History of Literature









Aleksandr Pushkin


"The Bronze Horseman" 

Illustrations by Alexandre Benois



"Eugene Onegin" 

CANTO I, CANTO II, CANTO III, CANTO IV, CANTO V, CANTO VI, CANTO VII, CANTO VIII


collection: Portrait in Russian Art (18th-19th centuries)





 

 

 



see also  EXPLORATION (in Russian):
 
 
Aleksandr Sergeyevich Pushkin "Yevgeny Onegin"

Commentary on Aleksandr Pushkin's Eugene Onegin (Vladimir Nabokov, Juri Lotman)


 

Vladimir Nabokov

(born April 22, 1899, St. Petersburg, Russia-died July 2, 1977, Montreux, Switz.) Russian-born U.S novelist and critic. Born to an aristocratic family, he had an English-speaking governess. He published two collections of verse before leaving Russia in 1919 for Cambridge University, but by 1925 he had turned to prose as his main genre. During 1919–40 he lived in England, Germany, and France. His life before he moved to the U.S. in 1940 is recalled in his superb autobiography, Speak, Memory (1951). Beginning with King, Queen, Knave (1928), his writing began to feature intricate stylistic devices. His novels are principally concerned with the problem of art itself, presented in various disguises, as in Invitation to a Beheading (1938). Parody is frequent in The Gift (1937–38) and later works. His novels written in English include the notorious and greatly admired best-seller Lolita (1955), which brought him wealth and international fame; Pale Fire (1962); and Ada (1969). His critical works include a monumental translation of and commentary on Aleksandr Pushkin's Eugene Onegin, (1964).

 

 

Juri Lotman



(1922-1993)

Russian-Estonian semiotician, aesthetician, and culture historian, founder of the Moscow-Tartu School in the 1960s. Lotman's early studies on literature drew largely on the tradition of formalist structuralism. Later Lotman expanded his structural-semiotic approach to the study of different culture systems.
 

 

 

 

 
   

 



Portrait in

Russian Art

(18th-19th centuries)


Evgeny Onegin
 

A Romance of Russian Life in Verse



Translated from the Russian by Lieut.-Col. [Henry] Spalding

 

 

 

 

 


Alexey Venetsianov

1780-1847

and

Nikolaj Argunov

1771-1829

 



Alexey Venetsianov

1780-1847

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 















 

 


Nikolaj Argunov

1771-1829

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CANTO THE SEVENTH

 

Moscow

 

Moscow, Russia's darling daughter,
Where thine equal shall we find?'
                             Dmitrieff
 

Who can help loving mother Moscow?
                   Baratynski (Feasts)
 

A journey to Moscow! To see the world!
Where better?
              Where man is not.
            Griboyedoff (Woe from Wit)
 

Canto The Seventh

[Written 1827-1828 at Moscow, Mikhailovskoe, St. Petersburg and Malinniki.]

I

Impelled by Spring's dissolving beams,
The snows from off the hills around
Descended swift in turbid streams
And flooded all the level ground.
A smile from slumbering nature clear
Did seem to greet the youthful year;
The heavens shone in deeper blue,
The woods, still naked to the view,
Seemed in a haze of green embowered.
The bee forth from his cell of wax
Flew to collect his rural tax;
The valleys dried and gaily flowered;
Herds low, and under night's dark veil
Already sings the nightingale.
 

II

Mournful is thine approach to me,
O Spring, thou chosen time of love!
What agitation languidly
My spirit and my blood doth move,
What sad emotions o'er me steal
When first upon my cheek I feel
The breath of Spring again renewed,
Secure in rural quietude—
Or, strange to me is happiness?
Do all things which to mirth incline.
And make a dark existence shine
Inflict annoyance and distress
Upon a soul inert and cloyed?—
And is all light within destroyed?
 

III

Or, heedless of the leaves' return
Which Autumn late to earth consigned,
Do we alone our losses mourn
Of which the rustling woods remind?
Or, when anew all Nature teems,
Do we foresee in troubled dreams
The coming of life's Autumn drear.
For which no springtime shall appear?
Or, it may be, we inly seek,
Wafted upon poetic wing,
Some other long-departed Spring,
Whose memories make the heart beat quick
With thoughts of a far distant land,
Of a strange night when the moon and—
 

IV

'Tis now the season! Idlers all,
Epicurean philosophers,
Ye men of fashion cynical,
Of Levshin's school ye followers,(67)
Priams of country populations
And dames of fine organisations,
Spring summons you to her green bowers,
'Tis the warm time of labour, flowers;
The time for mystic strolls which late
Into the starry night extend.
Quick to the country let us wend
In vehicles surcharged with freight;
In coach or post-cart duly placed
Beyond the city-barriers haste.
 

