Multilingual Folk Tale Database


Author: Alexander Afanasyev - 1855

Translated into English

Original title (Russian):
Алеша Попович

Country of origin: Russia


English - aligned

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Alyosha Popovich

Alexander Afanasyev

IN the sky the young bright moon was being born, and
on the earth, of the old prebendary, the old pope Leon,
a son was born, a mighty knight, and he was called by
name Alyosha Popovich, a fair name for him.

When they began to feed Alyosha, what was a week's
food for any other babe was a day's food for him, what
was a year's food for others was a week's food for him.

Alyosha began going about the streets and playing
with the young boys. If he touched the little hand of
anyone, that hand was gone : if he touched the little
nose of anyone, that nose was done for : his play was
insatiate and terrible. Anyone he grappled with by the
waist, he slew.

And Alyosha began to grow up, so he asked his mother
and father for their blessing, for he wished to go and to
fare into the open field.

His father said to him, " Alyosha Popovich, you are
faring into the open field, but we have yet one who is
even mightier than you : do you take into your service
Maryshko, the son of Paran."

So the two youths mounted their good horses and they
fared forth into the open field. The dust rose behind
them like a column, such doughty youths were they to

So the two doughty youths went on to the court of
Prince Vladimir. And Alyosha Popovich went straight
to the white stone palace, to Prince Vladimir, crossed
himself as is befitting, bowed down in learned-wise in all
four directions, and especially low to Prince Vladimir.
Prince Vladimir came to meet the doughty youths and
set them down at an oaken table, gave the doughty
youths good food and drink, and then asked their news.
And the doughty youths sat down to eat baked ginger-
bread and to drink strong wines.

Then Prince Vladimir asked the doughty youths,
" Who are ye, doughty youths ? Are ye mighty knights
of prowess or wandering wayfarers bearing your burdens ?
I do not know either your name or your companion's

So Alyosha Popovich answered, " I am the son of the
old prebendary Leon, his young son Alyosha Popovich,
and my comrade and servant is Maryshko, the son of

And when Alyosha had eaten and drunk he went and
sat on the brick stove to rest from the midday heat,
whilst Maryshko sat at the table.

Just at that time the knight, the Snake's son, was
making a raid and was ravaging all the kingdom of Prince
Vladimir. Tugarin Zmyeyevich 1 came to the white
stone palace, came to Prince Vladimir. With his left
leg he stepped on the threshold and with his right leg
on the oaken table. He drank and ate and had conversa-
tion with ^ the princess, and he mocked Prince Vladimir
and reviled him. He put one round of bread to his
cheek and piled one on another ; on his tongue he put
an entire swan, and he thrust off all the pastry and
swallowed it all at a gulp.

Alyosha Popovich was lying on the brick stove, and
spake in this wise to Tugarin Zmyeyevich : " My old
father, Leon the pope, had a little cow which was a
great glutton : it used to eat up all the beer vats with
all the lees ; and then the little cow, the glutton, came
to the lake, and it drank and lapped all the water out
of the lake, took it all up and it burst, and so it would
also have torn Tugarin to bits after his feed."

Then Tugarin was wroth with Alyosha Popovich and
burst on him with his steel knife. Alyosha turned aside
and stood behind an oaken column. Then Alyosha
spoke in this wise : "I thank you, Tugarin Zmyeyevich ;
you have given me a steel knife : I will break your white
breast, I will put out your clear eyes, and I will behold
your mettlesome heart."

Just at that time Maryshko Paranov leapt out from
behind the table, the oaken table, on to his swift feet,
seized Tugarin, and fell on his back and threw him over ;
lifted up one of the chairs and hurled in the white stone
palace, and the glass windows were shattered.

Then Alyosha Popovich said from the brick stove,
" O Maryshko, son of Paran, thou hast been a faithful
servant ! "

And Maryshko the son of Paran answered, " Do you
give me, Alyosha Popovich, your steel knife, and I will
break open the white breast of Tugarin Zmyeyevich, I
will close his clear eyes, and I will gaze on his mettlesome

But Alyosha answered, " Hail, Maryshko Paranov, do
you not sully the white stone palace ; let him go into
the open field wherever he may, and we will meet him
to-morrow in the open field."

So, in the morning early, very early, Maryshko the
son of Paran arose, together with the little sun, and he
led out the stout horses to water them in the swift
stream. Tugarin Zmyeyevich flew into the open and
challenged Alyosha Popovich to fight him in the open
field. And Maryshko Paranov came to Alyosha Popovich
and said : " God must be your judge, Alyosha Popovich :
you would not give me your steel knife ; I should have
carved out the white breast from that pagan thie If,
should have gouged out his bright eyes, and I should have
taken out his mettlesome heart and gazed on it. Now,
what will you make of Tugarin ? He is flying about in
the open."

Then Alyosha Popovich spake in this wise : " That
was no service, but treachery."

So Alyosha led out his horse, saddled it with a Circas-
sian saddle, fastened it on with twelve silken girths, not
for the sake of decoration, but for the sake of strength.
And Alyosha set out into the open field. Alyosha set
out into the open field, and he saw Tugarin Zmyeyevich,
who was flying in the open.

Then Alyosha made a prayer : " Holy Mother of
God, do thou punish the black traitor, and grant out of
the black cloud a thick gritty rain that shall damp
Tugarin's light wings, and he may fall on the grey earth
and stand on the open field ! "

It was like two mountains falling on each other when
Tugarin and Alyosha met. They fought with their
clubs, and their clubs were shattered at the hilts. Their
lances met, and their lances broke into shreds. Then
Alyosha Popovich got down from his saddle like a sheaf
of oats, and Tugarin Zmyeyevich was almost striking
Alyosha down. But Alyosha Popovich was cautious. He
stood between his horse's feet and, turning round to the
other side from there, smote Tugarin with his steel
knife under his right breast, and threw Tugarin from
his good horse. And then Alyosha Popovich cried out,
"Tugarin, I thank you, Tugarin Zmyeyevich, for the
steel knife : I will tear out your white breast, I will gouge
out your bright eyes, and I will gaze on your mettlesome

Then Alyosha cut off his turbulent head, and he took
the turbulent head to Prince Vladimir. And as he went
on he began playing with that little head, flinging it high
up in the air and catching it again on his sharp lance.

But Vladimir was dismayed. " I see Tugarin bringing
me the turbulent head of Alyosha Popovich : he will
now take captive all of our Christian kingdom."

But Maryshko Paranov gave him answer : " Do not
be distressed, oh bright little sun, Vladimir, in thy capital
of Kiev. If Tugarin is coming on earth and is not flying
in the skies he is putting his turbulent head on my steel
lance. Do not be afraid, Prince Vladimir ; whatever
comes I will make friends with him."

Then Maryshko the son of Paran looked out into the
open field, and he recognised Alyosha Popovich, and he
said, " I can see the knightly gait and youthful step of
Alyosha Popovich. He is guiding his horse uphill and
he is playing with a little head : he is throwing the little
head sky-high, and is catching the little head on the point
of his sharp lance. He who is riding is not the pagan
Tugarin, but Alyosha Popovich, the son of the old
prebendary, the pope Leon, who is bringing the head
of the pagan Tugarin Zmyeyevich."