The Nightingale and the Rose (Соловей и роза); Alexander Pushkin

Unlike my previous post, this is indisputably Pushkin. Concise, self-mocking, world-weary.

In gardens’ silence, in benighted dark of spring,
Above the rose the nightingale begins to sing.
But, lovely rose hears not, she doesn’t pay attention.
Beneath the amorous hymn she sways in sleep’s descension.
And you, do you not sing to chilly beauty’s doze?
Awake, O bard! What is your quest, do you suppose?
She listens not. She is immune to bard’s attraction;
You gaze, she blossoms; you beseech – there’s no reaction.

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В безмолвии садов, весной, во мгле ночей,
Поет над розою восточный соловей.
Но роза милая не чувствует, не внемлет,
И под влюбленный гимн колеблется и дремлет.
Не так ли ты поешь для хладной красоты?
Опомнись, о поэт, к чему стремишься ты?
Она не слушает, не чувствует поэта;
Глядишь, она цветет; взываешь – нет ответа.

Translation by Rupert Moreton

Not Pushkin

Daguerreotype


However much we might want it to be, this daguerreotype isn’t Pushkin, though it is often claimed that it is. He died before it could have been possible. A chap called Urri Grimm published this poem on Facebook a few days ago. It was ascribed to Pushkin almost immediately – though never by its author. It says much about Pushkin’s hold over the Russian spirit that every Russian amateur is fated to mimic him – and I’d be pretty chuffed if I were Mr Grimm. But Pushkin would have a sting in the tail – and tales of his piety are somewhat exaggerated…

But then I chanced on this


Permit me, people of this land
In this, the hour of spirit’s anguish
To greet you as I captive languish –
Enjoy this feast of spring at hand!
For calm must come, this won’t be doom,
Your sadness and your fear won’t tarry,
The roads again will smoothly carry
And as before, the garden bloom.
Upon sweet reason we shall call,
Abolish sickness with its power
And we’ll survive this testing hour
As members of one family, all.
And purer, wiser we shall be,
To fear and darkness shan’t surrender,
A lighter spirit we shall render,
A closer, kinder world agree.
And at the festive table spend
Our lives again in soul’s rejoicing,
And may our God with blessing voicing
To every home joy’s morsel send!

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Позвольте, жители страны,
В часы душевного мученья
Поздравить вас из заточенья
С великим праздником весны!
Всё утрясётся, всё пройдёт,
Уйдут печали и тревоги,
Вновь станут гладкими дороги
И сад, как прежде, зацветёт.
На помощь разум призовём,
Сметём болезнь силой знаний
И дни тяжёлых испытаний
Одной семьёй переживём.
Мы станем чище и мудрей,
Не сдавшись мраку и испугу,
Воспрянем духом и друг другу
Мы станем ближе и добрей.
И пусть за праздничным столом
Мы вновь порадуемся жизни,
Пусть в этот день пошлёт Всевышний
Кусочек счастья в каждый дом!

Translation by Rupert Moreton

“Tsar with eyebrows frowning” (“Брови царь нахмуря”), Alexander Pushkin

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is bronze-horseman.png


Tsar with eyebrows frowning
Said “A day ago
Tempest saw the downing
Of bronze Peter’s show.”
Fear then him assaulted:
“Is it really true?”
Then the tsar exalted:
“April fool are you!”

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

Брови царь нахмуря,
Говорил: «Вчера
повалила буря
Памятник Петра».
Тот перепугался:
«Я не знал!.. Ужель?» –
Царь расхохотался:
«Первый, брат, апрель!»

Translation by Rupert Moreton

“A wave-kissed land is known to me” (“Я знаю край: там на брега” – Alexander Pushkin

Written in 1827.

A wave-kissed land is known to me
Where sea in isolation splashes;
The sun emits its clouded flashes
Upon the scorched and barren lea;
There are no oaks – the steppe is empty.
It creeps alone above the sea.

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Я знаю край: там на брега
Уединенно море плещет;
Безоблачно там солнце блещет
На опаленные луга;
Дубрав не видно – степь нагая
Над морем стелется одна.

Translation by Rupert Moreton

Cyclops (Циклоп), Alexander Pushkin

Pushkin self-portrait, 1830

“An occasional poem, written for a masquerade ball where the participants, costumed as personages from Greek mythology, were supposed to present verses to the tsar and his wife. Pushkin’s poem was written for Countess Ekaterina Fedorovna Tizengauzen …, who dressed as a Cyclops. Pushkin sent the poem to her in a letter of 1 January 1830, where he wrote “Acceptez cette platitude comme une preuve de ma parfaite soumission à vos ordres. (Accept this platitude as a proof of my complete submission to your orders). It was declaimed with other poems of this type (mostly written in French) a few days later at the ball, though Pushkin himself was probaböly not in attendance.” (A Commentary to Pushkin’s Lyric Poetry, Michael Vachtel, p. 169)

At once my speech and mind are glazing,
As with one eye I’m on you gazing:
For in my head there’s but one eye.
And should the fates be so desiring
That I’d a hundred to espy
They would be fixed on you, untiring.

