтоб душу пощадил мою.

За ней от Элдонских холмов
Он шёл три ночи и три дня.
Вокруг лилась потоком кровь,
И он стонал, судьбу кляня.
Не поднимая головы
Шагал, шатаясь на ветру,
И думал: – Боже, помоги!
Ведь я же с голоду помру!

Они вошли в прекрасный сад:
На каждой ветке фрукт висит.
Здесь сочный спелый виноград,
И море яблок, груш и слив.
Здесь соловья весёлый свист,
Павлина красочный узор,
Все голоса прекрасных птиц
Слились в один чудесный хор.

Томас руку протянул,
От голода он падал с ног,
Но кто-то вдруг ему шепнул:
– Ты потерпеть еще бы смог.
Ведь если ты здесь что-то съешь,
Твоей душе гореть в аду,
Не зная никаких надежд.
Попробуй отвести беду.

Она сказала: – Прислонись
К моим коленям головой.
Откроется прекрасный вид,
Никто не видывал такой.
Томас так и поступил,
И голод будто бы пропал,
Ей на колени положил
Он голову и задремал.

– Есть в жизни всем известный путь
Страданий и душевных мук.
И тем путём шагают пусть
Те, кто в чистилище бредут.
Есть также в жизни путь для тех,
Кто просветления достиг.
Тех, кто не знает слова Грех,
Он в Рай приводит напрямик.

Проклятье вечное ждёт тех,
Кого из ада не вернуть.
Кто жизнь прожил ради утех,
И выбрал прегрешений путь.
Но видишь ли ту цитадель,
Что возвышается в горах?
Ведь красоты такой досель
Никто не видел в городах!

Там, Честный Томас, я живу.
Мой Лорд – король этой страны.
Но лучше нам сгореть в аду,
Чем рассказать, где были мы.
Когда пойдёшь туда со мной,
Не подведи меня, смотри.
Заговорит ли кто с тобой,
Молчи, со мной лишь говори.

Мой Лорд, в кругу своих солдат,
Задаст вопрос мне о тебе.
При всех должна ему сказать:
«Язык твой я взяла себе.»
Томас просто обомлел
И любовался на неё:
Она опять, во всей красе,
Сверкала золотым огнём!

Сказал он: – Леди, я так рад!
Прикажешь – стану как немой.
Ведь ты прекрасней во сто крат,
Чем ведьма та, что шла со мной.
Скажи лишь только правду мне:
Не я ли стал тому виной,
Что ты на Элдонском холме
Вдруг стала ведьмою слепой?

– Меня б он проклял навсегда,
Тебе, по правде, я скажу,
Пришлось бы долго мне тогда
Гореть и мучиться в аду.
Ведь Лорд пронюхал бы легко,
А он король этой страны,
Что мы зашли так далеко,
И были б мы обречены.

Они уверенно вошли
В огромный королевский зал.
И дамы поклонились им,
Оркестр громко заиграл.
Волныка, арфа, барабан,
И скрипок нежных голоса,
А также флейта и труба
Творили просто чудеса.

Веселье, танцы, пир горой,
Соревнования стрелков,
И виски, что лилось рекой,
Живой водой впадало в кровь.
Томас подивился вновь:
Несли оленей со двора.
Собаки их лакали кровь,
Сдирали шкуру повара.

Он столько повидал всего,
Что в двух словах не рассказать.
Но время кончилось его,
Она пришла ему сказать:
– Прощай, мой Томас, вышел срок,
Скорее собирайся в путь.
– Но как же так? Ведь лишь чуток
С тобой побыл я здесь, мой друг.

– Семь лет назад, но как вчера,
Тебя сюда я привела.
И вот расстаться нам пора,
Здесь скоро будет демон зла.
Придёт он дань свою забрать
И душу заберёт твою.
Мой честный Томас, не отдать
Тебя ему я не смогу.

И вновь на Элдонском холме
Под деревом волшебным он
У речки Хантли на земле
Лежал и видел сладкий сон.
Над головой шумит листва,
И коноплянки там и тут,
И свист весёлый соловья,
И гимн весне дрозды поют.

