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Title: Poems - With Introduction and Notes
Author: Pushkin, Alexander
Language: English
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POEMS

BY

ALEXANDER PUSHKIN

Translated from the Russian, with Introduction and Notes

BY IVAN PANIN

BOSTON

CUPPLES AND HURD

94 BOYLSTON STREET

1888


               TO

      MRS. JOHN L. GARDNER,

WHO WAS THE FIRST TO RECOGNIZE HELPFULLY
   WHATEVER MERIT THERE IS IN
            THIS BOOK.



    CONTENTS


    BIBLIOGRAPHICAL PREFACE

    Introduction.

    I. POETIC IDEAL

    II. INNER LIFE

    III. GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS


    Autobiographical Poems.

    MON PORTRAIT
    MY PEDIGREE
    MY MONUMENT
    MY MUSE
    MY DEMON
    REGRET
    REMINISCENCE
    ELEGY
    RESURRECTION
    THE PROPHET

    Narrative Poems.

    THE OUTCAST
    THE BLACK SHAWL
    THE ROUSSALKA
    THE COSSAK
    THE DROWNED

    Poems of Nature.

    THE BIRDLET
    THE CLOUD
    THE NORTH WIND
    WINTER MORNING
    WINTER EVENING
    THE WINTER-ROAD

    Poems of Love.

    THE STORM-MAID
    THE BARD
    SPANISH LOVE-SONG
    LOVE
    JEALOUSY
    IN AN ALBUM
    THE AWAKING
    ELEGY
    FIRST LOVE
    ELEGY
    THE BURNT LETTER
    "SING NOT, BEAUTY"
    SIGNS
    A PRESENTIMENT
    "IN VAIN, DEAR FRIEND"
    LOVE'S DEBT
    INVOCATION
    ELEGY
    SORROW
    DESPAIR
    A WISH
    RESIGNED LOVE
    LOVE AND FREEDOM
    NOT AT ALL
    INSPIRING LOVE
    THE GRACES

    Miscellaneous Poems.

    THE BIRDLET
    THE NIGHTINGALE
    THE FLOWERET
    THE HORSE
    TO A BABE
    THE POET
    TO THE POET
    THE THREE  SPRINGS
    THE TASK
    SLEEPLESSNESS
    QUESTIONINGS
    CONSOLATION
    FRIENDSHIP
    FAME
    THE ANGEL
    HOME-SICKNESS
    INSANITY
    DEATH-THOUGHTS
    RIGHTS
    THE GYPSIES
    THE DELIBASH

    NOTES



Preface: Bibliographical.


1. The text I have used for the following translations is that of the
edition of the complete works of Pushkin in ten volumes, 16mo., by
Suvorin, St. Petersburg, 1887. The poems form Volumes III. and IV.
of that edition. Accordingly, I have designated after each heading,
volume, and page where the poem is to be found in the original. Thus,
for example, "My Muse, IV. 1," means that this poem is found in Volume
IV. of the above edition, page 1.

2. I have translated Pushkin literally word for word, line for line. I
do not believe there are as many as five examples of deviation from the
literalness of the text. Once only, I believe, have I transposed two
lines for convenience of translation; the other deviations are (_if_
they are such) a substitution of an _and_ for a comma in order to make
now and then the reading of a line musical. With these exceptions, I
have sacrified _everything_ to faithfulness of rendering. My object was
to make Pushkin himself, without a prompter, speak to English readers.
To make him thus speak in a foreign tongue was indeed to place him
at a disadvantage; and music and rhythm and harmony are indeed fine
things, but truth is finer still. I wished to present not what Pushkin
would have said, or should have said, if he had written in English,
but what he does say in Russian. That, stripped from all ornament of
his wonderful melody and grace of form, as he is in a translation, he
still, even in the hard English tongue, soothes and stirs, is in itself
a sign that through the individual soul of Pushkin sings that universal
soul whose strains appeal forever to man, in whatever clime, under
whatever sky.

3. I ask, therefore, no forgiveness, no indulgence even, from the
reader for the crudeness and even harshness of the translation,
which, I dare say, will be found in abundance by those who _look_ for
something to blame. Nothing of the kind is necessary. I have done the
only thing there was to be done. Nothing more _could_ be done (I mean
by me, of course), and if critics still demand more, they must settle
it not with me, but with the Lord Almighty, who in his grim, yet arch
way, long before critics appeared on the stage, hath ordained that it
shall be impossible for a thing to be and not to be at the same time.

4. I have therefore tried neither for measure nor for rhyme. What I
have done was this: I first translated each line word for word, and
then by reading it aloud let mine ear arrange for me the words in such
a way as to make some kind of rhythm. Where this could be done, I was
indeed glad; where this could not be done, I was not sorry. It is idle
to regret the impossible.

5. That the reader, however, may see for himself what he has been
spared by my abstinence from attempting the impossible, I give
one stanza of a metrical translation by the side of the literal
rendering:--

LITERAL:

    The moment wondrous I remember
    Thou before me didst appear,
    Like a flashing apparition,
    Like a spirit of beauty pure.

METRICAL:[1]

    Yes! I remember well our meeting,
    When first thou dawnedst on my sight,
    Like some fair phantom past me fleeting,
    Some nymph of purity and light.

Observe, Pushkin the real does not appear before the reader with a
solemn affirmation, Yes, or No, nor that he remembers it _well_. He
tells the story in such a way that the reader knows without being told
that he does indeed remember it well! Nor does he weaken the effect by
saying that he remembers the _meeting_, which is too extended, but the
_moment_, which is concentrated. And Pushkin's imagination was moreover
too pure to let a _fleeting_ phantom _dawn_ upon his sight. To have
tried for a rendering which necessitated from its very limitations
_such_ falsities, would have been not only to libel poor Pushkin, but
also to give the reader poor poetry besides.

[Footnote 1: Blackwood's Magazine, lviii. 35, July, 1845.]

6. The translation being literal, I have been able to retain even the
punctuation of Pushkin, and especially his dots, of which he makes
such frequent use. They are part of his art; they express by what
they withhold. I call especial attention to these, as Pushkin is as
powerful in what he indicates as in what he shows, in what he suggests
as in what he actually says. The finest example of the highest poetry
of his _silence_ (indicated by his dots) is the poem I have entitled
"Jealousy," to which the reader is particularly requested to turn with
this commentary of mine (p. 114). The poet is melted with tenderness at
the thought of his beloved all alone, far-off, weeping. The fiendish
doubt suddenly overpowers him, that after all, perhaps his beloved is
at that moment not alone, weeping for him, but in the arms of another:--

    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   .  .  .  .  .  .  .

One must be all vibration in order to appreciate the matchless power of
the dots here. The poem here ends. I know not the like of this in all
literature.

7. Wherever I could ascertain the date of a poem, I have placed it at
the end. The reader will thus at a glance find at least one of the
proper relations of the poems to the poet's soul. For this purpose
these two dates should be borne constantly in mind: Pushkin was born in
1799; he died in 1837.

8. To many of his poems Pushkin has given no name. To such, for the
reader's convenience I have supplied names, but have put them in
brackets, which accordingly are to be taken as indication that the name
they enclose is not Pushkin's. Many of his most beautiful poems were
addressed to individuals, and they appear in the original as "Lines
to ------." The gem of this collection, for instance, to which I have
supplied the title, "Inspiring Love"--inadequate enough, alas!--appears
in the original as "To A. P. Kern." As none of these poems have any
_intrinsic_ bond with the personages addressed, their very greatness
lying in their universality, I have supplied my own titles to such
pieces, giving the original title in a note.

9. It was my original intention to make a life of the poet part of this
volume. But so varied was Pushkin's life, and so instructive withal,
that only an extended account could be of value. What is worth doing at
all is worth doing well. A mere sketch would here, for various reasons,
be worse than useless. Critics, who always know better what an author
ought to do than he himself, must kindly take this assertion of mine,
for the present at least, on trust, and assume that I, who have done
some thinking on the subject, am likely to know whereof I speak better
than those whose only claim to an opinion is that they have done no
thinking on the subject, resembling in this respect our modest friends,
the agnostics, who set themselves up as the true, knowing solvers of
the problems of life, because, forsooth, they know nothing.... Anyhow,
even at the risk of offending critics, I have decided to misstate
myself by not giving the life of Pushkin rather than to misstate poor
Pushkin by giving an attenuated, vapid thing, which passes under
the name of a "Sketch." The world judges a man by what is known of
him, forgetting that underneath the thin film of the known lies the
immeasurable abyss of the unknown, and that the true explanation of the
man is found not in what is visible of him, but in what is invisible
of him. Unless, therefore, I could present what is known of Pushkin
in such a manner as to suggest the unknown (just as a study of nature
should only help us to trust that what we do _not_ know of God is
likewise good!) I have no business to tell of his life. But to tell of
it in such a way that it shall represent Pushkin, and not misrepresent
him, is possible only in an extended life. Otherwise, I should be
telling not how he was living, but how he was starving, dying; and this
is not an edifying task, either for the writer or for the reader.

