Bucolics (Aleksandr Egorov)

Many things go better in the cool night,
or when, at first light, Dawn wets the earth with dew.
Virgil, Georgics

The farmer’s wife wraps unleavened dough in a sheepskin coat,
Tall pines creak on snow-covered slopes,
An unseen spring freezes in crystal halls,
And little children in huts are like peas,
In the embraces of Morpheus on their sleeping-benches..

The winter crops sleep, obedient to the laws of nature,
Pairs of mice live under the stubble, reproducing
In the sheep-fold, a lamb tries to get to its knees,
An experienced young pig is dreaming of a sweet girlfriend,

A hungry she-wolf dreamt of an obedient victim,
A brown she-bear dreamt of a clearing of wild strawberries,
A portly doe rabbit dreamt of a head of snow-white cabbage,
A honey-bearing bee dreamt of the flowering grasses of July.

A mare in foal dreamt of meeting a fine-looking stallion in spring,
The pleasant burden of his stupendous flesh,
A calf dreamt of the tight and sweet udder of a cow
And she dreamt of an unending field of green lucerne.

Which the peasants hack down with a sharp scythe,
After they have got up with enviable willingness before dawn.
They have managed to complete the main work during the dew,
Cutting about ten capital swathes in the meadow.

Hardly is the sun at its zenith, they sit in the shade to eat,
Getting the bread from home out of baskets and cloths,
About ten hen’s eggs and some spring onion,
Seasoning all this either with cold kvas or with salt,
And afterwards–whistles for the freckled boys to whittle,
Shirts to dry of sweat, have a smoke, jest,
Remembering games of lapta, the swings of distant childhood,
That would fly up in the sky as far as the sun in Spring,
The colourful shawls and elegant jackets of beautiful girls,
The heart’s chill from a sudden touch…
They float away on invisible waves into pleasant dreams,
Leaving the crows, magpies and scuttling field voles
Only pitiful crumbs from the generous earthly feast.

(Original on p137 here.)


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