Translation © by Sergey Rybin

В пустыне чахлой и скупой
Language: Russian (Русский) 
Available translation(s): ENG
В пустыне чахлой и скупой,
на почве, зноем раскаленной,
анчар, как грозный часовой, 
стоит один во всей вселенной.

Природа жаждущих степей
его в день гнева породила
и зелень мертвыю ветвей,
и корни ядом напоила.

Яд каплет сквозь его кору,
[к полудню]1 растопясь от зною,
и застывает ввечеру
густой, прозрачною смолою.

К нему и птица не летит,
и [тигр]2 нейдот: лишь вихорь чёрный
на древо смерти набежит -
и мчится прочь уже тлетворный.

И если туча оросит,
блуждая, лист его дремучий,
с его ветвей уж ядовит
стекает дождь в песок горючий.

Но человека человек
послал к анчару властным взглядом;
и [тот]3 послушно в путь потек,
и к утру возвратился с ядом.

Принёс он смертную смолу
[да]4 ветвь с увядшими листами,
и пот по бледному челу
струился хладными ручьями;

принёс и ослабел, и лёг
под сводом шалаша на лыки,
и умер бедный раб у ног
непобедимого владыки.

А царь тем ядом напитал
свои послушливые стрелы
и с ними гибель разослал
к соседям в чуждые пределы.

A. Arensky sets stanzas 1-2, 4, 6-9

About the headline (FAQ)

View original text (without footnotes)
1 Rimsky-Korsakov: "поутру" ("poutru")
2 Rimsky-Korsakov: "зверь" ("zver'")
3 Rimsky-Korsakov: "он" ("on")
4 Arensky: "и" ("i")

Show a transliteration: Default | DIN | GOST

Note on Transliterations


Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive):

Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • ENG English (Sergey Rybin) , copyright © 2017, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FRE French (Français) (Catulle Mendès) , "L'antchar", appears in Petits poèmes russes, in 1. Pouchkine, Paris, G. Charpentier et E. Fasquelle, first published 1893
  • FRE French (Français) (Ivan Sergeyevich Turgenev) (Gustave Flaubert) , "L’Antchar", subtitle: "L’arbre de la mort", first published 1876

Research team for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator] , Johann Winkler

This text was added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Line count: 36
Word count: 163

Amid a desert, arid and bare
Language: English  after the Russian (Русский) 
Amid a desert, arid and bare, 
In soil, flaming with heat, 
The Upas tree, like a fearsome guard, 
Stands alone in the entire universe.

The nature of the barren steppes
Created it in the day of wrath
And soaked with deadly poison
Its green branches and its roots.

The poison percolates through its bark
Melting from the midday heat, 
And congeals by evening
Into a dense translucent resin.

Birds nor beasts roam not near it:
Only a black whirlwind
Occasionally would fly nearby - 
And rush away, but already deadly. 

And if a wondering cloud would sprinkle
Upon its dense foliage, 
From its branches the toxic rain
Flows down into the sizzling sand.
But a human sent another human
To the Upas tree with a commanding glance;
And he obediently set off on a journey, 
Returning by the morning with the poison.

He brought back the deadly resin
And a branch with withered leaves;
The sweat across his pale face
Was flowing in cold streams. 

He weakened and laid down
Under a tent upon a trestle-bed,
And the poor slave died
By the feet of an unconquerable sovereign. 

Meanwhile the Tsar drenched with that poison
His obedient arrows
And sent around death
To neighbours in foreign lands.

About the headline (FAQ)

Translation of titles
"Анчар" = "The upas tree"
"Анчар - древо яда" = "The upas - poison tree"


  • Translation from Russian (Русский) to English copyright © 2017 by Sergey Rybin, (re)printed on this website with kind permission. To reprint and distribute this author's work for concert programs, CD booklets, etc., you may ask the copyright-holder(s) directly or ask us; we are authorized to grant permission on their behalf. Please provide the translator's name when contacting us.

Based on:


This text was added to the website: 2017-01-14
Line count: 36
Word count: 207