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Aleksandr Sergeyevich Pushkin





Aleksandr Sergeyevich Pushkin
 by Vasily Tropinin
 

 
 




 

 



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.
 


 


Aleksandr Sergeyevich Pushkin


1799, Moscow, Russia
died Jan. 29 [Feb. 10], 1837, St. Petersburg

(Encyclopaedia Britannica)

Russian poet, novelist, dramatist, and short-story writer; he has often been considered his country's greatest poet and the founder of modern Russian literature.


The early years.

Pushkin's father came of an old boyar family; his mother was a granddaughter of Abram Hannibal, who, according to family tradition, was an Abyssinian princeling bought as a slave at Constantinople (Istanbul) and adopted by Peter the Great, whose comrade in arms he became. Pushkin immortalized him in an unfinished historical novel, Arap Petra Velikogo (1827; The Negro of Peter the Great). Like many aristocratic families in early 19th-century Russia, Pushkin's parents adopted French culture, and he and his brother and sister learned to talk and to read in French. They were left much to the care of their maternal grandmother, who told Aleksandr, especially, stories of his ancestors in Russian. From Arina Rodionovna Yakovleva, his old nurse, a freed serf (immortalized as Tatyana's nurse in Yevgeny Onegin), he heard Russian folktales. During summers at his grandmother's estate near Moscow he talked to the peasantsand spent hours alone, living in the dream world of a precocious, imaginative child. He read widely in his father's library and gained stimulus from the literary guests who came to the house.

In 1811 Pushkin entered the newly founded Imperial Lyceum at Tsarskoye Selo (later renamed Pushkin) and while there began his literary career with the publication (1814, in Vestnik Evropy, “The Messenger of Europe”) of his verse epistle “To My Friend, the Poet.” In his early verse, he followed the style of his older contemporaries, the Romantic poets K.N. Batyushkov and V.A. Zhukovsky, and of the French 17th- and 18th-century poets, especially the Vicomte de Parny.

While at the Lyceum he also began his first completed major work, the romantic poem Ruslan i Lyudmila (1820; Ruslan and Ludmila ), written in the style of the narrative poems of Ludovico Ariosto and Voltaire but with an old Russian settingand making use of Russian folklore. Ruslan, modeled on the traditional Russian epic hero, encounters various adventuresbefore rescuing his bride, Ludmila, daughter of Vladimir, grand prince of Kiev, who, on her wedding night, has been kidnapped by the evil magician Chernomor. The poem flouted accepted rules and genres and was violently attacked by both of the established literary schools of the day, Classicism and Sentimentalism. It brought Pushkin fame, however, and Zhukovsky presented his portrait to the poet with the inscription “To the victorious pupil from the defeated master.”


St. Petersburg.

In 1817 Pushkin accepted a post in the foreign office at St. Petersburg, where he was elected to Arzamás, an exclusive literary circle founded by his uncle's friends. Pushkin also joined the Green Lamp association, which, though founded (in 1818) for discussion of literature and history, became a clandestine branch of a secret society, the Union of Welfare. In his political verses and epigrams, widely circulated in manuscript, he made himself the spokesman for the ideas and aspirations of those who were to take part in the Decembrist rising of 1825, the unsuccessful culmination of a Russian revolutionary movement in its earliest stage.

Exile in the south.

For these political poems, Pushkin was banished from St. Petersburg in May 1820 to a remote southern province. Sent first to Yekaterinoslav (now Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine), he wasthere taken ill and, while convalescing, traveled in the northern Caucasus and later to the Crimea with General Rayevski, a hero of 1812, and his family. The impressions he gained provided material for his “southern cycle” of romantic narrative poems: Kavkazsky plennik (1820–21; The Prisoner of the Caucasus), Bratya razboyniki (1821–22; The Robber Brothers), and Bakhchisaraysky fontan (1823; The Fountain of Bakhchisaray).

Although this cycle of poems confirmed the reputation of theauthor of Ruslan and Ludmila and Pushkin was hailed as theleading Russian poet of the day and as the leader of the romantic, liberty-loving generation of the 1820s, he himself was not satisfied with it. In May 1823 he started work on his central masterpiece, the novel in verse Yevgeny Onegin (1833), on which he continued to work intermittently until 1831. In it he returned to the idea of presenting a typical figure of his own age but in a wider setting and by means of new artistic methods and techniques.

Yevgeny Onegin unfolds a panoramic picture of Russian life. The characters it depicts and immortalizes—Onegin, the disenchanted skeptic; Lensky, the romantic, freedom-loving poet; and Tatyana, the heroine, a profoundly affectionate study of Russian womanhood: a “precious ideal,” in the poet's own words—are typically Russian and are shown in relationship to the social and environmental forces by which they are molded. Although formally the work resembles Lord Byron's Don Juan, Pushkin rejects Byron's subjective, romanticized treatment in favour of objective description and shows his hero not in exotic surroundings but at the heart of a Russian way of life. Thus, the action begins at St. Petersburg, continues on a provincial estate, then switches to Moscow, and finally returns to St. Petersburg.

Pushkin had meanwhile been transferred first to Kishinyov (1820–23; now Chişinău, Moldova) and then to Odessa (1823–24). His bitterness at continued exile is expressed in letters to his friends—the first of a collection of correspondence that became an outstanding and enduring monument of Russian prose. At Kishinyov, a remote outpost in Moldavia, he devoted much time to writing, though he alsoplunged into the life of a society engaged in amorous intrigue, hard drinking, gaming, and violence. At Odessa he fell passionately in love with the wife of his superior, Count Vorontsov, governor-general of the province. He fought several duels, and eventually the count asked for his discharge. Pushkin, in a letter to a friend intercepted by the police, had stated that he was now taking “lessons in pure atheism.” This finally led to his being again exiled to his mother's estate of Mikhaylovskoye, near Pskov, at the other end of Russia.


At Mikhaylovskoye.

Although the two years at Mikhaylovskoye were unhappy for Pushkin, they were to prove one of his most productive periods. Alone and isolated, he embarked on a close study of Russian history; he came to know the peasants on the estateand interested himself in noting folktales and songs. During this period the specifically Russian features of his poetry became steadily more marked. His ballad “Zhenikh” (1825; “The Bridegroom”), for instance, is based on motifs from Russian folklore; and its simple, swift-moving style, quite different from the brilliant extravagance of Ruslan and Ludmila or the romantic, melodious music of the “southern” poems, emphasizes its stark tragedy.

In 1824 he published Tsygany (The Gypsies), begun earlier as part of the “southern cycle.” At Mikhaylovskoye, too, he wrote the provincial chapters of Yevgeny Onegin; the poem Graf Nulin (1827; “Count Nulin”), based on the life of the rural gentry; and, finally, one of his major works, the historical tragedy Boris Godunov (1831).

The latter marks a break with the Neoclassicism of the French theatre and is constructed on the “folk-principles” of William Shakespeare's plays, especially the histories and tragedies, plays written “for the people” in the widest sense and thus universal in their appeal. Written just before the Decembrist rising, it treats the burning question of the relations between the ruling classes, headed by the tsar, andthe masses; it is the moral and political significance of the latter, “the judgment of the people,” that Pushkin emphasizes. Set in Russia in a period of political and social chaos on the brink of the 17th century, its theme is the tragic guilt and inexorable fate of a great hero—Boris Godunov, son-in-law of Malyuta Skuratov, a favourite of Ivan the Terrible, and here presented as the murderer of Ivan's little son, Dmitri. The development of the action on two planes, one political and historical, the other psychological, is masterly and is set against a background of turbulent eventsand ruthless ambitions. The play owes much to Pushkin's reading of early Russian annals and chronicles, as well as to Shakespeare, who, as Pushkin said, was his master in bold, free treatment of character, simplicity, and truth to nature. Although lacking the heightened, poetic passion of Shakespeare's tragedies, Boris excels in the “convincingness of situation and naturalness of dialogue” atwhich Pushkin aimed, sometimes using conversational prose, sometimes a five-foot iambic line of great flexibility. The character of the pretender, the false Dmitri, is subtly andsympathetically drawn; and the power of the people, who eventually bring him to the throne, is so greatly emphasized that the play's publication was delayed by censorship. Pushkin's ability to create psychological and dramatic unity, despite the episodic construction, and to heighten the dramatic tension by economy of language, detail, and characterization make this outstanding play a revolutionary event in the history of Russian drama.


Return from exile.

After the suppression of the Decembrist uprising of 1825, thenew tsar Nicholas I, aware of Pushkin's immense popularity and knowing that he had taken no part in the Decembrist “conspiracy,” allowed him to return to Moscow in the autumnof 1826. During a long conversation between them, the tsar met the poet's complaints about censorship with a promise that in the future he himself would be Pushkin's censor and told him of his plans to introduce several pressing reforms from above and, in particular, to prepare the way for liberation of the serfs. The collapse of the rising had been a grievous experience for Pushkin, whose heart was wholly with the “guilty” Decembrists, five of whom had been executed, while others were exiled to forced labour in Siberia.

Pushkin saw, however, that without the support of the people, the struggle against autocracy was doomed. He considered that the only possible way of achieving essential reforms was from above, “on the tsar's initiative,” as he had written in “Derevnya.” This is the reason for his persistent interest in the age of reforms at the beginning of the 18th century and in the figure of Peter the Great, the “tsar-educator,” whose example he held up to the present tsar in the poem “Stansy” (1826; “Stanzas”), in The Negro of Peter the Great, in the historical poem Poltava (1829), and in the poem Medny vsadnik (1837; The Bronze Horseman ).

In The Bronze Horseman, Pushkin poses the problem of the “little man” whose happiness is destroyed by the great leader in pursuit of ambition. He does this by telling a “story of St. Petersburg” set against the background of the flood of 1824, when the river took its revenge against Peter I's achievement in building the city. The poem describes how the “little hero,” Yevgeny, driven mad by the drowning of his sweetheart, wanders through the streets. Seeing the bronze statue of Peter I seated on a rearing horse and realizing that the tsar, seen triumphing over the waves, is the cause of his grief, Yevgeny threatens him and, in a climax of growing horror, is pursued through the streets by the “Bronze Horseman.” The poem's descriptive and emotional powers give it an unforgettable impact and make it one of the greatest in Russian literature.

After returning from exile, Pushkin found himself in an awkward and invidious position. The tsar's censorship proved to be even more exacting than that of the official censors, and his personal freedom was curtailed. Not only was he put under secret observation by the police but he was openly supervised by its chief, Count Benckendorf. Moreover, his works of this period met with little comprehension from the critics, and even some of his friendsaccused him of apostasy, forcing him to justify his political position in the poem “Druzyam” (1828; “To My Friends”). The anguish of his spiritual isolation at this time is reflected in a cycle of poems about the poet and the mob (1827–30) and in the unfinished Yegipetskiye nochi (1835; Egyptian Nights).

Yet it was during this period that Pushkin's genius came to its fullest flowering. His art acquired new dimensions, and almost every one of the works written between 1829 and 1836 opened a new chapter in the history of Russian literature. He spent the autumn of 1830 at his family's Nizhny Novgorod estate, Boldino, and these months are the most remarkable in the whole of his artistic career. During them he wrote the four so-called “little tragedies”—Skupoy rytsar (1836; The Covetous Knight), Motsart i Salyeri (1831; Mozart and Salieri), Kamenny gost (1839; The Stone Guest), and Pir vo vremya chumy (1832; Feast in Time of the Plague)—the five short prose tales collected as Povesti pokoynogo Ivana Petrovicha Bel ki na (1831; Tales of the Late Ivan Petrovich Belkin); the comic poem of everyday lower-class life Domik v Kolomne (1833; “A Small House in Kolomna”); and many lyrics in widely differing styles, as wellas several critical and polemical articles, rough drafts, and sketches.

Among Pushkin's most characteristic features were his wide knowledge of world literature, as seen in his interest in such English writers as William Shakespeare, Lord Byron, Sir Walter Scott, and the Lake poets; his “universal sensibility”; and his ability to re-create the spirit of different races at different historical epochs without ever losing his own individuality. This is particularly marked in the “little tragedies,” which are concerned with an analysis of the “evilpassions” and, like the short story Pikovaya Dama (1834; The Queen of Spades), exerted a direct influence on the subject matter and techniques of the novels of Fyodor Dostoyevsky.


Last years.

In 1831 Pushkin married Natalya Nikolayevna Goncharova and settled in St. Petersburg. Once more he took up government service and was commissioned to write a history of Peter the Great. Three years later he received the rank of Kammerjunker (gentleman of the emperor's bedchamber), partly because the tsar wished Natalya to have the entrée to court functions. The social life at court, which he was now obliged to lead and which his wife enjoyed,was ill-suited to creative work, but he stubbornly continued to write. Without abandoning poetry altogether, he turned increasingly to prose. Alongside the theme of Peter the Great, the motif of a popular peasant rising acquired growingimportance in his work, as is shown by the unfinished satirical Istoriya sela Goryukhina (1837; The History of the Village of Goryukhino), the unfinished novel Dubrovsky (1841), Stseny iz rytsarskikh vremen (1837; Scenes from the Age of Chivalry), and finally, the most important of his prose works, the historical novel of the Pugachov Rebellion, Ka pi tan ska ya dochka (1836; The Captain's Daughter), which hadbeen preceded by a historical study of the rebellion, Istoriya Pugachova (1834; “A History of Pugachov”).

Meanwhile, both in his domestic affairs and in his official duties, his life was becoming more intolerable. In court circles he was regarded with mounting suspicion and resentment, and his repeated petitions to be allowed to resign his post, retire to the country, and devote himself entirely to literature were all rejected. Finally, in 1837, Pushkin was mortally wounded defending his wife's honour in a duel forced on him by influential enemies.


Assessment.

Pushkin's use of the Russian language is astonishing in its simplicity and profundity and formed the basis of the style ofnovelists Ivan Turgenev, Ivan Goncharov, and Leo Tolstoy. His novel in verse, Yevgeny Onegin, was the first Russian work to take contemporary society as its subject and pointedthe way to the Russian realistic novel of the mid-19th century. Even during his lifetime Pushkin's importance as a great national poet had been recognized by Nikolay Vasilyevich Gogol, his successor and pupil, and it was his younger contemporary, the great Russian critic Vissarion Grigoryevich Belinsky, who produced the fullest and deepestcritical study of Pushkin's work, which still retains much of its relevance. To the later classical writers of the 19th century, Pushkin, the creator of the Russian literary language, stood as the cornerstone of Russian literature, in Maksim Gorky's words, “the beginning of beginnings.” Pushkin has thus become an inseparable part of the literaryworld of the Russian people. He also exerted a profound influence on other aspects of Russian culture, most notably in opera.

Pushkin's work—with its nobility of conception and its emphasis on civic responsibility (shown in his command to the poet-prophet to “fire the hearts of men with his words”), its life-affirming vigour, and its confidence in the triumph of reason over prejudice, of human charity over slavery and oppression—has struck an echo all over the world. Translated into all the major languages, his works are regarded both as expressing most completely Russian national consciousness and as transcending national barriers.

