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Other Alexander Pushkin's poems

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And Alexander Pushkin Biography



Alexander Pushkin (1799 - 1837)

Greatest Russian writer.
 
 

1821
I have outlasted all desire,
My dreams and I have grown apart;
My grief alone is left entire,
The gleanings of an empty heart.
The storms of ruthless dispensation
Have struck my flowery garland numb-
I live in lonely desolation
And wonder when my end will come.
Thus on a naked tree-limb, blasted
By tardy winter's whistling chill,
A single leaf which has outlasted
Its season will be trembling still.
 
xx

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1822
Epigram on A. A. Davydova*
 
One had Aglaya by attraction
Of raven curls and martial stance,
One for his money (no objection),
A third because he was >from France,
Cleon* by dint of being clever,
Damis* for tender songs galore;
By, my Aglaya, say, whatever
Did your own husband have you for?
 

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xx
1823
A Little Bird
 
In alien lands devoutly clinging
To age-old rites of Russian earth,
I let a captive bird go winging
To greet the radiant spring's rebirth.
 
My heart grew lighter then: why mutter
Against God's providence, and rage,
When I was free to set aflutter
But one poor captive from his cage!
 
xx
 

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"Forth went the sower to sow his seeds..."
 
As freedom's sower in the wasteland
Before the morning star I went;
From hand immaculate and chastened
Into the grooves of prisonment
Flinging the vital seed I wandered--
But it was time and toiling squandered,
Benevolent designs misspent...
 
Graze on, graze on, submissive nation!
You will not wake to honor's call.
Why offer herds their liberation?
For them are shears or slaughter-stall,
Their heritage each generation
The yoke with jingles, and the gall.
 
 
  xxx
 
 

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On Count Voronstov
 
One half Milord, one half in trade,
One half a sage, one half a dunce,
One half a crook, but here for once
There's every hope he'll make the grade.
 
  xxx
 

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To The Sea
 
Farewell to you, unharnessed Ocean!
No longer will you roll at me
Your azure swells in endless motion
Or gleam in tranquil majesty.
 
A comrade's broken words on leaving,
His hail of parting at the door:
Your chant of luring, chant of grieving
Will murmur in my ears no more.
 
Oh, homeland of my spirit's choosing!
How often on your banks at large
I wandered mute and dimly musing,
Fraught with a sacred, troubling charge!
 
How I would love your deep resounding,
The primal chasm's muffled voice,
How in your vesper calm rejoice,
And in your sudden, reckless bounding!
 
The fisher's lowly canvas slips,
By your capricious favor sheltered,
Undaunted down your breakers' lips:
Yet by your titan romps have weltered
And foundered droves of masted ships.
 
Alas, Fate thwarted me from weighing
My anchor off the cloddish shore,
Exultantly your realm surveying,
And by your drifting ridges laying
My poet's course forevermore.
 
You waited, called... I was in irons,
And vainly did my soul rebel,
Becalmed in those uncouth environs
By passion's overpowering spell.
 
Yet why this sorrow? Toward what fastness
Would now my carefree sails be spread?
To one lone goal in all your vastness
My spirit might have gladly sped.
 
One lonely cliff, the tomb of glory...
There chilling slumber fell upon
The ghost of mankind's proudest story:
There breathed his last Napoleon.
 
There rest for suffering he bartered;
And, gale-borne in his wake, there streams
Another* kingly spirit martyred,
Another regent of our dreams.
 
He passed, and left to Freedom mourning,
His laurels to Eternity.
Arise, roar out in stormy warning:
He was your own true bard, oh Sea!
 
His soul was by your spirit haunted,
In your own image was he framed:
Like you immense, profound, undaunted,
Like you nocturnal untamed.
 
Bereft the world... where by your power,
Oh Sea would you now carry me?
Life offers everywhere one dower:
On any glint of bliss there glower
Enlightenment or tyranny.
 
Farewell then, Sea! Henceforth in wonder
Your regal grace will I rever;
Long will your muffled twilit thunder
Reverberate within my ear.
 
To woods and silent wildernesses
Will I translate your potent spells,
Your cliffs, your coves, your shining tresses,
Your shadows and your murmurous swells.
 
 
 

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1824
 

Rose-maiden, no, I do not quarrel
With these dear chains, they don't demean;
The nightingale embushed in laurel,
The sylvan singers' feathered queen,
Does she not bear the same sweet plight,
Near the proud rose's beauty dwelling,
And with her tender anthems thrilling
The dusk of a voluptuous night.
 
xx
 
 

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Liza is afraid to love.
Or could this be just her fashion?
What if Dian's not above
Keeping dark her taste for passion?
Downcast lids, might they at all
Hide sly glances, holding wily
Muster of us, searching shyly
Which of us might help her fall?
 
xx
 

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1825
 

You're the kind that always loses,
Bliss and you are all at odds:
You're too sweet when chance refuses
And too clever when it nods.
 
