An Evening after Rain (Вечер после дождя), Mikhail Lermontov

Portrait of Lermontov by Pyotr Zabolotsky, 1837
Portrait of Lermontov by Pyotr Zabolotsky, 1837

Mikhail Yurievich Lermontov (1814-1841) is perhaps best known outside Russia for his novel “A Hero of Our Time”, which is among many works that reflect his love of the Caucasus. He is unquestionably one of the great figures of nineteenth century Russian Romanticism. The name Lermontov reflects his Scottish ancestry: one of his ancestors was George Learmont, a seventeenth century mercenary.

I don’t think there’s a translator out there who doesn’t relish translating a poem in iambic pentameter…

Beyond my window now horizon fades,
Declining ray atop the colonnades –
The domes, the chimneys, crosses golden-leaved –
Is glistening, burning eyes of the deceived;
And fiery edges of the cloudy veil
Like snakes are sketched as if by pencil’s trail,
And softly breezes through the garden pass
Caressing stems of quivering rain-soaked grass…
Between those stems I spied a little bloom,
As ’twere an eastern pearl amidst the gloom,
And trembling, sparkling droplet from it hung,
Its head inclined, it yet to standing clung,
Just like a mourning girl confronting dole,
Her spirit quenched, her joy departing soul:
Despite her eyes that streamed with angry tears,
Her beauty she’ll recall in coming years.

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Гляжу в окно: уж гаснет небосклон,
Прощальный луч на вышине колонн,
На куполах, на трубах и крестах
Блестит, горит в обманутых очах;
И мрачных туч огнистые края
Рисуются на небе как змея,
И ветерок, по саду пробежав,
Волнует стебли омоченных трав…
Один меж них приметил я цветок,
Как будто перл, покинувший восток,
На нем вода блистаючи дрожит,
Главу свою склонивши, он стоит,
Как девушка в печали роковой:
Душа убита, радость над душой;
Хоть слезы льет из пламенных очей,
Но помнит всё о красоте своей.

Translation by Rupert Moreton

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