Dimitry Dimitriyevich Blagoy
 

 


see also: Alexandre Benois "The Bronze Horseman" Illustration for poem by A.S.Pushkin
 


EUGENE ONEGIN
 

Type of work: Poem
Author: Alexander Pushkin (1799-1837)
Type of plot: Impressionistic romance
Time of plot: Nineteenth century
Locale: Russia
First published: 1833

 

Pushkin's lyric poem describing the eccentric life of Eugene Onegin reworks the Don Juan legend familiar to readers of Byron. Regarded as the inspiration for the great Russian novels of the nineteenth century, Pushkin's romantic lyric has the world-weary Onegin duel with and kill his only friend and spurn the love of a worthy woman, only to fall in love with her after she has despaired and married another.
 

 

Principal Characters

Tatyana Larin (ta-tya'na la'nn), also called Tanya Larina (tan'ya la'nn-ý), the reserved, withdrawn older daughter of the well-to-do Larin family. Her parents despair of her marriage prospects, but she falls in love at first sight with Eugene Onegin and, unable to write grammatical Russian, sends him a passionate letter written in French. Although he tails to encourage her, she turns down several other proposals of marriage. When her family takes her to Moscow, she picks up beauty hints at a ball and attracts the attentions of a retired general, who persuades her to marry him. Years later she again sees Eugene, who falls in love with her and writes her pleading letters. She reads them and preserves them to read again, but she gives him no encouragement and remains faithful to her general to the end of her life.
Eugene Onegin (eu-ge'niy 6-ne'gin), the hero of this narrative poem, with many resemblances to its author. Brought up in the aristocratic tradition, he is a brilliant, witty man of the world. Successful in many light love affairs, he is bored with living. City life, with its opera and ballet, has lost its appeal. A stay on the country estate willed to him by his uncle wearies him after several days. He is finally persuaded by his friend, Vladimir Lensky, to accompany him on a visit to the Larin family. There he finds the conversation dull, the refreshment too simple and too abundant, and Tatyana unattractive. Visiting her later, after receiving her love letter, he tells her frankly that he would make her a very poor husband because he has had too many disillusioning experiences with women. He returns to the lonely estate and the life of an anchorite.
When Vladimir takes him under false pretenses to Tatyana's birthday party, he gets revenge by flirting with her sister Olga, engaged to Vladimir. His jealous friend challenges him to a duel. Eugene shoots Vladimir through the heart.
Olga Larin (oly'ga la'rin), also called Olenka (á-1¸ï'êý), the pretty and popular younger daughter of the Larin family, betrothed to Vladimir Lensky. At a ball she dances so often with Onegin that her fiance gets angry. Though she assures him that she means nothing by her flirtation, he challenges Onegin to a duel and is killed. Later she marries an army officer.
Vladimir Lensky (vla-di'mlr len'skiy), a German-Russian friend of Eugene, brought up in Germany and influenced by romantic illusions of life and love. Although his reading of Schiller and Kant sets him apart from most other young Russians, he and Eugene have much in common. He tries to get his friend interested in Tatyana Larin, even to inviting him to her big birthday party, which he describes as an intimate family affair. In resentment Eugene avoids Tatyana and devotes himself to Olga. After the challenge is given, Vladimir is too proud to acknowledge his misjudgment and is killed.
M. Guillot (gil-yo'), Eugene's second in the duel.
Zaretsky (za-ret'skiy), Vladimir's second.
The Prince (called Gremin in the operatic version), a fat, retired general and Eugene's friend. Seeing Tatyana at a ball in Moscow, he falls in love with her and proposes. She accepts. Later he invites Eugene to his house, where the latter meets Tatyana again.

 

The Story

Eugene Onegin was brought up in the aristocratic tradition. Although he had little classical background, he had a flashing wit and he was well-read in economics. He had become an accomplished man of the world by the time he reached young manhood. In fact, he had been so successful in love and so accustomed to the social life of Moscow that he habitually felt a supreme boredom with life. Even the ballet had lately failed to hold his attention.
Eugene's father had led the usual life. He gave balls regularly and tried his best to keep up his social position by borrowing recklessly. Just as he was declared a bankrupt, Eugene received word that his uncle was dying. Since he was the heir, he left in haste to attend the dying man. Grumbling at the call of duty, he was nevertheless thankful to be coming into an inheritance.
His uncle died, however, before he arrived. After the relatives had departed, Eugene settled down to enjoy his uncle's handsome country estate. The cool woods and the fertile fields charmed him at first, but after two days of country life his old boredom returned. He soon acquired a reputation as an eccentric. If neighbors called, Eugene found himself obliged to leave on an urgent errand. After a while the neighbors left him to himself.
Vladimir Lensky, however, remained his friend. At eighteen, Vladimir was still romantic and filled with illusions of life and love. He had been in Germany, where he was much influenced by Kant and Schiller. In Russia his German temperament set him apart. He and Eugene became more and more intimate.
The Larins had two daughters, Olga and Tatyana. Olga was pretty and popular, and although she was the younger, she was the leader in their group. Tatyana was reserved and withdrawn, but a discerning observer would have seen her real beauty. She made no effort to join in the social life. Olga had been long betrothed to Vladimir; the family despaired of a marriage for Tatyana.
On Vladimir's invitation, Eugene reluctantly agreed to pay a visit to the Larins. When the family heard that the two men were coming, they immediately thought of Eugene as a suitor for Tatyana. He, however, was greatly bored with his visit. The refreshments were too ample and too rustic, and the talk was heavy and dull. He paid little attention to Tatyana.
After he left, Tatyana was much disturbed. Having fallen deeply in love, she had no arts with which to attract Eugene. After confiding in her dull-witted nurse, she wrote Eugene a passionate, revealing love letter. She wrote in French, for she could not write Russian grammatically.
Eugene, stirred by her letter, paid another visit to the Larins and found Tatyana in a secluded garden. He told her the brutal truth: He was not a good man for a husband, for he had too much experience with women and too many disillusionments. Life with him would not be at all worthy of Tatyana. The girl, making no protest, suffered in silence.
On his lonely estate Eugene lived the life of an anchorite. He bathed every morning in a stream, read, walked and rode in the countryside, and slept soundly at night. Only Vladimir called occasionally.
That winter the Larins celebrated Tatyana's name-day. When Vladimir represented the gathering as only a small family affair, Eugene consented to go. He felt betrayed when he found the guests numerous, the food heavy, and the ball obligatory. For revenge, he danced too much with Olga, preventing Vladimir from enjoying his fiancee's company. Vladimir became jealously angry and challenged Eugene to a duel. Through stubbornness Eugene accepted the challenge.
Before the duel, Vladimir went to see Olga. His purpose was to reproach her for her behavior, but Olga, as cheerful and affectionate as ever, acted as if nothing had happened. More lighthearted but somewhat puzzled, Vladimir prepared to meet Eugene on the dueling ground.
When the two friends met, Eugene shot Vladimir through the heart. Remorseful at last, Eugene left his estate to wander by himself. Olga soon afterward married an army man and left home.
In spite of the scandal, Tatyana still loved Eugene. She visited his house and made friends with his old housekeeper. She sat in his study reading his books and pondering his marginal notes. Eugene had been especially fond of Don Juan and other cynical works, and his notes revealed much about his selfishness and disillusionment. Tatyana, who had hitherto read very little, learned much bitterness from his books and came to know more of Eugene.
At home, Tatyana's mother did not know what to do. The girl seemed to have no interest in suitors and had refused several proposals. On the advice of relatives, the mother decided to take Tatyana to Moscow, where there were more eligible men. They were to visit a cousin for a season in hopes that Tatyana would become betrothed.
From her younger cousins Tatyana learned to do her hair stylishly and to act more urbanely in society. At a ball a famous general, a prince, was attracted to Tatyana. In spite of the fact that he was obese, she accepted his proposal.
After more than two years of wandering, Eugene returned to Moscow. Still indifferent to life, he decided to attend a fashionable ball, simply to escape from boredom for a few hours. He was warmly greeted by his host, whom he had known well in former times. While the prince was reproaching him for his long absence, Eugene could not keep from staring at a queenly woman who dominated the gathering. She looked familiar. When he asked the prince about her, he was astounded to learn that she was Tatyana, his host's wife.
The changed Tatyana showed no traces of the shy rustic girl who had written so revealingly of her love. Eugene, much attracted to her, frequently went to her house, but he never received more than a cool reception and a distant hand to kiss.
Finally Eugene began to write her letters in which he expressed his hopeless longing. Still Tatyana gave no sign. All that winter Eugene kept to his gloomy room, reading and musing. At last, in desperation, he called on Tatyana unannounced and surprised her rereading his letters.
Tatyana refused to give in to his importunate declarations. Why had he scorned the country girl, and why did he now pursue the married woman? She would rather listen to his brutal rejection than to new pleadings. She had once been in love with Eugene and would gladly have been his wife; perhaps she was still in love with him. Perhaps she had been wrong in listening to her mother, who had been insistent that she marry the prince. But now she was married, and she would remain faithful to her husband until she died.
Critical Evaluation
Pushkin called Eugene Onegin a "novel in verse." Well aware of European literary models, and especially attracted to Lord Byron's long narrative poems Childe Harold's Pilgrimage and Don Juan, Pushkin mixed the distinct qualities of prose and verse into a landmark work of Romantic literature.
Pushkin follows the novel-of-manners tradition in several respects. In Eugene Onegin he offers a picture of Russian society as well as a tale of individuals. The story moves from the Europeanized salons of St. Petersburg to the gentry's country estates to the aristocratic circles of Moscow. It alternates scenes of social occasions and private interviews. Like a novel of manners, Eugene Onegin concerns characters that the reader is meant to care about. Penetrating the recesses of Tatyana's and Eugene's hearts, and presenting their love letters for inspection, Pushkin allows the reader to see events, themselves, and others through their eyes as well as the narrator's. Finally, like a novelist, Pushkin arranges his characters as paired reflections (Vladimir is a younger Eugene, Tatyana a deeper Olga) who switch positions like dancers in a minuet (for example, in the city Eugene loves Tatyana as vainly as she loves him in the country).
Pushkin is a novelist, then, but he is also a poet. He has a poet's care for the exact arrangement of words. He tells the story in eight books composed of 399 stanzas; each stanza has fourteen lines (three quatrains and a couplet) of iambic tetrameter with a complicated pattern of varying rhymes. Like a sonneteer arranging a sequence, Pushkin the poet carefully crafts each stanza internally even as he fits it into the unfolding narrative.
Eugene Onegin brims with lyrical passages about the beauty of the countryside as the seasons change, the glorious ideals of youth, and the power of romantic passion. Though these lyrical sections digress from the narrative development, they add texture and atmosphere to preceding and following scenes. Like all great poets, Pushkin has an eye for symbol and metaphor. All the characters reveal themselves by the books they read: Eugene remains, like the cynical hero in Byron's works, aloof from life; Tatyana expects love to be the permanent exchange of noble souls described by epistolary novelists; Lensky explores the heights and depths of emotion glorified by romantic and sentimental poems. The seasons likewise mirror the state of the characters' hearts. It is in the spring that Eugene first arrives in the country to start a new life; the fateful name-day party and duel occur in winter; in the spring come Olga's wedding and Tatyana's visits to Eugene's estate; Tatyana's marriage and Eugene's hopeless proposition are winter events.
At times the poet-narrator intrudes upon the world of the characters, reminding readers of the literary conventions that dictate how a novel in verse develops. He shares with them the agonies and ecstasies of writing this story. He juxtaposes the characters' individual emotional reactions to events with a transcendent objectivity hard won by his own experience. The narrator's intrusion is another of the complexities that enrich Eugene Onegin and reward repeated readings.
The presence of an intrusive narrator suggests that Eugene Onegin contains strong autobiographical elements. Pushkin wrote the work over a period of eight years (1832-1831). He began the work while in virtual exile on the family estate after a youth of living rakishly and writing passionate poetry, a life-style that had cost him a government commission. Vladimir and Eugene are versions of him: Lensky his youthful dedication to poetry, Onegin his weariness with society. Not until 1826 did Pushkin live and work again in St. Petersburg; in 1830 he reluctantly reentered government service after marrying a beautiful, ambitious younger woman. During these years he wrote the middle parts of Eugene Onegin in fitful bursts, completing it only in 1830 during three intensely creative months of isolation at a country estate. The poem's movement from city to country mirrors Pushkin's own journey. His caricatures of country bumpkins and city pseudosophisticates mirror his own hesitant participation in Russian society. The poem's attention to the varieties of love—its innocence, intensity, and mercurial nature—mirrors his own experience of requited and unrequited affection.
Eugene Onegin concerns as much the state of Russia's soul, however, as it does the state of Pushkin's own soul. In Tatyana and Onegin Pushkin created characters who had a deep influence on other Russian writers of the nineteenth century. Tatyana is the prototype of the spiritual, melancholy woman who needs a love more profound than any man can give her. She anticipates heroines like Ivan Turgenev's Anna Odintzov (Fathers and Sons) and Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina. Eugene is the first of the superfluous men, like Ivan Goncharov's Oblomov and Tolstoy's Ivan Ilyich, who despairingly realize that their lives have no meaning outside the social role they play. Though attracted passionately to each other, these melancholy women and superfluous men cannot save themselves or their lovers. Their efforts to connect fail by chance, by choice, or by circumstance. The world about them is no help. Country society is dull, cliquish, and petty; city society cares only for status, reputation, and show. The community offers the individual no pattern for spiritual health or emotional communion. Indeed, it isolates individuals and insulates them from true feeling by providing conventional expectations and roles.
Technically, Pushkin's novel in verse highlights the literary conventions that manipulate readers; themati-cally, the work depicts the social conventions that manipulate women and men. Though rooted in the experience of a writer now dead and mirroring a society now equally dead, Eugene One gin remains a powerful work for modern readers. It takes up universal themes and eternal hopes and fears. Tatyana embodies the unflinching hope that demands that life and love measure up to expectations while Eugene embodies the constant fear that life and love can never meet those expectations. The poet-narrator embodies the continuing desire to control this chaos of hopes and fears with the inexhaustible resources of art.

 


THE CAPTAIN'S DAUGHTER

Type of work: Novel
Author: Alexander Pushkin (1799-1837)
Type of plot: Historical romance
Time of plot: About 1774
Locale: Russia
First published: Kapitanskaya dochka, 1836 (English translation, 1878)
 

One of the first pure examples of Russian realism, The Captain's Daughter is an exciting and concisely told narrative with a gallery of characters ranging from simple Maria to the cruel rebel Pougatcheff. The novel was written as the result of Pushkin's appointment to the office of crown historian, which gave him access to state archives and the private papers of Empress Catherine II.