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Язык и ум теряя разом,
Гляжу на вас единым глазом:
Единый глаз в главе моей.
Когда б судьбы того хотели,
Когда б имел я сто очей,
То все бы сто на вас глядели.

Translation by Rupert Moreton

 

The Prophet (Пророк), Alexander Pushkin

Pushkin wrote this in 1826. Lermontov’s poem of 1841 is probably a response.

We’re mired by thirst for sacred things –
Through gloomy desert did I wander,
And then the seraph with six wings
To me appeared at crossroads yonder.
I felt his dainty fingers’ graze,
As in a dream, my pupils’ haze:
Now opened prophet’s eyes enlightened
Like those of eagle when he’s frightened.
He touched my earlobes after this –
My ears were filled with noise and hiss:
I heeded then the heavens’ shiver,
The lofty angels flying free,
Vile creature’s way beneath the sea,
The valley’s vineyards’ windblown quiver.
And then my feeble lips he scratched,
Away my sinful tongue he snatched –
My tongue, so wicked and so idle –
And in its place the snake’s forked tips
Inserted ’twixt my lifeless lips
With bloody hand, like bit and bridle.
He cut with sword my heaving breast,
Threw out my heart as it vibrated,
And then a burning coal he pressed
Into the space he’d thus created.
In desert like a corpse I lay,
God spoke with words I must obey:
“Arise, O prophet, pay attention,
Do all that I’ve commanded you,
O’er land and sea with seer’s contention
Afflict the hearts of people too.”

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Духовной жаждою томим,
В пустыне мрачной я влачился,
И шестикрылый серафим
На перепутье мне явился.
Перстами легкими как сон
Моих зениц коснулся он:
Отверзлись вещие зеницы,
Как у испуганной орлицы.
Моих ушей коснулся он,
И их наполнил шум и звон:
И внял я неба содроганье,
И горний ангелов полет,
И гад морских подводный ход,
И дольней лозы прозябанье.
И он к устам моим приник,
И вырвал грешный мой язык,
И празднословный и лукавый,
И жало мудрыя змеи
В уста замершие мои
Вложил десницею кровавой.
И он мне грудь рассек мечом,
И сердце трепетное вынул,
И угль, пылающий огнем,
Во грудь отверстую водвинул.
Как труп в пустыне я лежал,
И бога глас ко мне воззвал:
“Востань, пророк, и виждь, и внемли,
Исполнись волею моей
И, обходя моря и земли,
Глаголом жги сердца людей.”

Translation by Rupert Moreton

 

“Beneath the azure heaven of her native land” (“Под небом голубым страны своей родной”), Alexander Pushkin

Pushkin’s portrait of Amalia Riznich

“Written in memory of Amalia Riznich, the poem captures the power of inexpressivity.” (Pushkin’s Lyric Intelligence, Andrew Kahn, p. 303)

Pushkin met Amalia Riznich in Odessa in 1823, and was quickly infatuated. However, she developed tuberculosis, and returned to her native Italy. Pushkin wrote this poem when he learned of her death. A charitable reading suggests he was numbed by the news; it is perhaps more likely that the mercurial bard was already obsessed with others.

Beneath the azure heaven of her native land
……….She festered and began to wither…
And having withered, then she flew above me and
……….Her shadow soon was heading thither;
But now between us stretched a line we couldn’t cross.
……….In vain I then bestirred my senses:
Indifferent lips informed me of her tragic loss,
……….I listened with no grief’s pretences.
So much for her whom I had loved with ardent heart
……….With such expense of nervous striving,
And with such tenderness and yearning’s wearied art,
……….With crazed and much tormented writhing!
So where were pain and love? Alas, my spirit held
……….For that naïve poor shade no anguish,
For sweet remembrance of those halcyon days then swelled
……….No tear – in grief I didn’t languish.

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Под небом голубым страны своей родной
……….Она томилась, увядала…
Увяла наконец, и верно надо мной
……….Младая тень уже летала;
Но недоступная черта меж нами есть.
……….Напрасно чувство возбуждал я:
Из равнодушных уст я слышал смерти весть,
……….И равнодушно ей внимал я.
Так вот кого любил я пламенной душой
……….С таким тяжелым напряженьем,
С такою нежною, томительной тоской,
……….С таким безумством и мученьем!
Где муки, где любовь? Увы! в душе моей
……….Для бедной, легковерной тени,
Для сладкой памяти невозвратимых дней
……….Не нахожу ни слез, ни пени.

