Ian Mac Eochagáin’s translation.
Prince P.A. Vyazemskiy laments the dirt, cold and hunger in which Russia finds itself. This poem was written in 1828, three years after the coronation of Tsar Nicholas I. The “Germans” of the last verse are the German Balts who were, in Vyazemsky’s opinion, far too numerous in the form of hangers-on at court.
This was an easy enough poem to translate given the repetitive rhyme of bog (‘god’) with the second line of each verse. You might be surprised by how many words do rhyme with ‘god’ in English. I simply listed the all and crossed them off as I used them to avoid repeating myself (in which I wasn’t entirely successful). Because the Russian word bog is traditionally pronounced with an aspirated gh-like sound, though, you start to wonder if any of them poem really rhymes at all.
A final note: Vyazemskiy himself almost-rhymed poperyok with bog in verse…
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