Somewhere in a secret kingdom,
In a far and distant kingdom,
Lived the famous Tsar Dadon.
Fierce one when took the throne
Put to rubbish all the neighbors
Never thought about sequels.
But when matured and turned gray
Wished to find a peaceful way
And to take repose and slumber.
Then the neighbors made much trouble
For the old and feeble king
Giving him a lot of sting.
To defend his distant borders
From the permanent disorders
He was urged to maintain
Cohogorts of defensive men.
Chiefs of guard refused to sleep,
Tried to get the faithful tip:
Whether from the South blast,
From the East assault on us?
Beat them here – savage people
From the sea. Without sleeping
Wept with fury Tsar Dadon,
Troubles meanwhile carried on.
Could one live in such a fever!
Asked for help he from the clever
Wise old eunuh, sorcerer,
Begging him to come to chamber.
Came he with a tricky number –
Pulled from figured tissue sack
Golden Cockerel by neck.
“Place – he said – this golden bird –
On the top of your abode
And my Golden Cockerel
Will perform his duty well:
While it’s quiet on the border
He will sit in peace and order
But at minor threat of war
From each quarter of the World
Or of military invasion,
Or of unexpected danger,
In a flash my Cockerel
Will upraise his caruncle,
Give a loud crow of glory
And will gaze at source of worry”.
Tsar with grace to sorcerer
Vows him a bag of pearls.
“In return for this your favor, –
Tsar at that time was enamoured –
I would grant your premier will
As my own – to fulfill”.
Cockerel from the top of spire
Watches round for the fire.
Is the danger seen by chance –
Faithful sentry wakes at once
Spread his wings and make a turn
Towards the side it’s coming from
Issuing a loud cry –
“Reign in peace and sidelong lie!”
And the neighbor kings grew quiet,
Could not further war provide:
Since that year Tsar Dadon
Stopped them all of fighting on.
Quietly runs year after year;
Cockerel keeps to watch and hear.
All of a sudden Tsar Dadon
Was awaked with noise and storm:
“Tsar, your majesty, Godfather! –
Claims the general, – the bother,
Sir! Wake up! We need defense!”
“What’s the matter, dear friends? –
Asked Dadon with loud yawn –
Who is there, what is wrong?”
Chief of troops replies in fever:
“Cockerel shrills just more than ever;
Funk and noise across the town”
Tsar – to window. Makes sound,
Jumps and flatters Cockerel
Screaming as the warning bell.
“Quickly, folks, to horse, do hurry!
Don’t loose time, for time is money!”;
Tsar sends army to the East
Elder son leads it abreast
Cockerel’s concern abated,
Clamor calmed, Tsar dissipated.
Eight days passed without roar
No news came from the war;
Whether happened any battle –
Can’t Dadon wise up and settle.
Cockerel starts again to crow.
Tsar collects the second crowd;
Which the younger son will run
To assist the elder one;
Cockerel again keeps level.
No news about travel!
Came within eight lasting days;
People fear, wait and pray;
Cockerel starts again to crow,
Tsar collects another crowd
And he leads them to the East
Hoping to return at least.
Troops are marching day and night;
All the men are deadly tired.
Neither battlefield, camp ground,
Nor a hill or burial mound
Had encountered Tsar Dadon.
“What’s the miracle?” – looks he on.
Week had passed of trip almighty,
Tsar brought troops to highland country
There, amidst sky-touching peaks
Stands a silky tent on sticks.
Valley lays in deep, fine silence
No sound over mountains
In the narrow canyon
Murdered crowds sees Dadon.
Near tent he sees two bodies
His two sons without clothes,
No armors, helmet less
Swords run through each others’ chests,
Cold and breathless.
Their horses Wander lose – free from remorse’s
In the crushed and blood-stained grass
By the narrow mountain pass
Tsar gave weep: “My sons, my children!
Woe is me!
They both are beaten
Both of proud falcons my –
Nothing else I want but die!”
All the army mourned and grieved
Heavy echo was received
From the mountains before
Suddenly the silky door
Of the tent was quickly opened
And Shemakha Queen was gotten –
Stunning beauty, like the dawn
Quietly stepped to meet Dadon.
Like the owl in the morning
Silenced Tsar not feeling warning
He forgot death of his sons
At the sight of Queen at once
She gave smile as rose in bloom
To Dadon with little bow
Took with tenderness his hand
And led him inside the tent.
There she sat him at the table,
Feasted him with viands of fable,
Bedded brocade bed for rest
Tsar got in the homey nest
After, for a week exactly,
Captured by her charm directly,
Caught in network, caught in trap,
Stayed Dadon within her lap.
So at length Dadon decided
Back to kingdom he resided
With his army and the Queen
Tsar returned to home in sheen
In the front of him the talking,
Truth and false were widely walking.
At the capital gateway
Swarms of people met them gay
Crowds run behind the carriage
Greetings for the coming marriage
Greets his people Tsar Dadon…
Suddenly he stared upon
Ancient, like the swan gray-headed
Wearing Saracen’s, unbearded
Old friend, eunuch, sapient
“How are you, eminent –
Called the Tsar- Come over here,
Tell me what you want, I hear”
Tsar! – replied the old wise sage,
Let us settle at this stage.
I remind you of your promise
In return for my good service
You would grant my premier will
As your own – to fulfill.
Let me now have this maiden,
Queen of Shemakha, you’ve taken.
Tsar couldn’t keep from great amazement
“Why requiring such payment?
a Either devil stole your mind?
Or you’re definitely blind?
What accrued inside your head?
If I knew you were so mad
I wouldn’t promise you at all.
And besides, why just the girl?
Easy, be aware of mine
You may ask for things just fine
Ask for place at royal table,
Any horse from royal stable,
Ask for half my kingdom yet”
“I want none of those, instead
Let me take this maiden charming,
Queen of Shemakha” – diviner
So answered – old white hat.
Spat Dadon – “Be damned for that!
You will get just less than nothing.
Need you, sinner, for adjusting;
You’ll bring trouble on your head;
Drag away this ancient bat”;
The old man began to argue
But it’s harmful with the ugly;
Tsar knocked him with iron staff
On the forehead – that’s enough
Shuddered and recoiled the crowd,
Girl resumed to laugh and shout –
Ha-ha-ha, then he-he-he!
Say, not fears own sin.
Although Tsar was frightened much,
Gave to her a gentle touch.
Now carriage moves to town…
There arose a gentile sound
And in presence of the folks
Cockerel swooped from spire’s top,
Flew to carriage and alighted,
On Tsar’s crown like the cockfighter,
Spread his wings, pecked once the Tsar
And soared up in deep blue sky
From the carriage Tsar Dadon
Fell on earth and he was gone.
And the Queen – she disappeared,
As if she was never here.
Tale is lie, but there’s a hint!
For good fellows a tip.
Russian Stories From the Old Days…