 

Principal Characters

Piotr Andreitch Grineff (pyo'tr an-dre'ich gri-nef), a young officer in a Russian regiment. A kindly and generous young man who falls in love with the commandant's daughter, he goes to great lengths to protect her from harm and fights a duel when a fellow officer criticizes a love poem he has written for her. At first his parents do not approve of the girl, but they later give their consent to the marriage.
Maria Ivanovna (òà'ãóý I-va'navng), the captain's daughter, a lovely girl very much in love with Piotr. When he sends her to his parents for her protection, she so impresses them that they change their minds about not allowing their son to marry her. She saves her lover from exile in Siberia by appealing to the empress.
Alexey Ivanitch Shvabrin (alek-sa' Ivan'ich shva'bnn), an officer in the same regiment with Piotr. A suitor rejected by Maria, he is jealous of her love for Piotr. When the rebel Pougatcheff takes the Bailogorsk fortress, Shvabrin deserts to the rebel side. He does everything in his power to separate Maria and Piotr. He accuses Piotr of being a spy for the rebels and is responsible for his rival's sentence of exile.
Emelyan Pougatcheff (¸-ò¸-lyan' pooga'chaf), a Cossack rebel leader who claims to be the dead Emperor Peter III. He is cruel and ruthless, but after the capture of the Bailogorsk fortress he spares Piotr's life and sends him away under safe conduct because the young officer had sometime before given the rebel, disguised as a traveler, a sheepskin coat to protect him during a snowstorm.
Savelitch (sa-ve'lich), Piotr's old servant, whose intervention saves his master from several predicaments. He is faithful, loyal, and shrewd.
Vassilissa Egorovna (va-si'li-sa e-go'rsvna), the captain's wife, a very capable woman who runs her household and her husband's regiment with great efficiency. When she protests against her husband's murder by the Cossack rebels, she is killed.
Captain Ivan Mironoff, the commanding officer at the Bailogorsk fortress and Piotr's superior. Captured when Cossacks under Emelyan Pougatcheff seize the fortress, he and his aides are hanged by order of the rebel chief.
Captain Zourin, who rescues Piotr, his family, and Maria from death at the hands of the renegade Shvabrin.

 

The Story

Although Peter Andreitch Grineff was registered as a sergeant in the Semenovsky regiment when he was very young, he was given leave to stay at home until he had completed his studies. When he was nearly seventeen years old, his father decided that the time had arrived to begin his military career. With his parents' blessing, Peter set out for distant Orenburg, in the company of his faithful servant, Savelitch.
The trip was not without incident. One night, the travelers put up at Simbirsk. There, while his man went to see about some purchases, Peter was lured into playing billiards with a fellow soldier. Zourin, and quickly lost one hundred rubles. Toward evening of the following day, the young man and Savelitch found themselves on the snowy plain with a storm approaching. As darkness fell, the snow grew thicker, until finally the horses could not find their way and the driver confessed that he was lost. They were rescued by another traveler, a man with such sensitive nostrils that he was able to scent smoke from a village some distance away and to lead them to it. The three men and their guide spent the night in the village. The next morning, Peter presented his sheepskin jacket to his poorly dressed rescuer. Savelitch warned Peter that the coat would probably be pawned for a drink.
Late that day, the young man reached Orenburg and presented himself to the general in command. It was decided that he should join the Bailogorsk fortress garrison under Captain Mironoff, for his superior felt that the dull life at Orenburg might lead the young man into a career of dissipation.
The Bailogorsk fortress, on the edge of the Kirghis steppes, was nothing more than a village surrounded by a log fence. Its real commandant was not Captain Mironoff but his lady, Vassilissa Egorovna, a lively, strict woman who saw to the discipline of her husband's underlings as well as the running of her own household.
Peter quickly made friends with a fellow officer, Shva-brin, who had been exiled to the steppes for fighting a duel. He spent much time with his captain's family and grew deeply attached to the couple and to their daughter, Maria Ivanovna. After he had received his commission, he found military discipline so relaxed that he was able to indulge his literary tastes.
The quiet routine of Peter's life was interrupted by an unexpected quarrel with Shvabrin. One day, he showed his friend a love poem he had written to Maria. Shvabrin criticized the work severely and went on to make derogatory remarks about Maria until they quarreled and Peter found himself challenged to a duel for having called the man a liar.
The next morning, the two soldiers met in a field to fight but they were stopped by some of the garrison, for Vassilissa Egorovna had learned of the duel. Peter and his enemy, although apparently reconciled, intended to carry out their plan at the earliest opportunity. Discussing the quarrel with Maria, Peter learned that Shvabrin's actions could be explained by the fact that he was her rejected suitor.
Assuring themselves that they were not watched, Shvabrin and Peter fought their duel the following day. Wounded in the breast, Peter lay unconscious for five days after the fight. When he began to recover, he asked Maria to marry him. Shvabrin had been jailed. Then Peter's father wrote that he disapproved of a match with Captain Mironoff's daughter and that he intended to have his son transferred from the fortress so that he might forget his foolish ideas. As Savelitch denied having written a letter home, Peter could only conclude that Shvabrin had been the informer.
Life would have become unbearable for the young man after his father's letter arrived if the unexpected had not happened. One evening, Captain Mironoff informed his officers that the Yaikian Cossacks, led by Emelyan Pou-gatcheff, who claimed to be the dead Emperor Peter III, had risen and were sacking fortresses and committing outrages everywhere. The captain ordered his men to keep on the alert and to ready the cannon.
The news of Pougatcheff's uprising quickly spread through the garrison. Many of the Cossacks of the town sided with the rebel, so that Captain Mironoff did not know whom he could trust or who might betray him. It was not long before the captain received a manifesto from the leader of the Cossacks ordering him to surrender.
It was decided that Maria should be sent back to Orenburg, but the attack came early the next morning before she could leave. Captain Mironoff and his officers made a valiant effort to defend the town; but with the aid of Cossack traitors inside the walls, Pougatcheff was soon master of the fortress.
Captain Mironoff and his aides were hanged. Shvabrin deserted to the rebels. Peter, at the intercession of old Savelitch, was spared by Pougatcheff. The townspeople and the garrison soldiers had no scruples about pledging allegiance to the rebel leader. Vassilissa Egorovna was slain when she cried out against her husband's murderer.
When Pougatcheff and his followers rode off to inspect the fortress, Peter began his search for Maria. To his great relief, he found that she had been hidden by the wife of the village priest and that Shvabrin, who knew her whereabouts, had not revealed her identity. He learned from Savelitch that the servant had recognized Pougatcheff as the man to whom he had given his hareskin coat months before. Later, the rebel leader sent for Peter and acknowledged his identity.
The rebel tried to persuade Peter to join the Cossacks but respected his wish to rejoin his own forces at Orenburg. The next day, Peter and his servant were given safe conduct, and Pougatcheff gave Peter a horse and a sheepskin coat for the journey.
Several days later the Cossacks attacked Orenburg. During a sally against them, Peter received a disturbing message from one of the Bailogorsk Cossacks; Shvabrin was forcing Maria to marry him. Peter went at once to the general and tried to persuade him to raise the siege and go to the rescue of the village. When the general refused, Peter and Savelitch started out once more for the Bailogorsk fortress. Intercepted and taken before Pougatcheff, Peter persuaded the rebel to give Maria safe conduct to Orenburg.
On the way, they met a detachment of soldiers led by Captain Zourin, who persuaded Peter to send Maria, under Savelitch's protection to his family, while he himself remained with the troops in Orenburg.
The siege of Orenburg was finally lifted, and the army began its task of tracking down rebel units. Some months later, Peter found himself near his own village and set off alone to visit his parents' estate. Reaching his home, he found the serfs in rebellion and his family and Maria captives. That day, Shvabrin swooped down upon them with his troops. He was about to have them all hanged, except Maria, when they were rescued by Zourin's men. The renegade was shot during the encounter and taken prisoner.
Peter's parents had changed their attitude toward the captain's daughter, and Peter was able to rejoin Captain Zourin with the expectation that he and Maria would be
wed in a month. Then an order came for his arrest. He was accused of having been in the pay of Pougatcheff, of spying for the rebel, and of having taken presents from him. The author of the accusations was the captive, Shva-brin. Though Peter could easily have cleared himself by summoning Maria as a witness, he decided not to drag her into the matter. He was sentenced to spend the rest of his life in exile in Siberia.
Maria, however, was not one to let matters stand at that. Leaving Peter's parents, she traveled to St. Petersburg and went to Tsarskoe Selo, where the court was located. Walking in the garden there one day, she met a woman who declared that she went to court on occasion and would be pleased to present her petition to the empress. Maria was summoned to the royal presence the same day and discovered that it was the empress herself to whom she had spoken. Peter received his pardon and soon afterward married the captain's daughter.

 

Critical Evaluation

The longest of Alexander Pushkin's completed prose tales, The Captain's Daughter was based on true events which Pushkin wrote as history in his Istoria Pugachev (1834; The History of the Pugachev Rebellion). The astonishing quality about The Captain's Daughter is the style. Although written in 1836, and the first modern Russian novel, it possesses a brisk, lean style more suggestive of twentieth century fiction than that of the early nineteenth century. Pushkin wastes no words, yet his scenes are vivid, his characters fully fleshed and remarkably alive, and his tale recounted in a suspenseful and moving manner. The first-person narration is realistic and adds to the verisimilitude of the story. The naive, romantic illusions of the young protagonist are described by the narrator in a thoroughly disarming and often humorous manner. The entire story is seen through Peter's eyes, allowing the reader to share his enthusiasms, his impetuousness, and his fears, as well as his youthful ardor and romantic spirit. A sense of the vitality of youth pervades the book.
The accounts of action, such as the duel or the siege of the Bailogorsk fortress, are vivid and well paced. Throughout the novel, Pushkin writes with extraordinary ease and vitality, bringing to life in a few strokes situations and characters. A sly humor is an integral part of the narrative. When the hero notes that his French tutor was sent from Moscow with the yearly supply of wine and olive oil, readers know precisely where that unlucky tutor fits into the household. Many of the characters possess a humorous side to their nature. The ill-fated, henpecked captain and his talkative but kindly tyrant of a wife are both portrayed with a light touch. Old Savelitch, Peter's servant, is the truest comic figure in the novel; devoted to his young master, as to Peter's father before, the old man would willingly sacrifice his life for Peter, but he never hesitates to talk back to Peter or even to the rebel Cossack leader if he feels that he is in the right. Even Pougatcheff, self-styled pretender to the throne, is presented with a great deal of humor; in a sense, he is the only character in the book who does not take himself completely seriously, and this, at least in part, is the result of an ironic realization of the precariousness of his existence.
Many scenes in the novel possess a double-edged humor, from the absurd, aborted, and then finished duel between Peter and Shvabrin to the moment, in the midst of horror, when old Savelitch dares to present an itemized list of destroyed and stolen goods to the man who holds all of their lives in his hands. The deaths of the captain and his wife are handled with a certain grotesque humor. As in Shakespeare's tragedies, this humor serves to heighten the horror of certain dramatic scenes, such as the fall of the fortress and the butchering of the innocent at the hands of the rebels. Despite the terrible events portrayed in the novel, the book is not grim. It is a romantic tale of action and romance, and the ending is appropriately happy. Even the conclusion, with its scenes of mistaken identity, possesses a charming humor.
At the same time, the realism of the portrayals of the duplicity of human nature, the traitorous villainy of Shvabrin, the cowardice of the garrison when they all throw down their arms in the face of the enemy, and the pettiness of many of the minor characters is shocking. The brilliant construction of the novel, the alternating light and dark scenes, sweeps the reader along, never letting him be quite sure of where he is. Pushkin seems to delight in catching the reader off guard, of making him laugh and then gasp with horror and then hurling a piece of slapstick at him before he has recovered from the shock. The scene of the captain's fat wife being dragged naked from her house to the gallows, screaming and shouting abuse at the Cossacks, is both funny and horrible. Shvabrin, completely despicable, is shown to be absurd as he struts and postures during his brief glory, and then, even more so, when he falls. Pushkin is extremely deft at showing both sides of human beings, the noble and the phony, the absurd and the courageous, the hateful and the loving.
The Russian land is an important part of this novel. The vast spaces almost become another character, as the hero flies across them in sleds and carriages or on horseback. Pushkin carefully builds a sense of intense patriotic fervor throughout the narrative, culminating in the scenes with the empress. The empress is seen as the Mother figure of all Russia, wise and warm, quick to understand and forgive and to come to the aid of her "children."
Frequently, in the course of the book, words and phrases refer to the Russian people as one large family; underlings call their masters and mistresses "Father" and "Mother," and the land is referred to as the Great Mother of them all. The empress and the land are inseparable. In the light of this powerful sentiment, the daring of Pougatcheff to attempt to usurp the throne becomes all the more shocking, as Pushkin intended, because to attack the throne is to attack all of Russia and to undermine the structure of the entire country.
The Captain's Daughter exerted a tremendous influence on Russian fiction; it showed novelists the possibilities of Russian themes and Russian settings, and, above all, it illustrated the narrative capabilities of the Russian language. Never before had Russian prose been used in fiction in such a lean, vigorous, and completely unpretentious manner. The perfection of the book was awesome but also inspiring to the writers who followed Pushkin. It can be said that the great period of Russian fiction begins with The Captain's Daughter. (The other great formative influence on Russian fiction, Nikolai Gogol's Dead Souls, did not appear until 1842.) The great tragedy for Russian literature and the world is that the year after writing this novel, Pushkin was killed at the age of thirty-seven in a duel.

 

 

 


 

 

 



Evgeny Onegin


(A Novel in Verses)
 

“ Petri de vanite il avait encore plus de
cette espece d’orgueil qui fait avouer avec
la meme indifference les bonnes comme
les mauvaises actions, suite d’un sentiment
de superiorite, peut-etre imaginare.”

Tire d’une letter particuliere.



Not planning fun for noble people,
And liking friendship so far,
I'd show you a present, little,
That might be better than your are,
Much better than a charming soul,
Than a procured holy dream,
Than poetry of life and goal,
Than simple style and high thoughts' stream;
But so be it - in a biased role,
Receive the different chapters' lot:
Half-simple ones, partly half-solemn,
Ideal or from people, common, --
The careless fruit of playful thought,
Of sleepless nights, light inspirations,
Unripe and faded years, passed,
The cold mind's intent observations
And heart's sore notes in the past.




 

CHAPTER ONE

 

“He’s in a hurry to exist and feel.”
Prince Vyazemsky.

 

I

"My uncle, of the best traditions,
When being almost deceased,
Forced men to treat him with distinction,
Which was the best of his ideas.
Yes, his example - to us for learning,
But, Heavens, how it is boring
To sit with him all day and night,
Not having right to step aside!
What a deplorable deception
To entertain the man, half-dead,
To fix a pillow in his bed,
To give him drugs with sad attention,
To sigh and think in deeps of heart:
When will the deuce take you apart?"

