মুখ্য Works of Alexander Pushkin

Works of Alexander Pushkin

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Works of Alexander Pushkin

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2012
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WORKS

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THE WORKS OF

ALEXANDER PUSHKIN

(1799-1837)



Contents

The Poetry

SHORT POEMS

THE FOUNTAIN OF BAKHCHISARAY

THE GIPSIES

POLTAVA

THE BRONZE HORSEMAN

RUSLAN AND LYUDMILA

LIST OF POEMS IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER

The Verse Novel

EUGENE ONEGIN

The Short Stories and Unfinished Novels

PETER THE GREAT’S NEGRO

MARIE

THE SHOT

THE SNOWSTORM

THE UNDERTAKER

THE POSTMASTER

MISTRESS INTO MAID

THE QUEEN OF SPADES

KIRDJALI

THE CAPTAIN’S DAUGHTER

EGYPTIAN NIGHTS

DUBROVSKY

The Plays

BORIS GODUNOV

THE STONE GUEST

MOZART AND SALIERI

The Criticism

THE ROMANTIC POETS: POUSHKIN by Rosa Newmarch

POUSHKIN: HIS WORKS by Rosa Newmarch

LECTURES ON RUSSIAN LITERATURE: PUSHKIN by Ivan Panin

The Biography

A SHORT BIOGRAPHICAL NOTICE OF ALEXANDER PUSHKIN by Henry Spalding



© Delphi Classics 2012

Version 1





THE WORKS OF

ALEXANDER PUSHKIN





By Delphi Classics, 2012





The Poetry





Baumanskaya Ulitsa, Moscow, Pushkin’s birthplace





A memorial bust marking Pushkin’s birthplace; the house has been demolished and a school now stands in its place.





Pushkin’s father, Sergei Lvovich Pushkin (1767–1848), was from a distinguished family of the Russian nobility, tracing its ancestry back to the 12th century.





Pushkin’s mother, Nadezhda Ossipovna Gannibal (1775–1836), was descended from German and Scandinavian nobility.





SHORT POEMS



Translated by Charles Edward Turner, George Borrow and Ivan Panin

Universally revered as the greatest of all the Russian poets and the founder of his country’s modern literature, Pushkin was born into the nobility in Moscow in 1799. Although destined to have a tragically short life, Pushkin had published his first poem at the age of fifteen and he was already widely recognised as being a poetic genius at the time of his graduation from the Tsarskoye Selo Lyceum.

For much of his literary career, Pushkin was censored under the strict surveillance of the Tsar’s political police and he was often unable to publish his works. His political poems led to an interrogat; ion by the Petersburg governor-general and the great poet even endured exile to his mother’s rural estate in Mikhailovskoe from 1824 to 1826.

Pushkin is celebrated for having developed a highly nuanced level of language that went on to influence the course of Russia literature. He is also credited for augmenting the Russian lexicon, much like how Shakespeare influenced the English language. Pushkin’s fashioning of new words, his use of rich vocabulary and his highly sensitive handling of style all laid the foundations for what we now consider to be modern Russian literature. In spite of his brief life, Pushkin bequeathed to posterity works of almost every literary genre, spanning lyric poetry, narrative poetry, unfinished novels, short stories, plays, critical essays and literary epistles.

In this section, readers can explore a selection of some of the poet’s finest lyrical poems, including To K —— , now widely regarded as being the most famous Russian poem. Pushkin’s short poems feature a large variety of themes, with personal, humorous and political works, as well as some of the most beauty love poetry ever written.





The Epiphany Cathedral, Moscow, where Pushkin was christened





Pushkin, c.1801





CONTENTS

TO —— (KERN)

К ***

TO —— (KERN) COMPARISON

Poems Translated by Charles Edward Turner and George Borrow

THE DREAMER

THE GRAVE OF A YOUTH

I HAVE OUTLIVED MY EVERY WISH

TO THE SEA

ELEGY

VAIN GIFT, GIFT OF CHANCE

DROWNED

THE UNWASHED

A WINTER MORNING

THE NOISY JOYS OF THOUGHTLESS YEARS ARE SPENT

A STUDY

TO THE CALUMNIATORS OF RUSSIA

GOD GRANT, MY REASON NE’ER BETRAY ME

THE TALISMAN

THE MERMAID

ANCIENT RUSSIAN SONG

Poems Translated by Ivan Panin

POEMS AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL

MON PORTRAIT

MY PEDIGREE

MY MONUMENT

MY MUSE

POEMS OF LOVE

THE STORM-MAID

THE BARD

SPANISH LOVE-SONG

LOVE

JEALOUSY

IN AN ALBUM

THE AWAKING

ELEGY: HAPPY WHO TO HIMSELF CONFESS

FIRST LOVE

ELEGY: HUSHED I SOON SHALL BE

THE BURNT LETTER

SING NOT, BEAUTY

SIGNS

A PRESENTIMENT

IN VAIN, DEAR FRIEND

LOVE’S DEBT

INVOCATION

ELEGY: THE EXTINGUISHED JOY OF CRAZY YEARS

SORROW

DESPAIR

A WISH

RESIGNED LOVE

LOVE AND FREEDOM

NOT AT ALL

INSPIRING LOVE

THE GRACES

POEMS MISCELLANEOUS

THE BIRDLET

THE NIGHTINGALE

THE FLOWERET

THE HORSE

TO A BABE

THE POET

SONNET: POET, NOT POPULAR APPLAUSE SHALT THOU PRIZE!

THE THREE SPRINGS

THE TASK

SLEEPLESSNESS

QUESTIONINGS

CONSOLATION

FRIENDSHIP

FAME

HOME-SICKNESS

INSANITY

DEATH-THOUGHTS

RIGHTS

THE GYPSIES

THE DELIBASH

HYMN TO FORCE

THE BLACK SHAWL

THE OUTCAST

THE CLOUD

THE ANGEL

THE PROPHET





Pushkin, aged 20





TO —— (KERN)

This poem was written in July 1825 and dedicated to Anna Petrovna Kern (1800-1879). It has the distinction of being labelled the most famous poem in the Russian language. This anonymous translation is followed by the original Russian text and then a comparison of the two texts.

I still recall the marvellous moment:

When you appeared before my gaze

Like a ghost, like a fleeting spirit,

Like soul of the purest grace.

In torturing fruitless melancholy,

In vanity and loud chaos

I’ve always heard your gentle voice

And glimpsed your features in my dreams.

As years passed and winds scattered

My long-past hopes, and in those days,

I lacked your voice’s divine spell

And the bless’d features of your face.

Held in darkness and separation,

My days dragged in strife.

Lacking faith and inspiration,

Lacking tears and love and life.

But the time arrives; my soul awakens,

And again you appear before me

Like a ghost, like a fleeting spirit,

Like the soul of purest grace.

Again my heart beats in rapture,

Again everything awakens:

My long-past faith and inspiration,

And the tears and life and love.

1825





Anna Petrovna Kern (1800-1879), a socialite, memoirist and the poet’s married lover





К ***

Я помню чудное мгновенье:

Передо мной явилась ты,

Как мимолетное виденье,

Как гений чистой красоты.

В томленьх грусти безнадежной

В тревогах шумной суеты

Звучал мне долго голос нежный

И снились милые черты.

Шли годы. Бурь порыв мятежной

Рассеял прежние мечты,

И я забыл твой голос нежный,

Твой небесные черты.

В глуши, во мраке заточенья

Тянулись тихо дни мои

Без божества, без вдохновенья,

Без слез, без жизни, без любви.

Душе настало пробужденье:

И вот опять явилась ты,

Как милолетное виденье,

Как гений чистой красоты.

И сердце бьется в упоенье,

И для него воскресли вновь

И божество, и вдохновенье,

И жизнь, и слезы, и любовь.





TO —— (KERN) COMPARISON

Я помню чудное мгновенье:

I still recall the marvellous moment:

Передо мной явилась ты,

When you appeared before my gaze

Как мимолетное виденье,

Like a ghost, like a fleeting spirit,

Как гений чистой красоты.

Like soul of the purest grace.

В томленьх грусти безнадежной

In torturing fruitless melancholy,

В тревогах шумной суеты

In vanity and loud chaos

Звучал мне долго голос нежный

I’ve always heard your gentle voice

И снились милые черты.

And glimpsed your features in my dreams.

Шли годы. Бурь порыв мятежной

As years passed and winds scattered

Рассеял прежние мечты,

My long-past hopes, and in those days,

И я забыл твой голос нежный,

I lacked your voice’s divine spell

Твой небесные черты.

And the bless’d features of your face.

В глуши, во мраке заточенья

Held in darkness and separation,

Тянулись тихо дни мои

My days dragged in strife.

Без божества, без вдохновенья,

Lacking faith and inspiration,

Без слез, без жизни, без любви.

Lacking tears and love and life.

Душе настало пробужденье:

But the time arrives; my soul awakens,

И вот опять явилась ты,

And again you appear before me

Как милолетное виденье,

Like a ghost, like a fleeting spirit,

Как гений чистой красоты.

Like the soul of purest grace.

И сердце бьется в упоенье,

Again my heart beats in rapture,

И для него воскресли вновь

Again everything awakens:

И божество, и вдохновенье,

My long-past faith and inspiration,

И жизнь, и слезы, и любовь.

And the tears and life and love.





Poems Translated by Charles Edward Turner and George Borrow

THE DREAMER

The moon pursues her stealthy course,

The shades grow gray upon the hill,

Silence has fallen on the stream,

Fresh from the valley blows the wind;

The songster of spring days has hushed

His notes in waste of gloomy groves,

The herds are couched along the fields,

And calm the flight of midnight hour.

And night the peaceful ingle-nook

Has with her misty livery clad;

In stove the flames have ceased to dart,

And candle down to socket burned;

The saintly face of household gods

Now darkly gloom from modest shrine,

And taper pale in dimness burns

Before the guardians of home.

With head in hand bent lowly down,

In sweet forgetfulness deep plunged,

I lose myself in fancy dreams,

And lie awake on lonely couch;

As with the weird dark shades of night,

Illumined by the soft moon’s rays,

Wingèd dreams, in hurrying crowds,

Flock down and strongly seize my soul.

And now flows forth a soft, soft voice,

The golden chords in music tremble;

And in the hour when all is still,

The dreamer young begins his song,

With secret ache of soul possessed

And dreams that come from God alone,

With flying hand he boldly smites

The breathing strings of heavenly lyre.

Blessed is he who, born in lowly hut,

Prays not for fortune or for wealth;

From him great Jove, with watchful eyes,

Will turn mishap that teems with ruin;

At eve, on lotos flowers couched,

He lies enwrapped in softest sleep;

Nor harshest sound of warrior’s trump

Has power to stir him from his dream.

Let glory, with her daring front,

Strike loudly on her noisy shield;

In vain she tempts me from afar,

With skinny finger red in blood;

In vain war’s gaudy banners float,

Or battle-ranks their pomp display;

Peace has higher charms for gentle heart, -

Nor do I care for glory’s prize.

In solitude my blood is tamed,

And tranquilly the days pass by:

From God I have the gift of song,

Of gifts the rarest, most divine;

And never has the Muse betrayed me:

Be thou with me, oh goddess dear,

The vilest home or desert wild

Shall have a beauty of their own.

In dusky dawn of golden days

The untried singer thou hast blessed,

As with a wreath of myrtle fresh

Thou didst encrown his childish brow,

And, bringing with thee light from heaven,

Radiant made his humble cell;

And, gently breathing, thou didst lean

O’er his cradle with blessing sweet.

For ever be my friend and guide

Even to the threshold of the grave!

O’er me hover with gentlest dreams,

And shroud me with thy shielding wings!

Banish far all doubt and sorrow,

Possess the mind with fond deceit,

A glory shed o’er my far life,

And scatter wide its darkest gloom!

Thus peace shall bless my parting hour,

The genius of Death shall come,

And whisper, knocking at the door,

“The dwelling of the shades awaits thee!”

E’en so, on winter eve sweet sleep

Frequents with joy the home of peace,

With lotos crowned, and lowly bent

On restful staff of languid ease





THE GRAVE OF A YOUTH

The world he fled,

Of love and pleasure once the nursling,

And is as one who lies in sleep.

Or cold of nameless tomb, forgot.

Time was, he loved our village games,

When as the girls beneath the shade

Of trees would loot the meadow free;-

But now in village song and dance

No more is heard his greeting light.