10. Such a life is now well-nigh writ, but it is too long to make part
of this volume.



I. POETIC IDEAL.


1. Pushkin was emphatically a subjective writer. Of intense
sensibility, which is _the_ indispensable condition of creative
genius, he was first of all a feeler with an Æolian attachment. He
did not even have to take the trouble of looking into his heart in
order to write. So full of feeling was his heart that at the slightest
vibration it poured itself out; and so deep was its feeling that what
is poured out is already melted, fused, shaped, and his poems come
forth, like Minerva from Jupiter's head, fully armed. There is a
perfection about them which is self-attesting in its unstudiedness and
artlessness; it is the perfection of the child, touching the hearts of
its beholders all the more tenderly because of its unconsciousness,
effortlessness; it is the perfection which Jesus had in mind when he
uttered that sentence so profound and so little followed because of
its very profundity: "Unless ye be like little children." So calm and
poiseful is Pushkin's poetry that in spite of all his pathos his soul
is a work of architecture,--a piece of frozen music in the highest
sense. Even through his bitterest agony,--and pathos is the one chord
which is never absent from Pushkin's song, as it is ever present in
Chopin's strains, ay, as it ever must be present in any soul that
truly _lives,_--there runneth a peace, a simplicity which makes the
reader exclaim on reading him: Why, I could have done the self-same
thing myself,--an observation which is made at the sight of Raphael's
Madonna, at the oratory of a Phillips, at the reading of "The Vicar of
Wakefield," at the acting of a Booth. Such art is of the highest, and
is reached only through one road: Spontaneity, complete abandonment
of self. The verse I have to think over I had better not write. Man
is to become only a pipe through which the Spirit shall flow; and the
Spirit _shall_ flow only where the resistance is least. Ope the door,
and the god shall enter! Seek not, pray not! To pray is to will, and to
will is to obstruct. The virtue which Emerson praises so highly in a
pipe--that it is smooth and hollow--is the very virtue which makes him
like Nature, an ever open, yet ever sealed book. Bring to him _your_
theories, _your_ preconceived notions, and Emerson, like the great soul
of which he is but a voice, becomes unintelligible, confusing, chaotic.
The words are there; the eyes see them. The dictionary is at hand,
but nought avails; of understanding there is none to be had. But once
abandon will, once abandon self, once abandon opinion (a much harder
abandonment this than either!), and Emerson is made of glass, just as
when I abandon _my_ logic, God becomes transparent enough.... And what
is true of Emerson is true of every great soul.

2. The highest art then is artlessness, unconsciousness. The true
artist is not the conceiver, the designer, the executor, but the
tool, the recorder, the reporter. He writes because write he must,
just as he breathes because breathe he must. And here too, Nature, as
elsewhere, hath indicated the true method. The most vital processes of
life are not the voluntary, the conscious, but the involuntary, the
unconscious. The blood circulates, the heart beats, the lungs fill,
the nerves vibrate; we digest, we fall asleep, we are stirred with
love, with awe, with reverence, without our will; and our highest
aspirations, our sweetest memories, our cheerfullest hopes, and alas!
also our bitterest self-reproaches, come ever like friends at the
feast,--uninvited. You can be happy, blest at will? Believe it not!
Happiness, blessedness _willed_ is not to be had in the market at any
quotation. It is not to be got. It comes. And it comes when least
willed. He is truly rich who has nought left to be deprived of, nought
left to ask for, nought left to will....

3. Pushkin, therefore, was incapable of giving an account of his own
poetry. Pushkin could not have given a theory of a single poem of his,
as Poe has given of his "Raven." Poe's account of the birth of "The
Raven" is indeed most delightful reading. "I told you so," is not
so much the voice of conceit, of "I knew better than thou!" but the
voice of the epicurean in us; it is ever a delight to most of us to
discover after the event that we knew it all before.... Delightful,
then, it is indeed, to read Poe's theory of his own "Raven;" but its
most delightful part is that the theory is a greater fiction than
the poem itself. It is the poem that has created the theory, not the
theory the poem. Neither could Pushkin do what Schiller has done: give
a theory of a drama of his own. The theory of Don Karlos as developed
in Schiller's letters on that play are writ not by Friedrich Schiller
the poet, the darling of the German land, the inspirer of the youth of
all lands, but by Herr von Schiller the professor; by Von Schiller the
Kantian metaphysician; by Von Schiller the critic; by another Schiller,
in short. Pushkin, however, unlike most of us, was not half a dozen
ancestors--God, beast, sage, fool--rolled into one, each for a time
claiming him as his own. Pushkin was essentially a unit, one voice; he
was a lyre, on which a _something, not he_--God!--invisibly played.

4. And this he unconsciously to himself expresses in the piece, "My
Muse."

    "From mom 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."

Before these lines Byelinsky, the great Russian critic, stands
awe-struck. And well he may; for in the Russian _such_ softness,
smoothness, simplicity, harmony, and above all sincerity, had not been
seen before Pushkin's day. And though in the translation everything
except the thought is lost, I too as I now read it over on this
blessed Sunday morn (and the bell calling men unto the worship of
the great God is still ringing!), I too feel that even before _this_
sun, shorn of its beams though it be, I am still in hallowed presence.
For the spirit is independent of tongue, independent of form; to
the god-filled soul the leaf is no less beautiful than the flower.
Discrimination, distinction, is only a sign that we are still detached
from the whole; that we are still only _half_; that we are still not
our own selves,--that we still, in short, miss the blessed ONE. To
the god-filled soul the grain of sand is no less beautiful than the
diamond; the spirit breaks through the crust (and words and forms are,
alas, only this!), and recognizes what is its where'er it finds it,
under whate'er disguise. The botanist prizes the weed as highly as the
flower, and with justice, because he seeks not the gratification of the
eye, but of the spirit. The eye is delighted with variety, the spirit
with unity. And the botanist seeks the unity, the whole, the godful in
the plant. And a fine perception it was,--that of Emerson: that a tree
is but a rooted man, a horse a running man, a fish a floating man, and
a bird a flying man. Logical, practical Supreme Court Justice, with one
eye in the back of his head, declares, indeed, such utterance insane,
and scornfully laughs, "I don't read Emerson; my garls do!"[2]but
the self-same decade brings a Darwin or a Heckel with his comparative
embryos; and at the sight of these, not even a lawyer, be he even Chief
Justice of Supreme Court, can distinguish between snake, fowl, dog, and
man.

[Footnote 2: Jeremiah Mason.]

5. In time, however, Pushkin does become objective to himself, as any
true soul that is obliged to reflect must sooner or later; and God ever
sees to it that the soul _be_ obliged to reflect if there be aught
within. For it is the essence of man's life that the soul struggle; it
is the essence of growth that it _push_ upward; it is the essence of
progress in walking that we _fall_ forward. Life is a battle,--battle
with the powers of darkness; battle with the diseases of doubt,
despair, self-will. And reflection is the symptom that the disease is
on the soul, that the battle is to go on.

6. Pushkin then does become in time objective, and contemplates
himself. Pushkin the man inspects Pushkin the soul, and in the poem,
"My Monument," he gives his own estimate of himself:--

    "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:
      .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
    And long to the nation I shall be dear."

Observe here the native nobility of the man. There is a heroic
consciousness of his own worth which puts to shame all gabble of
conceit and of self-consciousness being a vice, being immodest. Here
too, Emerson sets fine example in not hesitating to speak of his
own essays on Love and Friendship as "those fine lyric strains,"
needing some balance by coarser tones on Prudence and the like. This
is the same heroic consciousness of one's own worth which makes a
Socrates propose as true reward for his services to the State, free
entertainment at the Prytaneum. This is the same manliness which in
a Napoleon rebukes the genealogy-monger who makes him descend from
Charlemagne, with the remark, "I am my own pedigree." This, in fine, is
the same manliness which made Jesus declare boldly, "I am the Way, I am
the Life, I am the Light," regardless of the danger that the "Jerusalem
Advertiser" and the "Zion Nation" might brand him as "deliciously
conceited." This recognition of one's own worth is at bottom the
highest reverence before God; inasmuch as I esteem myself, not because
of my body, which I have in common with the brutes, but because of my
spirit, which I have in common with God; and wise men have ever sung,
on hearing their own merit extolled, Not unto us, not unto us! There is
no merit in the matter; the God is either there or he is not....

7. Pushkin, then, even with this in view, is not so much a conscious
will, as an unconscious voice. He is not so much an individual singer,
as a strain from the music of the spheres; and he is a person, an
original voice, only in so far as he has hitched his wagon to a star.
In his abandonment is his greatness; in his self-destruction, his
strength.

    "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!"

