Verse > Anthologies > Deutsch and Yarmolinsky, comps. > Modern Russian Poetry
Deutsch and Yarmolinsky, comps.  Modern Russian Poetry.  1921.
The Devil’s Swings
By Fyodor Sologub (Pseudonym of Fyodor Teternikov) (b. 1863)
BELOW a pine’s rough shadow,
Where loud the river sings,
The hairy-handed devil
Pushes his devilish swings.
He swings, and gives a crow,        5
          To and fro
          To and fro
The boards creak, bending low,
The taut rope rubbing slow
Against the heavy boughs.        10
The board sways back, and bracing,
With a long creak swings wide,
The devil, still grimacing,
Guffaws and holds his side.
I tremble to let go;        15
          To and fro
          To and fro
I sway and cling, but no,
My languid glances grow
Fast where the devil tows.        20
Above the looming pine
The blue fiend’s sniggers sting:
“You found the swings so fine,
Well, devil take you, swing!”
Below the shaggy pine        25
They squeak and whirl and sling:
“You found the swings so fine?
Well, devil take you, swing!”
The fiend will not release
The board that hangs too steep        30
Till I am thrust toward peace
By the dark hand’s dread sweep.
Until the hemp turns round
Too long, and is worn free,
Until the broad black ground        35
Comes flying up to me.
Above the pine I’ll fling
And bore into the mire.
Then swing, devil, swing—
Higher, higher, higher!        40

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