The Learned Cat: A Russian Fairy Tale

The Learned Cat: A Russian Fairy Tale
У лукоморья дуб зеленый,
Златая цепь на дубе том:
И днем и ночью кот ученый
Всё ходит по цепи кругом;
Идет направо - песнь заводит,
Налево - сказку говорит.

Beside the sea stands a green oak tree,
And on the tree a golden chain:
And on the chain a learned cat
Walks round and round and round again;
When he goes left he tells a tale,
And when he goes right he sings a refrain.

~Alexander Pushkin

So begins Alexander Pushkin’s fantasy poem Ruslan and Ludmila. This piece is a mélange of popular Slavic characters and stories: Vasilisa the Fair, the Frog Tsarevna, Rusalka, the firebird, and Baba Yaga. Baba Yaga’s house on chicken legs is practically a character in its own right, wandering the forest, turning its back to any who would try to enter, and crouching down only for Baba Yaga to reach its door.