His elders had with envy marked

His easy gait and bearing gay,

And, smiling sadly, ‘mongst themselves

Oft shook their hoary heads, and said:

“We too once loved the choral dance,

And shone as wits and jesters keen:

But wait: the years will make their round.

And thou shalt be what we are now.

Be taught by us, life’s jocund guest,

The world to thee will soon prove cold:

Thou now mayst dance!”.... The elders live,

Whilst he, in ripest bloom of youth,

Has, fading, perished ere his time.

Wild the feast, and loud the song-,

Although his voice is ever mute;

New friends now lill the vacant seat;

Seldom, seldom, when maidens chat,

And talk of love, his name is spoke;

Of all, whose hearts his words made flame,

It may be, one will shed a tear,

As memory recalls some scene

Of joy long buried in his grave —

And wherefore weep?

Bathed by a stream,

In calm array, the lines of tombs,

Each guarded by its wooden cross,

Lie hidden in the antique grove,

There, close beside the highroad’s edge,

Where old beech-trees their branches wave,

His heart at peace and free from care,

Sleeps his last sleep the gentle youth.

In vain, the light of day pours down,

Or morn from mid-sky shines full bright,

Or, splashing round the senseless tomb,

The river purls, or forest wails;

In vain, at early morn, in quest

Of berries red, the village maid

Shall to the stream her basket bring,

And, frightened, dip her naked foot

Into the cold spring-waters fresh;

No sound can wake, or call him forth

The silent walls of his sad grave.





I HAVE OUTLIVED MY EVERY WISH

I have outlived my every wish,

Each dear dream seen rudely broken,

And naught remains but woe and plaint,

Sole heritage of vacant heart.

Despoiled by storms of jealous fate;

The tree of life has faded fast;

I live in grief and loneliness,

And wait in hope, the end may come.

As when the last, forgotten leaf,

That quivers on the naked branch,

By nipping frost is sudden caught,

And shriek of winter’s storm is heard.





TO THE SEA

Farewell, thou free, all — conquering sea!

No more wilt thou before me roll

In endless flow thy dark-blue billows

And revel in thy beauty proud.

Like mournful voice of friend departing.

Like summons sad to bid adieu,

Thy murmur soft from region far

I hearken, but shall hear no more.

For thou hast been ray soul’s desired bound,

As oft along thy pebbly shore

With slow and measured step I wandered,

And gladly lost in thoughts mine own.

How I have loved thy mystic echoes;

Dull sounds, a voice from the abyss;

In evening hour, thy peaceful ripple

Thy wayward bursts of sudden rage!

In fragile boat the fisher sailing

Thou lovst to shield from wave’s caprice,

And safe it skims o’er surging breakers;

But with unconquered strength wilt rise,

And vessel proud to pieces dash.

Too long, a willing slave, I have served,

Removed from thee, a sordid world;

Too long forgot with song to greet thee,

And o’er thy crested waves to waft

My verse sonorous and sincere.

‘Thou didst wait, thou didst call, but a spell

My vainly struggling soul subdued;

Enchanted by a mighty passion,

I still remained from thee estranged.

But why complain? Whither now should I

My vain and aimless steps direct?

O’er thy realms of waste but one small spot

Can speak to me or stir my soul:

A tiny rock, the glorious grave

And haunt of dreams of power lost,

Remembrance bare of fallen greatness,

Where raging pined Napoleon.

‘T was there he died, slow torture s victim,

And now we mourn a loss as great:

For ever hushed the song of tempest,

That crowned him lord of soul of man.

He died bewept by freedom’s children,

Bequeathing them his deathless crown.

Weep, ocean, weep, shed tny stormy tears!

His sweetest songs he sang to thee.

For on his brow was stamped thine image,

He, as it were, was child of thee;

Like thee, sublime, fathomless, alone;

Like thee, unconquered. unsubdued!

The world is dull and empty — And now,

Whither, ocean, wouldst thou bring me?

Where’er man flies, his fate ne’er changes;

And should he sip the cup of joy,

Some tyrant’s hand will dash it down.

Once more, farewell! And I thy beauty

And charms sublime shall ne’er forget;

And long, long shall, trembling, hear at night

The echo of thy mighty roar.

To forest shade, or the silent plain,

I ne’er shall bring a thought, save thine;

See thy cliffs, thy gleam, thy yawning gulfs,

And hear the chatter of thy waves.





ELEGY

Beneath the deep-blue sky of her own native land,

She weary grew, and, drooping, pined away:

She died and passed, and over me I oft-times feel

Her youthful shadow fondly hovering;

And all the while a gaping chasm divides us both.

In vain I would my aching grief awake:

From tongue indifferent I heard the fatal news,

With ear indifferent I learned her death.

And yet, ‘tis true, I loved her once with ardent soul,

My heart of hearts enwrapt in her alone;

With all the tenderness of languor torturing,

With all the racking pains of fond despair!

Where now my love, my pains? Alas, my barren soul

For her, so light and easy of belief,

For memory of days that nothing can recall,

To song or tears is dead and voiceless now.





VAIN GIFT, GIFT OF CHANCE

Vain gift, vain gift of blindest chance,

Life, why wert thou granted me?

Or why, by fate’s supreme decree,

Wert thou foredoomed to sorrow?

Alas, what god’s unfriendly power

Called me forth from nothingness,

My troubled soul with passion filled,

Made my mind a prey to doubt?

An aimless future lies before,

Dry my heart and void my mind.

My soul is dwarfed and crushed beneath

Life’s dull riot monotone.





DROWNED

The children ran up to the cot,

And eager to the father cried:

“Daddie, daddie, come quick, our nets

A body dead to shore have dragged!”

“You lie, you lie, you little imps!”

The angry father roughly growled:

“To think that these my children are!

I’ll teach you talk about dead men.”

Stern as judge, he ‘gan to question;

“Alas, the truth I ne’er shall know,

There’s nothing to be done! Eh, wife,

Give here my cloak, for I must go.

Where is this corpse?” “There, father, there!”

In truth, upon the river bank,

Where they the fishing-nets had cast,

A dead man lay. upon the sand.

The corpse had lost its comely form,

All swollen now, of ghastly hue.

Some maddened wretch, who in despair

Had freed his erring soul from woe;

Some fisher caught in angry sea;

Some reeling royster homeward bound:

Or merchant rich, with well — filled purse,

Attacked by cunning thieves and robbed.

With this no peasant has concern!

He looks around, and sets to work;

With sleeves up-tucked, he quickly drags

To water’s edge the sodden corpse;

And with his oar it pushes off

Adown the open, flowing stream;

And with the tide the dead man floats

In search of grave with cross o’erhead.

And long the body, tossed by waves,

Rolled, floating, like a living thing;

The peasant watched it out of sight,

And then he thoughtful home returned:

“Now, brats, to none a word of this,

And wastel-loaf I’ll give to each;

But good heed take, and hold your tongues,

Or else a whipping you shall have!”

The night was rough, the storm-blast raged,

The river overflowed its banks;

Within the peasant’s smoky hut

The flickering lath-torch spluttered;

The children slept, the housewife dozed.

And on his shelf the husband lay;

When, hark! above the tempest’s howl

He heard some one at window knock.

“Who’s there?”.... Eh, open, my good friend

“Why, what ill luck is there abroad,

That thou, like Cain, dost prowl the night?

The devil take thee quick from hence!

For roaming vagrants where find place?

Our house is small and close enough.”

And, with unwilling, lazy hand,

He window opened and looked out.

From out a cloud the moon peered forth...,

Before him stood a naked form,

With water dripping from his beard;

His eyes were open, motionless;

A lifeless statue, numb and cold,

His bony hands drooped helpless down;

And o’er his swollen body crawled,

Fast clinging, black and slimy things.

The peasant quick the window closed;

He knew full well that naked guest,

And swooned away. “Ah, mayst thou burst!”

He, trembling, muttered trough his teeth.

Uncanny thoughts possessed his brain,

And all that night he sleepless tossed:

Till morn he heard the ceaseless kuock,

At window first, and then at door.

Among the people goes the tale,

How from that night of dread and crime,

Each year the half-crazed peasant waits

The destined day and guest unknown.

From early morn the clouds hang low,

The night grows rough and wild with storm;

And lo! the dead man ceaseless knocks

At window first, and then at door.





THE UNWASHED

A poet from enchanted lyre

Struck notes of mildest melody;

He sang.... but cold and all unmoved,

The mob unconsecrated stood,

And, gaping, listened to his song.

Amongst themselves the mob discussed:

“Why sing with voice so musical?

The ear is tickled, but in vain,

What is the goal he leads us to?

Why this thrumming? What would he teach?

Our hearts why stir, our souls torment,

Like one possessed with unknown tongue?

His song is free as lawless winds,

And, like the winds, can bear no fruit:

What good or profit can it bring?

POET.

Silence! mob of senseless grumblers,

Day-labourers, base slaves of slaves,

I loathe your shallow murmurs vile.

Ye worms of earth, no sons of heaven,

Your God is profit:.... by the pound

You weigh Apollo Belvedere:

The iron pot is dearer held,

Since it serves well to cook your food.

THE UNWASHED.

Nay, if thou be elect of God,

Thy gift, dear messenger divine,

Use kindly for our good and weal;

Correct and guide thy brethren’s hearts.

We are, thou sayst, small-souled in aim,

Wicked, shameless, and ungrateful;

Our hearts are cold and dead to love,

Calumniators, slaves, and fools;

Each vice finds nest within our souls.

But thou art lover of thy kind,

And lessons bold in truth canst give;

And we will listen to thy words.

POET.

Away! Begone! What common tie

Can poet bind to such as you?

Be boldly hard in vice as rock;

Nor song, nor lyre can give you life,

In soul as senseless as the tomb;

For centuries you have well reaped,

And of your follies won the prize,

The whip, the prison, and the axe.

Begone, dull slaves of ease and gain!

Men in your city’s noisy streets

The rubbish sweep.... a useful work!

But think ye that the prophet-priests,

Forgetful of their calling high,

Will quit the altar-sacrifice,

And meekly take in hands your brooms?

To take part in the world’s turmoil,

In sordid gain, in vulgar strife,

We are not born, but have received

The inspired gift of sweetest song.





A WINTER MORNING

The frost and sun; a glorious day!

And thou, my sweetling, still dost sleep:

‘Tis time, my fairest, to awake:

Ope quick thine eyes with slumber dulled,

And gladly hail the Northern Morn,

Shine forth, thyself the Northern Star!

Last night the snow-storm whirled and roared,

The sky was hidden in white mist;

The yellow moon peered feebly through

The thick and gloomy flanks of cloud;

And thou satst dull and ill at ease,

But, darling, now.... look out abroad!

Beneath the richly woven web

Of dark-blue sky of deepest dye

The snow lies glittering in the sun:

The forest dense alone is black,

The firs are green with hoary rime,

And, bound in ice, the river gleams.

And all the room with amber glow

Is lighted up. The blazing fire

Up chimney flames with crackling gay,

‘Tis good to muse in easy-chair:

But knowst thou what?’ Tis better far

To harness quick the chestnut mare.

And o’er the morning s snow our steed,

Full eager, with impatience hot,

Shall, panting, bear us, dearest, quick;

Across the empty fields we’ll scud

Through thickest forests none could pass,

Along the shore so dear to me.





THE NOISY JOYS OF THOUGHTLESS YEARS ARE SPENT

The noisy joys of thoughtless years are spent;

And all, like head confused with drink, is dulled.

But, as with wine, the woe of days gone by

With force more strong than newer woe torments.

A dreary path before me lies. Fresh toils

To drown me in a sea of trouble threat.

And yet, dear friends of youth. I would not die!

I wish to live, that I may muse and toil;

I feel that joy shall mingle with my woe,

Relieve my care, and heal my doubtings sad.

Once more, I’ll drink the cup of harmony,

And drown my thoughts in flood of soothing tears;

And, haply, in the setting hour of life

Love’s farewell smile ‘shall lighten up the dark.





A STUDY

And now, my chubby critic, fat burly cynic,

For ever mocking and deriding my sad muse,

Draw near, and take a seat, I pray, close beside me,

And let us come to terms with this accursèd spleen.

But why that frown? Is it so hard to leave our woes,

A moment to forget ourselves in joyous song?

And now, admire the view! That sorry row of huts;

Behind, a level long descent of blackish earth,

Above, one layer thick of gray, unbroken clouds.

