To *** (K ***), Alexander Pushkin

Anna Petrovna Kern
Anna Petrovna Kern

One of the master’s most famous poems. It was written for Anna Petrovna Kern, with whom Pushkin had an affair in 1825. Nabokov, who was determined that Pushkin was untranslatable, ridiculed all attempts to translate this. Here is Walter Arndt’s.

That stellar moment I remember:
Before me, sudden, there you were,
A fleeting vision’s dying ember,
The purest height of beauty’s blur.

And when with hopeless sadness tested
Amidst the noisy fuss and flap,
It’s long in tender voice I rested
And let your features round me wrap.

The years went by. And storms’ sedition
My former cherished dreams dispersed,
Your voice evaded recognition,
Your lovely face was now submersed.

In wilderness incarceration
My days were dragging quietly by
Without a god or inspiration,
Or tears, or life, no love was nigh.

And now my soul it did remember:
Again before me there you were,
A fleeting vision’s dying ember,
The purest height of beauty’s blur.

Now beat my heart with exaltation,
In it again were soaring high
A sense of god, new inspiration,
And tears and life, and loving sigh.

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

Я помню чудное мгновенье:
Передо мной явилась ты,
Как мимолетное виденье,
Как гений чистой красоты.

В томленьях грусти безнадежной
В тревогах шумной суеты,
Звучал мне долго голос нежный
И снились милые черты.

Шли годы. Бурь порыв мятежный
Рассеял прежние мечты,
И я забыл твой голос нежный,
Твои небесные черты.

В глуши, во мраке заточенья
Тянулись тихо дни мои
Без божества, без вдохновенья,
Без слез, без жизни, без любви.

Душе настало пробужденье:
И вот опять явилась ты,
Как мимолетное виденье,
Как гений чистой красоты.

И сердце бьется в упоенье,
И для него воскресли вновь
И божество, и вдохновенье,
И жизнь, и слезы, и любовь.

Translation by Rupert Moreton

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