“By candlelight we talked for hours” (“Мы при свечах болтали долго”), Konstantin Fofanov

Nevsky Prospekt, St Petersburg, 1883

Alexander III had been Tsar for two years when Fofanov wrote this in 1883. A cold wind was blowing; Alexander reversed many of his father’s liberalising policies. So this poem expresses a dangerous sentiment. The trials will end, because the poet bears the sun in his soul.

By candlelight we talked for hours
About a world enslaved by chains,
Of petty haggling’s nightmare’s powers,
That dream of wonderment disdains;

About what holy truth has spoken
That’s wrapped about with stifling thorns;
What once was bright is now quite broken,
Impaled on passion’s foolish horns.

But to each other as we parted
We said: the time will come one day,
The earth will shine when grief’s departed,
And strugglers’ promise holds its sway!

And by my dreams so much affected,
In silence then I went outside.
The autumn breeze new scent directed
Of frigid billows on the tide.

And there the street was sleeping mutely,
Of stars in heavens there were none,
Yet warmth and light I felt acutely:
For in my soul I bore the sun!


Мы при свечах болтали долго
О том, что мир порабощен
Кошмаром мелочного торга,
Что чудных снов не видит он.

О том, что тернием повита
Святая правда наших дней;
О том, что светлое разбито
Напором бешеных страстей.

Но на прощанье мы сказали
Друг другу: будет время, свет
Блеснет, пройдут года печали,
Борцов исполнится завет!

И весь растроганный мечтами,
Я тихо вышел на крыльцо.
Пахнул холодными волнами
Осенний ветер мне в лицо.

Дремала улица безгласно,
На небе не было огней,
Но было мне тепло и ясно:
Я солнце нес в душе своей!..

Translation by Rupert Moreton

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