But where the cornfields gay or where the shady woods?

And where the river? In the court there, by the fence,

Shoot up two lean and withered trees to glad the eye;

Just two, no more; and one of them, you will observe,

By autumn rains has long been bared of its last leaf;

The scanty leaves upon the other only wait

I’he first loud breeze, to fall and foul the pond below.

No other sign of life, no dog to watch the yard.

But stay, Ivan I see, and two old women near;

With head unbared, the coffin of his child he bears,

And from afar to drowsy sexton loudly shouts,

And bids him call the priest, and church-door to unlock:

“Look sharp!The brat we should have buried long ago!”





TO THE CALUMNIATORS OF RUSSIA

What mean these angry cries, haranguers of the mob?

And wherefore hurl your curses at poor Russia’s head?

And what has stirred your rage? Our Lietva’s discontent?

Your wrangling cease, and let the Slavs arrange their feud:

It is an old domestic strife, the legacy

Of ages past, a quarrel you can ne’er decide.

Already long among themselves

These tribes have fought and weaved intrigues;

And more than once, as fate has willed,

We, or they, have bent before the storm.

But who shall victor end the feud,

The haughty Pole, or Russian true?

Shall streams Slavonic with Russian sea commingle,

Or leave it dry? That is the question.

Leave us in peace! You have not read

These sacred oracles of blood;

This fierce, domestic quarrel-feud

Seems to you both strange and senseless!

Kremlin, Praga, mean naught to you!

You mock and scorn as childish whim

The combat fierce we wage for life;

And more.... ‘tis nothing new.... you hate us!

But why this hate? Na}r, answer, why?

Is it because, when burning Moscow’s ruins flamed,

We would not own his brutal rule,

Before whose nod you, humbled, crouched?

Because we rose and dashed to ground

The idol that so long had weighed the empires down,

And boldly with our blood redeemed

Lost Europe’s honour, freedom, peace?

Your threats are loud; now, try and prove as loud in deed!

Think ye, the aged hero, sleeping in his bed,

No more has strength to wield the sword of Ismail?

Or that the word of Russian Tsar has weaker grown?

Or have we ne’er with Europe warred,

And lost the victor’s cunning skill?

Or are we few? Erom shores of Perm to southern

Tauris,

From Finnish cliffs of ice to fiery Colchis,

From Kremlin’s battered battlements

As far as China’s circling wall,

Not one shall fail his country’s call!

Then send, assemblies of the West,

Your fiercest troops in full array!

In Russian plains we’ll find them place

To sleep with those who fell before!





GOD GRANT, MY REASON NE’ER BETRAY ME

God grant, my reason ne’er betray me;

Nay, better, fever-waste or want.

Nay, better, toil and starve.

‘Tis not that I my mind or wit

Have e’er prized high, or that with them

I were not glad to part.

If but my freedom were untouched,

With joy and gladness would I make

My home in forest dark.

With raving frenzy I should sing,

Myself forget, and lose my soul

In weird discordant dreams.

Strength uncontrolled would then be mine,

Like wildest storm that sweeps the fields,

And lays the forest bare.

Then I should hearken song of waves,

Be filled with joy, and gaze upon

The empty, vacant sky.

Ay, there’s the rub: to lose my mind,

Be feared, as men do fear the plague,

And close in prison locked:

And when the madman’s chained, in crowds

They’ll come, and through the grating stare,

And tease the surly beast.

And then, at night, compelled to hear,

Instead of nightingale’s high note,

Or forest’s murmur soft,

The frantic shrieks of prison-mates,

Muttered oaths of warders sullen,

And creaking noise of chains.





THE TALISMAN

Where fierce the surge with awful bellow

Doth ever lash the rocky wall;

And where the moon most brightly mellow

Dost beam when mists of evening fall;

Where midst his harem’s countless blisses

The Moslem spends his vital span,

A Sorceress there with gentle kisses

Presented me a Talisman.

And said: until thy latest minute

Preserve, preserve my Talisman;

A secret power it holds within it —

‘Twas love, true love the gift did plan.

From pest on land, or death on ocean,

When hurricanes its surface fan,

O object of my fond devotion!

Thou scap’st not by my Talisman.

The gem in Eastern mine which slumbers,

Or ruddy gold ‘twill not bestow;

‘Twill not subdue the turban’d numbers,

Before the Prophet’s shrine which bow;

Nor high through air on friendly pinions

Can bear thee swift to home and clan,

From mournful climes and strange dominions —

From South to North — my Talisman.

But oh! when crafty eyes thy reason

With sorceries sudden seek to move,

And when in Night’s mysterious season

Lips cling to thine, but not in love —

From proving then, dear youth, a booty

To those who falsely would trepan

From new heart wounds, and lapse from duty,

Protect thee shall my Talisman.





THE MERMAID

Close by a lake, begirt with forest,

To save his soul, a Monk intent,

In fasting, prayer and labours sorest

His days and nights, secluded, spent;

A grave already to receive him

He fashion’d, stooping, with his spade,

And speedy, speedy death to give him,

Was all that of the Saints he pray’d.

As once in summer’s time of beauty,

On bended knee, before his door,

To God he paid his fervent duty,

The woods grew more and more obscure:

Down o’er the lake a fog descended,

And slow the full moon, red as blood,

Midst threat’ning clouds up heaven wended —

Then gazed the Monk upon the flood.

He gaz’d, and, fear his mind surprising,

Himself no more the hermit knows:

He sees with foam the waters rising,

And then subsiding to repose,

And sudden, light as night-ghost wanders,

A female thence her form uprais’d,

Pale as the snow which winter squanders,

And on the bank herself she plac’d.

She gazes on the hermit hoary,

And combs her long hair, tress by tress;

The Monk he quakes, but on the glory

Looks wistful of her loveliness;

Now becks with hand that winsome creature,

And now she noddeth with her head,

Then sudden, like a fallen meteor,

She plunges in her watery bed.

No sleep that night the old man cheereth,

No prayer throughout next day he pray’d

Still, still, against his wish, appeareth

Before him that mysterious maid.

Darkness again the wood investeth,

The moon midst clouds is seen to sail,

And once more on the margin resteth

The maiden beautiful and pale.

With head she bow’d, with look she courted,

And kiss’d her hand repeatedly,

Splashed with the water, gaily sported,

And wept and laugh’d like infancy —

She names the monk, with tones heart-urging

Exclaims “O Monk, come, come to me!”

Then sudden midst the waters merging

All, all is in tranquillity.

On the third night the hermit fated

Beside those shores of sorcery,

Sat and the damsel fair awaited,

And dark the woods began to be —

The beams of morn the night mists scatter,

No Monk is seen then, well a day!

And only, only in the water

The lasses view’d his beard of grey.





ANCIENT RUSSIAN SONG

I.

The windel-straw nor grass so shook and trembled;

As the good and gallant stripling shook and trembled;

A linen shirt so fine his frame invested,

O’er the shirt was drawn a bright pelisse of scarlet

The sleeves of that pelisse depended backward,

The lappets of its front were button’d backward,

And were spotted with the blood of unbelievers;

See the good and gallant stripling reeling goeth,

From his eyeballs hot and briny tears distilling;

On his bended bow his figure he supporteth,

Till his bended bow has lost its goodly gilding;

Not a single soul the stripling good encounter’d,

Till encounter’d he the mother dear who bore him:

O my boy, O my treasure, and my darling!

By what mean hast thou render’d thee so drunken,

To the clay that thou bowest down thy figure,

And the grass and the windel-straws art grasping?

To his Mother thus the gallant youth made answer:

‘Twas not I, O mother dear, who made me drunken,

But the Sultan of the Turks has made me drunken

With three potent, various potations;

The first of them his keenly cutting sabre;

The next of them his never failing jav’lin;

The third of them his pistol’s leaden bullet.

II.

O rustle not, ye verdant oaken branches!

Whilst I tell the gallant stripling’s tale of daring;

When this morn they led the gallant youth to judgment

Before the dread tribunal of the grand Tsar,

Then our Tsar and Gosudar began to question:

Tell me, tell me, little lad, and peasant bantling!

Who assisted thee to ravage and to plunder;

I trow thou hadst full many wicked comrades.

I’ll tell thee, Tsar! our country’s hope and glory,

I’ll tell thee all the truth, without a falsehood:

Thou must know that I had comrades, four in number;

Of my comrades four the first was gloomy midnight;

The second was a steely dudgeon dagger;

The third it was a swift and speedy courser;

The fourth of my companions was a bent bow;

My messengers were furnace-harden’d arrows.

Replied the Tsar, our country’s hope and glory:

Of a truth, thou little lad, and peasant’s bantling!

In thieving thou art skill’d and giving answers;

For thy answers and thy thieving I’ll reward thee

With a house upon the windy plain constructed

Of two pillars high, surmounted by a cross-beam.

III.

O thou field of my delight so fair and verdant!

Thou scene of all my happiness and pleasure!

O how charmingly Nature hath array’d thee

With the soft green grass and juicy clover,

And with corn-flowers blooming and luxuriant.

One thing there is alone, that doth deform thee;

In the midst of thee, O field, so fair and verdant!

A clump of bushes stands — a clump of hazels,

Upon their very top there sits an eagle,

And upon the bushes’ top — upon the hazels,

Compress’d within his claw he holds a raven,

And its hot blood he sprinkles on the dry ground;

And beneath the bushes’ clump — beneath the hazels,

Lies void of life the good and gallant stripling;

All wounded, pierc’d and mangled is his body.

As the little tiny swallow or the chaffinch,

Round their warm and cosey nest are seen to hover,

So hovers there the mother dear who bore him;

And aye she weeps, as flows a river’s water;

His sister weeps as flows a streamlet’s water;

His youthful wife, as falls the dew from heaven —

The Sun, arising, dries the dew of heaven.





Poems Translated by Ivan Panin





POEMS AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL

MON PORTRAIT

Vous me demandez mon portrait,

Mais peint d’après nature:

Mon cher, il sera bientôt fait,

Quoique en miniature.

Je sais un jeune polisson

Encore dans les classes:

Point sot, je le dis sans façon

Et sans fades grimaces.

Onc, il ne fut de babillard,

Ni docteur de Sorbonne

Plus ennuyeux et plus braillard

Que moi-même en personne.

Ma taille à celle des plus longs

Los n’est point égalée;

J’ai le teint frais, les cheveux blonds,

Et la tête bouclée.

J’aime et le monde, et son fracas,

Je hais la solitude;

J’abhorre et noises et débats,

Et tant soit peu l’étude.

Spectacles, bals me plaisent fort,

Et d’après ma pensée

Je dirais ce que j’aime encore,

Si je n’étais au lycée.

Après cela, mon cher ami,

L’on peut me reconnâitre:

Oui! tel que le bon Dieu me fit,

Je veux toujours parâitre.

Vrai demon pour l’espièglerie,

Vrai singe par sa mine,

Beaucoup et trop d’étourderie, —

Ma foi — voilà Poushkine.





MY PEDIGREE

WITH scorning laughter at a fellow writer,

In a chorus the Russian scribes

With name of aristocrat me chide:

Just look, if please you... nonsense what!

Court Coachman not I, nor assessor,

Nor am I nobleman by cross;

No academician, nor professor,

I’m simply of Russia a citizen.

Well I know the times’ corruption,

And, surely, not gainsay it shall I:

Our nobility but recent is:

The more recent it, the more noble ‘t is.

But of humbled races a chip,

And, God be thanked, not alone

Of ancient Lords am scion I;

Citizen I am, a citizen!

Not in cakes my grandsire traded,

Not a prince was newly-baked he;

Nor at church sang he in choir,

Nor polished he the boots of Tsar;

Was not escaped a soldier he

From the German powdered ranks;

How then aristocrat am I to be?

God be thanked, I am but a citizen.

My grandsire Radsha in warlike service

To Alexander Nefsky was attached.

The Crowned Wrathful, Fourth Ivan,

His descendants in his ire had spared.

About the Tsars the Pushkins moved;

And more than one acquired renown,

When against the Poles battling was

Of Nizhny Novgorod the citizen plain.

When treason conquered was and falsehood,

And the rage of storm of war,

When the Romanoffs upon the throne

The nation called by its Chart —

We upon it laid our hands;

The martyr’s son then favored us;

Time was, our race was prized,

But I... am but a citizen obscure.

Our stubborn spirit us tricks has played;

Most irrepressible of his race,

With Peter my sire could not get on;

And for this was hung by him.

