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A Modern Russian Christmas Carol

We three kings — rich men we are

Bearing gifts we traverse afar.

From villas with fountains, across the mountains,

Bringing our gifts to the царь!

O царь of wonder, царь of night,

Царь with royal beauty bright,

Westward once, but now no more

Countries fear our awesome might.

 

The first king speaks:

Born I was in a family poor,

Gold I bring to crown him once more,

Царь forever, ceasing never

Over us all to reign … and reign.


The second king speaks:

Ладан* I bring for a minister’s wife,

Incense lifts the quality of life.

Gifts and praising we’re always raising,

Hoping to avoid all strife.

 

The third king speaks:

Мирра** is mine: Its bitter perfume

Breathes some life in the gathering gloom.

Presents, trinkets, perfume and jewelry…

Fill up our splendid back rooms…

 

But when we brought in our baskets of loot

All ran off, when they saw there no fruit

Rules are changing! Is power waning?

What’s a poor oligarch to do? 

 

O царь of wonder, царь of night,

Царь with royal beauty bright,

Westward once, but now no more

Countries fear our awesome might.

 

С Рожеством Христовым! Merry Christmas to all celebrating on December 25!

* Frankincense

**Myrrh

 

Michele A. Berdy is a Moscow-based translator and interpreter, author of “The Russian Word’s Worth,” a collection of her columns. Follow her on Twitter @MicheleBerdy.

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