"And dispute not with the fool!" The prophet never argues; it is
for him only to affirm. Argument is at bottom only a lack of trust
in my own truth. Caesar's wife must be above suspicion: and to bear
misunderstanding in silence,--this is to be great. Hence the noblest
moment in Kepler's life was not when he discovered the planet, but
when he discovered that if God could wait six thousand years for the
understanding by man of one of his starlets, _he_ surely could wait a
few brief years for _his_ recognition by his fellow-men. God is the
great misunderstood, and he--never argues. In living out my truth in
silence, without argument even though misunderstood, I not only show
my faith in it, but prove it by my very strength. If I am understood,
nothing more need be said; if I am not understood, nothing more can be
said. Pushkin, therefore, often weeps, sobs, groans. He at times even
searches, questions, doubts, despairs; but he never argues. Broad is
the back of Pegasus, and strong is his wing, but neither his back nor
his wings shall enable him to float the rhyming arguer. No sooner does
the logician mount the heavenly steed than its wings droop, and both
rider and steed quickly drop into the limbo of inanity. Melancholy,
indeed, is the sight of a dandy dressed for a party unexpectedly
drenched by the shower; sorrowful is the sight of statesman turned
politician before election; and pitiful is the spectacle of the
manufacturing versifier, who grinds out of himself his daily task of
one hundred lines, as the milkman squeezes out his daily can of milk
from the cow. But most pitiful of all, immeasurably pathetic to me, is
the sight of pettifogging logician forsaking his hair-splitting world,
and betaking himself to somersaulting verse. To much the bard is indeed
called, but surely not to that....

8. To affirm then the bard is called, and what in "My Monument" is but
hinted, becomes clear, emphatic utterance in Pushkin's "Sonnet to the
Poet."

    "Poet, not popular applause shalt thou prize!
    Of raptured praise shall pass the momentary noise;
    The fool's judgment thou shalt hear, 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."

But because the bard is called to affirm, to inspire, to _serve_, he is
also called to be worn. To become the beautiful image, the marble must
be lopped and cut; the vine to bear sweeter fruit must be trimmed,
and the soul must go through a baptism of fire.... Growth, progress
is thus ever the casting off of an old self, and _Scheiden thut weh_.
Detachment hurts. A new birth can take place only amid throes of agony.
Hence the following lines of Pushkin on the poet:--

     ... No sooner the heavenly word
    His keen ear hath reached,
    Then up trembles the singer's soul
    Like an awakened eagle.

    "The world's pastimes now weary him
    And mortals' gossip now he shuns.
      .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
    Wild and stem rushes he
    Of tumult full and sound
    To the shores of desert wave
    Into the wildly whispering wood."

9. This is as yet only discernment that the bard must needs suffer;
by-and-by comes also the fulfilment, the recognition of the wisdom
of the sorrow, and with it its joyful acceptance in the poem of "The
Prophet."

    "And out he tore my sinful tongue
      .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
    And ope he cut with sword my breast
    And out he took my trembling heart
    And a coal with gleaming blaze
    Into the opened breast he shoved.
    Like a corpse I lay in the desert.
    And God's Voice unto me called:
    Arise, O prophet, and listen, and guide.
    Be thou filled with my will
    And going over land and sea
    Fire with the word the hearts of men!"

"Be thou filled with my will!" His ideal began with abandonment of
self-will; it ended with complete surrender of self-will. When we have
done all the thinking and planning and weighing, and pride ourselves
upon _our_ wisdom, we are not yet wise. One more step remains to be
taken, without which we only may avoid the wrong; with which, however,
we shall surely come upon the right. We must still say, Teach us, Thou,
to merge our will in Thine....



II. INNER LIFE.


10. I have already stated that Pushkin is a subjective writer. The
great feelers must ever be thus, just as the great reasoners must ever
be objective, just as the great lookers can only be objective. For the
eye looks only on the outward thing; the reason looks only upon the
outward effect, the consequence; but the heart looks not only upon the
thing, but upon its reflection upon self,--upon its moral relation,
in short. Hence the subjectivity of a Tolstoy, a Byron, a Rousseau,
a Jean Paul, a Goethe, who does not become objective until he has
ceased to be a feeler, and becomes the comprehender, the understander,
the seer, the _poised_ Goethe. Marcus Aurelius, Pascal, Amiel, look
into their hearts and write; and Carlyle and Ruskin, even though the
former use "Thou" instead of "I," travel they never so far, still
find their old "I" smiling by their side. But the subjectivity of
Pushkin, unlike that of Walt Whitman, is not only not intrusive, but
it is even delight-giving,--for it paints not the Pushkin that is
different from all other men, but the Pushkin that is in fellowship
with all other men; he therefore, in reporting himself, voices the
very experience of his fellows, who, though feeling it deeply, were
yet unable to give it tongue. It is this which makes Pushkin the poet
in its original sense,--the maker, the sayer, the namer. And herein is
his greatness,--in expressing not what is his, in so far that it is
different from what is other men's, but what is his, _because_ it is
other men's likewise. Herein he is what makes him a man of genius. For
what does a genius do?

11. What is it that makes the water, when spouting forth in a smooth
stream from the hose, such a power? What is it that makes the beauty
of the stem and curve of the body of water, as it leaps out of the
fountain? It is the same water which a few yards back we can see
flowing aimless in stream or pond. Yes, but it is the concentration
of the loose elements into harmonious shape, whether for utility, as
in the case of the hose-spout, or for beauty, as in the case of the
fountain. Nought new is added to the _mass_ existing before. This is
precisely the case of genius. He adds nought to what has gone before
him. He merely arranges, formulates. A vast unorganized mass of
intelligence, of aspiration, of feeling, becomes diffused over mankind.
Soon it seeks organization. The poet, the prophet, the seer, cometh,
and lo, he becomes the magnet round which all spiritual force of the
time groups itself in visible shape, in formulated language.

12. Pushkin, then, is self-centred; but it is the self that is not
Pushkin, but man. His mood is others' mood; and in singing of his life,
he sings of the life of all men. The demon he sings of in the poem
called "My Demon" is not so much his demon alone as also yours, mine,
ours. It is his demon because it is all men's demon.

    "A certain evil spirit then
    Began in secret me to visit.
    Grievous were our meetings,
    His smile, and his wonderful glance,
    His speeches, these so stinging,
    Cold poison poured into my soul.
    Providence with slander
    Inexhaustible he tempted;
    Of Beauty as a dream he spake
    And inspiration he despised;
    Nor love, nor freedom trusted he,
    On life with scorn he looked--
    And nought in all nature
    To bless he ever wished."

And this demon--"the Spirit of Denial, the Spirit of Doubt"--of which
he sings afterwards so pathetically tormented him long. He began with
"Questionings:"--

    "Useless gift, accidental gift,
    Life, why art thou given 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?..."

And he continues with "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."

13. And this demon gives him no rest, even long after he had found
the answer,--that the meaning of Life is in _Work_. Solve the problem
of life? _Live_, and you solve it; and to live means to do. But that
work was the solution of the problem of life he indeed discerned but
vaguely. It was with him not yet conscious fulfilment. He had not yet
formulated to himself the gospel he unconsciously obeyed. Hence the
wavering of 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?"

14. And for the same reason, when he had ceased to be a roamer and at
last settled down to quiet home-life, the memory of the days of yore
still gives him a pang; and at the sight of the gypsies, whose free and
easy life once occupied his thoughts seriously, not only to sing of
them, but to live with them, only a plaintive note bursts forth from
his soul:--

    "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."

15. And this too when these same "rural comforts" he now regrets to
have taken in exchange for his wanderings were the very circumstances
he sighed for when he did lead the free life he now envies the gypsies
for. For this is what he then had been singing:

    "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 pursue.

    "But even far, in a foreign land
    In thought forever roam I shall
    Around Trimountain mine:
    By meadows, river, by its hills,
    By garden, linden, nigh the house."

16. No wonder, therefore, that the demon, having unsettled the poet's
soul with restlessness, should now unsettle his reasoning powers
with regrets. For regret is at bottom a disease, an inability to
perceive that the best way to mend harm once done is not in lamenting
the past, but in struggling for a future; in which future much of
the past could be undone; or if it could not be undone, at least it
could be prevented from contaminating with its corpse the life of
the future. And his regret is bitter enough. In the first of the two
poems, "Regret" and "Reminiscence," the feeling again is as yet only
discernment; but in the second, the poison has already entered his
soul, and accordingly it no longer is a song, but a cry of agony....

At first it is is only--

    "But where are ye, O moments tender
    Of young my hopes, of heartfelt peace?
    The former heat and grace of inspiration?
    Come again, O ye, of spring my years!"

But later it becomes--

    "Before me memory in silence
    Its lengthy roll unfolds,
    And with disgust my life I reading
    Tremble I and curse it.
    Bitterly I moan, and bitterly my tears I shed
    But wash away the lines of grief I cannot.
    In laziness, in senseless feasts,
    In the madness of ruinous license,
    In thraldom, poverty, and homeless deserts
    My wasted years there I behold...."

17. Regret, in itself a disease, but only of the intellect,
soon changes into a more violent disease: into a disease of the
constitution, which is fear, fear of insanity. In ordinary minds such
disease takes the form of fear for the future, of worry for existence;
in extraordinary minds it takes more ghastly shapes,--distrust of
friends, and dread of the close embrace of what is already stretching
forth its claws after the soul,--insanity.

Hence,--

    "God grant I grow not insane:
    No, better the stick and beggar's bag;
    No, better toil and hunger bear.
      .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
                    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."

18. That thoughts of death should now be his companions is only to be
expected. But here again his muse plainly sings itself out in both
stages,--the stage of discernment and the stage of fulfilment. In the
first of the two poems, "Elegy" and "Death-Thoughts" he only _thinks_
of death; in the second he already _longs_ for it.

In the first it is only--

    "My wishes I have survived,
    My ambition I have outgrown!
    Left only is my smart,
    The fruit of emptiness of heart.

