The Potentate (I. A. Krylov, "Vel'mozha")
In ancient times a potentate
Had left behind his rich estate
And went, where shadows do abide –
To put it plainly, he had died.
A board convened his case to hear –
Before this board he must appear.
They started am interrogation:
Where was he born, his occupation?–
"In Persia was I born, where I was at the peak
Of a vast province; but, since I was weak,
I did not rule myself my lands
But left this business in the hands
Of some officials of a lower rank." –
"What did you do" – "I ate, and slept, and drank,
And signed, unread, whatever I was give." –
"To paradise with him!" – "How come? Is he forgiven?"
Surprised at the decision of the board
Said Mercury: "Is this a fair reward?"
Aeacus said to him: "You do not understand
How matters stand
But if the deceased was but a fool:
What if he did attempt to rule?
You know, to what this could have led?
How many tears could have been shed,
And what calamities, disasters,
Can be brought down by foolish masters?
His inactivity has kept those ills away."
I was in court but yesterday
And saw the judge: it will be no surprise
If he ends up in paradise.