[Note 67: Levshin—a contemporary writer on political economy.]

V

Thou also, reader generous,
The chaise long ordered please employ,
Abandon cities riotous,
Which in the winter were a joy:
The Muse capricious let us coax,
Go hear the rustling of the oaks
Beside a nameless rivulet,
Where in the country Eugene yet,
An idle anchorite and sad,
A while ago the winter spent,
Near young Tattiana resident,
My pretty self-deceiving maid—
No more the village knows his face,
For there he left a mournful trace.
 

VI

Let us proceed unto a rill,
Which in a hilly neighbourhood
Seeks, winding amid meadows still,
The river through the linden wood.
The nightingale there all night long,
Spring's paramour, pours forth her song
The fountain brawls, sweetbriers bloom,
And lo! where lies a marble tomb
And two old pines their branches spread—
"Vladimir Lenski lies beneath,
Who early died a gallant death
,"
Thereon the passing traveller read:
"The date, his fleeting years how long—
Repose in peace, thou child of song
."
 

VII

Time was, the breath of early dawn
Would agitate a mystic wreath
Hung on a pine branch earthward drawn
Above the humble urn of death.
Time was, two maidens from their home
At eventide would hither come,
And, by the light the moonbeams gave,
Lament, embrace upon that grave.
But now—none heeds the monument
Of woe: effaced the pathway now:
There is no wreath upon the bough:
Alone beside it, gray and bent,
As formerly the shepherd sits
And his poor basten sandal knits.
 

VIII

My poor Vladimir, bitter tears
Thee but a little space bewept,
Faithless, alas! thy maid appears,
Nor true unto her sorrow kept.
Another could her heart engage,
Another could her woe assuage
By flattery and lover's art—
A lancer captivates her heart!
A lancer her soul dotes upon:
Before the altar, lo! the pair,
Mark ye with what a modest air
She bows her head beneath the crown;(68)
Behold her downcast eyes which glow,
Her lips where light smiles come and go!
 

[Note 68: The crown used in celebrating marriages in Russia according to the forms of the Eastern Church. See Note 28.]

IX

My poor Vladimir! In the tomb,
Passed into dull eternity,
Was the sad poet filled with gloom,
Hearing the fatal perfidy?
Or, beyond Lethe lulled to rest,
Hath the bard, by indifference blest,
Callous to all on earth become—
Is the world to him sealed and dumb?
The same unmoved oblivion
On us beyond the grave attends,
The voice of lovers, foes and friends,
Dies suddenly: of heirs alone
Remains on earth the unseemly rage,
Whilst struggling for the heritage.
 

X

Soon Olga's accents shrill resound
No longer through her former home;
The lancer, to his calling bound,
Back to his regiment must roam.
The aged mother, bathed in tears,
Distracted by her grief appears
When the hour came to bid good-bye—
But my Tattiana's eyes were dry.
Only her countenance assumed
A deadly pallor, air distressed;
When all around the entrance pressed,
To say farewell, and fussed and fumed
Around the carriage of the pair—
Tattiana gently led them there.
 

XI

And long her eyes as through a haze
After the wedded couple strain;
Alas! the friend of childish days
Away, Tattiana, hath been ta'en.
Thy dove, thy darling little pet
On whom a sister's heart was set
Afar is borne by cruel fate,
For evermore is separate.
She wanders aimless as a sprite,
Into the tangled garden goes
But nowhere can she find repose,
Nor even tears afford respite,
Of consolation all bereft—
Well nigh her heart in twain was cleft.
 

XII

In cruel solitude each day
With flame more ardent passion burns,
And to Oneguine far away
Her heart importunately turns.
She never more his face may view,
For was it not her duty to
Detest him for a brother slain?
The poet fell; already men
No more remembered him; unto
Another his betrothed was given;
The memory of the bard was driven
Like smoke athwart the heaven blue;
Two hearts perchance were desolate
And mourned him still. Why mourn his fate?
 

