Rusalka Slavic Water Nymph  

Posted by Stella Clark

Rusalka Slavic Water Nymph Image
"RUSALKA" IS A SLAVIC WATER NYMPH, NOT A GODDESS, BUT A FEMALE GHOST WHO IS SAID TO HAVE APPEAR LIKE A LONG-HAIRED, PRETTY YOUNG MAIDEN; SHE IS BELIEVED TO REPRESENT THE SOUL OF A DROWNED GIRL OR AN UNBAPTIZED CHILD. RUSALKI ARE SOMETIMES NAKED, COVERED ONLY WITH THEIR LONG TRESSES; SOMETIMES THEY MAY CHOOSE TO DRESS IN A LONG SHIFT. IN APPEARANCE, THEY ARE SAID TO BE EXTREMELY PALE WITH ALMOST TRANSLUCENT SKIN.

ACCORDING TO TRADITION, THE RUSALKI LIVE BENEATH THE RIVER IN A BEAUTIFUL CRYSTAL PALACE. IT IS SAID THAT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT, THE THEY CAN BE SEEN WALKING OUT ONTO THE RIVERBANK WHERE THEY WILL FROLIC AND PLAY ALL THROUGH THE NIGHT. SOME CAN BE SEEN SWINGING ON THE BRANCHES OF THE TREES WHILE OTHERS ENJOY RUNNING THROUGH THE GRASS. SOME JUST SIT OUT ON THE DOCK AND COMB THEIR HAIR. OTHERS SING AND JOIN IN A CIRCLE DANCE...WHICH IS BELIEVED TO PROMOTE THE GROWTH OF RYE.

WITH THEIR SINGING AND CHARMS, THEY ATTRACT HANDSOME MEN AND TICKLE THEM TO DEATH. SOMETIMES THE MESMERIZE THE MEN AND LEAD THEM AWAY TO THE RIVER FLOOR AND CERTAIN DEATH.

"RUSALKA"
"IN LAKESIDE LEAFY GROVES A FRIAR ESCAPED THE WORLD; OUT THERE HE PASSED"HIS SUMMER DAYS IN CONSTANT PRAYER,"DEEP STUDIES AND ETERNAL FAST."ALREADY WITH A HUMBLE SHOVEL"THE ELDER DUG HIMSELF A GRAVE,"AND CALLING SAINTS TO BLESS HIS HOVEL,"DEATH--NOTHING OTHER--DID HE CRAVE."
"SO ONCE UPON A FALLING NIGHT HE"
"BOWED DOWN BESIDE HIS DROOPING SHACK"
"AND MEEKLY PRAYED TO THE ALMIGHTY."
"THE GROVE WAS TURNING SLOWLY BLACK;"
"ABOVE THE LAKE THE MIST WAS LIFTING;"
"THROUGH MILKY CLOUDS ACROSS THE SKY"
"A RUDDY MOON WAS SOFTLY DRIFTING,"
"WHEN WATER DREW THE FRIAR'S EYE--"
"HE LOOKS; HIS HEART IS FULL OF TROUBLE,"
"OF FEAR HE CANNOT QUITE EXPLAIN;"
"HE SEES THE WAVES RISE MORE THAN DOUBLE"
"AND SUDDENLY GROW CALM AGAIN."
"THEN, WHITE AS FIRST SNOW OF THE HIGHLANDS,"
"LIGHT-FOOTED AS NOCTURNAL SHADE,"
"THERE COMES ASHORE AND SITS IN SILENCE"
"UPON THE BANK A NAKED MAID."
"SHE LOOKS AT HIM AND BRUSHES GENTLY"
"THE HAIR AND WATER OFF HER ARMS."
"HE SHAKES WITH FEAR AND LOOKS INTENTLY"
"AT HER SEDUCTIVE, LUSCIOUS CHARMS."
"WITH EAGER HAND, SHE WAVES AND BECKONS,"
"NODS QUICKLY, SMILING FROM AFAIR,"
"AND SHOOTS WITHIN TWO FLASHING SECONDS"
"INTO STILL WATER A STAR."
"THE GLUM OLD MAN SLEPT NOT AN INSTANT"
"ALL NIGHT. ADD DAY NOT ONCE HE PRAYED;"
"BEFORE HIS EYES STILL HUNG AND GLISTENED"
"THE WONDROUS GIRL'S PERSISTENT SHADE."
"THE GROVE PUTS ON THE GOWN OF NIGHTFALL;"
"THE MOON WALKS ON THE CLOUDY FLOOR;"
"AND THERE'S THE MAIDEN--YOUNG, DELIGHTFUL,"
"RECLINING ON THE SPELLBOUND SHORE."
"SHE LOOKS AT HIM, HER HAIR SHE BRUSHES,"
"SMILES, SENDS HIM KISSES SWEET AND WILD,"
"PLAYS WITH THE WAVES--CARESSES, SPLASHES--"
"NOW LAUGHS, NOW WHIMPERS LIKE A CHILD,"
"MOANS TENDERLY, CALLS LOUDER, LOUDER..."
"HERE, MONK, HER MONK! TOO ME, TO ME!"
"THEN VANISHES IN LIMPID WATER,"
"AND ALL IS SILENT INSTANTLY."
"ON THE THIRD DAY THE ARDENT HERMIT"
"WAS SITTING ON THE SHORE, IN LOVE,"
"AWAITING THE VOLUPTUOUS MERMAID,"
"AS SHADE WAS LYING ON THE GROVE."
"NIGHT CEDED TO THE SUN'S EMERGENCE;"
"BY THEN THE MONK HAD DISAPPEARED."
"IT'S SAID A CROWD OF LOCAL URCHINS"
"SAW FLOATING THERE A WET GREY BEARD."

"--A.S. PUSHKIN, 1819--"

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