Home  »  Poems of Places An Anthology in 31 Volumes  »  The Feast of Peter the Great

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Russia: Vol. XX. 1876–79.

Saint Petersburg

The Feast of Peter the Great

By Alexander Sergevitch Pushkin (1799–1837)

Anonymous translation

O’ER the Neva gayly dancing,

Flag and pennant flutter fair;

From the boats in line advancing

Oarsmen’s chorus fill the air.

Loud and joyous guests assembling

Throng the palace of the Tzar;

And to cannon crash is trembling

All the Neva from afar.

Wherefore feasts our Tzar of wonders?

Why is Petersburg so gay?

Why those shouts and cannon thunders,

And the fleet in war array?

Is new glory dawning on ye,

Russia’s eagle, Russia’s sword?

Has the stern Swede fled before ye?

Has the foe for peace implored?

Is it Brandt’s slight boat appearing,

On the shore that was the Swede’s?

Through our young fleet proudly steering

Like a grandame she proceeds.

They, her giant brood, seem kneeling

’Fore their grandame, black and grim;

And to Science’ name are pealing

Cannon crash and choral hymn?

Is ’t Poltava, red and glorious,

That he feasts the herd of war?

When his empire’s life victorious

Saved from Charles the Russian Tzar?

Greet they Catherine’s saint those thunders,

Hath she given a prince to life?

Of our giant Tzar of wonders,

She, the raven-tressed wife?

No! a subject’s crime remitting

To the guilty, guilt he sinks,

By a subject’s side he ’s sitting,

From a subject’s cup he drinks:

And his brow he kisses smiling,

Gay of heart and bright of eye;

And he feasts a reconciling,

Like some mighty victory.

Hence those shouts of joy and wonder;

Hence is Petersburg so gay;

Hence the songs and cannon thunder,

And the fleet in war array;

Hence the guests in joy assembling;

Hence the full cup of the Tzar;

Hence with cannon crashes trembling

All the Neva from afar.