xx
 

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O Muse of satire, breathing fire!
Oh, come and heed my urgent call!
I do not need the thundering lyre,
Hand me the scourge of Juvenal!
Not the pedestrian imitators,
Not the penurious translators,
Nor rhymesters echoless, poor lambs,
Shall fester from my epigrams!
Peace to the poet wan with hunger,
Peace to the journals' gossipmonger.
Peace unto every harmless fool!
But as for you, my scoundrels cool,
Come forward! I shall surely hook one,
Hook all you scum with piercing pen,
And if by chance I overlook one,
Please do remind me, gentlemen!
Ah, mugs with sallow slander horrid,
Ah, forehead after brazen forehead,
All due from my avenging hand
The ineradicable brand!
 
xxx
 
 

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1826
 

Confession
 
I love you-- though I rage at it,
Though it is shame and toil misguided,
And to my folly self-derided
Here at your feet I will admit!
It ill befits my years, my station,
Good sense has long been overdue!
And yet, by every indication,
Love's plague has stricken me anew:
You're out of sight-- I fall to yawning;
You're here-- I suffer and feel blue,
And barely keep myself from owning,
Dear elf, how much I care for you!
Why, when your guileless girlish chatter
Drifts >from next door, your airy tread,
Your rustling dress, my senses scatter
And I completely lose my head.
You smile-- I flush with exaltation;
You turn away-- I'm plunged in gloom;
Your pallid hand is compensation
For a whole day of fancied doom.
When to the frame with artless motion
You bend to cross-stitch, all devotion,
Your eyes and ringlets down-beguiled,
My heart goes out in mute emotion
Rejoicing in you like a child!
Dare I confess to you my sighing,
How jealously I chafe and balk
When you set forth, at times defying
Bad weather, on a lengthy walk?
And then your solitary crying,
Those twosome whispers out of sight,
Your carriage to Opochka plying,
And the piano late at night...
Aline! I ask but to be pitied,
I do not dare to plead for love;
Love, for the sins I have committed,
I am perhaps not worthy of.
But make believe! Your gaze, dear elf,
Is fit to conjure with, believe me!
Ah, it is easy to deceive me!. . .
I long to be deceived myself!
 
xxx
 
 

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Under the blue skies of her native land
She languished and began to fade. . .
Until surely there flew without a sound
Above me, her young shade;
But there stretches between us an uncrossable line.
In vain my feelings I tried to awaken.
The lips that brought the news were made of stone,
And I listened like a stone, unshaken.
So this is she for whom my soul once burned
In the tense and heavy fire,
Obsessed, exhausted, driven out of my mind
By tenderness and desire!
Where are the torments? Where is love? Alas!
For the unreturning days'
Sweet memory, and for the poor credulous
Shade, I find no lament, no tears.
 
xxx
 

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To the Emperor Nicholas I
 
He was made emperor, and right then
Displayed his flair and drive:
Sent to Siberia a hundred-twenty men
And strung up five.
 
xx
 
 

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Winter Road
 
Through the murk the moon is veering,
Ghost-accompanist of night,
On the melancholy clearings
Pouring melancholy light.
 
Runs the troika with its dreary
Toneless jangling sleigh-bell on
Over dismal snow' I'm weary,
Hungry, frozen to the bone.
 
Coachman in a homely fashion's
Singing as we flash along;
Now a snatch of mournful passion,
Now a foulmouthed drinking-song.
 
Not a light shines, not a lonely
Dusky cabin. . . Snow and hush. . .
Streaming past the troika only
Mileposts, striped and motley, rush.
 
Dismal, dreary. . . But returning
Homewards! And tomorrow, through
Pleasant crackles of the burning
Pine-logs, I shall gaze at you:
 
Dream, and go on gazing, Nina,
One whole circle of the clock;
Midnight will not come between us,
When we gently turn the lock
 
On our callers. . . Drowsing maybe,
Coachman's faded, lost the tune;
Toneless, dreary, goes the sleigh-bell;
Nina, clouds blot out the moon.
 
xxx
 
 

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The Prophet
 
Parched with the spirit's thirst, I crossed
An endless desert sunk in gloom,
And a six-winged seraph came
Where the tracks met and I stood lost.
Fingers light as dream he laid
Upon my lids; I opened wide
My eagle eyes, and gazed around.
He laid his fingers on my ears
And they were filled with roaring sound:
I heard the music of the spheres,
The flight of angels through the skies,
The beasts that crept beneath the sea,
The heady uprush of the vine;
And, like a lover kissing me,
He rooted out this tongue of mine
Fluent in lies and vanity;
He tore my fainting lips apart
And, with his right hand steeped in blood,
He armed me with a serpent's dart;
With his bright sword he split my breast;
My heart leapt to him with a bound;
A glowing livid coal he pressed
Into the hollow of the wound.
There in the desert I lay dead,
And God called out to me and said:
'Rise, prophet, rise, and hear, and see,
And let my works be seen and heard
By all who turn aside >from me,
And burn them with my fiery word.'
 