    "Under the storm of cruel Fate
    Faded has my blooming crown!
    Sad I live and lonely,
    And wait: Is nigh my end?"

But in the second it already becomes--

    "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.
      .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .

    "Every year thus, every day
    With death my thought I join
    Of coming death the day
    I seek among them to divine."

19. Pushkin died young; that he would have conquered his demon in time
there is every reason to believe, though the fact that he had not yet
conquered him at the age of thirty-eight must show the tremendous
force of bad blood, and still worse circumstance, which combined made
the demon of Pushkin. But already he shows signs of having seen the
promised land.

In the three poems, "Resurrection," "The Birdlet" (iv. 133), and
"Consolation," the first shows that he conquered his regret-disease;
the second, that he already found in Love _some_ consolation for
sorrow. And the third shows that he already felt his way at least to
_some_ peace, even though it be not yet _faith_ in the future, but only
hope. For hope is not yet knowledge; it only trusts that the future
will be good. Faith knows that the future _must_ be good, because it is
in the hands of God, the Good.

In the first it is--

    "Thus my failings vanish too
    From my wearied soul
    And again within it visions rise
    Of my early purer days."

In the second,--

    "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?"

And in the last,--

    "In the future lives the heart:
    Is the present sad indeed?
    'T is but a moment, all will pass...."

This _is_ consoling utterance, but not yet of the highest; and the
loftiest _spiritual_ song, the song of the Psalmist, was not given unto
Pushkin to sing.



III. GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS.


20. I have translated the poems of Pushkin not so much because they
are masterpieces in the literature of Russia, as because I think the
English reading-public has much to learn from him. English literature
is already blessed with masterpieces, which, if readers would only
be content to study them for the sake of what they have to _impart_
(not amuse with!), would give enough employment as well as amusement
for all the time an ordinary reader can give to literature. So that
merely for the sake of making new beauty accessible to English readers,
it is hardly worth while to go out of English literature, and drag
over from beyond the Atlantic poor Pushkin as a new beast in a circus
for admiration. The craze for novelty has its place in human nature
but not as an end in itself. As a literary method, it might be found
commendable in a magazine editor, whose highest ambition is to follow
the standard of a public even he does not respect. It might be found
commendable in a gifted author to whom bread is dearer than _his_
genius, so that he is ready to sacrifice the one to the other; but an
inexperienced author, who has not yet learned wisdom (or is it prudence
merely?) from the bitter literary disappointments which are surely in
store for every earnest, aspiring soul,--such an author, I say,--must
not be expected to make _mere_ novelty his motive for serious work.
Nay, the conclusion at which Pascal arrived, at the age of twenty-six,
that there is really only _one_ book that to an earnest soul is
sufficient for a lifetime to read,--namely, the Bible,--extravagant
though this sound, I am ready, after many years of reflection on this
saying of Pascal, to subscribe to, even at an age when I have six
years of experience additional to his.... To read much, but not many
books, is old wisdom, yet ever new. A literary masterpiece is to be
read, not once, nor twice, nor thrice, but scores of times. A literary
masterpiece should, like true love, grow dearer with intercourse. A
literary masterpiece should be read and re-read until it has become
part of our flesh and circulates in our blood, until its purity, its
loftiness, its wisdom, utter itself in our every deed. It is this
devotion to one book that has made the Puritans of such heroic mould;
they _fed_ on one book until they talked and walked and lived out their
spiritual food. If any one think this estimate of the influence of one
great book exaggerated, let him try to live for one week in succession
wholly in the spirit of the one book that to him is _the_ book (I
will not quarrel with him if it be Smiles instead of St. Matthew, or
Malthus's Essay on Population instead of the Gospel of St. John, or
even our modern realistic Gospel of dirt), and let him see what will
come of it.

21. Shakespeare, Milton, Carlyle, Ruskin, Emerson, Scott, Goldsmith,
Irving, Johnson, Addison, furnish a library which is really enough for
the life-time of _any_ one who takes life seriously, and comes to these
masters, not as a conceited lord waiting for amusement,--as a judge,
in short,--but as a beggar, an humble learner, hoping to carry away
from them not the tickle of pleasure, but the life-giving sustenance.
To _make_ letters a source of amusement is but to dig for iron with a
spade of gold. Amusement is indeed often necessary, just as roasting
eggs is often necessary; but who would travel to a volcano for the
sake of roasting his eggs? No, the masters in letters are not sent to
us for our amusement; they are sent to us to give the one answer to
each of us, which at the peril of our lives we must sooner or later
receive,--the answer to the question: How shall we live to be worthy
of that spark from heaven which is given us in trust to keep alive for
the brief years of life on earth? The great masters, then, are the
inspirers; and God ever sees to it that there be enough inspirers, if
men but see to it that there be enough inspired.

22. But of the millions of the English-speaking readers, who to-day
_assimilates_ the masterpieces of English literature? Generations come,
and generations go. The classic writers keep their reputation; but do
they hold their readers? Do the readers hold to the masters? Not the
masters sway the public taste, not the writers of the first rank, not
the giants; but the pygmies, the minions, the men of the second, fifth,
twentieth rank. If any one think me extravagant, let him cast a glance
of his _open_ eyes at our monthly reviews and magazines, both here
and in England, especially those whose circulation reaches into the
hundreds of thousands....

23. Not, then, because _additional_ masterpieces are needed for rousing
our degenerate literary taste have I translated Pushkin. As long as the
literary editors (who, from the very fact of once having the ear of the
public, become the _stewards of the hungry_) insist on feeding it with
the Roes and the Crawfords and the Haggards and the Stevensons and the
rest of them, not only new masterpieces, but even the old ones will
remain unread. The Bible lies on parlor table (if it ever get there!)
unread; Milton lies indeed beautifully bound, but has to be dusted once
a week; and Emerson need not even be dusted,--he has not yet got as far
as to be the ornament of parlor table.

But I have translated Pushkin because I believe that even the masters
of English literature have defects which are part of the English
character; and as such they must reappear in its literature. And it is
against these that Pushkin's poems offer a healthy remedy.

24. For the first characteristic of the Anglo-Saxon race is that it is
a race of talkers; and the destinies of the two most advanced nations
of that race are to-day governed almost wholly by men whose strength
is neither in the head nor in the will nor in the heart, but in the
tongue. But the talker cares only for the effect of the moment. With
the great hereafter he has but little to do; hence he becomes, first of
all, a resounder, a thunderer, a sky-rockety dazzler. And once that,
the orator need not even care whether he persuade or not; if he merely
astound the ear, dazzle the eye, and overwhelm the hearer himself for
the moment,--if, in short, he but produce _an_ effect, even if it be
not _the_ effect desired,--it is well with him in his own estimation.
The orator thus soon becomes the mere rhetorician. And this rhetorical
quality, appealing as it does only to the superficial in man, and
coming as it does only from the surface of the man, is found nowhere
in such excess as in the poetry of the Anglo-Saxon race. Ornament,
metaphor, must be had, and if it cannot be had spontaneously from a
fervid imagination, which alone is the legitimate producer of metaphor,
recourse must be had to manufactured sound. Hence there is scarcely a
single poet in the English tongue whose style is not vitiated by false
metaphor; this is true of the greatest as well as of the least. The
member of Parliament who smelt a rat, and saw it brewing in the air
until it was in danger of becoming an apple of discord to the honorable
members of the House, could have been born only on British soil. To
take up arms against a sea of trouble, and to discover footprints in
the sands of time while sailing over life's solemn main (no less than
five false metaphors in this example from the Psalm of Life!) are feats
that can be accomplished by the imagination of even a Shakespeare or a
Longfellow solely because these are Anglo-Saxons. And I am yet to see
five consecutive pages of any Anglo-Saxon poet free from this literary
vice of false metaphor! I call this a vice because it is at bottom an
insincerity of imagination. The false metaphors are not pictures seen,
but pictures made up; they are not the spontaneous outbursts of an
overflowing imagination, but the ground-out product of pictureless will
for the sake of effect. And this I do not hesitate to call literary
insincerity even though the process of making them up be unconscious at
the time to the poet himself.

25. Now it is Pushkin's great virtue that his imagination is eminently
spontaneous. He seldom uses adjectives; but when he does use them,
he uses such only as do actually describe something. He seldom
uses similes or metaphors,--he prefers to sing of the subjects
themselves, not of what they resemble; but when he does use them,
the reader's imagination is able to _see_ the picture the poet had
in mind, which is not often true of the English bards. Examples for
comparison are innumerable; let a few suffice. Turn to Pushkin's
lines, "Regret." He there regrets the days of his youth, but first
tells by way of contrast what he does not regret; and his poem is
simple, straightforward. Byron, however, in his "Stanzas for Music,"
of which Canon Farrar thought well enough to insert them in his "With
the Poets," and Mr. Palgrave thinks good enough to be admitted into
his "Treasury of English Poetry," finds it necessary to preface it
with something like philosophical remarks, and then proceeds in this
fashion:--

    "Then the few whose _spirits float above the wreck of happiness_
    _Are driven o'er the shoals of guilt or ocean of excess:_
    _The magnet of their course is gone, or only points in vain_
    _The shore to which their shivered sail shall never stretch again_.