Let his example a lesson be:

Not contradiction loves a ruler,

Not all can be Prince Dolgorukys,

Happy only is the simple citizen.

My grandfather, when the rebels rose

In the palace of Peterhof,

Like Munich, faithful he remained

To the fallen Peter Third;

To honor came then the Orloffs,

But my sire into fortress, prison —

Quiet now was our stem race,

And I was born merely — citizen.

Beneath my crested seal

The roll of family charts I’ve kept;

Not running after magnates new,

My pride of blood I have subdued;

I’m but an unknown singer

Simply Pushkin, not Moussin,

My strength is mine, not from court:

I am a writer, a citizen.

1830.





MY MONUMENT

A MONUMENT not hand-made I have for me erected;

The path to it well-trodden will not overgrow;

Risen higher has it with unbending head

Than the monument of Alexander.

No! not all of me shall die! my soul in hallowed lyre

Shall my dust survive, and escape destruction —

And famous be I shall, as long as on earth sublunar

One bard at least living shall remain.

My name will travel over the whole of Russia great,

And there pronounce my name shall every living tongue:

The Slav’s proud scion, and the Finn, and the savage yet

Tungus, and the Calmuck, lover of the steppe.

And long to the nation I shall be dear:

For rousing with my lyre its noble feelings,

For extolling freedom in a cruel age,

For calling mercy upon the fallen.

The bidding of God, O Muse, obey.

Fear not insult, ask not crown:

Praise and blame take with indifference

And dispute not with the fool!

August, 1836.





MY MUSE

IN the days of my youth she was fond of me,

And the seven-stemmed flute she handed me.

To me with smile she listened; and already gently

Along the openings echoing of the woods

Was playing I with fingers tender:

Both hymns solemn, god-inspired

And peaceful song of Phrygian shepherd.

From morn till night in oak’s dumb shadow

To the strange maid’s teaching intent I listened;

And with sparing reward me gladdening

Tossing back her curls from her forehead dear,

From my hands the flute herself she took.

Now filled the wood was with breath divine

And the heart with holy enchantment filled.

1823.





POEMS OF LOVE

THE STORM-MAID

HAST thou seen on the rock the maid,

In robe of white above the waves,

When seething in the storm dark

Played the sea with its shores, —

When the glare of lightning hourly

With rosy glimmer her lighted up,

And the wind beating and flapping

Struggled with her flying robe?

Beautiful’s the sea in the storm dark,

Glorious is the sky even without its blue;

But trust me: on the rock the maid

Excels both wave, and sky, and storm.

1825.





THE BARD

HAVE ye beard in the woods the nightly voice

Of the bard of love, of the bard of his grief?

When the fields in the morning hour were still,

The flute’s sad sound and simple

Have ye heard?

Have ye met in the desert darkness of the forest

The bard of love, the bard of his grief?

Was it a track of tears, was it a smile,

Or a quiet glance filled with melancholy,

Have ye met?’

Have ye sighed, listening to the calm voice

Of the bard of love, of the bard of grief?

When in the woods the youth ye saw

And met the glance of his dulled eyes,

Have ye sighed?

1816.





SPANISH LOVE-SONG

EVENING Zephyr

Waves the ether.

Murmurs,

Rushes

The Guadalquivir.

Now the golden moon has risen,

Quiet,... Tshoo... guitar’s now heard....

Now the Spanish girl young

O’er the balcony has leaned.

Evening Zephyr

Waves the ether.

Murmurs,

Rushes

The Guadalquivir.

Drop thy mantle, angel gentle,

And appear as fair as day!

Thro’ the iron balustrade

Put thy wondrous tender foot!

Evening Zephyr

Waves the ether.

Murmurs,

Rushes

The Guadalquivir.

1824.





LOVE

BITTERLY groaning, jealous maid the youth was scolding;

He, on her shoulder leaning, suddenly was in slumber lost.

Silent forthwith is the maid; his light sleep now fondles she

Now she smiles upon him, and is shedding gentle tears.

1835





JEALOUSY

DAMP day’s light is quenched: damp night’s darkness

Stretches over the sky its leaden garment.

Like a ghost, from behind the pine wood

Foggy moon has risen....

— All brings upon my soul darkness grievous.

Far, far away rises the shining moon,

There the earth is filled with evening warmth

There the sea moveth with luxuriant wave

Under the heavens blue....

Now is the time. On the hillside now she walks

To the shore washed by noisy waves.

There, under the billowed cliffs

Alone she sits now melancholy....

Alone... none before her weeping, grieves not,

Her knees none kisses in ecstasy.

Alone... to lips of none she is yielding

Her shoulders, nor moist lips, nor snow-white fingers.

None is worthy of her heavenly love.

Is it not so? Thou art alone.... Thou weepest....

And I at peace? —

But if —

1823.





IN AN ALBUM

THE name of me, what is it to thee

Die it shall like the grievous sound

Of wave, playing on distant shore,

As sound of night in forest dark.

Upon the sheet of memory

Its traces dead leave it shall

Inscriptions-like of grave-yard

In some foreign tongue.

What is in it? Long ago forgotten

In tumultuous waves and fresh

To thy soul not give it shall

Pure memories and tender.

But on sad days, in calmness

Do pronounce it sadly;

Say then: I do remember thee —

1829.





THE AWAKING

On earth one heart is where yet I live!

YE dreams, ye dreams,

Where is your sweetness?

Where thou, where thou

O — joy of night?

Disappeared has it,

The joyous dream;

And solitary

In darkness deep

I awaken.

Round my bed

Is silent night.

At once are cooled,

At once are fled,

All in a crowd

The dreams of Love —

Still with longing

The soul is filled

And grasps of sleep

The memory.

O — Love, O Love,

O — hear my prayer:

Again send me

Those visions thine,

And on the morrow

Raptured anew

Let me die

Without awaking!

1816.





ELEGY: HAPPY WHO TO HIMSELF CONFESS

HAPPY who to himself confess

His passion dares without terror;

Happy who in fate uncertain

By modest hope is fondled;

Happy who by foggy moonbeams

Is led to midnight joyful

And with faithful key who gently

The door unlocks of his beloved.

But for me in sad my life

No joy there is of secret pleasure;

Hope’s early flower faded is,

By struggle withered is life’s flower.

Youth away flies melancholy,

And droop with me life’s roses;

But by Love tho’ long forgot,

Forget Love’s tears I cannot.





FIRST LOVE

NOT at once our youth is faded,

Not at once our joys forsake us,

And happiness we unexpected

Yet embrace shall more than once;

But ye, impressions never-dying

Of newly trepidating Love,

And thou, first flame of Intoxication,

Not flying back are coming ye!





ELEGY: HUSHED I SOON SHALL BE

HUSHED I soon shall be. But if on sorrow’s day

My songs to me with pensive play replied;

But if the youths to me, in silence listening

At my love’s long torture were marvelling;

But if thou thyself, to tenderness yielding

Repeated in quiet my melancholy verses

And didst love my heart’s passionate language;

But if I am loved: — grant then, O dearest friend,

That my beautiful beloved’s coveted name

Breathe life into my lyre’s farewell.

When for aye embraced I am by sleep of Death,

Over my urn do with tenderness pronounce:

“By me he loved was, to me he owed

Of his love and song his last inspiration.”





THE BURNT LETTER

GOOD-BYE, love-letter, good-bye! ‘T is her command....

How long I waited, how long my hand

To the fire my joys to yield was loath!...

But eno’, the hour has come: bum, letter of my love!

I am ready: listens more my soul to nought.

Now the greedy flame thy sheets shall lick...

A minute!... they crackle, they blaze... a light smoke

Curls and is lost with prayer mine.

Now the finger’s faithful imprint losing

Bums the melted wax.... O Heavens!

Done it is! curled in are the dark sheets;

Upon their ashes light the lines adored

Are gleaming.... My breast is heavy. Ashes dear,

In my sorrowful lot but poor consolation,

Remain for aye with me on my weary breast....

1825.





SING NOT, BEAUTY

SING not, Beauty, in my presence,

Of Transcaucasia sad the songs,

Of distant shore, another life,

The memory to me they bring.

Alas, alas, remind they do,

These cruel strains of thine,

Of steppes, and night, and of the moon

And of distant, poor maid’s features.

The vision loved, tender, fated,

Forget can I, when thee I see

But when thou singest, then before me

Up again it rises.

Sing not, Beauty, in my presence

Of Transcaucasia sad the songs,

Of distant shore, another life

The memory to me they bring.





SIGNS

To thee I rode: living dreams then

Behind me winding in playful crowd;

My sportive trot my shoulder over

The moon upon my right was chasing.

From thee I rode: other dreams now.

My loving soul now sad was,

And the moon at left my side

Companion mine now sad was.

To dreaming thus in quiet ever

Singers we are given over;

Marks thus of superstition

Soul’s feeling with are in accord!





A PRESENTIMENT

THE clouds again are o’er me,

Have gathered in the stillness;

Again me with misfortune

Envious fate now threatens.

Will I keep my defiance?

Will I bring against her

The firmness and patience

Of my youthful pride?

Wearied by a stormy life

I await the storm fretless

Perhaps once more safe again

A harbor shall I find....

But I feel the parting nigh,

Unavoidable, fearful hour,

To press thy hand for the last time,

I haste to thee, my angel.

Angel gentle, angel calm,

Gently tell me: fare thee well.

Be thou grieved: thy tender gaze

Either drop or to me raise.

The memory of thee now shall

To my soul replace

The strength, the pride and the hope,

The daring of my former days!

1828.





IN VAIN, DEAR FRIEND

IN vain, dear friend, to conceal I tried

The turmoil cold of my grieving soul;

Now me thou knowest; goes by the intoxication.

And no longer thee I love....

Vanished for aye the bewitching hours,

The beautiful time has passed,

Youthful desires extinguished are

And lifeless hope is in my heart....





LOVE’S DEBT

FOR the shores of thy distant home

Thou hast forsaken the foreign land;

In a memorable, sad hour

I — before thee cried long.

Tho’ cold my hands were growing

Thee back to hold they tried;

And begged of thee my parting groan

The gnawing weariness not to break.

But from my bitter kisses thou

Thy lips away hast torn;

From the land of exile dreary

Calling me to another land.

Thou saidst: on the day of meeting

Beneath a sky forever blue

Olives’ shade beneath, love’s kisses

Again, my friend, we shall unite.

But where, alas! the vaults of sky

Shining are with glimmer blue,

Where ‘neath the rocks the waters slumber —

With last sleep art sleeping thou.

And beauty thine and sufferings

In the urnal grave have disappeared —

But the kiss of meeting is also gone....

But still I wait: thou art my debtor!....





INVOCATION

OH, if true it is that by night

When resting are the living

And from the sky the rays of moon

Along the stones of church-yard glide;

O, if true it is that emptied then

Are the quiet graves,

I — call thy shade, I wait my Lila

Come hither, come hither, my friend, to me!

Appear, O shade of my beloved

As thou before our parting wert:

Pale, cold, like a wintry day

Disfigured by thy struggle of death,

Come like unto a distant star,

Or like a fearful apparition,

‘T is all the same: Come hither, come hither

And I call thee, not in order

To reproach him whose wickedness

My friend hath slain.

Nor to fathom the grave’s mysteries,

Nor because at times I’m worn

With gnawing doubt... but I sadly

Wish to say that still I love thee,

That wholly thine I am: hither come, O hither!

1828.





ELEGY: THE EXTINGUISHED JOY OF CRAZY YEARS

THE extinguished joy of crazy years

On me rests heavy, like dull debauch.

But of by-gone days the grief, like wine

In my soul the older, the stronger ‘t grows.

Dark my path. Toil and pain promised are me

By the Future’s roughened sea.

But not Death, O friends, I wish!

But Life I wish: to think and suffer;

Well I know, for me are joys in store

‘Mid struggles, toils, and sorrows:

Yet’ gain at times shall harmony drink in

And tears I’ll shed over Fancy’s fruit, —

Yet mayhap at my saddened sunset

Love will beam with farewell and smile.

1830.





SORROW

ASK not why with sad reflection

‘Mid gayety I oft am darkened,

Why ever cheerless eyes I raise,

Why sweet life’s dream not dear to me is;

Ask not why with frigid soul

I — joyous love no longer crave,

And longer none I call dear:

Who once has loved, not again can love;

Who bliss has known, ne’er again shall know;

For one brief moment to us ‘t is given:

Of youth, of joy, of tenderness

Is left alone the sadness.