XIII

'Twas eve. 'Twas dusk. The river speeds
In tranquil flow. The beetle hums.
Already dance to song proceeds;
The fisher's fire afar illumes
The river's bank. Tattiana lone
Beneath the silver of the moon
Long time in meditation deep
Her path across the plain doth keep—
Proceeds, until she from a hill
Sees where a noble mansion stood,
A village and beneath, a wood,
A garden by a shining rill.
She gazed thereon, and instant beat
Her heart more loudly and more fleet.
 

XIV

She hesitates, in doubt is thrown—
"Shall I proceed, or homeward flee?
He is not there: I am not known:
The house and garden I would see."
Tattiana from the hill descends
With bated breath, around she bends
A countenance perplexed and scared.
She enters a deserted yard—
Yelping, a pack of dogs rush out,
But at her shriek ran forth with noise
The household troop of little boys,
Who with a scuffle and a shout
The curs away to kennel chase,
The damsel under escort place.
 

XV

"Can I inspect the mansion, please?"
Tattiana asks, and hurriedly
Unto Anicia for the keys
The family of children hie.
Anicia soon appears, the door
Opens unto her visitor.
Into the lonely house she went,
Wherein a space Oneguine spent.
She gazed—a cue, forgotten long,
Doth on the billiard table rest,
Upon the tumbled sofa placed,
A riding whip. She strolls along.
The beldam saith: "The hearth, by it
The master always used to sit.
 

XVI

"Departed Lenski here to dine
In winter time would often come.
Please follow this way, lady mine,
This is my master's sitting-room.
'Tis here he slept, his coffee took,
Into accounts would sometimes look,
A book at early morn perused.
The room my former master used.
On Sundays by yon window he,
Spectacles upon nose, all day
Was wont with me at cards to play.
God save his soul eternally
And grant his weary bones their rest
Deep in our mother Earth's chill breast!"
 

XVII

Tattiana's eyes with tender gleam
On everything around her gaze,
Of priceless value all things seem
And in her languid bosom raise
A pleasure though with sorrow knit:
The table with its lamp unlit,
The pile of books, with carpet spread
Beneath the window-sill his bed,
The landscape which the moonbeams fret,
The twilight pale which softens all,
Lord Byron's portrait on the wall
And the cast-iron statuette
With folded arms and eyes bent low,
Cocked hat and melancholy brow.(69)
 

[Note 69: The Russians not unfrequently adorn their apartments with effigies of the great Napoleon.]

XVIII

Long in this fashionable cell
Tattiana as enchanted stood;
But it grew late; cold blew the gale;
Dark was the valley and the wood
slept o'er the river misty grown.
Behind the mountain sank the moon.
Long, long the hour had past when home
Our youthful wanderer should roam.
She hid the trouble of her breast,
Heaved an involuntary sigh
And turned to leave immediately,
But first permission did request
Thither in future to proceed
That certain volumes she might read.
 

XIX

Adieu she to the matron said
At the front gates, but in brief space
At early morn returns the maid
To the abandoned dwelling-place.
When in the study's calm retreat,
Wrapt in oblivion complete,
She found herself alone at last,
Longtime her tears flowed thick and fast;
But presently she tried to read;
At first for books was disinclined,
But soon their choice seemed to her mind
Remarkable. She then indeed
Devoured them with an eager zest.
A new world was made manifest!
 

XX

Although we know that Eugene had
Long ceased to be a reading man,
Still certain authors, I may add,
He had excepted from the ban:
The bard of Juan and the Giaour,
With it may be a couple more;
Romances three, in which ye scan
Portrayed contemporary man
As the reflection of his age,
His immorality of mind
To arid selfishness resigned,
A visionary personage
With his exasperated sense,
His energy and impotence.
 

XXI

And numerous pages had preserved
The sharp incisions of his nail,
And these the attentive maid observed
With eye precise and without fail.
Tattiana saw with trepidation
By what idea or observation
Oneguine was the most impressed,
In what he merely acquiesced.
Upon those margins she perceived
Oneguine's pencillings. His mind
Made revelations undesigned,
Of what he thought and what believed,
A dagger, asterisk, or note
Interrogation to denote.
 

XXII

And my Tattiana now began
To understand by slow degrees
More clearly, God be praised, the man,
Whom autocratic fate's decrees
Had bid her sigh for without hope—
A dangerous, gloomy misanthrope,
Being from hell or heaven sent,
Angel or fiend malevolent.
Which is he? or an imitation,
A bogy conjured up in joke,
A Russian in Childe Harold's cloak,
Of foreign whims the impersonation—
Handbook of fashionable phrase
Or parody of modern ways?
 