    "Then _the mortal coldness of the soul_ till death itself comes down;
    It cannot feel for other's woes, it dare not dream it's own.
    _That heavy chill has frozen o'er the fountain of our tears_,
    And though the eye may sparkle still, 't is where the ice appears,

    "Oh, could I feel as I have felt, or be what I have been,
    Or weep as I could once have wept o'er many a vanished scene,
    As springs in deserts found seem sweet, all brackish though they be,
    _So midst the withered waste of life,_ those tears would flow to me."

One must go to Shakespeare's Sonnets for poetry as false as this. Among
writers with the true poetic feeling, such as Byron truly had, I know
not the like of this except these. Of these twelve lines only the first
two of the last stanza are _true_, are _felt;_ the rest are _made._ How
are _we_, not Arabs but English-talking folk, to know the springs which
in deserts found seem (_do_ they?) sweet, brackish though they be? And
Byron _was_ a poet! But even a Byron cannot make a shivered sail or
a coldness of a soul which is mortal, or a chill that freezes over a
fountain of tears anything but mere verbiage, and verbiage moreover
which instead of the intended sadness is dangerously nigh raising
laughter....

26. Again, take Longfellow's "Hymn to Night:"--

    "I heard the trailing garments of the night
    Sweep through her marble halls!
    I saw her sable skirts all fringed with light
    From the celestial walls.
      .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
    From the cool cisterns of the midnight air,
    My spirit drank repose."

For the like of this one can no longer go even to Shakespeare's
Sonnets. For Shakespeare was still a poet. One must now go to Mrs.
Deland, who is not even that. For observe:

Night has halls, and these halls are marble halls; and this
marble-hailed Night is unable to stay at home, and must go forth, and
accordingly she does go in full dress with her garments trailing with
a right gracious sweep. And the bard not only sees the sable skirts
which dangle about in fringes made phosphorescent by contact with
the celestial walls of such peculiar marble, but he even hears the
rustle.... And these halls with accommodating grace are changed into
cool, deep cisterns from which accordingly the bard's spirit with due
solemnity draws into his spirit's wide-opened mouth a draught of repose.

27. Turn from this "Hymn to Night" of thirty lines to the three lines
of Pushkin in his "Reminiscence," which alone he devotes to Night:--

    "When noisy day to mortals quiet grows,
    And upon the city's silent walls
    _Night's shadow half-transparent lies."_

The marble halls and the trailing garments were _ground out_ from the
writer's fingers; the half-transparent shadow of the poet _came_ to the
poet....

28. After such examples of wretchedness from real giants such as Byron
and Longfellow indisputably are, I do not hesitate to ask the reader
for a last example to turn first to Pushkin's "Cloud," and then read
Shelley's poem on the same subject:--

    "I bear light shade for the leaves _when laid
    In their noonday dreams_. [Just _how_ are leaves thus laid?]
    From my wings are shaken the dews that waken
    The sweet buds every one,
    _When rocked to rest on their mother's breast_,
    _As she dances about in the sun."_

(Oh, good, my Shelley! one _dances_ to and fro; one cannot dance in
a uniform, straightforward motion. Thy imagination never _saw_ THAT
picture! Spin, whirl, rush,--yes, but _dance_?)

    "That orbèd maiden with white fire laden
    Whom mortals call the Moon
    _Glides glimmering o'er my fleece-like floor_,
    By the midnight breezes strewn;
    _And wherever the beat of her unseen feet_
    Which only the angels hear
    May have broken the woof of my tent's roof,
    The stars peep behind her and peer."

Who has not been stirred by the sight of the fleece-like, broken clouds
on a moonlight night? But who on looking up to that noble arch overhead
at such a moment could _see_ it as a _floor_?...

29. I call this wretched poetry, even though other critics vociferously
declare Shelley's "Cloud" to be one of the masterpieces of the English
language. _De gustibus non disputandum_. The Chinese have a liking, it
is said, for black teeth, and a bulb of a nose is considered a great
beauty in some parts of Africa, and a human leg is considered a great
delicacy by some Islanders; but....

30. And the second characteristic of the Anglo-Saxon race, which,
however valuable it may prove in practical life, is reflected
disastrously in its poetry, is its incapacity to appreciate true
sentiment. An Anglo-Saxon knows sentimentality when he sees it, he
knows morbidness when he sees it; but the healthy sentiment of which
these are but the diseases he is incapable of appreciating to a depth
where it would become part of his life. Hence, though a Malthus might
have written his Essay on Population anywhere, since it is a truly
cosmopolitan book, a Malthusian doctrine with all that it means and
stands for could have grown up only on British soil; and though the
warning voice against the dangers of sentimental charity (_if_ there
really be such a thing, and _if_ such a thing, supposing it to exist,
be really dangerous!) might be lifted in any land, the hard, frigid,
almost brutal doctrine of scientific charity could strike root only
in London, and blossom out in full array only in a city like Boston.
The reader will please observe that I do not here undertake to judge.
Malthusian doctrine, scientific charity, brutality of any kind may be
necessary, for aught I know. A great many well-meaning and kind-hearted
people have in sober thought decided that it often is necessary. I
am only stating what seems to me to be a fact. To me this is a most
melancholy fact; to others it may be a joyful fact. But whether joyful
or melancholy, this fact explains why so little sentiment is found
among the Anglo-Saxon poets even when they _feel_ their passions, and
do not, as is usually the case with them, reason about them, or what is
worse, compose far-fetched similes about them. Glimpses of sentiment
are of course found now and then, but only now and then. It is not
often that Wordsworth sings in such pure strains as that of the lines,--

    "My heart leaps up when I behold
    A Rainbow in the sky."

It is not often that Byron strikes a chord as deep as that of the lines
"In an Album:"--

    "As o'er the cold, sepulchral stone,
    Some name arrests the passer-by."

It is here, however, that Pushkin is unsurpassed. One must go to Heine,
one must go to Uhland, to Goethe, to find the like of him. And what
makes him master here is the fact that his sentiment comes out pure,
that it comes forth fused. And it comes thus because it comes from
the depths; and as such it must find response even in an Anglo-Saxon
heart, provided it has not yet been eaten into by Malthusian law and
scientific charity. Pushkin's sentiment extorts respect even where it
finds no longer any response; and as the sight of nobility stirs a
healthy soul to noble deeds, as the sight of beauty refines the eye,
so the presence of true sentiment can only awaken whatever sentiment
already sleeps within us. It is for supplying this glaring defect in
the English poets that a reading of Pushkin becomes invaluable. I
almost fear to quote or compare. Sentiment cannot be argued about;
like all else of the highest, deepest, like God, like love, it must be
_felt_. Where it is understood, nothing need be said; where it is not
understood, nothing can be said....

31. And yet a single example I venture to give. Pushkin's "Inspiring
Love" and Wordsworth's "Phantom of Delight" treat of the same theme.
Pushkin sees his beloved again, and after years--

    "Enraptured beats again my heart,
    And risen are for it again
    Both reverence and Inspiration
    And life, and tears, and love."

Wordsworth also gets now a nearer view of his "Phantom of Delight;" and
the sight rouses him to this pitch of enthusiastic sentiment:

    "And now I see with eye serene,
    The very pulse of the _machine_."

In the presence of such bungling, I am almost ashamed to call
attention, not to the machine that has a pulse, but to that noble woman
who, purified, clarified in the imagination by the heat of a melted
heart, can only become to the poet, a--machine. And this is the poet
(whose very essence should be sensitiveness, delicacy, _sentiment_) who
is ranked by Matthew Arnold as the greatest poet since Shakespeare....

32. I have given only one example, though there is hardly a volume of
English poetry, with the possible exception of those of Burns, which
does not furnish dozens of examples. If I give only one, it is because
I have in mind Æsop's lioness, who gave such smart reply when chided
for giving birth to only one young....

33. There is, indeed, one poet in the English language whose pages
throb with sentiment, and who is moreover singularly free from that
literary vice which I have called insincerity of imagination; in purity
of pictures, in simplicity of sentiment, Goldsmith is unsurpassed in
any tongue, but Goldsmith was not an Anglo-Saxon. And even Macaulay's
great praise of "The Traveller" has not been sufficient to give it
a place of _authority_ among readers. The persons that read "The
Traveller" once a year, as such a possession for all times should be
read by rational readers, are very few.

34. From what I have designated as the first characteristic of the
Anglo-Saxon race--its rhetorical quality--springs the second, which
I have designated as the superficiality of sentiment; since the
rhetorician needs no depth, and when he does need it, he needs it only
for the moment. And from this same rhetorical quality springs the
third characteristic of English writers which appears in literature
as a vice. I mean their comparative lack of the sense of form, of
measuredness, literary temperance,--the want, in short, of the
_artistic_ sense. For architectural proportion, with beginning, middle,
and end in proper relation, English poets have but little respect, and
it is here that Pushkin is again master. It is the essence of poetry,
that which makes it _not-prose_, that it is intense; but intensity to
produce its effect must be short-lived. Prolonged, like a stimulant,
it ceases to act. Hence, one of the first laws of poetry is that the
presentation of its scenes, emotions, episodes, be brief. Against this
law the sins in English literature among its masters are innumerable.
Take, for instance, the manner in which Pushkin, on the one hand, and
English poets, on the other, treat an object which has ever affected
men with poetic emotion.