1817.





DESPAIR

DEAR my friend, we are now parted,

My soul’s asleep; I grieve in silence.

Gleams the day behind the mountain blue,

Or rises the night with moon autumnal, —

Still thee I seek, my far off friend,

Thee alone remember I everywhere,

Thee alone in restless sleep I see.

Pauses my mind, unwittingly thee I call;

Listens mine ear, then thy voice I hear.

And thou my lyre, my despair dost share,

Of sick my soul companion thou!

Hollow is and sad the sound of thy string,

Grief’s sound alone hast not forgot....

Faithful lyre, with me grieve thou!

Let thine easy note and careless

Sing of love mine and despair,

And while listening to thy singing

May thoughtfully the maidens sigh!

1816





A WISH

SLOWLY my days are dragging

And in my faded heart each moment doubles

All the sorrows of hopeless love

And heavy craze upsets me.

But I am silent. Heard not is my murmur.

Tears I shed... they are my consolation;

My soul in sorrow steeped

Finds enjoyment bitter in them.

O — flee, life’s dream, thee not regret I!

In darkness vanish, empty vision I

Dear to me is of love my pain,

Let me die, but let me die still loving!

1816.





RESIGNED LOVE

THEE I loved; not yet love perhaps is

In my heart entirely quenched

But trouble let it thee no more;

Thee to grieve with nought I wish.

Silent, hopeless thee I loved,

By fear tormented, now by jealousy;

So sincere my love, so tender,

May God the like thee grant from another.





LOVE AND FREEDOM

CHILD of Nature and simple,

Thus to sing was wont I

Sweet the dream of freedom —

With tenderness my breast it filled.

But thee I see, thee I hear —

And now? Weak become I.

With freedom lost forever

With all my heart I bondage prize.





NOT AT ALL

I THOUGHT forgotten has the heart

Of suffering the easy art;

Not again can be, said I

Not again what once has been.

Of Love the sorrows gone were,

Now calm were my airy dreams....

But behold! again they tremble

Beauty’s mighty power before!...





INSPIRING LOVE

THE moment wondrous I remember

Thou before me didst appear

Like a flashing apparition,

Like a spirit of beauty pure.

‘Mid sorrows of hopeless grief,

‘Mid tumults of noiseful bustle,

Rang long to me thy tender voice,

Came dreams to me of thy lovely features.

Went by the years. The storm’s rebellious rush

The former dreams had scattered

And I forgot thy tender voicè,

I — forgot thy heavenly features.

In the desert, in prison’s darkness,

Quietly my days were dragging;

No reverence, nor inspiration,

Nor tears, nor life, nor love.

But at last awakes my soul:

And again didst thou appear:

Like a flashing apparition,

Like a spirit of beauty pure.

And enraptured beats my heart,

And risen are for it again

Both reverence, and inspiration

And life, and tears, and love.

1825.





THE GRACES

Till now no faith I had in Graces:

Seemed strange to me their triple sight;

Thee I see, and with faith am filled

Adoring now in one the three!





POEMS MISCELLANEOUS

THE BIRDLET

IN exile I sacredly observe

The custom of my fatherland:

I freedom to a birdlet give

On Spring’s holiday serene.

And now I too have consolation:

Wherefore murmur against my God

When at least to one living being

I could of freedom make a gift?

1823.





THE NIGHTINGALE

IN silent gardens, in the spring, in the darkness of the night

Sings above the rose from the east the nightingale;

But dear rose neither feeling has, nor listens it,

But under its lover’s hymn waveth it and slumbers.

Dost thou not sing thus to beauty cold?

Reflect, O bard, whither art thou striding?

She neither listens, nor the bard she feels.

Thou gazest? Bloom she does; thou callest? —

Answer none she gives!

1827.





THE FLOWERET

A FLOWERET, withered, odorless

In a book forgot I find;

And already strange reflection

Cometh into my mind.

Bloomed, where? when? In what spring?

And how long ago? And plucked by whom?

Was it by a strange hand? Was it by a dear hand?

And wherefore left thus here?

Was it in memory of a tender meeting?

Was it in memory of a fated parting?

Was it in memory of a lonely walk?

In the peaceful fields or in the shady woods?

Lives he still? Lives she still?

And where their nook this very day?

Or are they too withered

Like unto this unknown floweret?

1828.





THE HORSE

Why dost thou neigh, O spirited steed,

Why thy neck so low,

Why thy mane unshaken

Why thy bit not gnawed?

Do I then not fondle thee?

Thy grain to eat art thou not free?

Is not thy harness ornamented,

Is not thy rein of silk,

Is not thy shoe of silver,

Thy stirrup not of gold?

The steed in sorrow answer gives:

Hence am I quiet

Because the distant tramp I hear,

The trumpet’s blow and the arrow’s whizz

And hence I neigh, since in the field

No longer feed I shall,

Nor in beauty live and fondling,

Neither shine with harness bright.

For soon the stem enemy

My harness whole shall take

And the shoes of silver

Tear he shall from feet mine light.

Hence it is that grieves my spirit:

That in place of my chaprak

With thy skin shall cover he

My perspiring sides.

1833





TO A BABE

CHILD, I dare not over thee

Pronounce a blessing;

Thou art of consolation a quiet angel

May then happy be thy lot...





THE POET

ERE the poet summoned is

To Apollo’s holy sacrifice

In the world’s empty cares

Engrossed is half-hearted he.

His holy lyre silent is

And cold sleep his soul locks in;

And of the world’s puny children,

Of all puniest perhaps is he.

Yet no sooner the heavenly word

His keen ear hath reached,

Than up trembles the singer’s soul

Like unto an awakened eagle.

The world’s pastimes him now weary

And mortals’ gossip now he shuns

To the feet of popular idol

His lofty head bends not he.

Wild and stem, rushes he,

Of tumult full and sound,

To the shores of desert wave,

Into the widely-whispering wood.

1827





SONNET: POET, NOT POPULAR APPLAUSE SHALT THOU PRIZE!

POET, not popular applause shalt thou prize!

Of raptured praise shall pass the momentary noise;

The fool’s judgment hear thou shalt, and the cold mob’s laughter —

Calm stand, and firm be, and — sober!

Thou art king: live alone. On the free road

Walk, whither draws thee thy spirit free:

Ever the fruits of beloved thoughts ripening,

Never reward for noble deeds demanding.

In thyself reward seek. Thine own highest court thou art;

Severest judge, thine own works canst measure.

Art thou content, O fastidious craftsman?

Content? Then let the mob scold,

And spit upon the altar, where blazes thy fire.

Thy tripod in childlike playfulness let it shake.





THE THREE SPRINGS

IN the world’s desert, sombre and shoreless

Mysteriously three springs have broken thro’:

Of youth the spring, a boisterous spring and rapid;

It boils, it runs, it sparkles, and it murmurs.

The Castalian Spring, with wave of inspiration

In the world’s deserts its exiles waters;

The last spring — the cold spring of forgetfulness,

Of all sweetest, quench it does the heart’s fire.

1827.





THE TASK

THE longed-for moment here is. Ended is my long-yeared task.

Why then sadness strange me troubles secretly?

My task done, like needless hireling am I to stand,

My wage in hand, to other task a stranger?

Or my task regret I, of night companion silent mine,

Gold Aurora’s friend, the friend of my sacred household gods?

1830.





SLEEPLESSNESS

I CANNOT sleep, I have no light;

Darkness ‘bout me, and sleep is slow;

The beat monotonous alone

Near me of the clock is heard.

Of the Fates the womanish babble,

Of sleeping night the trembling,

Of life the mice-like running-about, —

Why disturbing me art thou?

What art thou, O tedious whisper?

The reproaches, or the murmur

Of the day by me misspent?

What from me wilt thou have?

Art thou calling or prophesying?

Thee I wish to understand,

Thy tongue obscure I study now.

1830.





QUESTIONINGS

USELESS gift, accidental gift,

Life, why given art thou me?

Or, why by fate mysterious

To torture art thou doomed?

Who with hostile power me

Out has called from the nought?

Who my soul with passion thrilled,

Who my spirit with doubt has filled?...

Goal before me there is none,

My heart is hollow, vain my mind

And with sadness wearies me

Noisy life’s monotony.

1828.





CONSOLATION

LIFE, — does it disappoint thee?

Grieve not, nor be angry thou!

In days of sorrow gentle be:

Come shall, believe, the joyful day.

In the future lives the heart:

Is the present sad indeed?

‘T is but a moment, all will pass;

Once in the past, it shall be dear.

1825.





FRIENDSHIP

THUS it ever was and ever will be,

Such of old is the world wide:

The learned are many, the sages few,

Acquaintance many, but not a friend!





FAME

BLESSED who to himself has kept

His creation highest of the soul,

And from his fellows as from the graves

Expected not appreciation!

Blessed he who in silence sang

And the crown of fame not wearing,

By mob despised and forgotten,

Forsaken nameless has the world!

Deceiver greater than dreams of hope,

What is fame? The adorer’s whisper?

Or the boor’s persecution?

Or the rapture of the fool?

AT the gates of Eden a tender angel

With drooping head was shining;

A demon gloomy and rebellious

Over hell’s abyss was flying.

The Spirit of Denial, the Spirit of Doubt

The Spirit of Purity espied;

And a tender warmth unwittingly

Now first to know it learned he.

Adieu, he spake, thee I saw:

Not in vain hast thou shone before me;

Not all in the world have I hated,

Not all in the world have I scorned.

1827.





HOME-SICKNESS

MAYHAP not long am destined I

In exile peaceful to remain,

Of dear days of yore to sigh,

And rustic muse in quiet

With spirit calm to follow.

But even far, in foreign land,

In thought forever roam I shall

Around Trimountain mine:

By meadows, river, by its hills,

By garden, linden nigh the house.

Thus when darkens day the clear,

Alone from depths of grave,

Spirit home-longing

Into the native hall flies

To espy the loved ones with tender glance.

1825.





INSANITY

GOD grant I grow not insane:

No, better the stick and beggar’s bag;

No, better toil and hunger bear.

Not that I upon my reason

Such value place; not that I

Would fain not lose it.

If freedom to me they would leave

How I would lasciviously

For the gloomy forest rush!

In hot delirium I would sing

And unconscious would remain

With ravings wondrous and chaotic.

And listen would I to the waves

And gaze I would full of bliss

Into the empty heavens.

And free and strong then would I be

Like a storm the fields updigging,

Forest-trees uprooting.

But here’s the trouble: if crazy once,

A fright thou art like pestilence,

And locked up now shalt thou be.

To a chain thee, fool, they’ll fasten

And through the gate, a circus beast,

Thee to nettle the people come.

And at night not hear shall I

Clear the voice of nightingale

Nor the forest’s hollow sound,

But cries alone of companions mine

And the scolding guards of night

And a whizzing, of chains a ringing.

1833





DEATH-THOUGHTS

WHETHER I roam along the noisy streets

Whether I enter the peopled temple,

Whether I sit by thoughtless youth,

Haunt my thoughts me everywhere.

I — say, Swiftly go the years by:

However great our number now,

Must all descend the eternal vaults, —

Already struck has some one’s hour.

And if I gaze upon the lonely oak

I — think: the patriarch of the woods

Will survive my passing age

As he survived my father’s age.

And if a tender babe I fondle

Already I mutter, Fare thee well!

I — yield my place to thee. For me

‘T is time to decay, to bloom for thee

Every year thus, every day

With death my thought I join

Of coming death the day

I seek among them to divine.

Where will Fortune send me death?

In battle? In wanderings, or on the waves?

Or shall the valley neighboring

Receive my chilled dust?

But tho’ the unfeeling body

Can everywhere alike decay,

Still I, my birthland nigh

Would have my body lie.

Let near the entrance to my grave

Cheerful youth be in play engaged,

And let indifferent creation

With beauty shine there eternally.

1829.





RIGHTS

NOT dear I prize high-sounding rights

By which is turned more head than one;

Not murmur I that not granted the Gods to me

The blessed lot of discussing fates,

Of hindering kings from fighting one another;

And little care I whether free the press is.

All this you see are words, words, words

Other, better rights, dear to me are;

Other, better freedom is my need....

To depend on rulers, or the mob —

Is not all the same it? God be with them!