Modern English version adapted from four Middle English manuscripts by Thomas Beavitt ©2014. Russian verse translation by Michael Feigin ©2015

На смерть Байрона | On the death of Byron

На смерть Байрона (1824)

О чем средь ужасов войны
Тоска и траур погребальный?
Куда бегут на звон печальный
Священной Греции сыны?
Давно от слез и крови взмокла
Эллада средь святой борьбы;
Какою ж вновь бедой судьбы
Грозят отчизне Фемистокла?

Чему на шатком троне рад
Тиран роскошного Востока,
За что благодарить пророка
Спешат в Стамбуле стар и млад?
Зрю: в Миссолонге гроб средь храма
Пред алтарем святым стоит,
Весь катафалк огнем блестит
В прозрачном дыме фимиама.

Рыдая, вкруг его кипит
Толпа шумящего народа, –
Как будто в гробе том свобода
Воскресшей Греции лежит,
Как будто цепи вековые
Готовы вновь тягчить ее,
Как будто идут на нее
Султан и грозная Россия…

Царица гордая морей!
Гордись не силою гигантской,
Но прочной славою гражданской
И доблестью своих детей.
Парящий ум, светило века,
Твой сын, твой друг и твой поэт,
Увянул Байрон в цвете лет
В святой борьбе за вольность грека.

Из океана своего
Текут лета с чудесной силой:
Нет ничего уже, что было,
Что есть, не будет ничего.
Грядой возлягут на твердыни
Почить усталые века,
Их беспощадная рука
Преобратит поля в пустыни.

Исчезнут порты в тьме времен,
Падут и запустеют грады,
Погибнут страшные армады,
Возникнет новый Карфаген…
Но сердца подвиг благородный
Пребудет для души младой
К могиле Байрона святой
Всегда звездою путеводной.

Британец дряхлый поздних лет
Придет, могильный холм укажет
И гордым внукам гордо скажет:
«Здесь спит возвышенный поэт!
Он жил для Англии и мира,
Был, к удивленью века, он
Умом Сократ, душой Катон
И победителем Шекспира.

Он всё под солнцем разгадал,
К гоненьям рока равнодушен,
Он гению лишь был послушен,
Властей других не признавал.
С коварным смехом обнажила
Судьба пред ним людей сердца,
Но пылкая душа певца
Презрительных не разлюбила.

Когда он кончил юный век
В стране, от родины далекой,
Убитый грустию жестокой,
О нем сказал Европе грек:
«Друзья свободы и Эллады
Везде в слезах в укор судьбы;
Одни тираны и рабы
Его внезапной смерти рады».

Кондратий Рылеев

On the death of Byron (1824)

Amidst war’s horrors, what, alas,
Can e’er to sorrow be consoling?
To where they flee with mournful tolling,
The sons of mythical Hellas?
With blood and tears, her soil was nourished,
Embroiled in long and sore travails;
Again, cruel fate that land assails,
Where bold Themistocles once flourished;

To which, though perched on shaky throne,
Emir of ostentatious Asia
Was glad to court the prophet’s pleasure
And send post-haste the young and old
To famous Missolonghi, burling,
Where by the holy altar stands,
A catafalque with fiery brands,
Transparent smoke of incense swirling.

Lamenting, all around him boils
A multitude of mourners pouring,
As if in mausoleum; sov’reign
Rejuvenated Hellas roils
As if the age-old chains and fetters
Again were pressing down on her,
Those boots to which she must defer,
From East and West, her brutal betters.

Oh, proud czarina of the waves!
Pride not of force or brutes that tower,
But from her citizens, that power
Abiding in the child that braves,
With soaring mind, the dawning era…
Your son and friend, distinguished bard,
The evanescent Byron, scarred
In holy war by grace of Hera,

Out of the timeless ocean,
As years fly by, with wondrous power,
To seize the day, for now’s the hour;
What is or was is all in motion.
They’re fortifying their encampments
To rest the weary centuries;
Their brutal penitentiaries
Break whole worlds into fragments…

As harbours lapse in depths of time
And cities fall into abjectness
Of Amphitrite, once proctectress;
While walls of Carthage newly climb…
But noble exploits cheer the grateful
And long endure for youthful souls;
At Byron’s graveside, fans the coals
A dark polaris for the faithful.