35. Many are the English poets who have tried their voices in singing
of birds; Wordsworth's lines to the Skylark, the Green Linnet, the
Cuckoo, Shelley's piece "To a Skylark," Keats's "Ode to a Nightingale,"
Bryant's "Lines to a Waterfowl," attest sufficiently the inspiration
which tender birdie hath for the soul of man. Now read these in the
light of Pushkin's twenty lines called "The Birdlet." Bryant alone, it
seems to me, holds his own by the side of Pushkin. Shelley and Keats
are lengthy to weariness; and Wordsworth is almost painfully tame. What
thoughtlet or emotionlet these are stirred with at the sight of birdie
is like a babe in the swaddling-clothes of fond, but inexperienced
parents, suffocated in its wrappage.

36. This measuredness Pushkin displays best in his narrative poems.
His story _moves._ His "Delibash" is the finest example of rapidity of
execution combined with fidelity of skill. And the vividness of his
stories in "The Drowned," "The Roussalka," and "The Cossak," is due not
so much to the dramatic talent Pushkin doubtless possessed as to the
sense of proportion which saved him from loading his narrative with
needless detail. Gray's "Elegy," for instance, matchless in its beauty,
is marred by the needless appendage of the youth himself. This part of
the poem seems _patched on_ Wordsworth's "Lucy Gray" seems to justify
Goldsmith's bold metaphor,--for it does drag a lengthening chain at
each remove. Longfellow's "Prelude" has like "Sartor Resartus" a most
unwieldy apparatus for getting ready. The poet there is ever ready to
say something, but hardly says it even at the end. And even Tennyson,
who at one time did know what it was to keep fine poise in such
matters, is frequently guilty of this merely getting ready to say his
say.

37. These, then, are the three great virtues of Pushkin's poems: They
have sincere imagination, which means pure taste; they have true
sentiment, which means pure depth; they have true measure, which means
pure art. Pushkin has many more virtues which are common to all great
poets; but of these three I thought necessary to speak in detail.



Poems: Autobiographical.


MON PORTRAIT.

X. 35.[1]


    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.

    One, 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
    Elle 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 reconnaître:
    Oui! tel que le bon Dieu me fit,
    Je veux toujours paraître.

    Vrai demon pour l'espièglerie,
    Vrai singe par sa mine,
    Beaucoup et trop d'étourderie,--
    Ma foi--voilà Poushkine.
    $/


    [Footnote 1: See Preface, § 1.]



    MY PEDIGREE.

    IV. 66.


    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 stern 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.



    MY MONUMENT.

    IV. 23.


    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.

    IV. 1.


    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.



    MY DEMON.

    IV. 107.

    In those days when new to me were
    Of existence all impressions:--
    The maiden's glances, the forests' whisper,
    The song of nightingale at night;
    When the sentiments elevated
    Of Freedom, glory and of love,
    And of art the inspiration
    Stirred deeply so my blood:--
    My hopeful hours and joyful
    With melancholy sudden dark'ning
    A certain evil spirit then
    Began in secret me to visit.
    Grievous were our meetings,
    His smile, and his wonderful glance,
    His speeches, these so stinging
    Cold poison poured into my soul.
    Providence with slander
    Inexhaustible he tempted;
    Of Beauty as a dream he spake
    And inspiration he despised;
    Nor love, nor freedom trusted he,
    On life with scorn he looked--
    And nought in all nature
    To bless he ever wished.

    1823.



    REGRET.

    IV. 76.


    Not ye regret I, of spring my years,
    In dreams gone by of hopeless love;
    Not ye regret I, O mysteries of nights.
    By songstress passionate celebrated;

    Not ye, regret I, O my faithless friends
    Nor crowns of feasts, nor cups of circle,
    Nor ye regret I, O traitresses young--
    To pleasures melancholy stranger am I.

    But where are ye, O moments tender
    Of young my hopes, of heartfelt peace?
    The former heat and grace of inspiration?
    Come again, O ye, of spring my years!



    REMINISCENCE.

    IV. 96.


    When noisy day to mortals quiet grows,
    And upon the city's silent walls
    Night's shadow half-transparent lies,
    And Sleep, of daily toils reward,--
    Then for me are dragging in the silence
    Of wearying wakefulness the hours.
    In the sloth of night more scorching burn
    My heart's serpents' gnawing fangs;
    Boil my thoughts; my soul with grief oppressed
    Full of reveries sad is thronged.
    Before me memory in silence
    Its lengthy roll unfolds.
    And with disgust my life I reading
    Tremble I and curse it.
    Bitterly I moan, and bitterly my tears I shed,
    But wash away the lines of grief I cannot.

    In laziness, in senseless feasts
    In the craziness of ruinous license,
    In thraldom, poverty, and homeless deserts
    My wasted years there I behold.
    Of friends again I hear the treacherous greeting
    Games amid of love and wine.
    To the heart again insults brings
    Irrepressible the cold world.
    No joy for me,--and calmly before me
    Of visions young two now rise:
    Two tender shades, two angels me
    Given by fate in the days of yore.
    But both have wings and flaming swords,
    And they watch--... and both are vengeant,
    And both to me speak with death tongue
    Of Eternity's mysteries, and of the grave.

    1828.



    ELEGY.

    IV. 85.


    My wishes I have survived,
    My ambition I have outgrown!
    Left only is my smart,
    The fruit of emptiness of heart.

    Under the storm of cruel Fate
    Faded has my blooming crown!
    Sad I live and lonely,
    And wait: Is nigh my end?

    Thus touched by the belated frost,
    When storm's wintry whistle is heard,
    On the branch bare and lone
    Trembles the belated leaf.

    1821.



    RESURRECTION.

    IV. 116.


    With sleepy brush the barbarian artist
    The master's painting blackens;
    And thoughtlessly his wicked drawing
    Over it he is daubing.

    But in years the foreign colors
    Peal off, an aged layer:
    The work of genius is 'gain before us,
    With former beauty out it comes.

    Thus my failings vanish too
    From my wearied soul,
    And again within it visions rise,
    Of my early purer days.

    1819



    THE PROPHET.

    IV. 19.


    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
    Mine eyes he touched:
    And mine eyes opened wise
    Like 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 angel's 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 with sword my breast,
    And out he took my trembling heart,
    And a coal with flaming blaze
    Into the opened breast he shoved.
    Like a corpse I lay in the desert.
    And the voice of God unto me called:
    Arise, O prophet, and listen, and guide.
    Be thou filled with my will,
    And going over land and sea
    Fire with the word the hearts of men!

    1826.



Poems: Narrative.


    THE OUTCAST.

    III. 5.


    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 hills and the woods
    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 tho' 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 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 griefs bitter
    Mar thy childhood's quiet life!

    But lo! behind the woods, near by
    The moon brings a hut to light.
    Forlorn, pale, and trembling
    To the doors nigh she came.
    She stooped and gently laid she down
    The babe on the threshold strange.
    In terror away her eyes she turned
    And in the dark night disappeared.

    1814.



    THE BLACK SHAWL.

    III. 83.


    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 Danube's billows--

    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.

    1820.



    THE ROUSSALKA.

    III. 71.


    By a lake once in forest darkness
    A monk his soul was saving,
    Ever in stern occupation
    Of prayer, fast, and labor.
    Already with slackened shovel
    The aged man his grave was digging,
    And only for death in peace and quiet
    To his saintly patrons prayed he.

    Once in summer at the threshold
    Of his drooping little hut
    To God was praying the hermit.
    Darker grew the forest.
    Over the lake was rising fog.
    And in the clouds the reddish moon
    Was gently rolling along the sky.
    Upon the waters the hermit gazed.

    He looks, and fears, and knows not why,
    Himself he cannot understand....
    Now he sees: the waves are seething
    And suddenly again are quiet....

    Suddenly ... as light as shade of night,
    As white as early snow of hills,
    Out cometh a woman naked
    And on the shore herself she seats.

    Upon the aged monk she gazes
    And she combs her moistened tresses--
    The holy monk with terror trembles,
    Upon her charms still he gazes;
    With her hand to him she beckons
    And her head she's quickly nodding....
    And suddenly like a falling star
    The dreamy wave she vanished under.

    The sober monk, all night he slept not,
    And all day he prayed not
    The shadow unwittingly before him
    Of the wondrous maid he ever sees.
    Again the forest is clad in darkness,
    Along the clouds the moon is sailing.
    Again the maid above the water,
    Pale and splendent there she sits.

    Gaze her eyes, nods her head,
    Throws kisses, and she's sporting,
    The wave she sprinkles, and she frolics;
    Child-like weeping now and laughing;

    Sobbing tender--the monk she calls:
    Monk, O monk, to me, to me!
    Into the waves transparent she dashes;
    And again is all in silence deep.

    But on the third day the roused hermit
    The enchanted shores nigh sitting was,
    And the beautiful maid he awaited.
    Upon the trees were falling shades....
    Night at last by dawn was chased--
    And nowhere monk could be found,
    His beard alone, the gray one
    In the water the boys could see.