To give account to none; to thyself alone

To serve and please; for power, for a livery

Nor soul, nor mind, nor neck to bend:

Now here, now there to roam in freedom

Nature’s beauties divine admiring,

And before creations of art and inspiration

Melt silently in tender ecstasy —

This is bliss, these are rights!...





THE GYPSIES

OVER the wooded banks,

In the hour of evening quiet,

Under the tents are song and bustle

And the fires are scattered.

Thee I greet, O happy race!

I recognize thy blazes,

I — myself at other times

These tents would have followed.

With the early rays to-morrow

Shall disappear your freedom’s trace,

Go you will — but not with you

Longer go shall the bard of you.

He alas, the changing lodgings,

And the pranks of days of yore

Has forgot for rural comforts

And for the quiet of a home.





THE DELIBASH

CROSS-FIRING behind the hills:

Both camps watch, theirs and ours;

In front of Cossaks on the hill

Dashes ‘long brave Delibash

O Delibash, not to the line come nigh,

Do have mercy on thy life;

Quick ‘t is over with thy frolic bold,

Pierced thou by the spear shalt be

Hey, Cossak, not to battle rush

The Delibash is swift as wind;

Cut he will with crooked sabre

From thy shoulders thy fearless head.

They rush with yell: are hand to hand;

And behold now what each befalls:

Already speared the Delibash is

Already headless the Cossak is!





HYMN TO FORCE

I am eternal!

I throb through the ages;

I am the Master

Of each of Life’s stages.

I quicken the blood

Of the mate-craving lover;

The age-frozen heart

With daisies I cover.

Down through the ether

I hurl constellations;

Up from their earth-bed

I wake the carnations.

I laugh in the flame

As I kindle and fan it;

I crawl in the worm;

I leap in the planet.

Forth from its cradle

I pilot the river;

In lightning and earthquake

I flash and I quiver.

My breath is the wind;

My bosom the ocean;

My form’s undefined;

My essence is motion.

The braggarts of science

Would weigh and divide me;

Their wisdom evading,

I vanish and hide me.

My glances are rays

From stars emanating;

My voice through the spheres

Is sound, undulating.

I am the monarch

Uniting all matter:

The atoms I gather;

The atoms I scatter.

I pulse with the tides —

Now hither, now thither;

I grant the tree sap;

I bid the bud wither.

I always am present,

Yet nothing can bind me;

Like thought evanescent,

They lose me who find me.





THE BLACK SHAWL

I gaze demented on the black shawl,

And my cold soul is torn by grief.

When young I was and full of trust

I passionately loved a young Greek girl.

The charming maid, she fondled me,

But soon I lived the black day to see.

Once as were gathered my jolly guests,

A detested Jew knocked at my door.

Thou art feasting, he whispered, with friends,

But betrayed thou art by thy Greek maid.

Moneys I gave him and curses,

And called my servant, the faithful.

We went; I flew on the wings of my steed,

And tender mercy was silent in me.

Her threshold no sooner I espied,

Dark grew my eyes, and my strength departed.

The distant chamber I enter alone —

An Armenian embraces my faithless maid.

Darkness around me: flashed the dagger;

To interrupt his kiss the wretch had no time.

And long I trampled the headless corpse, —

And silent and pale at the maid I stared.

I remember her prayers, her flowing blood,

But perished the girl, and with her my love.

The shawl I took from the head now dead,

And wiped in silence the bleeding steel.

When came the darkness of eve, my serf

Threw their bodies into the billows of the Danube.

Since then I kiss no charming eyes,

Since then I know no cheerful days.

I gaze demented on the black shawl,

And my cold soul is torn by grief.





THE OUTCAST

On a rainy autumn evening

Into desert places went a maid;

And the secret fruit of unhappy love

In her trembling hands she held.

All was still: the woods and the hills

Asleep in the darkness of the night;

And her searching glances

In terror about she cast.

And on this babe, the innocent,

Her glance she paused with a sigh:

“Asleep thou art, my child, my grief,

Thou knowest not my sadness.

Thine eyes will ope, and though with longing,

To my breast shalt no more cling.

No kiss for thee to-morrow

From thine unhappy mother.

Beckon in vain for her thou wilt,

My everlasting shame, my guilt!

Me forget thou shalt for aye,

But thee forget shall not I;

Shelter thou shalt receive from strangers;

Who’ll say: Thou art none of ours!

Thou wilt ask: Where are my parents?

But for thee no kin is found.

Hapless one! with heart filled with sorrow,

Lonely amid thy mates,

Thy spirit sullen to the end

Thou shalt behold the fondling mothers.

A lonely wanderer everywhere,

Cursing thy fate at all times,

Thou the bitter reproach shalt hear …

Forgive me, oh, forgive me then!

Asleep! let me then, O hapless one,

To my bosom press thee once for all;

A law unjust and terrible

Thee and me to sorrow dooms.

While the years have not yet chased

The guiltless joy of thy days,

Sleep, my darling; let no bitter griefs

Mar thy childhood’s quiet life!”

But lo, behind the woods, near by,

The moon brings a hut to light.

Forlorn, pale, trembling

To the doors she came nigh;

She stooped, and gently laid down

The babe on the strange threshold.

In terror away she turned her eyes

And disappeared in the darkness of the night.





THE CLOUD

O last cloud of the scattered storm,

Alone thou sailest along the azure clear;

Alone thou bringest the darkness of shadow;

Alone thou marrest the joy of the day.

Thou but recently hadst encircled the sky,

When sternly the lightning was winding about thee.

Thou gavest forth mysterious thunder,

Thou hast watered with rain the parched earth.

Enough; hie thyself. Thy time hath passed.

The earth is refreshed, and the storm hath fled,

And the breeze, fondling the leaves of the trees,

Forth chases thee from the quieted heavens.





THE ANGEL

At the gates of Eden a tender Angel

With drooping head was shining;

A demon gloomy and rebellious

Over the abyss of hell was flying.

The spirit of Denial, the spirit of Doubt,

The spirit of purity espied;

And unwittingly the warmth of tenderness

He for the first time learned to know.

Adieu, he spake. Thee I saw;

Not in vain hast thou shone before me.

Not all in the world have I hated,

Not all in the world have I scorned.





THE PROPHET

Tormented by the thirst for the Spirit,

I was dragging myself in a sombre desert,

And a six-winged seraph appeared

Unto me on the parting of the roads;

With fingers as light as a dream

He touched mine eyes;

And mine eyes opened wise,

Like unto the eyes of a frightened eagle.

He touched mine ears,

And they filled with din and ringing.

And I heard the trembling of the heavens,

And the flight of the angels’ wings,

And the creeping of the polyps in the sea,

And the growth of the vine in the valley.

And he took hold of my lips,

And out he tore my sinful tongue,

With its empty and false speech.

And the fang of the wise serpent

Between my terrified lips he placed

With bloody hand.

And ope he cut my breast with a sword,

And out he took my trembling heart,

And a coal blazing with flame

He shoved into the open breast.

Like a corpse I lay in the desert;

And the voice of the Lord called unto me:

“Arise! O prophet and guide, and listen, —

Be thou filled with my will,

And going over land and sea,

Burn with the Word the hearts of men!”





THE FOUNTAIN OF BAKHCHISARAY



Translated by William D. Lewis

Published in 1824, this narrative poem was written in the spring of 1821, after Pushkin had visited The Fountain of Tears at the Khan Palace in Bakhchisaray. The poem has since inspired several musical compositions, including Boris Asafyev’s 1934 ballet and Alexander Ilyinsky’s 1911 opera of the same name.





The title page of the poem’s first edition





CONTENTS

THE FOUNTAIN OF BAKHCHISARAI

TARTAR SONG.





‘Pushkin in Bakhchisaray Palace’ by Grigory Chernetsov





THE FOUNTAIN OF BAKHCHISARAI

A Tale of the Tauride

Mute sat Giray, with downcast eye,

As though some spell in sorrow bound him,

His slavish courtiers thronging nigh,

In sad expectance stood around him.

The lips of all had silence sealed,

Whilst, bent on him, each look observant,

Saw grief’s deep trace and passion fervent

Upon his gloomy brow revealed.

But the proud Khan his dark eye raising,

And on the courtiers fiercely gazing,

Gave signal to them to begone!

The chief, unwitnessed and alone,

Now yields him to his bosom’s smart,

Deeper upon his brow severe

Is traced the anguish of his heart;

As full fraught clouds on mirrors clear

Reflected terrible appear!

What fills that haughty soul with pain?

What thoughts such madd’ning tumults cause?

With Russia plots he war again?

Would he to Poland dictate laws?

Say, is the sword of vengeance glancing?

Does bold revolt claim nature’s right?

Do realms oppressed alarm excite?

Or sabres of fierce foes advancing?

Ah no! no more his proud steed prancing

Beneath him guides the Khan to war,--

Such thoughts his mind has banished far.

Has treason scaled the harem’s wall,

Whose height might treason’s self appal,

And slavery’s daughter fled his power,

To yield her to the daring Giaour?

No! pining in his harem sadly,

No wife of his would act so madly;

To wish or think they scarcely dare;

By wretches, cold and heartless, guarded,

Hope from each breast so long discarded;

Treason could never enter there.

Their beauties unto none revealed,

They bloom within the harem’s towers,

As in a hot-house bloom the flowers

Which erst perfumed Arabia’s field.

To them the days in sameness dreary,

And months and years pass slow away,

In solitude, of life grown weary,

Well pleased they see their charms decay.

Each day, alas! the past resembling,

Time loiters through their halls and bowers;

In idleness, and fear, and trembling,

The captives pass their joyless hours.

The youngest seek, indeed, reprieve

Their hearts in striving to deceive

Into oblivion of distress,

By vain amusements, gorgeous dress,

Or by the noise of living streams,

In soft translucency meand’ring,

To lose their thoughts in fancy’s dreams,

Through shady groves together wand’ring.

But the vile eunuch too is there,

In his base duty ever zealous,

Escape is hopeless to the fair

From ear so keen and eye so jealous.

He ruled the harem, order reigned

Eternal there; the trusted treasure

He watched with loyalty unfeigned,

His only law his chieftain’s pleasure,

Which as the Koran he maintained.

His soul love’s gentle flame derides,

And like a statue he abides

Hatred, contempt, reproaches, jests,

Nor prayers relax his temper rigid,

Nor timid sighs from tender breasts,

To all alike the wretch is frigid.

He knows how woman’s sighs can melt,

Freeman and bondman he had felt

Her art in days when he was younger;

Her silent tear, her suppliant look,

Which once his heart confiding shook,

Now move not,--he believes no longer!

When, to relieve the noontide heat,

The captives go their limbs to lave,

And in sequestered, cool retreat

Yield all their beauties to the wave,

No stranger eye their charms may greet,

But their strict guard is ever nigh,

Viewing with unimpassioned eye

These beauteous daughters of delight;

He constant, even in gloom of night,

Through the still harem cautious stealing,

Silent, o’er carpet-covered floors,

And gliding through half-opened doors,

From couch to couch his pathway feeling,

With envious and unwearied care

Watching the unsuspecting fair;

And whilst in sleep unguarded lying,

Their slightest movement, breathing, sighing,

He catches with devouring ear.

O! curst that moment inauspicious

Should some loved name in dreams be sighed,

Or youth her unpermitted wishes

To friendship venture to confide.

What pang is Giray’s bosom tearing?

Extinguished is his loved chubouk,

Whilst or to move or breathe scarce daring,

The eunuch watches every look;

Quick as the chief, approaching near him,

Beckons, the door is open thrown,

And Giray wanders through his harem

Where joy to him no more is known.

Near to a fountain’s lucid waters

Captivity’s unhappy daughters

The Khan await, in fair array,

Around on silken carpets crowded,

Viewing, beneath a heaven unclouded,

With childish joy the fishes play

And o’er the marble cleave their way,

Whose golden scales are brightly glancing,

And on the mimic billows dancing.

Now female slaves in rich attire

Serve sherbet to the beauteous fair,

Whilst plaintive strains from viewless choir

Float sudden on the ambient air.

TARTAR SONG.

I.

Heaven visits man with days of sadness,

Embitters oft his nights with tears;

Blest is the Fakir who with gladness

Views Mecca in declining years.

II.

Blest he who sees pale Death await him

On Danube’s ever glorious shore;

The girls of Paradise shall greet him,

And sorrows ne’er afflict him more.

III.

But he more blest, O beauteous Zarem!

Who quits the world and all its woes,

To clasp thy charms within the harem,

Thou lovelier than the unplucked rose!

