One harsh winter an elephant of ice
Stood in St. Petersburg. A sergeant,
By order of the Empress Anna, sat inside,
Wrapped in furs, making horn calls
Except when he was drunk (Who so cruel
As to leave a cold soldier without vodka?)
When that happened, the guards would seize
Some street performer too slow to evade them.
Then the elephant would make bird calls
Or tell jokes about Tatars and Cossacks.
For three years after, it was said,
The sergeant’s lips and ears were blue.