A weary British wanderer
Arrives, his tumulus betokens,
By awed grandchildren here bespoken:
“Sleeps here a noble troubadour!
Who fought for England and the world,
Amazed the century – his role,
With Plato’s mind and Cato’s soul,
To carry Shakespeare’s flag unfurled

And ponder all beneath the sun,
Unmoved by schemes of Mars and Venus,
Obeying only laws of genius,
All other worldly claims to shun.
With baneful laughter, fate releasing
Those kindred ones he must console,
This dauntless, ever-ardent soul,
Though unrequited, loved unceasing,

While youthful peers their fortunes seek,
In exile, all their schemes surpassing…
The tragic cruelty of his passing
Revealed to Europe by the Greek:
“All friends of Freedom and our nation
Shall mourn at his and nearby graves;
While only tyrants, goons and slaves
Could greet his death with jubilation.

Kondraty Ryleyev

On the death of Byron by Kondraty Ryleyev. Translated by Thomas Beavitt ©2020

This translation was sponsored by Bella Evloeva

Герой | Hero

«Герой», Александр Пушкин

Что есть истина?


Да, слава в прихотях вольна.
Как огненный язык, она
По избранным главам летает,
С одной сегодня исчезает
И на другой уже видна.
За новизной бежать смиренно
Народ бессмысленный привык;
Но нам уж то чело священно,
Над коим вспыхнул сей язык.
На троне, на кровавом поле,
Меж граждан на чреде иной
Из сих избранных кто всех боле
Твоею властвует душой?


Все он, все он — пришлец сей бранный,
Пред кем смирилися цари,
Сей ратник, вольностью венчанный,
Исчезнувший, как тень зари.


Когда ж твой ум он поражает
Своею чудною звездой?
Тогда ль, как с Альпов он взирает
На дно Италии святой;
Тогда ли, как хватает знамя
Иль жезл диктаторский; тогда ль,
Как водит и кругом и вдаль
Войны стремительное пламя,
И пролетает ряд побед
Над ним одна другой вослед;
Тогда ль, как рать героя плещет
Перед громадой пирамид,
Иль, как Москва пустынно блещет,
Его приемля, — и молчит?


Нет, не у счастия на лоне
Его я вижу, не в бою,
Не зятем кесаря на троне;
Не там, где на скалу свою
Сев, мучим казнию покоя,
Осмеян прозвищем героя,
Он угасает недвижим,
Плащом закрывшись боевым.
Не та картина предо мною!
Одров я вижу длинный строй,
Лежит на каждом труп живой,
Клейменный мощною чумою,
Царицею болезней… он,
Не бранной смертью окружен,
Нахмурясь ходит меж одрами
И хладно руку жмет чуме
И в погибающем уме
Рождает бодрость… Небесами
Клянусь: кто жизнию своей
Играл пред сумрачным недугом,
Чтоб ободрить угасший взор,
Клянусь, тот будет небу другом,
Каков бы ни был приговор
Земли слепой…


Мечты поэта —
Историк строгий гонит вас!
Увы! его раздался глас, —
И где ж очарованье света!


Да будет проклят правды свет,
Когда посредственности хладной,
Завистливой, к соблазну жадной,
Он угождает праздно! — Нет!
Тьмы низких истин мне дороже
Нас возвышающий обман…
Оставь герою сердце! Что же
Он будет без него? Тиран…



Hero by Alexander Pushkin

What is the truth?


Fame’s lustre is as fancy free
As wicked sharpened tongue; and she
Alights upon the ranks anointed,
One brow gilds, then as appointed,
Another to the same degree.
And that to which last week they quickened
Men’s fickle hearts are now inured;
But he whose exploits fame has thickened
For long our gaze has now endured.
On gilded throne, midst bitter battle,
Who dwelt amongst a migrant line
Of those who brave the tittle-tattle –
To whom then does your soul incline?


To him of all – that scornful stranger,
Upon whose aura tyrants fawn;
That soldier who, despising danger,
Then vanished like a ghost at dawn.


So, when your mind thus blithely reckons
With this marvellous glittering star;
When, as from lofty summit beckons
A sainted pilgrim from afar;
Or then, if fray or flag suffices,
Or else the regal sceptre; then
How do you chart your journey when
A war’s fast-burning flame entices,
In blurred perspective flickers past,
Each triumph greater than the last;
And how the hero’s army shimmers
Before the hulking pyramids;
Or else, how Moscow darkly glimmers,
Accepts him first – and then forbids?


