O dreams, my dreams,
Where is your sweetness?
Where are you,
Joy of nightly fleetness?
They’re gone away –
My fancies, gay,
And now alone
In darkness grown
I, sleepless, stay.
A mute night hovers
My bed above
In a flash lone
Turned cool and gone
Dreams of my love,
Like a tense crowd.
But still heart beats
The longings’ sound
And catches bits
Of dreams around.
Love, hear my plea,
Hark to my prayer:
Send back to me
Your visions, fair,
And by morn sky,
Let . . . Let me die
Amidst the noisy ball
Amidst the noisy ball, in Hell
Of everyday distress,
I’ve seen you, but the secret’s veil
Was covering your face.
Your fair eyes were sad and bright,
And voice was so sweet,
As sound of a pipe apart
Or murmur of the sea.
I’ve liked your fine and slender waist,
And thoughtful image, whole,
And sound of your voice — it nests
Forever in my soul…
When tired, in my lone nights,
I lie down to pause —
And see your beautiful sad eyes,
And hear your merry voice.
And, sad, I fall asleep to see
My dreams that run above…
I’m sure not whether I love thee —
But, maybe, I’m in love.
In desert, withered and burned,
On ground that is dry and sultry,
Anchar, alone in the world,
Stands like an awful, silent sentry.
The nature of the thirsty land,
Has borne him on the day of terror,
And flesh of roots and boughs, dead,
Was filled with venom blood forever.
The poison oozes through his bark
And melts at noon in beams from heaven,
And thickens in the evening dark–
A tar, transparent one and heavy.
And birds don’t visit him at all,
Not any tiger for him wishes
And only, sometimes, comes a whirl,
To fly away, but as pernicious.
And if, by chance, a cloud sprays
His leaves in wandering alone,
From all his twigs, the poisoned rains
Pour into scorching sand and stone.
But once a man had sent a man,
To desert — to the poison demon,
The slave obediently ran,
And by the morn he brought the venom.
He brought the resin of the death,
A twig with faded leaves, by morning,
And heavy sweat, on his pale face,
In icy rivulets was rolling.
He came, and lay, and fell in fit,
In shadow of the tent, in fluster,
The slave had died by the feet
Of his inexorable master.
The prince immediately breathed
The evil tar into his arrows,
And sent with them the poison-death,
To alien lands–the lands of neighbors.
By gates of Eden, Angel, gentle,
Shone with his softly drooped head,
And Demon, gloomy and resentful
Over the hellish crevasse flapped.
The spirit of qualm and negation
Looked at another one , of good,
And fire of the forced elation
First time he vaguely understood.
Ive seen you, he enunciated, –
And not in vain you,ve sent me light:
Not all in heaven I have hated,
Not all in world I have despised.
The lazy artist-boor is blacking
The genius’s picture with his stuff,
Without any sense a-making
His low drawing above.
But alien paints, in stride of years,
Are falling down as a dust,
The genius’s masterpiece appears
With former brilliance to us.
Like this, the darkly apparitions
Are leaving off my tortured heart,
And it again revives the visions
Of virgin days I left behind.
Translated by Yevgeny Bonver
Aleksandr Pushkin(Born 1799, Died 1837) is, by common agreement — at least among his own compatriots — the greatest of all Russian writers. The major part of his lyrical poetry was written between 1820 and 1830, but some of his poetical masterpieces were composed in the last seven years of his life, when he was turning his attention to prose. A development can be traced from the sparkling ebullience of his early verse — the crowning achievement of which is the first chapter of Evgeny Onegin, written in 1823 — to the concetrated expressiveness and restrained power of his later poetry. By effecting a new synthesis between the three main ingredients of the Russian literary idiom — the Church Slovanic, the Western European borrowings, and the spoken vernacular — Pushkin created the language of modern Russian poetry. His personal life was made difficult by his conflicts with the authorities who disapproved of his liberal views. He was killed in a duel.
From “The Heritage of Russian Verse,” by Dimitri Obolensky
(to be continued)