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In the hut the children hasten
Shouting, while their father frets,
"Daddy, Daddy, won’t you listen!
There’s a dead man in our nets!”
"Liars, lying little devils!”
Father grumbles at his breed.
"Oh, but there are children for you!
Dead man in your nets indeed!

Dead! The court will want an answer.
I’ll be plagued by them forever...
Nothing else to do... hey, mistress,
Hurry, hand my caftan over!
Where’s the body?" "See it, Daddy,
There!” In truth, upon the strand,
Where the sprawling nets are dripping,
There’s a dead man on the sand.

Swollen are the corpse's features,
Blue and hideous in death.
Did a miserable creature
Choose to choke his sinful breath,
Did the river seize a sailor,
Drown a youth in drunken fit?
Did a band of ruthless robbers
Slay a merchant slow of wit?

What's the difference to the peasant?
Sizing up the scene, he speeds.
Takes the dead man by the ankles,
Drags the body through the reeds.
From the craggy bank he shoves him
With an oar into the river.
Once again the current moves him,
Graveless, crossless, lost forever.

Long the buoyant body rocked
Like a live man on the foam.
Not for long the peasant looked;
Soon he turned his footsteps home.
"Little whelps you! Follow me!
There's a twist at home for you.
Don't you dare to chatter, see.
Else I'll beat you black and blue."

Night fell. Windy grew the weather;
Agitated was the foam.
Soon the flaming splinter flickered
In the peasant's smoky home.
Mother nods, the children dream.
On his bunk the peasant mutters.
Now the tempest sighs, now screams...
Someone's knocking at the shutters.

Who's there? "Let me in, my master."
"Son of Cain, now why the dither
Late at night? What's the disaster?
Satan must have sent you hither...
Dark here, crowded... how in blazes
Can I fuss about with you?
And with lazy hand he raises
Pane and shutter for a view.

Out of a cloud the moon appeared -
What! A naked man is there.
Water's dripping from his beard;
Stiff as marble is his stare.
All his flesh is numb and livid,
Arms are limp as any cord.
In the body, blue and swollen,
Crawfish black as night have bored.

Knowing now his naked guest,
Franticly he slammed the shutter,
Almost lifeless. "May you burst!"
At length he whispered with a shudder.
Sick with dread, his brain was rocking.
Clearly through the tempest's roar
All night long he heard a knocking
At the window and the door.

Peasants tell a ghastly story:
Every year since then, they say.
Our mouzhik awaits a caller
On the dread appointed day.
Since the dawn the waves are rocking,
Through the night the tempests roar
And a naked man is knocking
At the window and the door.


Credited to Alexander Pushkin.

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