It’s not amongst his bosom kindred;
Not there I see him, nor in coup
D’état with Caesar’s throne rescinded,
Nor on the peak to which he flew
And sat, tormenting peace to zero,
Traduced by soubriquet of hero,
Tenacious like a mountain oak,
Enfolded in his warrior’s cloak.
That’s not the gist of my phantasma!
I see a line of beds arrayed,
Upon which groan the living dead
All pockmarked by a vile miasma,
The queen of plagues; but he in breath,
Not shamed by ignominious death,
Still paces wards at six and seven
And coldly shakes the deathly hand;
Thus, in a mortal frame of mind,
Invokes good cheer… I swear by Heaven –
Whoever plays his life out so,
Who lets each trial and tribulation
Inform his fading gaze once more,
Will be a friend to all Creation,
Whatever may be laid in store
By callous fate…


A poet’s cant –
The strict historian must harass!
His voice rings out again – Alas!
And where’s the world’s sublime enchantment?


We think the truth is what we know
When, coldly, from the median,
It gleams to tempt the greedy
And vindicates the vain! But… no!
The dark of lower truths is dearer –
We’re subterfuge aspirant…
Reflected in the mirror,
The hero’s face, or else… a tyrant…


Comfort yourself…

Hero by Alexander Pushkin. Translated by Thomas Beavitt ©2020

This translation was sponsored by Bella Evloeva

Review of Vitruvian Woman by Jock Urquhart

A ten minute snapshot of global history, politics and philosophy, it’s an ambitious and sprawling piece confidently presented by Beavitt and his collaborators.

I imagine Tommy with a wry smile on his face as he performs his impressive, wordy tour of the historic hot-spots with what sounds distinctly like his tongue in his cheek.

This spoken word odyssey is brightly backed by inventive, engaging beats from regular collaborator Nikita Nikitin and the whole piece hangs together as a coherent whole.

While it might take a while for it to be regarded as a feminist meisterwerk, it’s surely a provocative call to re-assess the merits of patriarchy.

Vitruvian Woman

Woman is the measure of all things!

When a harp rings out boldly in eternal halls of fame

Sand animation by Moscow artist Ekaterina Sheffer illustrating a contemporary English version of Lermontov’s poem 1831-go IYUNYA 11 DNYA. The poem, translated and recited by global village bard and Ekaterinburg resident Thomas Beavitt, is accompanied by original music specially composed and recorded by young Urals musicians Andrey Bokovikov and Nikita Nikitin.

Written at the age of seventeen, 1831-go IYUNYA 11 DNYA is one of Lermontov’s most metaphysical lyrical works. According to G.E. Gorlanov, the poem “stands out against the rest of Lermontov’s work in terms of its philosophical significance”, with some stanzas having “programmatic applicability for creativity per se”. In its concentration of the young poet’s worldview, the poem paints a vivid picture of the inner life of an individual set against the grandeur of the Caucasian mountains and Eurasian steppe.

The poem is remarkable for its early concentration of the poet’s prophetic powers. In it, he quite accurately depicts his own violent death in a duel nine years later at the age of 26. Even more remarkably, in also predicting his own literary afterlife, Lermontov explicitly relates to us, his contemporary 21st century audience – like the boy in the second last stanza, “drawn here, he knows not why, to sit a while and meditate alone, pondering my fate upon this stone”.

Beavitt’s translation was originally commissioned for Maxim Privezentsev’s documentary film “The Scottish Wind of Lermontov”. Intrigued by the rhythmic possibilities of the text, as well as its prophetic and philosophical content, the translator then worked with two talented young musicians from Ekaterinburg’s Conservatoire to produce a soundtrack to accompany its recital. The result is a lush, almost symphonic accompaniment to the spoken word performance, which refers to diverse influences including classical music and contemporary rap at the same time as opening a rich musical space that closely corresponds to the poem’s content.

The project was given its visual dimension by the celebrated sand artist Ekaterina Sheffer, who uses the expressive medium to capture many striking images drawn from Lermontov’s life and work. Sheffer, who has ancestral connections with the Lermontov family, is strongly associated with the famous poet’s work, having presented her sand art creations on Lermontovian themes in Beijing last year, as well as at a special Lermontov festival in Pyatigorsk this year, which was attended by Chinese and Scottish delegations.

