A Pushkin epigram in two translations

Rupert Moreton and I challenged each other to translate the same poem, written by Pushkin (presumably in 1826) about the new Tsar Nicholas I’s harsh treatment of the Decembrists’ uprising. How similar and different do you think the translations are?


Едва царем он стал,
То разом начудесил:
Сто двадцать человек тотчас в Сибирь послал
Да пятерых повесил.

Literal translation:

He had hardly become tsar
Than he all at once worked wonders:
One hundred and twenty people he straightaway sent to Siberia
And hanged five.

Translation A:

He’d barely been crowned tsar
When he set wonders clanging:
One hundred twenty men he banished to afar
And sent five to their hanging.

Translation B:

No sooner was he tsar
A sign he made of hallows:
Without delay he sent to exile full six score
And five he hanged on gallows.


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