Was a pope, who is dead.
He went out a-shopping one day
To look for some wares on the way;
And he came on Balda, who was there,
Who was going he knew not where,
And who said, “Why so early abroad, old sire?
And what dost require?”
He replied, “For a workman I look,
To be stableman, carpenter, cook;
But where to procure
Such a servant? – a cheap one, be sure!”
Says Balda, “I will come as thy servant,
I’ll be spendid, and punctual, and fervent;
And my pay for the year is – three raps on thy head;
Only, give me boiled wheat when
I’m fed.” Then he pondered, that pope;
Scratched his poll, put his hope
In his luck, in the Russian Perhaps.
“There are raps,” he bethought him, “and raps…”
And he said to Balda, “Let it be so;
There is profit for thee and for me so;
Go and live in my yard,
And see that thou work for me nimbly and hard...”
...Then the heart of the pope is more cheerful
And his looks at Balda are less fearful,
And he calls him: “Come here to me, do,
Balda, my good workman and true!
Now listen: some devils have said
They will pay me a rent every year till I’m dead.
The income is all of the best; but arrears
Have been due from those devils for three mortal years.
So, when thou hast stuffed thyself full with the wheat,
Collect from those devils my quit-rent, complete
It is idle to jar with the pope; so he,
Balda, goes out and sits by the sea,
And there to twisting a rope he sets
And its further end in the sea he wets.
And an ancient fiend from the sea comes out:
“Balda, why sneakest thou hereabout?”
“I mean with the rope the sea to wrinkle
And your cursed race to cramp and crinkle.”
And the ancient then is grieved in mind:
“Oh why, oh why, art thou thus unkind?” –
“Are ye asking why? and have not you
Forgotten the time when the rent was due?
But now, you dogs, we shall have our joke,
And you soon will find in your wheel a spoke.”
“O dear Balda, let the sea stop wrinkling,
And all the rent is thine in a twinkling.
I will send thee my grandson – wait awhile.”
...Then the devils, no help for it, rose and went
In a ring, and collected the whole of the rent,
And they loaded a sack
On Balda, who made off with a kind of a quack.
And the pope when he sees him
Just skips up and flees him
And hides in the rear of his wife
And straddles, in fear of his life.
But Balda hunts him out on the spot, and see!
Hands over the rent, and demands his fee.
Then the pope, poor old chap,
Put his pate up. At rap
Переводчик – Оливер Элтон (1861-1945) – английский историк литературы, автор многотомного «Обзора английской литературы», переводчик с иностранных языков, в основном со скандинавских и славянских, включая русский.