II

Thus thought the youthful high world's lion,
Flying on horses of a stage,
He was, by a Zeus' will, the scion
Of all his kin of older age.
Friends of Ruslan, Liudmila's lovers!
Permit me, straight from novel's covers,
Without delay and camouflage,
To show my central personage.
Onegin, my good-natured peer,
Has once been born on Neva's sides,
Where maybe you've seen first your light,
Or self shed light, my reader dear.
There once, I've had my walking, too,
But north brings me just cold and flu.

III

Serving with perfect attestation,
His father lived deeply in debt,
Put every year three balls in action,
And brought his assets to the end.
The fate was humane to Evgeny,
At first, Madam was his kind 'nanny',
Then one Monsieur took him to breed.
The child was spry, but very sweet.
Monsieur l'Abbe, the Frenchman poor -
Not to exhaust the little child -
Made his tuition droll and mild,
Didn't bore him with a moral cruel,
He softly groaned at child's jests -
The Summer Garden was their place.

IV

But when the time of youth, rebellious
Evgeny was obliged to meet -
The time of hope and gentle sadness -
Monsieur was thrown to the street.
Evgeny's free on his life's road,
His hair is cut to suit a mode,
Like London dandies, he is dressed -
And put under the high world's gaze.
He held his French in perfect fashion,
Could write and speak it at a chance,
Led smoothly a mazurka-dance,
His bows were simple and well-stationed.
What do you want, else? They agreed:
The youth is smart and very sweet.

V

We all have studied, if a little,
Some blurry thing in some vague ways,
So, thank the Lord, among our people,
He's praised who somewhat lore displays.
Onegin was, as thought the crowd -
The judge, decisive one and loud -
A well-learned fellow, but a prude:
He has a talent very good,
In every talk, without tension,
To touch all easily, with a grace,
With air of a learned man and ace,
Stay silent through the dispute's session.
And to invoke smiles of dames,
With unexpected epigrams.

VI

Latin got out of the fashion:
To tell the truth, he knew enough
Words of this once extinguished nation,
To understand an epigraph.
To mention Juvenal at meeting,
Put vale in the text, completing
A letter, he knew (God, acquit!),
Two little rhymes from Aeneid.
He hadn't any lust for digging,
In chronological sad dust,
Depictions of the peoples' past.
But stories, calling for a-giggling -
From Romulus till present days,
His mind held in firsthand a place.

VII

Not having the inspiring passion
To lose his life for tunes and hums,
To all our struggle and agitation,
He couldn't tell trochees from iambs.
For ancient Greeks he claimed some hatred,
But Adam Smith was high-respected:
Being a learned economist,
Evgeny could discourse, at least,
How can a country get more riches,
What is its basis, then, and why
It need not any gold supply,
While having just a product simplest.
His father couldn't him understand,
And used to mortgage all his land.

VIII

To list all things, Evgeny'd known,
I can't because of time control;
But what did bear his genius, own,
What did he know best of all,
What was for him from his young years
His labor, blissfulness, and tears,
What did support through daily light
His leisure full of pine and plight -
Was science of the passion precious,
Which once was sung by Nason's heart,
For that, a sufferer, he cut
His life, the brilliant and rebellious,
Amidst Moldavia's wild plains,
Far from his Italy's green lanes.

IX
. . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

X

How soon he started to dissemble,
To be just jealous, and to hide
Some kind of hope, to be able
To show faithfulness and pride,
To look like one, who's grim and plighted,
Indifferent and, yet, delighted!
How silent was he in his pine,
How hot his talk was, how fine,
How untidy in a letter!
With single breath, with single love -
How he appeared self-deprived!
How swift his glance could be and gentle,
Brazen and shy, and by a chance,
Shined with a controlled tear, at once!

XI

How could he seem to be as novel,
Upset with humor a naive,
Shock with despair, playing a role,
Amuse by flattery in grief,
Catch every moment of light sweetness,
By mind's and passion's might and swiftness,
Win shyness of the virgin years,
Wait for a minute of a grace,
Pray and demand a full confession,
Feel first exertion of a heart,
Chase hidden love and - and, at last,
Receive a "yes" for date of passion.
And later, in a lone place,
Teach her in silence and in grace!

XII

How early, he could, make quite fev'rish
Hearts of the coquettes on the list!
When he desired fully to vanquish
Some one of his adversaries,
How caustically he talked scandal,
What nets he used for them to handle!
But you, so many husbands, blest,
You've stayed to be his bosom friends:
He's welcomed by a sly male spouse -
The long-time student of Foblas,
And by an old and leery ass,
And by a cuckold, filled with grandness,
Pleased with himself, through all his life,
With his fat dinner and his wife.

XIII, XIV

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

XV

They would bring him the morning letters,
When he's still lying in his bed.
What? Invitations? Yes, the matter's:
Three evening parties in a set.
There’ll be a ball, an evening children's.
Where will he go, this lad mischievous?
Who will be first? That's all the same:
It's simple to visit all of them.
But now in the morn's attire -
A wide hat, a la Bolivar,
Onegin rides to the boulevard,
And walks there, calm and free entire,
Until the watchful watch's alarm
Will advertise the dinnertime.

XVI

It's dark: he sits in sledges, low,
"Let's go! Let's go!" - a cry is cast;
His beaver collar's covered fast
By silver dust of frost and snow.
He darts to Talon where, he's sure,
Kaverin waits him with a lure.
He's in - a cork flies up into the height,
The wine streams like a comet bright;
He sees the roast-beef half-bleeding,
Truffles - a dream of children's nights,
The great French kitchen's artifacts,
A pie from Strasbourg, ever-living,
Between the live (from Limburg) cheese
And the pineapple's golden mist.


XVII

Tho’ thirst's still looking for wine-glasses -
To cool the cutlets’ flaming fat,
Ring of a watch clear apprises
Them of the ballet's starting act.
The theater's lawmaker, frantic,
A worshipper (but not fanatic)
Charms of the nymphs, which jump or sing,
A decent citizen of wings,
He fled to realms of Terpsichore
Where all, with breath of freedom's air,
Applaud to entrechat, unfair,
Blame Cleopatra, Theodora,
Call for Moina, (that's a choice -
Someone to hear someone's voice).


XVIII

A fairy land, a fairy kingdom!
There, once, of all satire king,
Fonvizin, the best friend of freedom,
Shone, and versatile Kniazhnin;
There, Ozerov shared the levy
Of men’ applause and tears heavy
With young Semenova - in half;
There, our Katenin made alive
Corneille's genius, grand and gorgeous;
There, sharpest Shahovskoy has sought
His comedies - a humming lot;
There, was Didlo crowned with laurels,
There, in these wings’ inspiring place,
Days of my youthfulness did race.

XIX

My goddesses with calling glances!
Do hear my nostalgic voice:
Are you the same or other lasses,
Have come, lacking that charm of yours?
Will I be else pleased by your chores?
Will see the Russian Terpsichore's
High flight supported by the heart?
Or will I never catch in sight
A known face on this stage, boring,
And see the world, so strangely set,
Through my dissatisfied lorgnette,
A passive watcher of what's going,
And, silent, I will only yawn,
And think of days that had been gone?

XX

The hall is filled, the boxes glow,
The pit, the stalls - all moves and boils,
The ‘gods’ applauding in their rows,
The rising curtain makes a noise.
Agreed with magic tunes of fiddles,
Among the nymphs - in their middle,
Istomina arises there -
As if she's made of light and air.
One of her feet touches the boards,
Another - slow moves aside,
But suddenly - a jump, a flight -
A puff's flight in the air flows;
She bends her body and unbends,
And beats her leg her leg against.

XXI

They all applaud. Onegin enters,
Goes mid rows, through their feet,
His doubled lorgnette, for instant, centers
On boxes with new ladies’ seats;
Having observed at once all places,
He caught it all: with dresses, faces
He's awfully dissatisfied;
With gentlemen on all the sides
Exchanges bows; in distraction
Glanced once at the proceeding play,
And, yawning, turned his head away,
And cited: "All must be refashioned:
I've born the ballets long enough,
And now hate this Didlo's stuff."


XXII

Still devils, cupids, imps and serpents
Are jumping with the ballet's tricks;
Still, by the entrance, tired servants
Are sleeping on fur-coats, thick;
Still men are blowing their noses,
Applauding, making other noises;
Still out of buildings and inside,
The lanterns are dispersing light;
Still freezing horses beat on ground,
By their tough bridles being bored,
And coachmen, too idle and cold,
Are blaming gents bonfires around, -
Onegin's hurried downstairs:
He goes home to change dress.

XXIII

Can I depict in rightful colors
His cabinet - the lone place,
In which this fashion's student, tireless,
Is dressed, undressed and once more dressed?
All, that for humane whim, tremendous,
Trades with grim London, void of errors,
Which, through the Baltic waters’ flat,
Drives straight to us for wood and fat,
All that the hungry taste of Paris,
Having obtained the useful crafts,
Invents for idle people's fun,
For luxury, for bliss of fashions, --
All was collected here to cheer
A thinker in his eighteenth year.

XXIV

The Turkish pipes’ sedating amber,
The Bronze and China in one place,
The perfumes in a crystal’ slumber -
The bliss of the exquisite sense;
The combs, the small saws, smartly handled
The scissors straight, the scissors angled,
And brushes, made in thirty ways,
Used for his teeth or fingernails.
Rousseau - Just a little lesson! -
Couldn’t understand why pompous Grim
Dared clean his fingernails near him -
An eloquent but madcap person.
The priest of liberty and rights
Was, in this case, at all not right.

XXV

It may be that a man of business
Thinks of conditions of his nails,
Don't live with your age in uneasiness:
A custom rules in our days.
Chadaev's precise imitation,
Afraid of zealous condemnation,
Onegin was a prude with dress -
That's what we call a dandy, else.
At least, three hours in running
Spent with his mirror face to face’
And then was walking from his place,
Like Venus, when this goddess charming,
By clothes of a male arrayed,
Was going to a masquerade.


XXVI

The grooming of the modern fashion
Having attracted curious stare,
I'd, for a scientific session,
Describe his dresses’ whole fair;
Of course it would be bold to mention,
But still, description's my profession:
But pantaloons, tail-coat, vest -
There're no such words in Russian, yet,
I see (and ready to be blemished),
That my essentially poor verse,
(Which was not richer till these pearls)
Is thus with foreign language furnished,
Though, in past years, I'd take a look
In the scholastic thick wordbook.

XXVII

But it's not good for our approach:
Let's better hurry at the ball,
Where in the lightning-quick stage-couch,
Onegin's driven to his toil.
Before the buildings, dark and low,
Along the sleeping street, in rows,
Lanterns of carriages and carts
Emerge their gay and promised lights
And lighten rainbows on the snow;
All set in candles, tall and bright,
The splendid house wakes the night;
Along paned windows, shades go,
Flash profiles of the people heads -
Of dames and fashionable lads.

XVIII

He's by the entrance, our fellow;
Passed a door-keeper by, and fled
On marble steps, like a light arrow.
Fixed his curled hair with his right hand,
Came in. The hall is full of people,
The loud music's spent a little,
Mob's busy with mazurka-dance,
There is a noise and crush at once;
Ring spurs of the horse-guardsmen, shining,
Fly little feet of the sweet dames,
And follow their charming trace,
The males’ looks, so fast as lightning,
And roar of fiddles makes unheard
Whir of an avid female lot.

XXIX

In days of gaieties and desires
I was delighted by the ball -
Best places for the lovers' fires
And for the little notes’ hold.
Oh, you, deeply respected husbands!
I'll show you a little kindness;
I beg you, follow my speech:
Be very cautious, I beseech!
And you moms, as the goodly parents,
Look better after your girls' gait,
Hold straight and high your big lorgnette,
If not - if not, then help us Heavens!
I write this all my stanza in
'Cause long ago I stopped to sin.


XXX

Alas! For many different pleasures,
I spent the lot of my life's space!
But if our morals weren't in danger,
I should love balls until these days.
I like the youthfulness, so crazy,
The crush, the shine, the frolic frenzy,
And the thought-out ladies' dress;
I like their little feet, but guess,
You'll not be able, in Russia whole
To find three pairs of slim feet, yet.
Oh, how long I couldn’t forget
Two little feet - in my grim dole,
I still recall them and in dreams
They wake my heart like sunny beams.

XXXI

Just when and where, in what a desert,
Will you, a madman, them forget?
Oh, little feet, where is your trace laid?
Where do you make spring florets flat?
In eastern bliss having been grown,
On whiteness of the northern snow
You have not left your trace at all:
You loved the carpets' soft and tall,
Delightful touch at every season.
For you, I frequently forgot
The thirst for fame and loud laud,
My native land and my dark prison.
It’s gone – the young years’ happiness
Line on the leas your easy trace.

XXXII

Diana's breasts and cheeks of Flora
Of course, are gorgeous, my sweet friend,
But little feet of Terpsichore
Are more delightful for me, yet.
They, giving to the looks of leisure,
A promise of the heavens' pleasure,
Arise with their imposing form
The unrestricted wishes’ swarm.
I like them, my Elvina, blessed,
Under the dinner tables’ cloth,
In spring, on green of grass and moss,
In winter, by the fireplaces,
On glassy parquet of a hall,
On the seacoast's granites, tall.


XXXIII

I see the sea before a tempest:
How jealous I was of the waves,
Running in their ferocious series
To lie by her feet with a grace!
How wished I with the waters’ splashes,
To touch them with my lips in flashes!
No, never, midst the ardent days
Of my enraptured yore, else,
With such a torture, I desired
To kiss the lips of young Armids,
Or roses of their cheeks, sweet,
Or breasts, full of the hidden fire;
No, never loving passions, hard,
Such tortured, else, my poor heart!

XXXIV

But I recall the days of yore!
In dreams I cherish in chanced mood,
I hold the stirrup, happy whole -
And my hands touch the little foot;
Again boils my imagination,
Again this heavenly sensation,
Fires blood, running through my heart,
Again there is my love and plight!
But let us stop praising the proud
With my so talkative a verse,
In fact, they never could be worth
The songs and passions they'd inspired
These fairies’ words and glances, sweet,
Are as deceitful as their feet.


XXXV

What of Onegin? In a doze,
He drives from dances to his bed:
While Petersburg, by drum rolls, close,
Has been turned up from sleeping state.
A merchant wakes, a peddler roams,
To his cab-stand a cabman goes,
With her filled jug a milkmaid fleet
Tramples the snow under her feet.
It's wakened - noise of pleasant morning.
Shutters are opened, and in frost
Smoke from chimneys - like blue posts;
And baker, the unerring German,
In his cap, made of paper fast,
Has opened up his wasistdas.