XXIII

Hath she found out the riddle yet?
Hath she a fitting phrase selected?
But time flies and she doth forget
They long at home have her expected—
Whither two neighbouring dames have walked
And a long time about her talked.
"What can be done? She is no child!"
Cried the old dame with anguish filled:
"Olinka is her junior, see.
'Tis time to many her, 'tis true,
But tell me what am I to do?
To all she answers cruelly—
I will not wed, and ever weeps
And lonely through the forest creeps."
 

XXIV

"Is she in love?" quoth one. "With whom?
Bouyanoff courted. She refused.
Petoushkoff met the selfsame doom.
The hussar Pikhtin was accused.
How the young imp on Tania doted!
To captivate her how devoted!
I mused: perhaps the matter's squared—
O yes! my hopes soon disappeared."
"But, matushka, to Moscow you(70)
Should go, the market for a maid,
With many a vacancy, 'tis said."—
"Alas! my friend, no revenue!"
"Enough to see one winter's end;
If not, the money I will lend."
 

[Note 70: "Matushka," or "little mother," a term of endearment in constant use amongst Russian females.]

XXV

The venerable dame opined
The counsel good and full of reason,
Her money counted, and designed
To visit Moscow in the season.
Tattiana learns the intelligence—
Of her provincial innocence
The unaffected traits she now
Unto a carping world must show—
Her toilette's antiquated style,
Her antiquated mode of speech,
For Moscow fops and Circes each
To mark with a contemptuous smile.
Horror! had she not better stay
Deep in the greenwood far away?
 

XXVI

Arising with the morning's light,
Unto the fields she makes her way,
And with emotional delight
Surveying them, she thus doth say:
"Ye peaceful valleys all, good-bye!
Ye well-known mountain summits high,
Ye groves whose depths I know so well,
Thou beauteous sky above, farewell!
Delicious nature, thee I fly,
The calm existence which I prize
I yield for splendid vanities,
Thou too farewell, my liberty!
Whither and wherefore do I speed
And what will Destiny concede?"
 

XXVII

Farther Tattiana's walks extend—
'Tis now the hillock now the rill
Their natural attractions lend
To stay the maid against her will.
She the acquaintances she loves,
Her spacious fields and shady groves,
Another visit hastes to pay.
But Summer swiftly fades away
And golden Autumn draweth nigh,
And pallid nature trembling grieves,
A victim decked with golden leaves;
Dark clouds before the north wind fly;
It blew: it howled: till winter e'en
Came forth in all her magic sheen.
 

XXVIII

The snow descends and buries all,
Hangs heavy on the oaken boughs,
A white and undulating pall
O'er hillock and o'er meadow throws.
The channel of the river stilled
As if with eider-down is filled.
The hoar-frost glitters: all rejoice
In mother Winter's strange caprice.
But Tania's heart is not at ease,
Winter's approach she doth not hail
Nor the frost particles inhale
Nor the first snow of winter seize
Her shoulders, breast and face to lave—
Alarm the winter journey gave.
 

XXIX

The date was fixed though oft postponed,
But ultimately doth approach.
Examined, mended, newly found
Was the old and forgotten coach;
Kibitkas three, the accustomed train,(71)
The household property contain:
Saucepans and mattresses and chairs,
Portmanteaus and preserves in jars,
Feather-beds, also poultry-coops,
Basins and jugs—well! everything
To happiness contributing.
Behold! beside their dwelling groups
Of serfs the farewell wail have given.
Nags eighteen to the door are driven.
 

[Note 71: In former times, and to some extent the practice still continues to the present day, Russian families were wont to travel with every necessary of life, and, in the case of the wealthy, all its luxuries following in their train. As the poet complains in a subsequent stanza there were no inns; and if the simple Larinas required such ample store of creature comforts the impediments accompanying a great noble on his journeys may be easily conceived.]

XXX

These to the coach of state are bound,
Breakfast the busy cooks prepare,
Baggage is heaped up in a mound,
Old women at the coachmen swear.
A bearded postillion astride
A lean and shaggy nag doth ride,
Unto the gates the servants fly
To bid the gentlefolk good-bye.
These take their seats; the coach of state
Leisurely through the gateway glides.
"Adieu! thou home where peace abides,
Where turmoil cannot penetrate,
Shall I behold thee once again?"—
Tattiana tears cannot restrain.
 