Translation by Rupert Moreton

 

“Life again has brought me” (“Вновь я посетил”), Alexander Pushkin

Between 1824 and 1826 Pushkin was exiled on his mother’s family estate at Mikhailovskoye, near Pskov. Writing ten years later, he recalled the place with an affection unclouded by his earlier ennui.

Mikhailovskoye has been lovingly preserved – or, more accurately, painstakingly recreated. It is much visited by Russians – and an extraordinarily atmospheric place, still suffused with the poet’s spirit.

mikh 7mikh 6

……………Life again has brought
Me to the patch of earth where once I spent
A brace of unobtrusive summers’ exile.
And since that time a decade’s passed already –
And many have the changes been for me,
And I myself, to common law subservient,
Have changed as well. But here once more the past
With animated power me embraces –
It seems that only yesterday I strayed
yet in these woodlands.
…………There’s disgraced one’s cottage,
The place where to poor nanny I was sent.
The old one’s passed away, so now I hear
No longer through the wall her heavy trudges –
The sound of her laboriously patrolling.

And there’s the wooded hill, where I would often
Unmoving sit and cast my idle gaze
Upon the lake, remembering with sadness
Those foreign shores and foreign rolling billows…
Between the gilded cornfields and green meadows
Expansively, it shimmers in its blueness;
And through its waters, somehow still uncharted,
A fisherman is floating as he drags
His wretched net. Along the sloping shoreline
The scattered hamlets trail, and there behind them
Lopsided windmill stands, its sails impelled by
The breeze’s forceful gusting…

mikh 3 mikh 5
……………………On the boundary
Of my ancestral holding, where the road
Arises to its meeting with the hillside,
Awaiting there stand three rain-sodden pines –
One lonely at a distance, while the others
Together huddle closer – here I’d canter
By them beneath the starry moonlit heavens,
And there familiar rustle of their crowns
Would greet me as I passed. Just now I travelled
Along that road, and there again I saw them.
And they had scarcely altered, and their branches
Exactly echoed that familiar rustle –
But hard against their antiquated roots (where
It once was all deserted, even hollow)
Begun to grow had new and tender grove,
A family decked in green; the bushes crowding
Beneath their shade like children. But apart
Their sullen comrade stood in lonely splendour
Like aged bachelor, and, just as before,
Around it all was barren.
……………………Greetings, youthful
And unfamiliar clan! I shall not see
The mighty growth of your maturing summers,
When you’ll outstrip these trees I’ve known for ages
And their old verdant tops you will conceal
From gaze of passerby. But may it be
My grandson hears your welcome rustle when,
Returning from nocturnal amorous dalliance,
Replete with thoughts both cheerful and seductive,
In darkness of the night in passing by you
Remembers his grandfather.

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……………Вновь я посетил
Тот уголок земли, где я провел
Изгнанником два года незаметных.
Уж десять лет ушло с тех пор – и много
Переменилось в жизни для меня,
И сам, покорный общему закону,
Переменился я – но здесь опять
Минувшее меня объемлет живо,
И, кажется, вечор еще бродил
Я в этих рощах.
…………Вот опальный домик,
Где жил я с бедной нянею моей.
Уже старушки нет – уж за стеною
Не слышу я шагов ее тяжелых,
Ни кропотливого ее дозора.

Вот холм лесистый, над которым часто
Я сиживал недвижим – и глядел
На озеро, воспоминая с грустью
Иные берега, иные волны…
Меж нив златых и пажитей зеленых
Оно синея стелется широко;
Через его неведомые воды
Плывет рыбак и тянет за собой
Убогой невод. По брегам отлогим
Рассеяны деревни – там за ними
Скривилась мельница, насилу крылья
Ворочая при ветре…
……………………На границе
Владений дедовских, на месте том,
Где в гору подымается дорога,
Изрытая дождями, три сосны
Стоят – одна поодаль, две другие
Друг к дружке близко,- здесь, когда их мимо
Я проезжал верхом при свете лунном,
Знакомым шумом шорох их вершин
Меня приветствовал. По той дороге
Теперь поехал я, и пред собою
Увидел их опять. Они всё те же,
Всё тот же их, знакомый уху шорох –
Но около корней их устарелых
(Где некогда всё было пусто, голо)
Теперь младая роща разрослась,
Зеленая семья; кусты теснятся
Под сенью их как дети. А вдали
Стоит один угрюмый их товарищ
Как старый холостяк, и вкруг него
По-прежнему всё пусто.
……………………Здравствуй, племя
Младое, незнакомое! не я
Увижу твой могучий поздний возраст,
Когда перерастешь моих знакомцев
И старую главу их заслонишь
От глаз прохожего. Но пусть мой внук
Услышит ваш приветный шум, когда,
С приятельской беседы возвращаясь,
Веселых и приятных мыслей полон,
Пройдет он мимо вас во мраке ночи
И обо мне вспомянет.