XXXVI

But, tired of the noisy dances,
Having turned morning to night's late,
The child of luxury and fancies
Sleeps peacefully in cozy shade.
He'll wake in afternoon - no toiling,
His life is ready till the morning -
Life of monotony and play:
Today is all like yesterday.
But was he happy, our friend precious -
The one who's free in his best years -
Amidst his brilliant affairs,
Amidst the everlasting pleasures?
Was he, amidst the feast and wealth,
A man of negligence and health?

XXXVII

No: his soul was cooled early;
He was exhausted by balls’ noise;
The charming ladies were not, fairly,
The subjects of his thoughts and choice;
Adultery had made him tired,
His friends and friendship were expired,
Because he actually couldn't
Beef-steaks and Strasbourg pies, tho’ good,
Wet with the streams from Champaign bottles,
And go with sharp worlds ahead,
Having a very heavy head;
And tho’ he was a scoundrel, godless,
He had disliked all of the field -
The battle, the sable and the lead.


XXXVIII

The illness, whose well-hidden reason
Long time ago we have sought,
Like English spleen of a bad season,
In short, handra - a Russian word -
Slow brought him into its possessions;
To shoot himself, thank holy patience,
He didn't attempt in his sore strife,
But wholly lost his zest for life,
Like Childe Harold, all pined and aimless,
He visited receptions’ lot;
Neither waltz-Boston, nor a word,
Nor a sweet look nor a sigh shameless
Nothing touched his extinguished soul:
He simply did not feel this all.

XXXIX, XL, XLI

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

XLII

Oh, whimsical high world's she-lions!
He'd left you first of your sex fair;
And, truly, in the time of ours,
We're bored with the high world’s air;
Though, maybe, any clever’ lady
Were talking Sey and Bertram gladly,
But, really, their whole chat
Is nonsense of a virgin set;
To add to that, they are so pure,
So full of the grandeur, and mind,
And decent features of all kinds,
So circumspect, and, yet, self-sure,
So estranged to any sin,
That just their air begets a spleen.

XLIII

And you, my dear youthful beauties,
Who're, at an hour to pray,
Carried away by horses-brutes,
Along the capital's highway.
And you’ve become for him forbidden.
This runner from the bliss of Eden -
Turned his own home into a den,
And, yawning, took the ink and pen -
Wanted to write - but work, rigorous,
Was death to him, and nothing else
Was going out of his pens,
And he didn't fall into the quarters
Of the brave men, which I can’t judge,
Being involved in the same charge.

XLIV

Again enslaved by idling’ dole,
Pined by the blankness of his heart,
He took a table with a goal
To own the fruit of someone's mind.
He filled his shelf with set of volumes,
And read, and read - to no purpose:
'Tis a deceit, a bore, a mess;
'Tis has not any shame or sense,
All has the different kind of fetters:
All that is old became too old,
And all that's new is old, twice-told.
He left the books, like other matters,
And with a taffeta for dead
Covered the volumes’ dusty set.

XLV

Having got off the world's traditions,
Like him, from vanity fatigued,
Then I became his friend, auspicious.
I liked the features he'd achieved,
His faithfulness to dreams and fancies,
The non-impersonated strangeness,
His mind, so sharp and so cool.
I bred a hate, he - a dark mood;
Both of us knew the play of passions;
Both were pined by our life hard;
In both - failed the light of heart;
Both were awaited by aversion
Of men and doom without eyes
In early mornings of our lives.

XLVI

Who'd lived and pondered, in his soul
Can't help despising people, at last,
Who'd felt - is troubled by his dole,
By spirits of the sunken past:
He has no more sweet attractions,
He's gnawed by lots of recollections,
As by a serpent in his heart.
This very frequently imparts
A strong delight to conversation.
At first, the language, he displays,
Was strange, but I got into ways
Of all his sharp argumentation,
His jokes with a gall by half,
His caustic epigrams’ dark stuff.

XLVII

How often at the summer, silver,
When it is transparent and bright
The night sky o'er the Neva-river,
And waters don't reflect the sight
Of pale Diana in their mirrors,
Having recalled our former dears
And love of our former day,
Again so sensible and gay,
In silence of the nightfall, pitying,
We drank its aromatic breadth!
As from his prison to greens’ wealth
Was brought a prisoner half-sleeping,
Thus our sweet dreams were carrying us
To the beginning of young lives.


XLVIII

Having heart, full of light frustration,
And leaning on the granite, cut,
Onegin stood in contemplation,
As did that self-describing bard.
All's silent, only on occasion,
Night wards exchanged with exclamations
And sound of drozhky's distant tread
Was heard far from the Million-street.
A boat, waving with her ores,
Sailed softly sleeping waves along:
And we were lured by a song
Of the small horn and voice in chorus.
But sweeter for the fun, night-long,
Are octaves of Torquato's song!


XLIX

Oh, waves of Adriatic azure,
Oh, Brenta! No, I shall see you
And, full of spiritual pleasure,
Enjoy your charming voice and view!
They’re sacred for Apollo’s heirs;
They’re my, I know them entire
Through Albion’s poetic sight.
I will enjoy the bliss of night
Of Italy, so free and golden,
A young Venetian close by,
Who’s sometimes loud, sometimes shy,
Glissading in a mystic gondola;
With her my language will obtain
Petrarca’s words of love again.


L

Will ever come my freedom, treasured?
It’s time, It’s time! – I call for this!
Roam by sea; wait for some weather,
And lure sails of the distant ships.
Under the storms, with fast waves vying,
Along the waters, freely lying,
When will I start my blessed race?
It’s time to leave the boring place
Of nature that appears so alien,
And midst my African wide lands,
Between blue skies and flaming sands,
To sigh about Russia, sullen,
Where I had suffered and loved,
Where I had buried my heart.


LI

Onegin, then, was fully bound
To see with me the alien lands,
But soon by fortune’s turning, sudden,
We were to be in different place.
His father left his earthly dole.
Before Onegin gathered whole
Horde of the greedy creditors,
Each with his own mind and course:
Evgeny, hating suits and trials,
Contented with his present fate,
Left them all heritage for debts,
Not giving any great defiance
Or knowing from someone’s piece,
His ancient uncle’s fast decease.


LII

He suddenly received, exactly,
A note from his uncles’ land,
He wished to see his nephew, badly,
To say farewell on his deathbed.
Having read this despondent message,
Evgeny, on a set of stages,
Rode to his uncle’s place at once,
And started yawning in advance,
Preparing self for gold, for pillage
To sighs, to boredom, to deceit,
(With this my story was conceived);
But having come to uncle’s village,
He found him on one of tables,
As a prepared tribute to earth.


LIII

He met a whole yard of service;
To the dead man from all four sides
Were coming former friends-contenders,
The lovers of the solemn rites.
They buried his uncle together.
Priests, guests were feasting without measure,
And then they gravely dispersed,
As if for next important phase.
Onegin’s, since, a country dweller –
The owner of woods and lakes,
Of plants and arable rich lands –
The former spend-all, fierce rebel,
He’s very glad that his past ways
Were thus replaced by something else.


LIV

At first, he took them as the new ones –
The silent, solitary fields,
The groves’ shadows and coolness,
The quiet songs of crystal streams;
In third day, groves, hills and meadows
Were not the objects he was pleased with;
Then they brought him just sleep and dreams,
Then he concluded that, it seems,
The village’s too the former bore,
Tho’ without palaces and streets,
Verse, balls and couches with steeds.
Handra was grasping him once more,
And following his present life
As if his shade or faithful wife.


LV

I have been born for peace, entire,
For stillness of the country realm,
It’s louder in it – a lyre,
And brighter every fruitful dream.
Being involved in leisure harmless,
I roam over waters’ silence,
And far niente is my law.
I wake up every morning for
My dear liberty and leisure:
Read very little, often sleep,
Don’t follow fame’s jumps and flips.
Is it not former life of pleasure,
When in sweet laziness and shade
My happiest days were slowly led?


LVI

Love, village, life without business,
Fields! I am your enduring serf.
I'm always glad to stress a distance
Between Onegin and myself
To force a reader, if he's drastic
Or any publisher, sarcastic,
Producer of the complex lie,
Comparing features his and mine –
Not to reiterate, unholy,
That I had drawn my portrait,
Like Byron, of the proud trait,
As if - unyielding, in a whole,
To see another in a verse,
Besides a duplicate of yours.


LVII

The poets of all times and countries
Were friends of love and those who loved.
I used to see my dear items
In my deep dreams, and my poor heart
Has saved for me their trace, elated,
My muse then turned them animated:
Thus sang I, heedless one and blessed,
The girl of mountains – my best,
The she-slaves of the blue Salgire.
And from you all, my dear men,
I often heard a question, then:
“Of whom sighs now your sad lyre?
To whom from jealous lasses’ throng
You now dedicate your song?


LVIII

Whose glance, disturbing inspiration,
Brought sweet caresses, as award,
To songs of ponder and sensation,
Who was a goddess of your world?”
Oh, friends, there's nobody, I swear!
The love’s mad trouble and sore tear
I'd suffer'd through a whole term.
He's happy who combined with them
Heat of his rhymes, and thus redoubled
The poetry's delirium, blessed,
While following Petrarca's trace,
Pains of his heart he thus threw out,
And caught his fame on such a route;
But, loving, I was deaf and mute.


LIX

My love had gone, my muse – appeared,
And fully clear'd my dark mind,
And, free, again I look for peer
Thoughts, sounds, senses to my chant;
I write, my soul is not in grievance,
My pen doesn't draw, like oblivious,
On poems, left without their ends,
The female feet or female heads;
Extinguished ashes have no fire,
I am still sad, but tear's suppressed,
And very soon the tempest's trace
Will vanish in my heart entire:
And then I will begin, headlong,
The poem of the twenty songs.


LX

I've thought about my plan's structure,
And how will I call my man;
Having obtained just some conjuncture,
I finished the first chapter's span;
Revised all things very severe:
There're many contradictions here,
I would not make it all correct.
I'll pay the censor my sad debt
And put at hungry journals' mercy
The humble fruits of my long toils:
So, flutter to the Neva's shores,
Newborn of my creative fancy,
And bring me back the fame's award –
False rumors, noise and a bad word.




CHAPTER TWO

 

“ O rus!...”
Hor.

O Russia!

 

I

The village of Evgeny's dullness,
Was an enchanting, quiet place;
A lover of the pleasures, harmless,
With such one, would be fully blessed.
The big and lonely gentry's mansion,
Walled by a hill from winds' invasion,
Stood by a stream. And far away
Before it, thriving, were far-laid
Green meadows and fields of gold,
Flashed villages; and by a chance,
Herds roamed on the green of grass,
And made dense canopy more broad
The immense garden, grown old,
The thoughtful dryads' cool abode.

II

The honored castle was created,
As all such castles must be raised,
The very strong and well-sedated
In fashion of the good old times:
A set of high and airy chambers,
The guests' room with the silk wallpapers,
Emperors' portraits on the walls,
Tiled stoves in the rooms and halls.
All's in an awful declination,
I do not know only why;
But the ambitious friend of mine
Paid to this all a little attention,
Considering, he always yawned
In halls, the modern ones and old.

III

He settled in the chamber, quiet,
Where the old-timer of these lands
Was scolding maids, catching flies, tired,
And looking out - for forty years.
All was there simple: floors of oaks,
The downy sofa, table, two drawers,
And nothing like an inky blot.
He opened drawers on the spot;
Found, in one, expense accounts,
In second - bottles of liqueurs,
Of juices from the apple-sauce,
A calendar, which time passed out:
The old man, having much to do,
Did not look other volumes through.

IV

Alone midst his wide possessions,
For spending more time to that,
At first, Onegin made intentions
To give his serfs a new mandate.
In his wild realm, this sage of desert
The yoke of corvee, so ancient,
Transformed into a light quitrent;
And slave was thankful to his fate.
But in his corner, dark and timeless,
His neighbor pouted his lips,
Seeing an awful wrong in this,
Another smiled with hidden slyness:
And he was called, his back behind,
'A crackpot of a dangerous kind;'

V

At first, all visited his mansion;
But soon, because at his back doors,
Without making one exception,
Was always furnished a Don's horse
As soon as from the distant road,
They heard noise of a couch, broad, -
Having large offence of such whim,
All neighbors stopped befriending him.
"Onegin is a boor, the maddest,
He's a freemason; drinks at once
The red wine by a whole glass;
He kisses never hands of ladies;
Says no or yes, not no-s or yes-s" -
Was judgment of the common sense.

VI

To his estate in the same bout,
Has come its youthful new landlord,
And the same rumors him about
Had many reasons to be brought:
Bearing a name Vladimir Lensky,
And soul in the Gottingen's key,
Adonis - in his prime and right,
A Kant's admirer and a bard.
From misty Germans he brought here
The light of education's beams:
The realm of freedom-loving dreams,
The spirit flaming, though queer,
The speech, which always burns and boils,
And long, touching his shoulders, curls.

VII

Not having time to fade till now
From the cold lech'ry of the world,
His soul was still so warm and proud
Midst friends, attached, and maidens, fond.
His heart was virgin and not tired,
The dazzling hope it inspired,
And world, the noisy one and bright,
Still charmed his inexperienced mind.
He entertained with sweet illusions
The doubts of his flaming heart;
The goal of existence, hard,
He thought a riddle and confusion:
He racked his young brains over that,
And marvels were his main suspect.

VIII

He was assured that a kin soul
Had to unite with him, at last,
That, in unhappiness and dole,
It always waits for him with trust;
That comrades, for his honor's reason,
Are ready for the chains and prison,
And that their hand will not be weak
To break the slander's lies and tricks;
That, chosen by their good fortunes,
Exist the people's holy friends;
That their clan, overcoming death,
With beams, inevitable and gorgeous,
Will illumine the planet, once,
And carry bliss to all of us.

IX

Strong indignation and deploring,
The clear love of people's good
And wish of fame, such sweet and sore,
Early was troubling his young blood.
A lyre was his mate in travels;
The Schiller's heavens, Goethe's heavens,
With flame of poetry, so strong,
Prepared his soul for a song.
The art of lofty muses, here,
It never stood to be ashamed:
In all his songs, he fully saved
His senses, always high and clear,
The thrusts of his untainted dream,
And charm of all that's main and simple.

X

He sang pure love, by pure love knighted,
Therefore his song was clear and bright,
Like thoughts of maidens, simple-hearted,
Like baby's dreams, like moon of night –
In deserts of the heaven, thoughtless,
Of gentle sighs’ and meetings’ goddess.
He sang depression and egress,
And something and the misty space,
And the alive, poetic roses,
He also sang the distant land,
Where his tears, so alive and sad,
Were shed amidst the silent lodges.
He sang a fade of men’ life, else, --
In his not whole eighteen years.

XI

In deserts where Evgeny, single,
Could validate his holy gift,
He did not like the gentry's mingling
In close neighborhood, the feasts;
He ran from noisy conversations.
Their talk, profound, without passions,
About haying and good wines,
About cousins, dogs and hunts,
Of course, he didn't glisten with senses,
Nor with good jokes, nor with mind,
Nor with a flame of a high kind,
Nor with the art of good attendance;
And talks of their enchanting wives
Were worse, and nearly not as wise.

