To Pushkin (Пушкину), Sergei Yesenin

Yesenin and companions at a monument to Pushkin

Yesenin wrote this in 1924, the year before he killed himself. His life was if anything more riotous than was Pushkin’s – here‘s an excellent site which gives some detail.

My translation is a little loose, but retains Yesenin’s metre and rhyme scheme, except in the third line of the first stanza. I haven’t found a way to incorporate “boulevard” within the metre… A solution might be to retain the Russian and add “while”: “Tverskóy Bul’vár while perusing”.

Of mighty talent stand I musing,
Of one who stands for Russia’s fate,
Tverskóy Boulevard perusing,
I stand and with myself I prate.

My hair is fair – there are few blonder –
They say that I’ve become like mist,
O Alexander! What a bounder!
And I’m delinquent – often pissed.

But these beguiling sweet diversions
Can cast no shadow on your mien,
You proudly shake off all aspersions
With bronze-cast nod of blueish sheen.

And standing as before the Presence,
I look upon you, and I say:
I would ascend right to the heavens
If such a fate were mine today.

Though doomed I am to persecution,
Unceasing will I sing my songs…
So song of Steppe in execution
Might deep resound with tone of bronze.


Мечтая о могучем даре
Того, кто русской стал судьбой,
Стою я на Тверском бульваре,
Стою и говорю с собой.

Блондинистый, почти белесый,
В легендах ставший как туман,
О Александр! Ты был повеса,
Как я сегодня хулиган.

Но эти милые забавы
Не затемнили образ твой,
И в бронзе выкованной славы
Трясешь ты гордой головой.

А я стою, как пред причастьем,
И говорю в ответ тебе:
Я умер бы сейчас от счастья,
Сподобленный такой судьбе.

Но, обреченный на гоненье,
Еще я долго буду петь…
Чтоб и мое степное пенье
Сумело бронзой прозвенеть.

Translation by Rupert Moreton

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