    1819.



    THE COSSAK.

    III. 14.


    Once at midnight hour,
    Darkness thro' and fog,
    Quiet by the river
    Rode a Cossak brave.

    Black his cap upon his ear,
    Dust-covered is his coat,
    By his knee the pistols hang
    And nigh the ground his sword.

    The faithful steed, rein not feeling
    Is walking slowly on,
    (Long its mane is, and is waving)
    Ever further it keeps on.

    Now before him two--three huts:
    Broken is the fence;
    To the village here the road,
    To the forest there.

    "Not in forest maid is found,"
    Dennis thinks, the brave.
    "To their chambers went the maids;
    Are gone for the night."

    The son of Don he pulls the rein
    And the spur he strikes:
    Like an arrow rushed the steed--
    To the huts he turned.

    In the clouds the distant sky
    Was silvering the moon;
    A Beauty-Maid in melancholy
    By the window sits.

    Espies the brave the Beauty-Maid,
    Beats his heart within:
    Gently steed to left, to left--
    Under the window now is he.

    "Darker growing is the night
    And hidden is the moon;
    Quick, my darling, do come out,
    Water give my steed."

    "No, not unto a man so young;
    Right fearful't is to go;
    Fearful't is my house to leave,
    And water give thy steed."

    "Have no fear, O Beauty-Maid,
    And friendship close with me"--
    "Brings danger night to Beauty-Maids,"
    "Fear me not, O joy of mine!

    "Trust me, dear, thy fear is vain,
    Away with terror groundless!
    Time thou losest precious,
    Fear not, O my darling!

    Mount my steed; with thee I will
    To distant regions gallop;
    Blest with me be thou shalt,
    Heaven with mate is everywhere."

    And the maid? Over she bends,
    Her fear is overcome,
    Bashfully to ride consents,
    And the Cossak happy is.

    Off they dart, away they fly;
    Are loving one another.
    Faithful he for two brief weeks,
    Forsook her on the third.

    1815.



    THE DROWNED.

    IV. 185.


    Into the hut the children run,
    In haste they called their father:
    "Papa, papa, oh, our nets
    Out a corpse have dragged."
    "Ye lie, ye lie, ye little devils"
    Upon them father grumbled.
    "I declare, those wicked brats!
    Corpse now too have they must!

    "Down will come the court, 'Give answer!'
    And for an age no rest from it.
    But what to do? Heigh, wife, there,
    My coat give me, must get there somehow....
    Now where's the corpse?"--"Here, papa, here!"
    And in truth along the river,
    Where is spread the moistened net,
    Upon the sand is seen the corpse.

    Disfigured terribly the corpse is,
    Is blue, and all is swollen.
    Is it a hapless sorrower,
    Who ruined has his sinful soul,
    Or by the waves a fisher taken,
    Or some fellow, drunkard,
    Or by robbers stripped, perchance,
    Trader some, unbusinesslike?

    To the peasant, what is this?
    About he looks and hastens....
    Seizes he the body drowned,
    By the feet to water drags it,
    And from the shore the winding
    Off he pushes it with oar
    Downward 'gain floats the corpse,
    And grave, and cross still is seeking.

    And long the dead among the waves,
    As if living, swinging, floated;
    With his eyes the peasant him
    Homeward going, followed.
    "Ye little dogs, now follow me,
    Each of you a cake shall have;
    But look ye out, and hold your tongues!
    Else a thrashing shall ye have."

    At night the wind to blow began
    Full of waves became the river;
    Out the light was already going
    In the peasant's smoky hut.
    The children sleep; the mother slumbers.
    On the oven husband lies.
    Howls the storm; a sudden knocking
    He hears of some one at the window.

    "Who's there?"--"Ope the door I say!"
    "Time eno'; what is the matter?
    Wherefore comes tramp at night?
    By the devil art hither brought!
    Wherefore with you should I bother?
    Crowded my house and dark is."
    So saying, he with lazy hand
    Open throws the window.

    Rolls the moon from behind the clouds--
    And now? A naked man before him stands;
    From his beard a stream is flowing
    His glance is fixed, and is open.
    All about him is frightful dumbness
    And his hands are dropped down;
    And to the puffed-out, swollen body
    Black crabs are fastened.

    The peasant quickly shuts the window;
    He recognized his naked guest,
    Is terror-struck. "May you burst!"
    Out he whispered and trembled.
    In great confusion now his thoughts are,
    And all night he shakes in fever;
    And till the morrow still the knocking
    'S heard on the window and at the gates.

    Report there was among the people:
    Saying, since then every year
    Waiting is the hapless peasant
    For his guest on the appointed day.
    In the morning the weather changes
    And at night the storm arrives,
    And the dead man is ever knocking
    By the window, and at the gates.

    1828.



Poems of Nature.


    THE BIRDLET.

    I. 171.


    God's birdlet knows
    Nor care, nor toil;
    Nor weaves it painfully
    An everlasting nest.
    Thro' the long night on the twig it slumbers;
    When rises the red sun
    Birdie listens to the voice of God
    And it starts, and it sings.
    When Spring, Nature's Beauty,
    And the burning summer have passed,
    And the fog, and the rain,
    By the late fall are brought,
    Men are wearied, men are grieved,
    But birdie flies into distant lands,
    Into warm climes, beyond the blue sea:
    Flies away until the spring.

    1824.



    THE CLOUD.

    IV. 95.


    O last cloud of the scattered storm,
    Alone thou sailest along the azure clear;
    Alone thou bringest the shadow sombre,
    Alone thou marrest the joyful day.

    Thou but recently had'st encircled the sky
    When sternly the lightning was winding about thee;
    Thou gavest forth mysterious thunder,
    With rain hast watered the parched earth.

    Enough! Hie thyself: thy time hath passed:
    Earth is refreshed; the storm hath fled;
    And the breeze, fondling the trees' leaves
    Forth thee chases from the quieted heavens!

    1835.



    THE NORTH WIND.

    IV. 94.


    Why, O wrathful north wind, thou
    The marshy shrub dost downward bend?
    Why thus in the distant sky-vault
    Wrathfully the cloud dost chase?

    The black clouds but recently
    Had spread the whole heavens o'er,
    The oak on hill top but recently
    In beauty wondrous itself was priding.

    Thou hast risen, and up hast played,
    With terror resounded, and with splendor--
    And away are driven the stormy clouds;
    Down is hurled the mighty oak.

    Let now then the sun's clear face
    With joy henceforth ever shine,
    With the clouds now the zephyr play,
    And the bush in quiet sway.

    1824.



    WINTER MORNING.

    IV. 164.


    Frost and sun--the day is wondrous!
    Thou still art slumbering, charming friend.
    'Tis time, O Beauty, to awaken:
    Ope thine eyes, now in sweetness closed,
    To meet the Northern Dawn of Morning
    Thyself a north-star do thou appear!

    Last night, remember, the storm scolded,
    And darkness floated in the clouded sky;
    Like a yellow, clouded spot
    Thro' the clouds the moon was gleaming,--
    And melancholy thou wert sitting--
    But now ... thro' the window cast a look:

    Stretched beneath the heavens blue
    Carpet-like magnificent,
    In the sun the snow is sparkling;
    Dark alone is the wood transparent,
    And thro' the hoar gleams green the fir,
    And under the ice the rivulet sparkles.

    Entire is lighted with diamond splendor
    Thy chamber ... with merry crackle
    The wood is crackling in the oven.
    To meditation invites the sofa.
    But know you? In the sleigh not order why
    The brownish mare to harness?

    Over the morning snow we gliding
    Trust we shall, my friend, ourselves
    To the speed of impatient steed;
    Visit we shall the fields forsaken,
    The woods, dense but recently,
    And the banks so dear to me.

    1829.



    WINTER EVENING.

    IV. 166.


    The storm the sky with darkness covers,
    The snowy whirlings twisting;
    Like a beast wild now is howling,
    Like an infant now is crying;
    Over the aged roof now sudden
    In the straw it rustling is;
    Like a traveller now belated
    For entrance at our window knocking.

    With melancholy and with darkness
    Our little, aged hut is filled
    Why in silence then thou sittest
    By the window, wife old mine?
    Or by the howling storms art
    Wearied thou, O companion mine?
    Or perchance art slumbering,
    By the rustling spindle soothed?

    Let us drink, O kindly friend
    Of my poverty and youth,
    Away with grief,--where is the cup?
    Joy it shall bring to our heart.

    A song now sing me, how the bird
    Beyond the sea in quiet lived;
    A song now sing me, how the maiden
    In the morning for water went.

    The storm the sky with darkness covers,
    The snowy whirlings twisting;
    Like a beast wild now is howling,
    Like an infant now is crying.
    Let us drink, O kindly friend
    Of my poverty and youth,
    Away with grief,--where is the cup
    Joy it shall bring to our heart!

    1826.



    THE WINTER-ROAD.

    IV. 161.


    Breaking thro' the waving fogs
    Forth the moon is coming,
    And on the gloomy acres
    She gloomy light is shedding.

    Along the wintry, cheerless road
    Flies the rapid troika
    The little bell monotonous
    Wearily is tinkling.

    A certain homefulness is heard
    In the driver's lengthy lays:
    Now light-hearted carelessness,
    Now low-spirited sadness.