XXXI

The limits of enlightenment
When to enlarge we shall succeed,
In course of time (the whole extent
Will not five centuries exceed
By computation) it is like
Our roads transformed the eye will strike;
Highways all Russia will unite
And form a network left and right;
On iron bridges we shall gaze
Which o'er the waters boldly leap,
Mountains we'll level and through deep
Streams excavate subaqueous ways,
And Christian folk will, I expect,
An inn at every stage erect.
 

XXXII

But now, what wretched roads one sees,
Our bridges long neglected rot,
And at the stages bugs and fleas
One moment's slumber suffer not.
Inns there are none. Pretentious but
Meagre, within a draughty hut,
A bill of fare hangs full in sight
And irritates the appetite.
Meantime a Cyclops of those parts
Before a fire which feebly glows
Mends with the Russian hammer's blows
The flimsy wares of Western marts,
With blessings on the ditches and
The ruts of his own fatherland.
 

XXXIII

Yet on a frosty winter day
The journey in a sledge doth please,
No senseless fashionable lay
Glides with a more luxurious ease;
For our Automedons are fire
And our swift troikas never tire;
The verst posts catch the vacant eye
And like a palisade flit by.(72)
The Larinas unwisely went,
From apprehension of the cost,
By their own horses, not the post—
So Tania to her heart's content
Could taste the pleasures of the road.
Seven days and nights the travellers plod.
 

[Note 72: This somewhat musty joke has appeared in more than one national costume. Most Englishmen, if we were to replace verst-posts with milestones and substitute a graveyard for a palisade, would instantly recognize its Yankee extraction. In Russia however its origin is as ancient at least as the reign of Catherine the Second. The witticism ran thus: A courier sent by Prince Potemkin to the Empress drove so fast that his sword, projecting from the vehicle, rattled against the verst-posts as if against a palisade!]

XXXIV

But they draw near. Before them, lo!
White Moscow raises her old spires,
Whose countless golden crosses glow
As with innumerable fires.(73)
Ah! brethren, what was my delight
When I yon semicircle bright
Of churches, gardens, belfries high
Descried before me suddenly!
Moscow, how oft in evil days,
Condemned to exile dire by fate,
On thee I used to meditate!
Moscow! How much is in the phrase
For every loyal Russian breast!
How much is in that word expressed!
 

[Note 73: The aspect of Moscow, especially as seen from the Sparrow Hills, a low range bordering the river Moskva at a short distance from the city, is unique and splendid. It possesses several domes completely plated with gold and some twelve hundred spires most of which are surmounted by a golden cross. At the time of sunset they seem literally tipped with flame. It was from this memorable spot that Napoleon and the Grand Army first obtained a glimpse at the city of the Tsars. There are three hundred and seventy churches in Moscow. The Kremlin itself is however by far the most interesting object to the stranger.]

XXXV

Lo! compassed by his grove of oaks,
Petrovski Palace! Gloomily
His recent glory he invokes.
Here, drunk with his late victory,
Napoleon tarried till it please
Moscow approach on bended knees,
Time-honoured Kremlin's keys present.
Not so! My Moscow never went
To seek him out with bended head.
No gift she bears, no feast proclaims,
But lights incendiary flames
For the impatient chief instead.
From hence engrossed in thought profound
He on the conflagration frowned.(74)
 

[Note 74: Napoleon on his arrival in Moscow on the 14th September took up his quarters in the Kremlin, but on the 16th had to remove to the Petrovski Palace or Castle on account of the conflagration which broke out in all quarters of the city. He however returned to the Kremlin on the 19th September. The Palace itself is placed in the midst of extensive grounds just outside the city, on the road to Tver, i.e. to the northwest. It is perhaps worthy of remark, as one amongst numerous circumstances proving how extensively the poet interwove his own life-experiences with the plot of this poem, that it was by this road that he himself must have been in the habit of approaching Moscow from his favourite country residence of Mikhailovskoe, in the province of Pskoff.]