The film is also accompanied by Russian subtitles of the original poem.

The bard is dead!

A few months ago at the “Sail of Destiny” festival in Pyatigorsk, Thomas Beavitt gave this impromptu performance of Lermontov’s Смерть поэта (The Bard is Dead!), which was composed on the occasion of the death of Lermontov’s idol Pushkin in a duel.

The poem is important not only as a contemporaneous record of the strength of popular feeling at this pivotal moment in Russian literary history, but also in the sense that it prefigured Lermontov’s own senseless death, also in a duel, at the hands of his former comrade Martynov on 27th July 1841.

The extreme controversy generated by Смерть поэта would result in Lermontov’s immediate elevation to literary prominence and his banishment to the Caucasus following the personal intervention of Tsar Nicholas I and interrogation by Count Alexander Benckendorff, the head of secret police.

Lermontov’s death several years later in Pyatigorsk can be seen as a direct result of this controversy and banishment. Nicholas is said, on hearing the news, to have remarked: “The dog has died a dog’s death!” – although his attitude may have softened, since he later added: “The one who could have taken Pushkin’s place is dead.”

The musical version of the poem, performed here on the 178th anniversary of Lermontov’s death close to the place where he slept his last night, is Beavitt’s own composition. It was the first time he performed it in public in the original Russian entirely from memory. Audience members include a Scottish delegation (Lermontov had Scottish ancestors) and several contemporary members of the Lermontov bloodline.

Video shot and edited by Dmitry Perednya

Beavitt’s English translation of the poem is as follows:

The Bard is Dead!

The bard is dead! – conscience of our age –
Felled by lies and foul canard,
Lead-choked chest that bursts with rage
And lifts, at last, the proud regard
Of one whose soul could not consent
To yield to mean indignity,
Who railed against this world and went
Alone to face eternity!

Eternity! Spare your crocodile tears…
Your empty praise – a surplus choir,
A token of your petty fears:
The order came from much, much higher!
Was it not you who cruelly mocked
The music from his golden lyre,
For entertainment, did concoct
A little, sly, tormenting fire?

Well? Enjoy the show… he burned
Until he could no longer stand beneath
But puttered out, expunged, and earned
His wilted laurel wreath.

His vicious killer, unbelieving,
Dealt the blow, gave not an inch:
Empty heart beat, cool and even;
Gun-hand did not flinch.

Occidental, quelle surprise!
Bequeathed to us by will of fate,
His wealth and rank to cultivate,
Like hundreds of such refugees.

The native customs of our land
Dismissed in terms derogatory;
Ridiculed our national glory;
Misconstrued this blood-soaked story;
And with that he raised his hand!…

And so he was slain and his body taken,
Like the nightingale, whose dulcet songs awaken
The envy and resentment of the deaf.
Exalted them till all tunes were forsaken,
Dumfounded, as was he, by the callous hand of death.

Why, from calm obscurity and artless geniality,
Did he step into the light, the glaring, harsh reality,
To sate a heart of free and ardent passion?
Why did he ever give his hand to rogues and fake princesses?
Why did he never countermand the false words and caresses?
He, who, from an early age, discerned life’s meagre ration…

And so, replacing with a crown of thorns, his wreath,
Intertwined with laurel, they thus contrived – and how! –
Clandestine needles sticking in beneath
That pricked his glorious brow,
Embittering his final hours with stress
And the subtle whispering of cretins…
And so he died – with vain thoughts of redress,
The intimate annoyance of mislaid expectations.

The mellifluous tones of our tragic nation
No more to be pealed
As, taking up his cramped accommodation,
The singer’s lips were sealed.

And you, O arrogant descendants
In whom are amplified the faults of your ancestors,
With slavish heels that trample on the fragments
Isn’t it a jolly game for their malign successors!
A greedy crowd with drooling, gaping maw,
Vapid executioners of freedom, wit and glory!
Cowards, taking refuge in the law,
For you, is truth and justice just a story?

But there is a sacred court, O intimates of vice!
There is an awful trial: there He sits and waits;
There’ll be no church bells chiming to entice;
Thoughts and deeds already known behind those final gates…
Then in vain will you recall the time before the flood,
With hearts already hard:
For you will never wash away the blood,
The righteous blood of the bard!