XII

Our Lensky, very rich and handsome,
Was taken as a fiancé;
Such is the virgin country's ransom –
All want their girl to have affair
With the half-Russian neighbor, special;
If he has come, then conversation
Consists of words, just by the way,
Describing bachelors’ bad days;
They call for tea the dear neighbor,
And Dunya pours this tea in cups;
And “Be alert!” she is advised.
And then a guitar is in favor:
Dunya will cry (oh, save us, God!):
Come into my abode of gold!...

XIII

But Lensky hadn't still aspiration
To bear the bonds of marriage, hard.
He wanted to install a friendship
With our Onegin, with his heart.
They came together. Waves and stones,
Or flame and ice, or verse and prose
Are not so different as were they.
At first, when difference prevailed,
They were by their meetings bored;
Then liked each other, then, I'd say,
They rode together every day –
And weren't divided, any more.
Thus man (and I'm, too, to be blamed),
In leisure, makes himself a friend.

XIV

But we haven't friendship like these fellows.
Having killed all our myths in past,
We think of all as of the ‘zeros’,
And only of themselves as – ‘ones’.
We seek in selves Napoleon's features,
The crowds of the two-feet creatures
Considering only as our tools
And senses – privacy of fools.
More forbearing than many,
Tho’ knowing the people's race
As just an evil and disgrace –
As an exception, our Evgeny
Could see some men in different lights,
And praise them in his heart of hearts.

XV

He'd hear Lensky, easily smiling.
The youthful poet's’ flaming speech,
His mind, in reasoning still trying,
His look with inspiration rich --
All, for Onegin, was so novel;
He tried to hold the word from falling,
That would, in some way, cool that flame,
And thought: it'll be a silly game –
Trying to spoil his short diversion;
Without me this time will come;
Let him still live in it some time
With faith into the world's perfection;
Ascribe to fevers of young years
Their young delirium and stress.

XVI

They paid to all their deep attention,
All was in their discussions put:
The peaceful former tribes’ relations,
The fruits of science, bad and good,
And myths – the heritage of ages,
And coffin's secrets, outrages,
And fate, and life, that's passing by –
All was a subject for their eye. .
The poet, in the heat and brightness
Of arguments, read them across
The poems of the misty North,
And our Evgeny, in indulgence,
Observed attentively them,
Tho’ with a cognitive problem.

XVII

But, oftener, the burning passions
Were occupying their young minds,
Having escaped their wide possessions,
Onegin mentioned them with sighs
Of somewhat sadness, unintentional:
He's blessed who had the love's sensations
And left, at last, them him behind;
More blessed – who hadn't them in his mind,
Who cooled his love with separation,
A row – with gossips, and, some time,
Yawned with his wife and his friends, prime,
Not troubled by the jealous passion,
And fathers’ money, his life through,
Did not trust to the cunning ‘two.

XVIII

When we will come under the banners
Of silence, that's the prudent, once,
When will extinguish flame of passions,
And seem ridiculous to us
Their thrusts or willfulness of action,
And all their very late reaction,
That's difficult to be controlled, --
We like to listen to the roll
Of rebel passions in the others:
This agitates our heart again.
Thus, any old man-veteran
Is braced to hear, gladly rather,
The younger warriors’ report,
When in his hut he is forgot.

XIX

But, and the youthfulness of fire
Couldn't anything from people hide,
It never can conceal, entire,
Love, anger, sadness, joy and pride.
A judge in deals of loving, fair,
Onegin listened with an air,
When, liking owning of his heart
This pure, simple-hearted bard
Cited himself; his faithful soul
Then, could be easily scrutinized,
And soon Evgeny recognized
A young tale of his love, the whole,
With deepest senses, over-poured, –
Which long ago we knew as old.

XX

Oh, Lensky loved, and he did so,
As they haven't now loved; as one
All crazy soul of a poet
Is still convicted to have done.
Always there is the single dreaming,
The single whish, that's ever-living,
The single sadness, as a sense.
Not distance, ever-cooling space,
Nor many years of separation,
Nor beauties of the foreign place,
Nor hours of the muses’ grace,
Nor sciences, nor celebrations --
Nothing could change the poet's heart,
Warmed with this crystal, virgin light.

XXI

Still a teenager, charmed by Olya,
And still, not knowing of heart's pains,
He was a witness – a touched soul –
Of all her childish games and plays;
In shadows of the cozy groves,
In all her fun partook they both:
”Such friendship with a bridal ends,”
Thought their kind dads – the neighbors-friends.
In woods, under a shelter, low,
Full of the innocent allure,
Under the looks of parents, sure,
She grew, like the dale's lilies grow:
Unseen in wealthy grass and moss
For hungry bees or greedy moths.

XXII

She'd gifted, then, a bard, elated,
With youthful ecstasy's first dreams,
And thoughts of her made animated
First moans of his lyre, slim.
Farewell, games of the shining gold!
He's liked the woods without roads,
Full silence, loneliness, and soon, –
And night, and stars, and, even, moon –
The moon, the icons’ lamp of heavens,
To which we were allotting, once,
Our walking midst the evening’ darks,
And tears – the secret tortures’ gladness –
But now, we think, her only task’s
To shine instead of lanterns, dusk.

XXIII

She's always dutiful and modest,
Always, like morning, gay and bright,
Like kiss of love, she's sweet and honest,
Like poet's life, has simple heart.
Her eyes, so blue as blue is heaven,
Her smile and hair, so curled and flaxen,
Her movement, voice, her slender waist –
All was in Olga – but you else
Could find in every book this treasure –
Her portrait: it is very sweet,
And once I'd very much liked it,
But it'd bored me, beyond all measure.
Permit me, dear reader, hence,
To give her older sister place.


XXIV

Her older sister was Tatyana…
For the first time, with such a name,
Like a self-chosen ‘hosanna’
Will glorify this novel's frame.
Why not? It’s very sweet and sound;
But, I am sure, strongly bound,
With memory of ancient times --
Or with the maidens’ room! We must
Admit a vulgar test, abiding
In multitude of our names,
(Not speaking, too, of our verse),
We're a taboo for all enlight'ning,
And our heritage is, hence,
The mincing manners – nothing else.


XXV

So, Tatyana – her first name was.
Neither with sister's dazzling charms,
Nor with her ever rosy freshness,
She could allure the people eyes.
Being all shy and sad and silent,
Like doe of the forest frightened –
She in the family of hers
Appeared as one of stranger-girls.
She could not anyhow caress
Her kind dad, or her gentle mom;
And though a child in children's mob,
She didn't partake in games of theirs,
And by a window all day,
Sat often in a lone way.


XXVI

A reverie, her girl-friend precious,
Beginning from her cradle days,
Arrayed stirs of her country leisures
With her dreams’ animated plays.
Her delicate, transparent fingers
Didn't know any kind of needles;
And, to the usual tambour linked,
She didn't embellish cloth with silk.
A token of lofty desire –
A child, with her obedient doll,
Prepares self in a funny stroll
To decency – the high-world's sire,
Repeating to her in grand form
The lessons of her dear mom.


XXVII

But even in these years’ procession,
Tatyana did not take a doll,
And did not have long conversations
With her about ‘dress and all’.
And frolics of the little people
Were strange for her; but stories, crippling,
In winter and a dark of night,
Were always close to her heart.
And when her nanny brought together,
For Olga, under summer sun,
Her little friends to have some fun,
She didn't partake in common pleasure,
Being just bored with their laugh
And all that heedless, noisy stuff.


XXVIII

She, on the balcony, alone,
Preferred to meet with the sunrise,
When on a sky of pallid tones,
Dissolves the round dance of stars,
Horizon then becomes self- lightened,
And fans light wind, the morning's advent,
And slowly rises daily light.
In winter, when the dark of night
Is still on half-of-world exposed,
And still in silence, like in swoon,
Under the cold and misty moon,
The East lies in the lazy doze –
In hours, that she always handles,
She woke up to a light of candles.


XXIX

She's early liked the modern novels;
And substituting them for all,
She was in love with fairy stories,
With Richardson and great Rousseau.
Her father was a thorough feller,
The former century's good dweller,
Who didn't see the wrong in books;
Not having cast on them a look,
Considered them the trinkets, worthless,
And never had a single thought:
Which one of the unknown lot
Under the daughter's pillow dozes?
His wife, with her in unison,
Was wild about Richardson.


XXX

This Richardson was her mom's hero,
Not because she had read him, once,
Or Grandison, the noble fellow,
Was sympathized, but not Lovelas.
But in the past, the Princess Lina,
Her cousin of the Moscow's lineage’
Often repeated those names.
In this good time, her husband, blessed,
Was her betrothed, but she was sore,
And sighed about another man,
Which with his mind and soul, then,
Was pleasant to her heart much more;
Her Grandison was a gallant,
A gambler, and a man of Guard.


XXXI

Like him, she always was attired
To make for fashions perfect match;
But not regarding her desire,
The girl was driven to the church.
To dissipate her deepest sadness,
The clever husband took the precious
Into his village, where she, lost
In rough environment, at first,
Was mourning without measure,
Even intending to divorce,
Then made herself involved, of course,
In household, and found there pleasure…
Our habits are the Heavens' gifts –
They are the substitutes for bliss.


XXXII

Customs had pacified the sorrow,
Which couldn't be done without them;
And one discovery much more
Had comforted her heart, the same:
She'd, between laboring and leisure,
Discovered how could be pleasured
Her faithful husband and controlled,
And then all got a full concord.
She drove along to check serfs' struggles,
Made pickled mushrooms, winter's fruits,
Expense accounts and recruits,
On weekends, went to her bathhouse,
Beat maidens, being in bad sense, –
All – absent of her man's assents.


XXXIII

She used, with blood, to write the rushes
In albums of the gentle girls,
To call ‘Polina’ her Parasha,
And mouth in a singing voice,
Wear the narrow stays of fairies,
‘N’ of the Russian, as in Paris,
Pronounced lazily through nose;
But soon, all that was fully lost;
The albums, corsets, princess Lina,
And copy-book of poems – all
She had forgot: started to call
Akulka former her ‘Selina’.
And renovated – a last step –
The cotton shlafer and nightcap.


XXXIV

Her husband, truly, loved her heartily,
Didn't enter in her escapade,
Always has faith in her, undoubtedly…
In dressing-gown, drank and ate;
His life rolled, peaceful one and quiet;
By evening oft, there was united
A company from ‘next-door’ lands,
The good, unceremonious friends –
For little sore and talking scandal,
For little laughing something at.
Time's passing by, and after that
They drink a tea, by Olga handled,
Then dinner's ready, then comes night,
And guests drive out of the yard.


XXXV

They saved, in life, void troubles and fears,
Traditions of sweet ancient days;
Had, for fat weeks before the Easters,
The Russian, richly oiled pancakes;
Twice in a year, fasted and mourned;
They liked the merry-go-round,
The Christmas songs, the round-dance;
On Trinity, when a man’ mass,
All yawning, listens at the service;
They poured a tear (twice or thrice)
At the first show of the sunrise;
Like air, they needed ale, the freshest,
And at their table, all their guests
Were served in order of the ranks.


XXXVI

Thus, they were coming older, both.
And gaped a coffin, at the end,
Before the husband – and then closed
With a new crown on his head.
He passed away before his dinner,
Deplor'd by his friend, living near,
By his offspring and faithful wife
Stronger than many, lost of life.
He was the kind and simple barin,
And there, where his dust now lies,
The gray gravestone says to us:
The humble sinner, Dmitry Larin,
The brigadier and slave of God,
Enjoys his peace in this abode.


XXXVII

Having returned to his heath, own,
Lensky respectfully stopped by
The neighbor's sorrow tombstone,
And dedicated him a sigh.
For long, his heart was wounded badly.
“Poor Yorick!” he pronounced sadly,
“He held me in his own arms.
How often played I with his brass,
Received for the Ochakov medal!
He tended Olga for my bride,
He said: will come this to my sight? -- "
And with sincere feeling saddened,
Vladimir made, at once, a draft
Of this gravestone's epitaph.


XXXVIII

And there, with mournful inscription,
He honored, pouring sore tears,
His parents’ place of last partition…
Alas! On the life's plowed fields
In shortest reaping, generations –
By secret heavens’ obligations –
Would grow, ripe, and, trackless, fall;
And others after them make stroll…
The same – our heedless generation,
It grows up, makes noise and raves,
Pressing grandfathers to their graves.
It'll come, it'll come and our succession:
And our grandchildren – help them, God! –
Will press us out this blessed world.


XXXIX

Right now, be with it delighted –
With easy life, my dear friends!
By it's base mindlessness well granted,
I have not any good aspects;
I hold my sight off false existence,
But hopes, in the misty distance,
Sometimes, my poor heart embrace:
Without some non-sighted trace,
I would be sad to leave this dole.
I live and write not for the praise,
But I'd – it seems to me sometimes –
Make famous my sad fate, in whole,
For, like my faithful friend, for me,
A single sound would make plea.


XL

And it'll touch someone's soul, grievous;
And had been saved by a kind fate,
It never else might be oblivious –
The line, that I try to create;
And maybe, – though a week hope –
In future, someone - lazy oaf
Would look at my famous portrait,
And say, “He was a poet, yet!”
So, take my humble presentations,
Oh, fan of the peaceful Aeneids,
You, whose remembrance will permit
To save my fluttering creations,
Whose such beneficent a hand
Will sometimes stir the old bard's grand.




CHAPTER THREE

 

Elle etait fille, elle etait amoureuse.
Malfitatre.

I

"Where are you going? Damn these poets!" -
"Good bye, Onegin, I've to leave." -
"I don't delay you, but would know, yet,
Where do you spend your every eve?" -
"At Larins' home." - "What a wonder!
For goodness sake! What could be harder
Than killing every evening there?" -
"Not in the least." - "I can't infer.
I can from here estimate it:
Firstly, - just listen: am I right? -
The simple Russians at a sight,
Their hospitality is splendid,
Their jam and talk without restrain
About cattle, flax and rain." -

II

"I didn't see there a disaster." -
"But boredom is disaster there." -
"I hate your world where styles are masters.
The home circle I prefer,
Where I can." - "Back to shepherds' verses!
For sake of God, please stop this nonsense.
Well, you are riding. I regret.
Listen, my Lensky: can I, yet,
Behold this shepherdess, the endless
Subject of all your thoughts, and pens,
And tears, and rhymes, and other trends.
Show me to them." - "A prank?" - "I'm earnest." -
"I'm glad." - "Then, when?" - "Let's go at once.
They will be glad for both of us.