XXXVI

Adieu, thou witness of our glory,
Petrovski Palace; come, astir!
Drive on! the city barriers hoary
Appear; along the road of Tver
The coach is borne o'er ruts and holes,
Past women, sentry-boxes, rolls,
Past palaces and nunneries,
Lamp-posts, shops, sledges, families,
Bokharians, peasants, beds of greens,
Boulevards, belfries, milliners,
Huts, chemists, Cossacks, shopkeepers
And fashionable magazines,
Balconies, lion's heads on doors,
Jackdaws on every spire—in scores.(75)
 

[Note 75: The first line refers to the prevailing shape of the cast-iron handles which adorn the porte cocheres. The Russians are fond of tame birds—jackdaws, pigeons, starlings, etc., abound in Moscow and elsewhere.]

XXXVII

The weary way still incomplete,
An hour passed by—another—till,
Near Khariton's in a side street
The coach before a house stood still.
At an old aunt's they had arrived
Who had for four long years survived
An invalid from lung complaint.
A Kalmuck gray, in caftan rent
And spectacles, his knitting staid
And the saloon threw open wide;
The princess from the sofa cried
And the newcomers welcome bade.
The two old ladies then embraced
And exclamations interlaced.
 

XXXVIII

"Princesse, mon ange!"—"Pachette!"—
"Aline!"
"Who would have thought it? As of yore!
Is it for long?"—"Ma chere cousine!"
"Sit down. How funny, to be sure!
'Tis a scene of romance, I vow!"
"Tania, my eldest child, you know"—
"Ah! come, Tattiana, come to me!
Is it a dream, and can it be?
Cousin, rememb'rest Grandison?"
"What! Grandison?"—"Yes, certainly!"
"Oh! I remember, where is he?"—
"Here, he resides with Simeon.
He called upon me Christmas Eve—
His son is married, just conceive!"
 

XXXIX

"And he—but of him presently—
To-morrow Tania we will show,
What say you? to the family—
Alas! abroad I cannot go.
See, I can hardly crawl about—
But you must both be quite tired out!
Let us go seek a little rest—
Ah! I'm so weak—my throbbing breast!
Oppressive now is happiness,
Not only sorrow—Ah! my dear,
Now I am fit for nothing here.
In old age life is weariness!"
Then weeping she sank back distressed
And fits of coughing racked her chest.
 

XL

By the sick lady's gaiety
And kindness Tania was impressed,
But, her own room in memory,
The strange apartment her oppressed:
Repose her silken curtains fled,
She could not sleep in her new bed.
The early tinkling of the bells
Which of approaching labour tells
Aroused Tattiana from her bed.
The maiden at her casement sits
As daylight glimmers, darkness flits,
But ah! discerns nor wood nor mead—
Beneath her lay a strange courtyard,
A stable, kitchen, fence appeared.
 

XLI

To consanguineous dinners they
Conduct Tattiana constantly,
That grandmothers and grandsires may
Contemplate her sad reverie.
We Russians, friends from distant parts
Ever receive with kindly hearts
And exclamations and good cheer.
"How Tania grows! Doth it appear"
"Long since I held thee at the font—
Since in these arms I thee did bear—
And since I pulled thee by the ear—
And I to give thee cakes was wont?"—
Then the old dames in chorus sing,
"Oh! how our years are vanishing!"
 

XLII

But nothing changed in them is seen,
All in the good old style appears,
Our dear old aunt, Princess Helene,
Her cap of tulle still ever wears:
Luceria Lvovna paint applies,
Amy Petrovna utters lies,
Ivan Petrovitch still a gaby,
Simeon Petrovitch just as shabby;
Pelagie Nikolavna has
Her friend Monsieur Finemouche the same,
Her wolf-dog and her husband tame;
Still of his club he member was—
As deaf and silly doth remain,
Still eats and drinks enough for twain.
 

XLIII

Their daughters kiss Tattiana fair.
In the beginning, cold and mute,
Moscow's young Graces at her stare,
Examine her from head to foot.
They deem her somewhat finical,
Outlandish and provincial,
A trifle pale, a trifle lean,
But plainer girls they oft had seen.
Obedient then to Nature's law,
With her they did associate,
Squeeze tiny hands and osculate;
Her tresses curled in fashion saw,
And oft in whispers would impart
A maiden's secrets—of the heart.
 

XLIV

Triumphs—their own or those of friends—
Hopes, frolics, dreams and sentiment
Their harmless conversation blends
With scandal's trivial ornament.
Then to reward such confidence
Her amorous experience
With mute appeal to ask they seem—
But Tania just as in a dream
Without participation hears,
Their voices nought to her impart
And the lone secret of her heart,
Her sacred hoard of joy and tears,
She buries deep within her breast
Nor aught confides unto the rest.
 

