“So, what then is my name to you?” (“Что в имени тебе моем?”), Alexander Pushkin

Portrait of Pushkin by Vasily Tropinin
Portrait of Pushkin by Vasily Tropinin

A poem from 1830. The rhymes here were especially challenging…

So, what then is my name to you?
Oh, it will die, like doleful jingle
Of billows on the distant shingle,
Like dark night’s sound in forest, too.

Upon the list of those who’ve gone
Its memory will but scarcely linger –
A tombstone’s screed by unknown finger
In an obscure and unknown tongue.

What does it mean? Forgotten long
With fresh rebellion’s new excitement,
My name will not produce incitement
Of gentle, pure memento’s song.

But when trial comes, I humbly plea
That, grieving, you may memory summon;
That you may say: “Yes, there is someone
Whose heart remains a home for me.”

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

Что в имени тебе моем?
Оно умрет, как шум печальный
Волны, плеснувшей в берег дальний,
Как звук ночной в лесу глухом.

Оно на памятном листке
Оставит мертвый след, подобный
Узору надписи надгробной
На непонятном языке.

Что в нем? Забытое давно
В волненьях новых и мятежных,
Твоей душе не даст оно
Воспоминаний чистых, нежных.

Но в день печали, в тишине,
Произнеси его тоскуя;
Скажи: есть память обо мне,
Есть в мире сердце, где живу я…

Translation by Rupert Moreton

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