Translation by Rupert Moreton

“When approaching River Inger” (“Подъезжая под Ижоры”), Alexander Pushkin

Two self-portraits by Pushkin, 1826

Pushkin wrote this in 1829. At the time he was pursuing Natalia Goncharova, whom he married in 1830, so it is possible this is addressed to her.

I’m not entirely satisfied with this. It was helpful that the Izhora – a tributary of the Neva – is also known as the Inger. I was momentarily pleased by my introduction of the swallow, only to realise (of course) that swallows don’t leave in November.

When approaching River Inger
Glance did I at azure skies,
And recalled your gaze’s linger
And your wondrous deep blue eyes.
And although I was enchanted
Sadly by you, virgin fair,
And although an exile planted
Somewhere in the depths of Tver,
Dared I not to make prostration,
Lay before you all my cares,
Nor to cause you consternation
With my dim enamoured prayers.
Dreadfully inebriated
By the hops of worldly show,
I’ll forget, intoxicated,
How your lovely features glow,
And your poise and slender motion
And the care in all you say,
Calm, displayed without a notion,
Knowing laugh and glance’s stray.
And if not, this path I’ll follow
To your peaceful native parts,
Reappear like the swallow,
Love until November starts.

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Подъезжая под Ижоры,
Я взглянул на небеса
И воспомнил ваши взоры,
Ваши синие глаза.
Хоть я грустно очарован
Вашей девственной красой,
Хоть вампиром именован
Я в губернии Тверской,
Но колен моих пред вами
Преклонить я не посмел
И влюбленными мольбами
Вас тревожить не хотел.
Упиваясь неприятно
Хмелем светской суеты,
Позабуду, вероятно,
Ваши милые черты,
Легкий стан, движений стройность,
Осторожный разговор,
Эту скромную спокойность,
Хитрый смех и хитрый взор.
Если ж нет… по прежню следу
В ваши мирные края
Через год опять заеду
И влюблюсь до ноября.

Translation by Rupert Moreton

To Delvig (Дельвигу), Alexander Pushkin

Anton Antonovich Delvig (1798-1831) was a poet, journalist and close friend of Pushkin. They were contemporaries at the Lyceum in Tsarskoye Selo. Pushkin wrote this in 1830, the year before Delvig’s death.

It’s a wonderful poem. Ian Mac Eochagáin (to whom I’m indebted for clarifying a couple of points) says of it: “You really get the sense of Pushkin mourning a partner in crime, the passage of years, and still trying to sound lofty and acerbic and not tawdry.”

There were some particular challenges. The first stanza of the original refers to Киприда, Феб и Вакх румяный – “Cypris [Aphrodite], Phoebe and ruddy Bacchus”. It proved beyond me to accommodate all three deities, though I confess I’m quite pleased with my solution. Likewise, finding a rhyme for Phoebe was impossible.

Derzhavin was the grand old man of Russian poetry – Salieri to Pushkin’s Mozart.

Our births, for we are too like brothers,
Took place beneath the self-same star,
And ruddy Bacchus and the others
Our fate have fiddled from afar.

We both appeared bright and early,
The races, not the market, graced,
Derzhavin’s tomb, ’midst hurly-burly,
Was where we idle rapture chased.

From adolescence we were pampered.
And being filled with lazy pride
In truth we really were not hampered
By thoughts of children’s rights denied.

But you, O carefree son of Phoebe,
Would not betray your lofty art
To cunning traders, those who would be
The judges of your noble heart.

Oh yes, they’ve scolded us, the scribblers,
We’ve heard ourselves by all maligned:
We’re glory-hunters, boozy dribblers,
Whose glass enflames our reckless mind.

But yet your word, so strong, so soaring,
Is taunted by some parodist,
Your verses, richly hope restoring,
Are chewed by toothless journalist.

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

Мы рождены, мой брат названый,
Под одинаковой звездой.
Киприда, Феб и Вакх румяный
Играли нашею судьбой.

Явилися мы рано оба
На ипподром, а не на торг,
Вблизи Державинского гроба,
И шумный встретил нас восторг.

Избаловало нас начало.
И в гордой лености своей
Заботились мы оба мало
Судьбой гуляющих детей.

Но ты, сын Феба беззаботный,
Своих возвышенных затей
Не предавал рукой расчетной
Оценке хитрых торгашей.

В одних журналах нас ругали,
Упреки те же слышим мы:
Мы любим славу да в бокале
Топить разгульные умы.

Твой слог могучий и крылатый
Какой-то дразнит пародист,
И стих, надеждами богатый,
Жует беззубый журналист.

Translation by Rupert Moreton