XLV

Tattiana would have gladly heard
The converse of the world polite,
But in the drawing-room all appeared
To find in gossip such delight,
Speech was so tame and colourless
Their slander e'en was weariness;
In their sterility of prattle,
Questions and news and tittle-tattle,
No sense was ever manifest
Though by an error and unsought—
The languid mind could smile at nought,
Heart would not throb albeit in jest—
Even amusing fools we miss
In thee, thou world of empty bliss.
 

XLVI

In groups, official striplings glance
Conceitedly on Tania fair,
And views amongst themselves advance
Unfavourable unto her.
But one buffoon unhappy deemed
Her the ideal which he dreamed,
And leaning 'gainst the portal closed
To her an elegy composed.
Also one Viazemski, remarking
Tattiana by a poor aunt's side,
Successfully to please her tried,
And an old gent the poet marking
By Tania, smoothing his peruke,
To ask her name the trouble took.(76)
 

[Note 76: One of the obscure satirical allusions contained in this poem. Doubtless the joke was perfectly intelligible to the habitues of contemporary St. Petersburg society. Viazemski of course is the poet and prince, Pushkin's friend.]

XLVII

But where Melpomene doth rave
With lengthened howl and accent loud,
And her bespangled robe doth wave
Before a cold indifferent crowd,
And where Thalia softly dreams
And heedless of approval seems,
Terpsichore alone among
Her sisterhood delights the young
(So 'twas with us in former years,
In your young days and also mine),
Never upon my heroine
The jealous dame her lorgnette veers,
The connoisseur his glances throws
From boxes or from stalls in rows.
 

XLVIII

To the assembly her they bear.
There the confusion, pressure, heat,
The crash of music, candles' glare
And rapid whirl of many feet,
The ladies' dresses airy, light,
The motley moving mass and bright,
Young ladies in a vasty curve,
To strike imagination serve.
'Tis there that arrant fops display
Their insolence and waistcoats white
And glasses unemployed all night;
Thither hussars on leave will stray
To clank the spur, delight the fair—
And vanish like a bird in air.
 

XLIX

Full many a lovely star hath night
And Moscow many a beauty fair:
Yet clearer shines than every light
The moon in the blue atmosphere.
And she to whom my lyre would fain,
Yet dares not, dedicate its strain,
Shines in the female firmament
Like a full moon magnificent.
Lo! with what pride celestial
Her feet the earth beneath her press!
Her heart how full of gentleness,
Her glance how wild yet genial!
Enough, enough, conclude thy lay—
For folly's dues thou hadst to pay.
 

L

Noise, laughter, bowing, hurrying mixt,
Gallop, mazurka, waltzing—see!
A pillar by, two aunts betwixt,
Tania, observed by nobody,
Looks upon all with absent gaze
And hates the world's discordant ways.
'Tis noisome to her there: in thought
Again her rural life she sought,
The hamlet, the poor villagers,
The little solitary nook
Where shining runs the tiny brook,
Her garden, and those books of hers,
And the lime alley's twilight dim
Where the first time she met with him.
 

LI

Thus widely meditation erred,
Forgot the world, the noisy ball,
Whilst from her countenance ne'er stirred
The eyes of a grave general.
Both aunts looked knowing as a judge,
Each gave Tattiana's arm a nudge
And in a whisper did repeat:
"Look quickly to your left, my sweet!"
"The left? Why, what on earth is there?"—
"No matter, look immediately.
There, in that knot of company,
Two dressed in uniform appear—
Ah! he has gone the other way"—
"Who? Is it that stout general, pray?"—
 

LII

Let us congratulations pay
To our Tattiana conquering,
And for a time our course delay,
That I forget not whom I sing.
Let me explain that in my song
"I celebrate a comrade young
And the extent of his caprice;
O epic Muse, my powers increase
And grant success to labour long;
Having a trusty staff bestowed,
Grant that I err not on the road."
Enough! my pack is now unslung—
To classicism I've homage paid,
Though late, have a beginning made.(77)


 

[Note 77: Many will consider this mode of bringing the canto to a conclusion of more than doubtful taste. The poet evidently aims a stroke at the pedantic and narrow-minded criticism to which original genius, emancipated from the strait-waistcoat of conventionality, is not unfrequently subjected.]

End of Canto The Seventh

 

 

 
     
         
 

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