III

Let's go." - Rode on the comrades,
Appeared there; and each obtains
A service - sometimes hard - of oldest
And very hospitable days.
A rite of feeding, the well-known:
They carry, on a plate, jams own,
Put on a table for guests' use
Jugs with a cowberry juice.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

IV

They, by the road, shortest here,
Are flying to their own lands,
And we'll in secret try to hear
The talk of our heroes-friends.
"So, Onegin, are you yawning?" -
"A custom, Lensky" - "Is it boring
You more than before.?" - "The same,
Maybe this darkness's to be blamed;
Go on, Andrushka! Speed the horses!
What in the world, a silly place! -
Mrs. Larin's of the simplest case,
But very pleasant an old hostess;
A cowberry juice, I feel,
Would make me in some future ill.

V

Tell me, which one there was Tatyana?" -
"Well, she who was all evening sad
And silent as if were Svetlana,
Who'd entered and by window set." -
"Lord! Your sweetheart's the younger sister!" -
"Why not?" - "I'd choose another, mister,
If I were, just like you, a bard.
The Olga's features are too hard,
Like ones of the Vandyke's Madonna:
Her face is round one and red,
Like this ludicrous moon, that's hanged
On this ludicrous sky, alone.
Vladimir coldly answered him,
And all the way was mute and grim.

VI

The first Onegin's visitation
To Larins families' abode
Gave to his neighbors great impression
And entertained them all a lot.
Guesses were followed by guesses.
All fell into the talking, restless,
With somewhat sinful judge and mirth,
Planning for Tanya her betrothed.
Some of them even cried in passion,
That marriage was agreed at all,
But stopped for time, a very small,
'Cause there were no rings of fashion.
Relating Lensky's marriage thoughts
Have long ago received consort.

VII

Tatyana heard with great vexation
Such kind of gossips, but she yet,
With somewhat heavenly sensation,
Was forced to think about that;
And in her heart grew an idea -
Her time has come, her love is here.
Thus a slim seed, fallen in earth,
Is made alive with flamed spring's breath.
How long, her bright imagination,
In flames of bliss and sadness set,
Was craving for the food of fate;
How long, her heart's unconscious passion
Was pressing on her virgin breast
And soul seeking… someone blessed,

VIII

And found, at last. Her heart got rightness;
She said for sure, "It is him!"
Alas! Now her light and darkness,
And single, caught by fire, dream -
All's filled with him, all to heart maiden's,
With strongest charm, with music endless,
Repeats his name. She's deadly bor'd
By sounds of her kin' good word,
By servants' full of care glances.
In deepness of her sore sense,
She does not hear talks of guests,
And curses their existence priceless,
Their comings always in surprise
And great length of their visits' times.

IX

With which a serious attention
She reads a novel of delight,
In which a highest fascination,
She drinks the coaxing deceit!
By a blessed vigor of sensations
Recalled to be alive, creations -
Julia's lover - sweet Volmar,
Malek-Adel and de Linar,
And Werther-sufferer rebellious,
And void of equals Grandison,
Who tends us to a-sleeping, stone, -
All, for she-dreamer our precious,
United in the image, single:
In single Onegin all were mingled.

X

Seeing herself in masterpieces
Of the creators, whom she loved, -
Delphina, Julia, Klarissa -
Tatyana roams in the wild
Alone with a novel, dangerous;
She seeks in it and finds her precious
And secret fire and dreams, bright -
The fruits of fullness of her heart;
Sighs sadly, taking, as her own,
Another's ardor and grief, hard,
In deep forgetfulness, by heart,
A letter for her hero moans.
Whoever, then, our hero was,
Not Grandison he was, of course.

XI

Having attuned his style to greatness,
An author of the flaming lines,
Used to present his hero, blameless,
As the ideal one to us.
He catered his man beloved,
Which always was unfairly hounded,
With soul sensible, and mind,
And with a face good to remind.
Burning in flames of clear passions
And great delight, a hero praised,
Was always braced to sacrifice,
And in the last chapter's procession,
A sin was punished and diseased,
And goodness - crowned with a wreath.

XII

And now all the minds are misty,
The morals force us to go sleep,
In novels, sins are well-existing,
And celebrate their winning trip.
The British muse's sullen fables
Stir dreams of any girl, defenseless,
And now her main idol is
Vampire, full of deep ideas,
Or Melmot-vagabond, the restless,
Eternal Jew, the strange Corsair,
Or the mysteries Sbogair.
Lord Byron, with his whim successful,
Dressed into grim romanticism
Even the helpless egoism.

XIII

My dear friends, what's good in all that?
May be, by a divine decree,
I soon shall cease being a poet,
A new imp will reside in me:
Having disdained the threats of Phoebus,
I'll fall into a prose, cheerless;
Then a long tale of the old set
Will entertain my life's sunset.
Not a masked evildoing's sore
I'll draw awfully in it,
But simply, truthfully repeat,
A Russian family's old lore,
The dreams of one, who lives and loves,
And rites of our good old times.

XIV

I shall recite the speeches, simplest,
Of fathers or of uncles, old,
The children's shyly arranged meetings
Near the limes and ringlets, cold;
Unhappy love's sharp pains and fears,
Their separation, sore tears,
Conciliation, break - at last,
Shall make them married very fast...
I shall recall the lofty leisure's
Words of the ever-pining love,
Which, in the days of former strife
By feet of my unearthly treasure,
Chanced to embellish my flamed speech -
I now came estranged from which.

XV

Now, I pour my tears of passion
With you, Tatyana, my sweet maid!
To the tyrant of a cold fashion
You've given your entire fate.
You'll perish, but before, my darling,
You, in a hope, so shining,
Call for a pleasure of a hell,
You recognize life's bliss and spell,
Drink charming poison of desire,
You're haunted by your own dreams,
Your own eye all over sees
Your dates, full of delighted fire;
Wherever were you, to your sight,
Your temper sheds his fateful light.

XVI

The pine of love wraps Tanya round -
She goes to the garden, sore,
Her looks are suddenly put down,
And she is lazy to walk more.
Breasts heaving, and her cheeks entire
Are covered with a sudden fire,
Her breath is stopped her lips behind,
In ears - a noise, in eyes - a shine.
A night will come; a sentry, flawless -
The moon - goes the skies along,
A nightingale begins her song
In darkness of the distant groves.
Tatyana does not sleep in night,
Speaks with her nanny of her plight.

XVII

"I can't sleep in this hot abode!
Open the window and come." -
"What's bad, my Tanya?" - "I am bored.
Let's talk about an old time." -
"About what? I'd used to know
A lot of fables, high and low,
About evil spirits' trades,
About princesses and maids;
But now all of them got out
Of my so weak and aged mind,
All that I've known - left behind,
And only dark is left around." -
"Tell me about your young years:
Were you in love - or something else?" -

XVIII

"Oh, no, Tanya, in those ages
We'd heard just nothing of all that,
Because my mother-in-law, late,
Would have killed me in other cases." -
"But how then you still got married?" -
"It seems, the will of God prevailed it.
'Your Vanya's younger.', I was told -
And I was thirteen years old.
For two weeks, she-match-maker here
Called on my family, at last,
My dad gave me his blessing fast.
I wept then sorely for fear;
Braiding my hair, they wept much,
And, singing led me to a church.

XIX

And left me living midst the strangers.
But you aren't listening to me." -
"Oh, nanny, nanny, my heart aches,
I'm so unhappy, do you see?
I feel like crying, sobbing crazily!." -
"My dear girl, you are not healthy;
My Lord, be merciful to us!
What 'tis you want, my child, just ask!"
Let me sprinkle you with holy water.
"You're burning hot." - "I am not ill;
Oh, nanny. I'm in love, I feel" -
"Our holy Father, save your daughter!"
And a nanny, praying, with her hand,
Made sacred signs over girl's head.

XX

"I am in love," again she whispered
In sadness to the old above.
"My dearest, 'tis only illness" -
"Leave me alone: I'm in love."
Meanwhile, the moon in skies was shining
And with a languorous light was lightning
All Tanya's features, pale and fair,
Her splendid, loosely falling hair,
Her tears, and the old woman here,
With a kerchief on her gray head,
In her old, warm, too long jacket,
Sitting before our maiden, dear.
And all was sunk in silence soon
Under the pale inspiring moon.

XXI

And Tanya's heart was very distant,
While she was looking at moon's rays.
Her mind begot a thought in instant.
"Leave me alone, go away.
Give me a pen, a sheet of paper,
And move the table; I'll lie soon later;
Forgive me!" She's alone left.
All's quiet. She, in moonlight set,
Leaned on the table, writes a letter,
Only Evgeny's on her mind,
And the sincere lines behind,
Only the virgin's love's the matter.
The letter's ready, bent and pressed.
Tatyana, what is its address?

XXII

I knew the beauties very proud,
Like winter, clear ones and cold,
Unmerciful and 'not-be-bribed'
Unfathomed for the minds at all;
I wondered to their air of fashion,
To their high virtue, so natural,
And, I admit, I ran from them,
And read, in awfulness and shame,
On their foreheads the grim hells' scripture:
Leave all your hope - and for good.
The thought of love brings them bad mood,
To scare men makes them feel richer.
Maybe, on Neva's both sides,
Such dames were objects of your sights.

XXIII

Being among the slaves delighted,
I saw the 'queens' of other kinds,
Indifferent and self-conceited
For any flatteries and sighs.
And I have found with a wonder
That they, their cold behavior under,
Intimidating lovers, plane,
Could fascinate all them again,
At least, by only gentle sadness,
At least, by sounds of their speech,
Seemed with some gentleness enriched -
And, brought by his light faith to madness,
A young admirer runs again
Behind the coquette, cold and vain.

XXIV

Why have we to brand Tanya's action?
Maybe, because in her sweet ease,
She does not fathom a deception,
Trusts to the best of all her dreams?
Because in love she's so artless,
Caught by the natural senses vastness,
Because she so trustful is,
Because she bears Heavens' gifts:
Imagination, so rebellious,
Mind and her willingness, alive,
Character, ready now to strive,
And Heart, the flaming one and precious.
So, you will not condemn the girl
For passions' thoughtlessness, at all!

XXV

A coquette in a cold blood measures,
Tatyana seriously loves,
And gives to love all her heart precious,
Like a sweet baby often does.
She does not say: 'let us postpone.',
Making a price of love more grown,
Or rather, luring to a net;
At first, we'll prick with self-respect,
With hope, then begin to torture
Your heart with puzzles, in last phase,
Make it alive with rival flames -
Because a prisoner, non-virtuous,
Bored by pleasure, always plans
To throw off his charming chains.

XXVI

I see another hindrance here:
Saving the honor of our land,
I have the letter of the dear
Tatyana now to translate.
Her Russian was of bad condition,
She did not read our journals' fiction,
And spoke in a way, that's bad,
The language of her native land.
The French was language that she wrote.
What can we do! I've said above
That until now, ladies' love
Does not speak self in Russian mode,
Our proud tongue, till our age,
Hasn’t used to prose of postage.


XXVII

I know they would force our ladies
To read in Russian. Dread of dreads!
Can I imagine - for a second -
Them with "The Loyal" in their hands!
I'm asking you, my dear poets:
Is this a truth that your sweet objects,
To whom, as penance for your sins,
You've written sacramental hymns,
To whom you've given all your soul,
Having with Russian time so hard,
All of your wonderful sweethearts
So sweetly twisted it in whole,
And on their lips the language strange
Was like the native one arranged?

XXVIII

I dread to meet at a ball's gala,
Or at departure on porch's steps,
A cleric in a shawl yellow,
Or a professor with nightcap!
As rose cheeks without smiling,
Repels me Russian speech, abiding
Without faults in grammar fine.
And, maybe, to bad luck of mine,
The novel beauties' generation,
Having heard journals' praying voice,
Would make the Grammar our choice
And Verse - the general convention;
But I... don't take it in my mind,
And would stay true to the old rite.

XXIX

The babble, that's negligent and sore,
Pronouncing the worlds not right -
Will raise up, in my breast, once more,
Strong palpitation of my heart.
I have no strength for my repentance,
I'll like a French word in a sentence,
As left in days of yore sins,
As Bogdanovich's golden strings.
Enough of that. I've to be busy
With a note of my charming lass,
I gave my word, and, Lord, help us!
I feel that it will not be easy,
Because the gentle Parnee's times
Aren't entertaining more to us.

XXX

Singer of Feasts and languid sadness,
If you were staying with me late,
I with appeal, somewhat shameless,
Would trouble you, my dear friend:
Translate into your songs, bewitching,
The alien speech, laid in the scripture
By my so passionate a lass,
Where are you? Come! My sacred rights
I'm passing to you with a bow.
But midst a solemn rocky mass,
Alone and unused to praise,
Under the Finland skies he now
Is roaming, and his kind heart
Won't hear my sufferings so hard.

XXXI

Before me lies her letter precious,
I faithfully take care of this,
Read with the hidden sore passion,
And never can this reading cease.
Who forced her to be so gentle,
So pleasantly with words unsettled,
So sweet in glance, so filled with light,
So crazy in a talk of heart -
The talk intriguing and dangerous?
I do not fathom all this; yet
I made translation, very bad, -
The living picture's copy breathless,
Or famous 'Freeshot', when it's played
By fingers of the bashful maid:


Translated by Yevgeny Bonver

 

 

 

 

 

 


"The Bronze Horseman"
Alexandre Benois
Illustration for poem by A.S.Pushkin
1905

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 




The Bronze Horseman



A Petersburg Story

 

1833


INTRODUCTION

The incident, described in this story is based on a truth.
The details of the flood are taken from the contemporary magazines.
The curious ones can consult the record, prepared by V. I. Berkh.







 

PROLOGUE

On a deserted, wave-swept shore,
He stood – in his mind great thoughts grow –
And gazed afar. The northern river
Sped on its wide course him before;
One humble skiff cut the waves’ silver.
On banks of mosses and wet grass
Black huts were dotted there by chance –
The miserable Finn’s abode;
The wood unknown to the rays
Of the dull sun, by clouds stowed,
Hummed all around. And he thought so:
‘The Swede from here will be frightened;
Here a great city will be wrought
To spite our neighborhood conceited.
From here by Nature we’re destined
To cut a door to Europe wide,
To step with a strong foot by waters.
Here, by the new for them sea-paths,
Ships of all flags will come to us –
And on all seas our great feast opens.’