They sing, but-where, alas! is Zarem,

Love’s star, the glory of the harem?

Pallid and sad no praise she hears,

Deaf to all sounds of joy her ears,

Downcast with grief, her youthful form

Yields like the palm tree to the storm,

Fair Zarem’s dreams of bliss are o’er,

Her loved Giray loves her no more!

He leaves thee! yet whose charms divine

Can equal, fair Grusinian! thine?

Shading thy brow, thy raven hair

Its lily fairness makes more fair;

Thine eyes of love appear more bright

Than noonday’s beam, more dark than night;

Whose voice like thine can breathe of blisses,

Filling the heart with soft desire?

Like thine, ah! whose inflaming kisses

Can kindle passion’s wildest fire?

Who that has felt thy twining arms

Could quit them for another’s charms?

Yet cold, and passionless, and cruel,

Giray can thy vast love despise,

Passing the lonesome night in sighs

Heaved for another; fiercer fuel

Burns in his heart since the fair Pole

Is placed within the chief’s control.

The young Maria recent war

Had borne in conquest from afar;

Not long her love-enkindling eyes

Had gazed upon these foreign skies;

Her aged father’s boast and pride,

She bloomed in beauty by his side;

Each wish was granted ere expressed.

She to his heart the object dearest,

His sole desire to see her blessed;

As when the skies from clouds are clearest,

Still from her youthful heart to chase

Her childish sorrows his endeavour,

Hoping in after life that never

Her woman’s duties might efface

Remembrance of her earlier hours,

But oft that fancy would retrace

Life’s blissful spring-time decked in flowers.

Her form a thousand charms unfolded,

Her face by beauty’s self was moulded,

Her dark blue eyes were full of fire,--

All nature’s stores on her were lavished;

The magic harp with soft desire,

When touched by her, the senses ravished.

Warriors and knights had sought in vain

Maria’s virgin heart to move,

And many a youth in secret pain

Pined for her in despairing love.

But love she knew not, in her breast

Tranquil it had not yet intruded,

Her days in mirth, her nights in rest,

In her paternal halls secluded,

Passed heedless, peace her bosom’s guest.

That time is past! The Tartar’s force

Rushed like a torrent o’er her nation,--

Rages less fierce the conflagration

Devouring harvests in its course,--

Poland it swept with devastation,

Involving all in equal fate,

The villages, once mirthful, vanished,

From their red ruins joy was banished,

The gorgeous palace desolate!

Maria is the victor’s prize;--

Within the palace chapel laid,

Slumb’ring among th’illustrious dead,

In recent tomb her father lies;

His ancestors repose around,

Long freed from life and its alarms;

With coronets and princely arms

Bedecked their monuments abound!

A base successor now holds sway,--

Maria’s natal halls his hand

Tyrannic rules, and strikes dismay

And wo throughout the ravaged land.

Alas! the Princess sorrow’s chalice

Is fated to the dregs to drain,

Immured in Bakchesaria’s palace

She sighs for liberty in vain;

The Khan observes the maiden’s pain,

His heart is at her grief afflicted,

His bosom strange emotions fill,

And least of all Maria’s will

Is by the harem’s laws restricted.

The hateful guard, of all the dread,

Learns silent to respect and fear her,

His eye ne’er violates her bed,

Nor day nor night he ventures near her;

To her he dares not speak rebuke,

Nor on her cast suspecting look.

Her bath she sought by none attended,

Except her chosen female slave,

The Khan to her such freedom gave;

But rarely he himself offended

By visits, the desponding fair,

Remotely lodged, none else intruded;

It seemed as though some jewel rare,

Something unearthly were secluded,

And careful kept untroubled there.

Within her chamber thus secure,

By virtue guarded, chaste and pure,

The lamp of faith, incessant burning,

The VIRGIN’S image blest illumed,

The comfort of the spirit mourning

And trust of those to sorrow doomed.

The holy symbol’s face reflected

The rays of hope in splendour bright,

And the rapt soul by faith directed

To regions of eternal light.

Maria, near the VIRGIN kneeling,

In silence gave her anguish way,

Unnoticed by the crowd unfeeling,

And whilst the rest, or sad or gay,

Wasted in idleness the day,

The sacred image still concealing,

Before it pouring forth her prayer,

She watched with ever jealous care;

Even as our hearts to error given,

Yet lighted by a spark from heaven,

Howe’er from virtue’s paths we swerve,

One holy feeling still preserve.

Now night invests with black apparel

Luxurious Tauride’s verdant fields,

Whilst her sweet notes from groves of laurel

The plaintive Philomela yields.

But soon night’s glorious queen, advancing

Through cloudless skies to the stars’ song,

Scatters the hills and dales along,

The lustre of her rays entrancing.

In Bakchesaria’s streets roamed free

The Tartars’ wives in garb befitting,

They like unprisoned shades were flitting

From house to house their friends to see,

And while the evening hours away

In harmless sports or converse gay.

The inmates of the harem slept;--

Still was the palace, night impending

O’er all her silent empire kept;

The eunuch guard, no more offending

The fair ones by his presence, now

Slumbered, but fear his soul attending

Troubled his rest and knit his brow;

Suspicion kept his fancy waking,

And on his mind incessant preyed,

The air the slightest murmur breaking

Assailed his ear with sounds of dread.

Now, by some noise deceitful cheated,

Starts from his sleep the timid slave,

Listens to hear the noise repeated,

But all is silent as the grave,

Save where the fountains softly sounding

Break from their marble prisons free,

Or night’s sweet birds the scene surrounding

Pour forth their notes of melody:

Long does he hearken to the strain,

Then sinks fatigued in sleep again.

Luxurious East! how soft thy nights,

What magic through the soul they pour!

How fruitful they of fond delights

To those who Mahomet adore!

What splendour in each house is found,

Each garden seems enchanted ground;

Within the harem’s precincts quiet

Beneath fair Luna’s placid ray,

When angry feelings cease to riot

There love inspires with softer sway!

The women sleep;--but one is there

Who sleeps not; goaded by despair

Her couch she quits with dread intent,

On awful errand is she bent;

Breathless she through the door swift flying

Passes unseen; her timid feet

Scarce touch the floor, she glides so fleet.

In doubtful slumber restless lying

The eunuch thwarts the fair one’s path,

Ah! who can speak his bosom’s wrath?

False is the quiet sleep would throw

Around that gray and care-worn brow;

She like a spirit vanished by

Viewless, unheard as her own sigh!

The door she reaches, trembling opes,

Enters, and looks around with awe,

What sorrows, anguish, terrors, hopes,

Rushed through her heart at what she saw!

The image of the sacred maid,

The Christian’s matron, reigning there,

And cross attracted first the fair,

By the dim lamp-light scarce displayed!

Oh! Grusinka, of earlier days

The vision burst upon thy soul,

The tongue long silent uttered praise,

The heart throbs high, but sin’s control

Cannot escape, ‘tis passion, passion sways!

The Princess in a maid’s repose

Slumbered, her cheek, tinged like the rose,

By feverish thought, in beauty blooms,

And the fresh tear that stains her face

A smile of tenderness illumes.

Thus cheers the moon fair Flora’s race,

When by the rain opprest they lie

The charm and grief of every eye!

It seemed as though an angel slept

From heaven descended, who, distressed,

Vented the feelings of his breast,

And for the harem’s inmates wept!

Alas! poor Zarem, wretched fair,

By anguish urged to mere despair,

On bended knee, in tone subdued

And melting strain, for pity sued.

“Oh! spurn not such a suppliant’s prayer!”

Her tones so sad, her sighs so deep,

Startled the Princess in her sleep;

Wond’ring, she views with dread before her

The stranger beauty, frighted hears

For mercy her soft voice implore her,

Raises her up with trembling hand,

And makes of her the quick demand,

“Who speaks? in night’s still hour alone,

Wherefore art here?” “A wretched one,

To thee I come,” the fair replied,

“A suitor not to be denied;

Hope, hope alone my soul sustains;

Long have I happiness enjoyed,

And lived from sorrow free and care,

But now, alas! a prey to pains

And terrors, Princess hear my prayer,

Oh! listen, or I am destroyed!

Not here beheld I first the light,

Far hence my native land, but yet

Alas! I never can forget

Objects once precious to my sight;

Well I remember towering mountains,

Snow-ridged, replete with boiling fountains,

Woods pervious scarce to wolf or deer,

Nor faith, nor manners such as here;

But, by what cruel fate o’ercome,

How I was snatched, or when, from home

I know not,--well the heaving ocean

Do I remember, and its roar,

But, ah! my heart such wild commotion

As shakes it now ne’er felt before.

I in the harem’s quiet bloomed,

Tranquil myself, waiting, alas!

With willing heart what love had doomed;

Its secret wishes came to pass:

Giray his peaceful harem sought,

For feats of war no longer burned,

Nor, pleased, upon its horrors thought,

To these fair scenes again returned.

“Before the Khan with bosoms beating

We stood, timid my eyes I raised,

When suddenly our glances meeting,

I drank in rapture as I gazed;

He called me to him,--from that hour

We lived in bliss beyond the power

Of evil thought or wicked word,

The tongue of calumny unheard,

Suspicion, doubt, or jealous fear,

Of weariness alike unknown,

Princess, thou comest a captive here,

And all my joys are overthrown,

Giray with sinful passion burns,

His soul possessed of thee alone,

My tears and sighs the traitor spurns;

No more his former thoughts, nor feeling

For me now cherishes Giray,

Scarce his disgust, alas! concealing,

He from my presence hastes away.

Princess, I know the fault not thine

That Giray loves thee, oh! then hear

A suppliant wretch, nor spurn her prayer!

Throughout the harem none but thou

Could rival beauties such as mine

Nor make him violate his vow;

Yet, Princess! in thy bosom cold

The heart to mine left thus forlorn,

The love I feel cannot be told,

For passion, Princess, was I born.

Yield me Giray then; with these tresses

Oft have his wandering fingers played,

My lips still glow with his caresses,

Snatched as he sighed, and swore, and prayed,

Oaths broken now so often plighted!

Hearts mingled once now disunited!

His treason I cannot survive;

Thou seest I weep, I bend my knee,

Ah! if to pity thou’rt alive,

My former love restore to me.

Reply not! thee I do not blame,

Thy beauties have bewitched Giray,

Blinded his heart to love and fame,

Then yield him up to me, I pray,

Or by contempt, repulse, or grief,

Turn from thy love th’ungenerous chief!

Swear by thy faith, for what though mine

Conform now to the Koran’s laws,

Acknowledged here within the harem,

Princess, my mother’s faith was thine,

By that faith swear to give to Zarem

Giray unaltered, as he was!

But listen! the sad prey to scorn

If I must live, Princess, have care,

A dagger still doth Zarem wear,--

I near the Caucasus was born!”

She spake, then sudden disappeared,

And left the Princess in dismay,

Who scarce knew what or why she feared;

Such words of passion till that day

She ne’er had heard. Alas! was she

To be the ruthless chieftain’s prey?

Vain was all hope his grasp to flee.

Oh! God, that in some dungeon’s gloom

Remote, forgotten, she had lain,

Or that it were her blessed doom

To ‘scape dishonour, life, and pain!

How would Maria with delight

This world of wretchedness resign;

Vanished of youth her visions bright,

Abandoned she to fates malign!

Sinless she to the world was given,

And so remains, thus pure and fair,

Her soul is called again to heaven,

And angel joys await it there!

Days passed away; Maria slept

Peaceful, no cares disturbed her, now,--

From earth the orphan maid was swept.

But who knew when, or where, or how?

If prey to grief or pain she fell,

If slain or heaven-struck, who can tell?

She sleeps; her loss the chieftain grieves,

And his neglected harem leaves,

Flies from its tranquil precincts far,

And with his Tartars takes the field,

Fierce rushes mid the din of war,

And brave the foe that does not yield,

For mad despair hath nerved his arm,

Though in his heart is grief concealed,

With passion’s hopeless transports warm.

His blade he swings aloft in air

And wildly brandishes, then low

It falls, whilst he with pallid stare

Gazes, and tears in torrents flow.

His harem by the chief deserted,

In foreign lands he warring roved,

Long nor in wish nor thought reverted

To scene once cherished and beloved.