1827
 
 

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Arion
 
We sailed in numerous company.
A few of us drew fast the sheeting,
The rest with mighty oar were beating
The brine; while, calm on slumbrous sea,
Our skillful helmsman clasped the rudder
To guide the vessel's thrust,
And I, at ease in carefree trust,
I sang to them... A sudden gust
Swept down and set the deep ashudder,
And crew and helmsman, all were lost!--
I only, secret singer, tossed
Upon the coast by seas in torment,
I sing my anthems as before,
And by a boulder on the shore
Dry in the sun my sodden garment.
 
xx
 
 

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To Dawe, Esq.*
 
Why does your wondrous pencil strive
My Moorish profile to elicit?
Your art will help it to survive,
But Mephistopheles will hiss it.
 
Draw Miss Olenin's face. To serve
His blazing inspiration's duty,
The genius should spend his verve
On homage but to youth and beauty.
 
xx
 

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1829
 

Wandering the noisy streets,
Entering the crowded church,
Sitting among wild young men,
I am lost in my thoughts.
 
I say to myself: the years will fly,
And however many are here, we shall all
Go down under the eternal vaults.
Someone's hour is already at hand.
 
Gazing at a solitary oak,
I think: this patriarch
Will outlive my forgotten age
As it outlived the age of my fathers.
 
When I caress a dear child,
I'm already thinking: goodbye!
I yield my place to you: it's time
For me to decay and you to blossom.
 
I say goodbye to each day,
Trying to guess
Which among them will be
The anniversary of my death.
 
And how and where shall I die?
Fighting, travelling, in the waves?
Or will the neighbouring valley
Receive my cold dust?
 
And though it's all the same
To the feelingless body,
I should like to rest
Closer to the places I love.
 
And at the grave's entrance
Let young life play,
And the beauty of indifferent nature
Never cease to shine.
 
xxx
 
 

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I loved you; and perhaps I love you still,
The flame, perhaps, is not extinguished; yet
It burns so quietly within my soul,
No longer should you feel distressed by it.
Silently and hopelessly I loved you,
At times too jealous and at times too shy.
God grant you find another who will love you
As tenderly and truthfully as I.
 
xxx
 
 

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1830
 

My rubicund critic, my full-bellied mocker,
Ever ready to rail at my desolate muse,
Come here, and sit beside me for a while,
Let's see if we can find a bit of pleasure. . .
Look before you: a few squalid hovels,
Beyond, the black earth, a sloping plain,
And over all a thick line of grey clouds.
Where are the bright cornfields, forests, brooks?
Near the low fence in our yard
Two puny saplings stand to charm the gaze.
Only two. And one of them was stripped bare
By the autumn rain, and the other's leaves, sodden
And yellow, will pile up in a puddle with the first gust.
That's all. Not even a dog prowls in the road.
Oh, here comes a peasant, with two women behind him:
Bareheaded, a child's coffin under his arm;
From afar he shouts out to the priest's lazy son
To call his father and open up the church.
"Hurry up! We haven't got all day!"
 
xxx
 
 

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1832
 

In a Beauty's Album
 
All harmony, all wondrous fairness,
Aloof from passions and the world,
She rests, with tranquil unawareness
In her triumphant beauty furled.
When, all about her, eyes hold muster,
Nor friends, nor rivals can be found,
Our other beauties' pallid round
Extinguished wholly by her luster.
 
And were you bound I know not where,
Be it to love's embraces bidden,
Or what choice vision you may bear
In heart's most private chamber hidden,--
Yet, meeting her, you will delay,
Struck by bemusement in mid-motion,
And pause in worshipful devotion
At beauty's sacred shrine to pray.
 
xxx
 
 

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1835
 

I thought you had forgotten, heart,
Your ability to suffer pain.
That easy gift would come, I thought,
No more again! No more again!
Gone were the raptures and the griefs
And the dreams you half-believed. . .
But now I know, while beauty lives
so long will live my power to grieve.
 
xxx
 

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1836
 

Exegi Monumentum
 
I have erected a monument to myself
Not built by hands; the track of it, though trodden
By the people, shall not become overgrown,
And it stands higher than Alexander's column.
 
I shall not wholly die. In my sacred lyre
My soul shall outlive my dust and escape corruption--
And I shall be famed so long as underneath
The moon a single poet remains alive.
 
I shall be noised abroad through all great Russia,
Her innumerable tongues shall speak my name:
The tongue of the Slavs' proud grandson, the Finn, and now
The wild Tungus and Kalmyk, the steppes' friend.
 
In centuries to come I shall be loved by the people
For having awakened noble thoughts with my lyre,
For having glorified freedom in my harsh age
And called for mercy towards the fallen.
 
Be attentive, Muse, to the commandments of God;
Fearing no insult, asking for no crown,
Receive with indifference both flattery and slander,
And do not argue with a fool.

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       Translated by Babette Deutsch.

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