An age passed, and the young stronghold,
The charm and sight of northern nations,
From the woods’ dark and marshes’ cold,
Rose the proud one and precious.
Where once the Finnish fisherman,
Sad stepson of the World, alone,
By low riverbanks’ a sand,
Cast into waters, never known,
His ancient net, now on the place,
Along the full of people banks,
Cluster the tall and graceful masses
Of castles and palaces; and sails
Hasten in throng to the rich quays
From all the lands our planet masters;
The Neva-river’s dressed with rocks;
Bridges hang o’er the waters proud;
Abundantly her isles are covered
With dark-green gardens’ gorgeous locks…




 

By the new capital, the younger,
Old Moscow’s eclipsed at once -
Such is eclipsed a queen-dowager
By a new queen when her time comes.
I love you, Peter’s great creation,
I love your view of stern and grace,
The Neva wave’s regal procession,
The grayish granite – her bank’s dress,
The airy iron-casting fences,
The gentle transparent twilight,
The moonless gleam of your nights restless,
When I so easy read and write
Without a lamp in my room lone,
And seen is each huge buildings’ stone
Of the left streets, and is so bright
The Admiralty spire’s flight,
And when, not letting the night’s darkness
To reach the golden heaven’s height,
The dawn after the sunset hastens –
And a half-hour’s for the night.
I love your so sever winter’s
Quite still and fresh air and strong frost,
The sleighs race on the shores river’s,
The girls – each brighter than a rose,
The gleam and hum of the balls’ dances,
And, on the bachelors’ free feast,
The hissing of the foaming glasses
And the punch’s bluish flaming mist.
I love the warlike animation
Of the play-fields of the god Mars,
And horse-and-footmen priests’ of wars
So homogeneous attraction,
In their ranks, in the rhythmic moves,
Those flags, victories and rended,
The glitter of those helmets, splendid,
Shot through in military strives.
I love, O capital my fairest,
Your stronghold guns’ thunder and smoke,
In moments when the northern empress
Adds brunches to the regal oak
Or Russia lauds a winning stroke
To any new and daring foe,
Or, breaking up the light-blue ice,
The Neva streams it and exults,
Scenting the end of cold and snow.





 

City of Peter, just you shine
And stand unshakable as Russia!
May make a peace with beauty, thine,
The conquered nature’s casual rushes;
And let the Finnish waves forget
Their ancient bondages and malice
And not disturb with their hate senseless
The endless sleep of Peter, great!

The awful period was that,
It’s fresh in our recollection…
This time about, my dear friend,
I am beginning my narration.
My story will be very sad.







 

PART ONE

On Petrograd, sunk into darkness,
November breathed with fall cold’s harshness.
And, splashing, with the noisy waves
Into the brims of her trim fences,
The Neva raved, like the seek raves
In a bed, that has become the restless.
Now it was very dark and late;
The rain stroke ‘gainst the window’s flat.
And the wind blew with sadly wailing.
Right at this time, from being a guest
Evgeny, for his nightly rest,
Came home. This name was most prevailing
In our young hero’s name choice.
It sounds pleasantly. Of course,
With it my pen’s had long connections
It needn’t the special commendations,
Though in the times, in Lithe gone,
It might have been the most attractive
And under Karamzin’s pen, fine,
Sung in some legends, our native;
But now it is forgotten by
The world and rumors. Our guy
Lives in Kolomna: he’s in service,
Avoids the rich ones, and ne’er sad is
For his kin which had left the world,
Or for the well-forgotten old.






 

So, he is home – our Evgeny,
Took off his greatcoat, undressed,
Lay in his poor bed, but oppressed
He was by his thoughts, so many.
What did he thought of? Well, of that
That he was poor and that his bread,
His honour and his independence
Just by hard work must be achieved,
That God should send to him from heavens
More mind and money. That do live
Such idle, fully happy creatures –
The lazy-bones, quite ludicrous,.
Whose life is absolutely light!
That he had served for two long years;
And that the weather, former fierce,
Hadn’t come less fierce, that the flood
In the Neva is getting higher,
The bridges might be got entire,
And that his sweet Parasha’s place
For two-free days wouldn’t be accessed.
There sighed Evgeny with his soul,
And dreamed as dreams a real bard:

“To marry then? Of course it’s hard.
But why don’t marry, in a whole?
I’m of the young and healthy sight,
Ready to work for day and night;
I’ll someway find the good repose,
The simple and shy place, at last,
Parasha will be there composed.
The year or, may be, two will pass –
I’m in position, to my dear
I’ll give all family to bear
And bring our children up, at once...
Such we’ll start life, at last repose,
With hand-in-hand, such we’ll come both,
And our grandsons will bury us...”

Thus he did dream. And a great sadness
Embraced his soul in that night,
He wished the wind’s weep to be lesser,
Rain’s siege of windows – not so tight.
At last his sleepy eyes were closed...
And now the night is getting gray –
That night, so nasty and morose,
And it is coming – the pale day
The awful day! During the night
Neva had strived for sea ‘gainst tempests
But, having lost all her great battles,
The river ceased the useless fight…
And in the morn on her shores proud,
Stood people in a pressed in lot
And saw the tall and heard the loud
Fierce waters’ mountains, it had brought.
But by the force of airy breathing
Blocked from the Gulf, the wide Neva
Came back – the wrathful one and seething -
And flooded islands, near and far;
The weather grew into the cruel,
Neva – more swelling and more brutal,
Like in a kettle boiled and steamed,
And then, as a wild creature seemed,
Jumped on the city. And before it,
All ran away from its strait path,
And all got emptied there; at once.
The waters flew into the cellars,
And raised up to the fence of canals –
And, like Triton, Petropol sails
Sunk in the water till his waist.






 

Siege and assault! The evil waters
Thrust into windows, like slaughters.
The mad boats row into a glass.
The stalls are under the wet mass.
The wrecks of huts, the logs, roofs’ pieces,
The stores of the tread, auspicious,
The things, carried the pale want from,
The bridges got away by storm,
The coffins from the graveyards - float,
Along the streets!
The populace
Sees God’s great wrath and waits for death.
All is destroyed: bread and abode.
And how to live?
The monarch, blessed,
Tsar Aleksandr, in a good fashion,
Still governed Russia that year, dread,
And from the balcony he, sad
And pale, said: “Ne’er the God-made nature
Can be subdued by any tsars.”
And, in a thought, looked at the evil’s
With his full of deep sadness eyes.
The streets turned into the fast rivers,
Running to made lakes, dark and grievous,
The Palace was an island, sad,
That loomed over the blackened waters.
The Tsar decreed – from end to end,
Down the shortest streets and longest,
On danger routs over the waves,
His generals set into the sailing –
To save the drawing and straining
On streets and in their homes-graves.

Then on the widest Square of Peter,
Where with his glass a new pile glittered,
Where on its porch, too highly placed,
With their paw raised, as if they’re living,
Stood two marble lions, overseeing.
On one of them, as for a race,
Without his hat, arms – tightly pressed,
Awfully pale – no stir appeared –
Evgeny sat. And there he feared
Not his own death. He did not hear
How the wrathful roller neared,
Greedily licking his shoes’ soles,
And how flagged him the rain coarse,
And how the fierce wind there wailed,
Or how it’d blown off his hat.
His looks of deepest desperation
Were all set on a single place
Without a move. The waves, impatient,
Had risen there, like tallest crags,
Lifted from waked deeps in a madness,
There wreckage swam, there wailed a tempest …
O, God! O, God! – Right on that place,
Alas! so close to the waves,
And by the shores of the Gulf Finnish,
A willow-tree, a fence unfinished
And an old hut: there they must be –
A widow and her child Parasha –
His soul’s dream … Or does he see
It in a dream? … And, like the usher
Of dreams – a sleep, is our life none –
Just Heavens make of Earth a fun?

And he, like under conjuration,
Like in jail irons’ limitation,
Cannot come down. Him around
Only black waters could be found!
And turned to him with his back, proudest,
On height that never might be tossed,
Over Neva’s unending wildness,
Stands, with his arm, stretched to skies, lightless,
The idol on his brazen horse.







 

PART TWO

But now, sated with distraction
And tired of its rude attack,
Neva, at last, was coming back,
Looking at ruins with satisfaction
And leaving with a little attention
Its prey behind. A reprobate,
With his sever and low set,
Thus, thrusting in a village, helpless,
Breaks, slaughters, robs all and oppresses:
The roar, rape, swore, alert and wails!...
And, under their large booty posted,
Afraid of chases and exhausted,
The robbers speed to their old place,
Losing their loot along the road.

The waves were gone, the pavement, broad,
Was opened, and Evgeny, stressed,
With heart half-dead and stifled throat,
In a hope, fear and awful pains,
Runs to the stream, just now restrained.
But, in the winning celebration,
Waves still were boiling with a passion,
As if to flames, under them fanned;
They still were with white foam covered,
And Neva’s breast was heavily moved,
Like the steed’s one after a race.
Evgeny sees a boat here;
He runs to it – a find, revered, –
He calls a boatman at once –
The boatman, a guy quite careless,
Just for ten kopeks, with great gladness,
Takes him into the waves’ wild dance.






 

And for a long with these waves, close,
The much trained rower was in fight,
And to sink deeply mid their rows,
The scuff, with its brave sailors both,
Was apt all time… The other side
Is reached, at last. And the frustrated
Runs through the so well-known street
To his old places. He doesn’t meet
A thing, he’d known. The view’s rated
As the worst one! All’s in a mess –
All is failed down or swept or stressed:
The little houses are bent down,
Some – shifted, some – razed to their ground
By awful forces of the waves;
The bodies, waiting for their graves,
Are lying round, like aft fight, merciless.
Our poor Evgeny – his mind’s flamed –
Half-dead under the tortures, endless,
Runs there where the inhumane fate
Would give him the unknown message,
As if a letter, sealed to bear;
He’s now in the suburbs’ wreckage,
There is the Gulf, the house is near…
But what is this? He stopped, frustrated,
Went back, returned a little later…
He looks… he walks … he looks once more.
There is the place their house for
And willow-tree. The gates were here –
They’re swept… But where’s the house, o grace?
And full of troubles, hard to wear,
He walked and walked around the place.
Told to himself in voices loud –
And suddenly, as if all’s found,
Struck his forehead and fell in laugh.
The night embraced the city, stuffed
With all its woe. And still for hours
A sleep was running from each house –
The folk recalling the past day.
Now, through the clouds, weak and pale,
The morn ray flashed o’er the mute city
And did not found e’en a trace
Of the past woe. The dawn, witty,
Had safely screened the doing, base.
The former life had got its place.
Along the streets now free of flooding,
With cold indifference, folks are moving.
Just having left his lodge of night,
The clerk is going at his site.
The petty tradesman, very dauntless,
Is opening his cellar – wet,
Robbed by the waves’ impudent set –
Intending to revenge his losses
On brothers-humans. From the yard
Is pulled the boat, full of mud.
Count Khvostov, a pet of Zeus,
Now is singing his songs, deathless,
To the Neva shores’ former plight.





 

What’s of Evgeny, our poor hero? …
Alas! His agitated mind,
Against the immense woe’s billow
Didn’t stand untouchable. The wind’s
And Neva’s noise was always growing
In his poor ears. Mute and half-blind,
With awful thoughts, he was a-roaming,
Being quite tortured by some dream.
A week, month passed by as a stream,
At his past home he wasn’t returning
And his landlord, when the rent’s time
Had gone, gave his corner to some
Bard, sunk in a poverty unduly.
Evgeny didn’t come for his stuff
And soon became a stranger, fully,
To world: his day wasn’t long enough
For walk; he slept on wharfs till morning
His bread was one a beggar has,
He wore the dirt and rotten dress.
The evil children, with cries joyful,
Sometimes threw stones to his back,
Often the coachmen’ whips, wrathful,
Stung his thin body – for his track
Was cast without choosing direction –
He seemed to notice nothing else –
He was quiet deafened and oppressed
By noise of inner agitation.
And thus he strayed in his life’s mist –
Not humane being, nor some beast –
Not fish, nor flesh – not living creature,
Nor ghost of dead … But once he slept
By Neva’s wharf – the summer’s features
Were now like autumn’s. The wind, bad,
Was breathing there. The roller, sad,
Was splashing its complain and groan
And striking ‘gainst the steps of stone,
Like the offended at the door
Of justice that doesn’t hear him more.
The poor waked up. All was gloom round:
Falling the rain, wind wailing loud,
And it was answered through the night
By some alone distant guard...
Evgeny got up in a hurry,
He recollected his all flurry,
Stood on a spot, began to walk
And stopped again, almost choked,
Intently gazing him around
With a wild terror on his face...
It seemed that he himself had found
By a big house where were placed,
With their paw up, as if quite living,
Two marble lions, overseeing,
And in the height, strait o’er him posed,
Over the rock, fenced with cast iron,
With arm stretched into the skies, sullen,
The idol sat on his bronze horse.






 

Evgeny startled. Became clear
The strange thoughts, torturing his mind –
He named the place where played the flood,
Where ran the waters-spoilers, fierce, –
Merging in one rebellious stream, –
The lions, square and, at last, him,
Who stood without a move and sound –
The cooper head piercing black skies –
Him, by whose fatal enterprise
This city under sea took ground...
He’s awful in the nightly dark!
In what a thought his brow’s sunk!
What a great might in it lies, hidden!
And what a fire’s in this steed!
O, proud horse, where do you speed!
Where will you down your bronze hoofs, flittin’?
O, karma’s mighty sovereign!
Not thus you’d reared Russia, sullen,
Into the height, with a curb, iron,
Before an abyss in your reign?




 

The poor madman circled around
The foot of the black idol’s mass,
He gazed into the brazen face
Of the half-planet’s ruler, proud.
And was his breast oppressed. He laid
On the cold barrier his forehead.
His eyes were veiled with a mist-cover,
His heart was all caught with a flame,
His blood seethed. Gloomy he became
Before the idol, looming over,
And, having clenched his teeth and fist,
As if possessed by evil powers,
“Well, builder-maker of the marvels,”
He whispered, trembling in a fit,
“You only wait!...”- And to a street,
At once he started to run out –
He fancied: that the great tsar’s face,
With a wrath suddenly embraced,
Was turning slowly around...
And strait along the empty square
He runs and hears as if there were,
Just behind him, the peals of thunder,
Of the hard-ringing hoofs’ reminders, –
A race the empty square across,
Upon the pavement, fiercely tossed;
And by the moon, that palled lighter,
Having stretched his hand over roofs,
The Brazen Horseman rides him after –
On his steed of the ringing hoofs.
And all the night the madman, poor,
Where’er he might direct his steps,
Aft him the Bronze Horseman, for sure,
Keeps on the heavy-treading race.

And from this time, when he was going,
Along this square, only by chance,
A sense of terror was deforming
His features. And he would then press
His hand to heart in a great fastness,
As if to make its tortures painless,
Take off the worn peaked cap at once,
Didn’t turn from earth his fearful eyes
And try to pass by.
A small island’s
Seen in the sea quite near a shore.
A fisherman, the late catch for,
Would sail to it with his net, silent,
Sometimes – and boil there his soup, poor;
Or an official clerk would moor
To it in a boat-walking Sunday’s.
The empty isle. Seeds don’t beget
There any plant. A player, sightless,
The flood, had pulled there a ghost, sad,
Of an old hut. The water over,
It had been left like a bush, black.
Last spring, by a small barging rover,
It was conveyed to the shore, back –
Destroyed and empty. By its entry,
They’d found the poor madman of mine
And, for a sake of the Divine,
Buried his corpse in that soil, scanty.
 


 

Translated by Yevgeny Bonver

 

 

 

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