His women to the eunuch’s rage

Abandoned, pined and sank in age;

The fair Grusinian now no more

Yielded her soul to passion’s power,

Her fate was with Maria’s blended,

On the same night their sorrows ended;

Seized by mute guards the hapless fair

Into a deep abyss they threw,--

If vast her crime, through love’s despair,

Her punishment was dreadful too!

At length th’exhausted Khan returned,

Enough of waste his sword had dealt,

The Russian cot no longer burned,

Nor Caucasus his fury felt.

In token of Maria’s loss

A marble fountain he upreared

In spot recluse;--the Christian’s cross

Upon the monument appeared,

(Surmounting it a crescent bright,

Emblem of ignorance and night!)

Th’inscription mid the silent waste

Not yet has time’s rude hand effaced,

Still do the gurgling waters pour

Their streams dispensing sadness round,

As mothers weep for sons no more,

In never-ending sorrows drowned.

In morn fair maids, (and twilight late,)

Roam where this monument appears,

And pitying poor Maria’s fate

Entitle it the FOUNT OF TEARS!

My native land abandoned long,

I sought this realm of love and song.

Through Bakchesaria’s palace wandered,

Upon its vanished greatness pondered;

All silent now those spacious halls,

And courts deserted, once so gay

With feasters thronged within their walls,

Carousing after battle fray.

Even now each desolated room

And ruined garden luxury breathes,

The fountains play, the roses bloom,

The vine unnoticed twines its wreaths,

Gold glistens, shrubs exhale perfume.

The shattered casements still are there

Within which once, in days gone by,

Their beads of amber chose the fair,

And heaved the unregarded sigh;

The cemetery there I found,

Of conquering khans the last abode,

Columns with marble turbans crowned

Their resting-place the traveller showed,

And seemed to speak fate’s stern decree,

“As they are now such all shall be!”

Where now those chiefs? the harem where?

Alas! how sad scene once so fair!

Now breathless silence chains the air!

But not of this my mind was full,

The roses’ breath, the fountains flowing,

The sun’s last beam its radiance throwing

Around, all served my heart to lull

Into forgetfulness, when lo!

A maiden’s shade, fairer than snow,

Across the court swift winged its flight;--

Whose shade, oh friends! then struck my sight?

Whose beauteous image hovering near

Filled me with wonder and with fear?

Maria’s form beheld I then?

Or was it the unhappy Zarem,

Who jealous thither came again

To roam through the deserted harem?

That tender look I cannot flee,

Those charms still earthly still I see!

He who the muse and peace adores,

Forgetting glory, love, and gold,

Again thy ever flowery shores

Soon, Salgir! joyful shall behold;

The bard shall wind thy rocky ways

Filled with fond sympathies, shall view

Tauride’s bright skies and waves of blue

With greedy and enraptured gaze.

Enchanting region! full of life

Thy hills, thy woods, thy leaping streams,

Ambered and rubied vines, all rife

With pleasure, spot of fairy dreams!

Valleys of verdure, fruits, and flowers,

Cool waterfalls and fragrant bowers!

All serve the traveller’s heart to fill

With joy as he in hour of morn

By his accustomed steed is borne

In safety o’er dell, rock, and hill,

Whilst the rich herbage, bent with dews,

Sparkles and rustles on the ground,

As he his venturous path pursues

Where AYOUDAHGA’S crags surround!





THE GIPSIES



Translated by Charles Edward Turner

This narrative poem was originally written in 1824 and published in 1827. Composed during Pushkin’s exile in the south of the Russian Empire, The Gipsies is one of his most popular poems, which has been praised for its originality and handling of psychological and moral issues, serving to inspire many operas and ballets, as well as other contemporary poets.

The Gipsies opens in Bessarabia, modern day Romania, with a colourful and lively description of a gipsy camp’s activities. Written almost entirely in iambic tetrameter, the narrative poem introduces an old man waiting for his daughter Zemfira to return home, while his dinner grows cold. When she arrives, she announces that she has brought Aleko with her, an exile who has fled the city, because the law is pursuing him.





Bessarabia, at the time of the poem’s setting





THE GIPSIES

I.

In noisy crowds the gipsies bold

Their way through Bessarabia tramp;

To-day they pitch their camp and set

Their tattered tents by river-side.

As free as bird, they choose their haunt,

And peaceful sleep ‘neath open sky.

From midst the wheels of waggon-vans,

Half-covered with thick canvas roofs,

Curls high the flame, and round the fire

Within their tent the family group

Prepare with care the evening meal.

In open field the horses graze;

Beyond the tent the tamed bear lies;

And all is gay along the steppe

With busy cares of household life,

With women’s songs, and children’s laugh,

And measured beat of blacksmith’s stroke,

As they prepare for morrow’s march.

And now, o’er all the nomad camp

Unbroken silence calmly reigns,

And naught is heard on tranquil steppe,

Save bark of hound or neighing steed.

Throughout the camp the fires are quenched,

. And all is peace. The moon, sole queen

In heaven’s expanse, sheds forth her rays,

And bathes the sleeping camp in light.

All sleep, save one old man who sits

Before the half-extinguished fire

And warms himself with its last heat.

And oft he scans the fields remote,

Enwrapt in evening’s soft, white mist.

His daughter young and fair is wont

In all to have her way, and now

Has gone to stroll the lonely fields.

She will come back; but it is late,

And o’er the moon the clouds or night

Already gather thick and fast.

But no Zemphire returns: meanwhile,

The old man’s modest meal grows cold.

At last she comes, and close behind

Follows along her path a youth,

A stranger to the gipsy sire.

“See, father mine”, the maiden said,

“I bring a guest; beyond the mounds

I found him lost on the wild steppe,

And refuge in our camp I offered.

He lies beneath the ban of law,

But Ï have sworn to be his friend;

Aleko is his name, and he,

Where’er I go, will follow me.”

OLD MAN.

I welcome thee. Remain the night

Beneath the shelter of our tent;

Or, if thou wilt, stay longer here,

As thou thinkst fit, for I consent

Our board and roof with thee to share.

Be one of us, and learn our fate

To bear, the fate of vagrants poor,

But free, and with the early dawn

Shalt find a place with us in van,

And prove what trade art skilled to ply:

The iron forge.... or sing a song,

And show the villagers our bear.

ALEKO.

I will remain.

ZEMPHIRE.

He shall be mine:

And who shall chase him from my side?

But it grows late; the crescent moon

Has set; the fields drink in the mist;

And heavy sleep weighs down mine eyes.

II.

Tis dawn. Around the sleepy tent

With watchful steps the old man strolls.

“Arise, Zemphire, the sun is up;

Awake, my. guest, ‘tis time to march:

Quick, children, quit the couch of ease!

With busy haste they all start up;

The tents are raised; the waggon-vans

Stand ready for the long day’s inarch.

At given sign the swarming crowds

Begin to make their slow descent

Through steep defiles precipitous.

In hand tilt-carts the asses draw

Their close-packed loads of children gay;

And mingling groups of old and young

In orderly disorder move.

Loud cries, and shouts, and gipsy songs;

The bear’s low growl, and frequent creak

Of his impatient, irksome chain;

The particoloured, tattered robes;

Shoeless men half-clad and children;

The angry bark and howl of dogs;

The noisy bagpipe’s piercing notes;

The grating harsh of turning wheels.

A picture wild and dissonant,

But all alert and full of soul;

Unlike our world’s benumbing ease,

Unlike the barren life of town,

A life as dull as chant of slaves.

III.

With weary glance the youth looks back

Upon the now unpeopled plain;

Nor can he yet the secret cause

Of grief that fills his heart discern.

Beside him lies the black-eyed maid;

Lord of himself, lives as he will;

And o’er him shines the glowing sun

In his rounded midday beauty.

What, then, torments his youthful soul?

What care disturbs his restless heart?

The bird of air is free and knows

Nor anxious toil nor daily care;

Nor fretsome seeks to weave a nest,

That shall defy the ages’ wear;

But on the branch the long night sleeps,

Till sun shall don his morning robe,

And then, responsive to God’s call,

With quickened thrill sings out his song.

When spring, fair nature’s darling child,

Gives place to sultry summer’s heat,

And later autumn brings its due,

Dark clouds, and mists, and frequent rains,

Men’s hopes fall low, and they are drear;

The bird to other distant lands,

To warmer shores and bluer seas,

Will fly, and wait return of spring.

Like the bird that is free from care,

An exile lone, bird of passage,

He knew not where to lay his head,

Nor was there aught to touch his soul.

To him the world lay open wide,

Nor cared he where he strayed or slept;

But each new day he freely left

To fate’s disposal and control.

The changes and alarms of life

Thus failed to break his peace of mind.

At times, the far-off star of fame

Would tempt him leave his ease, and climb;

In vain, the world before him spread

Its idle pomps and pleasures vile;

Not seldom o’er his lonely head

The thunder roared and threat’ning broke;

But naught he recked of tempests rude,

And dozed alike in storm and calm;

He lived his life, nor recognised

The power of blind and cunning fate.

But, God: what passions wild have stormed

Aleko’s seeming tranquil breast!

With what mad fury have they raged,

And torn in twain his wounded soul!

And thinks he to have tamed them now?

They shall awake, their hour will come!

IV.

ZEMPH1RE.

But say, my friend, dost not regret

The world tnou hast behind thee left?

ALEKO.

And what is there to leave?

ZEMPHIRE.

Thou knowst:

Country, friends and native city.

ALEKO.

Wherefore regret? Ah, didst thou know,

Couldst but once conceive or measure

The vileness of their stifling town!

Where men do herd in crowds, nor breathe

The morning fresh, or mountain free.

Or scent of spring on meadow sweet;

Are shamed of love, and banish thought,

Consent to sell their freedom dear,

To, fetish idols bow their heads,

Will sue for pelf, and hug their chains.

What have I left? The falser’s lie

The smirking bigot’s narrow creed.

The senseless hate of unwashed mob,

Rank, orders, title, bought with shame.

ZEMPHIRE.

But there are mansions vast and rich,

There are carpets varicoloured,

There are balls and banquets gayest,

And there are jewelled maidens fair.

ALEKO.

What gain can bring the to wn’s mad Joys?

Where love reigns not, joy cannot be.

Better far than all their maidens,

Art thou, Zemphire, though poorly clad,

Of jewels and of necklace bare!

Change not, my true and faithful friend,

And I’ll keep true to my sole wish,

With thee will share my love, my cares,

My life, in willing banishment

OLD MAN.

I see, thou lovst us and our folk,

Though bora amidst a people rich;But freedom is not alway’s dear

To him who has been born in ease.

Amongst us runs a legend old:

From southern climes was banished once

A stranger to our land.... his name

I knew, but have forgotten since....

He was already old in years,

But still was young in heart and soul;

Possessed the wondrous gift of song,

And voice like murmur of the waves.

And all who knew him loved him well,

And on the Danube’s shore he lived,

Offended none, and none despised,

Enchanting all with song divine;

Was not proud, nor reasoned wisely,

But weak and timid, like a child.

For him our folk would hunt the beast,

Or trap the fish in close-knit net;

And when the river swift would freeze,

And wintry winds began to howl,

For him, their aged favourite,

They deftly stitched warm skins of fur.

For he was strange to petty toil

And all the tasks of daily life,

And lived a wand’rer pale and poor.

An angry god had punished him,

He said, for some offence and crime.

And now he prayed that death might come;

And as he roamed the Danube shore,

His grief he shared with its blue waves,

And oft would shed hot, burning tears,

At thought of his far-distant home.

And ere he died, he prayed that we

His body to the south would bring;

For never could he sleep in peace,

Unless in his dear earth he lay,

His home once more his native land.

ALEKO.

Such fate awaits thy noblest sons,

Oh Rome, great empress of the world!

Singer of love, hymner of gods,

Tell me, what is poet’s glory?

A grave unknown, obscure; the theme

Of legend passed from mouth to mouth;

The nameless hero of wild tale

By gipsy told in smoky tent.

V.

Two years have passed, and as before,

The peaceful band of gipsies free

Are ne’er relused, but “easy find

A friendly welcome and repose.

All social lies and cheats thrown off,

Aleko is as free as they;

Regretting naught and spared all care,

Their roaming life he daily shares.

He is the same, nor have they changed;

The years gone by he has forgot,

And gipsy life is now his own.

The tent’s hard couch on which he sleeps,

Unconscious of the morrow’s fate;

The routine march of ease unbroke;

The language poor, but soft and sweet;

In all he finds alike delight.

The bear, its native haunt forgot,

Is now the sharer of