Marko Yacubovich – Alexander Pushkin

In 1835 Pushkin published a collection called ‘Songs of the Western Slavs’ and included among its numbers was a vampire poem, featuring the Vurdalak. The poem clearly borrows from or was influenced by Prosper Mérimée.

The following is a very rough translation.

Marko Yakubovich sat by the gate,

Before him sat Zoya his wife

While there little son played on the step.

Along the road before them came a stranger,

Pale white and dragging his feet,

Asking for a drink ‘for God’s sake’.

Zoya stood and went for the water

Dipped a bucket and brought it to him

The stranger drank each drop to the bottom.

Thirst quenched he turned to Marko,

“What’s that standing under the hill?”

Replied Marko Yacubovich

“The cemetery of my forefathers.”

The unknown passerby replied,

“Let me rest there beside them,

For I have not long to live.”

Then he loosened his wide belt

And showed Marko his wound.

“Three days I have carried Bursurman’s

Lead bullet under my heart.

When I die, bury my body,

Place it on the mountain beneath the willow green,

And lay my saber beside me,

For a glorious warrior was I.

Zoya held up the stranger,

While Marko looked to his wound.

Suddenly young Zoya cried out.

“Help me, Marko, I have not strength,

To hold our guest thus long.”

Then it was that Marko Yakubovich,

Saw that the stranger had died in her arms.

Marko mounted his black horse,

Carrying the body with him,

And took him to the graveyard.

There he dug a deep grave

And buried the body with a prayer.

A week passed, then another,

And Marko’s young son began to grow thin,

He stopped playing and funning,

And simply lay on his mat and groaned.

The healer came to Yakubovich,

Looked at the youngster and said,

“Your son has a dangerous sickness,

Look at the white of his neck,

Do you not see the bloody wound,

It’s the mark of the vampire, believe it.

The whole village followed the healer

Up to the graveyard right then;

They dug up the grave of the stranger,

Saw the body blush red and fresh,

With nails grown likes the claws of a raven,

And a fresh beard on his face

With blood staining his lips

And the coffin half filled with blood.

Poor Marko swung his stake

But the dead man leapt up

And fled from the tomb to the woods.

He ran far swifter than a horse

Hurried on with sharp spurs;

And the bushes bent beneath him

And the branches cracked before him

Breaking like frozen twigs.

The healer covered the boy,

With soil from the grave,

And prayed over him all day

At the setting of the blood-red son,

Zoya said to her husband:

“Remember? It was two weeks ago today

That at this hour that evil stranger died.”

Suddenly the dog began to loudly whine,

The door slammed open by itself,

And a giant entered, bent half over,

He sat, and curled his legs beneath him,

His head still brushing the ceiling.

Motionless, he looked at Marko.

Motionless, Marko looked at him,

Held captive by his fearsome gaze;

But the old man, opened his prayer book,

Set alight a cypress branch,

And blew the smoke at the giant.

The cursed vampire trembled before him,

Threw the door open and left at a run,

As though he were a wolf, surrounded by hunters.

The next day, at the same exact time,

The dog barked, the door opened,

And a stranger entered,

The height of one of Caesar’s recruits.

He sat silently and looked at Marko,

But the old man threw him out with prayer.

On the third day, there came a little dwarf,

Small enough to ride a rat,

But his eyes shined bright with evil

And the old man cast him out for a third time,

And from that day to this, he has never returned.

Published by SamHirst

This started off as a story blog to share the little fictions that I like to write but it's turned into something a bit more Goth! I'm Dr Sam Hirst and I research the Gothic, theology and romance and at the moment I'm doing free Gothic classes online! We also have readalongs, watchalongs and reading groups. And I post fun little Gothic bits when I have the chance. Find me on twitter @RomGothSam

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