    Neither light, nor a dark hut ...
    Only snow and silence....
    Striped mileposts are alone
    The travellers who meet us.

    Sad I feel and weary.... On the morrow, Nina,
    To my beloved I returning
    Forget myself shall by the fire
    And scarce eno' at her shall gaze.

    Loudly of my watch the spring
    Its measured circle is completing
    And us the parter of the wearied,
    Midnight, not shall separate.

    Sad I'm, Nina; my journey's weary;
    Slumbering now, my driver is quiet
    The little bell is monotonous
    And darkened now is the moon's face.

    1826.



    Poems of Love.



    THE STORM-[MAID].

    IV. 146.


    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.

    III. 43.


    Have ye heard 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.


    IV. 136.


            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.]

    IV. 152.


    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.]

    IV. 85.

    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.

    IV. 99.


    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--
    On earth one heart is where yet I live!

    1829.



    THE AWAKING.

    III. 42.


    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.

    III. 39.


    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.

    1816.



    [FIRST LOVE.]

    I. 112.


    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.

    III. 99.


    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."

    1821.



    THE BURNT LETTER.

    IV. 87.


    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: burn, 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
    Burns 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.]

    IV. 135.


    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.

    1828.



    SIGNS.

    IV. 125.


    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!

    1829.



    A PRESENTIMENT.

    IV. 97.


    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.]

    III. 221.


    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.]

    IV. 101.


    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.

    III. 146.


    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.

    IV. 100.


    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.

    III. 69.


    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.

    III. 41.


    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.

    III. 38.


    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!
    Dear to me is of love my pain,
    Let me die, but let me die still loving!

    1816.



    [RESIGNED LOVE.]

    IV. 99.


    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.]

    III. 157.


    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.]

    IV. 118.


    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.]

    IV. 117.


    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 voice,
    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.]

    III. 160.


    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.

    IV. 133.


    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.

    IV. 145.


    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.

    IV. 95.


    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.

    IV. 271.


    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 stern 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.

    IV. 144.


    Child, I dare not over thee
    Pronounce a blessing;
    Thou art of consolation a quiet angel
    May then happy be thy lot....



    THE POET.

    (IV. 2).


    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 stern, rushes he,
    Of tumult full and sound,
    To the shores of desert wave,
    Into the widely-whispering wood.

    1827.



    TO THE POET.

    SONNET.


    (IV. 9).

    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.

    IV. 134.


    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.

    IV. 151.


    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.

    IV. 101.


    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.]

    IV. 98.

    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.]

    IV. 142.


    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.]

    III. 201.


    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.]

    III. 102.


    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?

    1824.



    THE ANGEL.

    IV. 108.


    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.]

    III. 131.


    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.]

    III. 149.


    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.



    [DEATH-THOUGHTS.]

    IV. 93.


    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.]

    IV. 10.


    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.

    IV. 157.


    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.

    IV. 155.


    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!



Notes.


MY PEDIGREE.

These lines owe their origin to a public attack on Pushkin by Bulgarin,
a literary magnate of those days. Bulgarin disliked Pushkin and,
therefore, saw no merit in his poetry. But unable to argue against his
poetry, he argued against Pushkin's person, and abused the poet for
his fondness to refer to his ancient ancestry. Stung to the quick by
a childish paragraph in Bulgarin's organ, "The Northern Bee," Pushkin
wrote these lines. But on their publication which, I think, took place
some time after they were written, though they went into circulation
immediately, they made much bad blood. The Menshchikofs did not like to
be reminded of the cakes their ancestor sold, nor the Rasumofskys of
the fact that their countship was earned by the good voice of the first
of that name. And the Kutaissoffs did not like to be told that Count
Kutaissoff was originally Paul's shoe-black. The very pride in his
ancestors, which made Pushkin ridiculous in the eyes of his enemies,
made him forget the fact that selling cakes and blacking shoes, even
though they be an emperor's, is by no means a thing to be ashamed of;
and that, even if it were a thing to be ashamed of, the descendants
of evil-doers are by no means responsible for the deeds of their
ancestors.... The poem, therefore, is an excellent document, not only
for the history of the nobility of Russia, but also for that of poor
Pushkin's soul.

_Nobleman by cross._ There are two kinds of noblemen in Russia: those
who inherit their title, and those who acquire it. Whoever attains a
certain cross as a reward for his service under the government (not,
alas, _the_ cross of true nobility, Christ's cross!) becomes thereby a
"nobleman."

_Our nobility but recent is: the more recent it, the nobler 't is._
This was written fifty years ago, and thousands of miles away from
here. But one would almost believe these lines written in our day, and
at no great distance from Commonwealth Avenue,--so true is it that man
remains, after all, the same in all climes, at all times....

_Of Nizhny Novgorod the citizen plain._ The butcher Minin is here
meant, who, with Prince Pozharsky, delivered Moscow from the Poles just
before the Romanoffs were called to the throne.

_We upon it laid our hands._ Six Pushkins signed this call, and two had
to lay their hand to the paper, because they could not write their own
names.

_Simply Pushkin, not Moussin._ The Moussin-Pushkins of that day were a
very rich and influential family.



MY MONUMENT.

In its present form, this poem did not appear till 1881. After
Pushkin's death it appeared only when altered by Zhukofsky in several
places. The Alexander Column being the tallest monument in Russia,
Pushkin, writing for Russians, used that as an illustration; but the
government could not let the sacrilege pass,--of a _poet's_ monument
ever being taller, even figuratively, than a Russian emperor's. In
1837, therefore, the poet was made to say, "Napoleon's column." The
line in the fourth stanza, which speaks of Freedom, was altered
to "That I was useful by the living charm of verse," and in this
mutilated form this stanza is engraved on the poet's monument in
Moscow, unveiled in 1880.



MY MUSE.

I originally passed over this poem as unworthy of translation, because
I thought it not universal enough; because it seemed to me to express
not the human heart, but the individual heart,--Pushkin's heart. But
the great Byelinsky taught me better. He quotes these lines as a marvel
of classic, of Greek art. "See," he exclaims, "the Hellenic, the
artistic manner (and this is saying the same thing) in which Pushkin
has told us of his call, heard by him even in the days of his youth.
Yes, maugre the happy attempts of Batushkof in this direction before
Pushkin's day, _such_ verses had not been seen till Pushkin in the
Russian land!" And Byelinsky is right. He _saw._ The great critic is
thus an eye-opener, because he sees his author, and because seeing
him he cannot help loving him. For if men truly _knew_ one another
(assuming them to be unselfish), they would love one another.... A
hater is blind though he sees; a lover sees though he be blind. See,
also, about this piece, Introduction, § 4.



MY DEMON.

To this poem Pushkin added a note, which he intended to send to
the periodical press, as if it were the comment of a third person.
Referring to the report that the poet had a friend of his in mind
when he wrote this poem, and used Rayefsky as a model, he says: "It
seems to me those who believe this report are in error; at least, I
see in 'The Demon' a higher aim, a moral aim. Perhaps the bard wished
to typify Doubt. In life's best period, the heart? not as yet chilled
by experience, is open to everything beautiful. It then is trustful
and tender. But by-and-by the eternal contradictions of reality give
birth to doubt in the heart; this feeling is indeed agonizing, but it
lasts not long.... It disappears, but it carries away with it our best
and poetic prejudices of the spirit." [_Are_ they best, if they _are_
prejudices? _Is_ illusion truly poetic?--I. P.] Not, therefore, in
vain has Goethe the Great given the name the Spirit of Denial to man's
eternal enemy. And Pushkin wished to typify the Spirit of Denial.



REGRET.

See Introduction, §§ 16, 25.



THE BIRDLET.

This piece is not found among Pushkin's Lyrical Poems. It is a song
taken from a longer Narrative Poem, called "The Gypsies."



LOVE.

This poem is Pushkin all over. In four lines he has given a whole
drama with a world of pathos and tenderness in it. These four lines
give more instruction in the art of story-telling than volumes on the
"Art of Fiction." A magazine writer, who of the same incidents would
have woven out some twenty pages (of which no fewer than nineteen and
three-quarters would have been writ for the approval of check-book
critic, rather than of the art critic), would have really _told_ less
than Pushkin has here told,--so true is the preacher's criticism on his
own sermon: "Madame, if it had been shorter by half, it would have been
twice as long!"



JEALOUSY.

Of this piece I have already spoken in the Preface, § 7.



IN AN ALBUM.

This is an excellent example of Pushkin's _sentiment_, of which I spoke
in the Introduction, Chapter III. It is all the more entitled to the
consideration of Anglo-Saxon _a priori_ sentiment-haters (it is so easy
to keep to _a priori_ judgments, they are so convenient; they save
discussion!) because Pushkin wrote this piece when fully matured, at
the age of thirty, when his severe classic taste was already formed.



FIRST LOVE.

These lines are taken from the Narrative Poem, "The Prisoner of the
Caucasus."



SIGNS.

Of the more-than-Egyptian number of plagues with which poor Pushkin's
soul was afflicted, superstition was one. He believed in signs, and
sometimes gave up a journey when a hare ran across his road. Owing
to this superstition he once gave up a trip to St. Petersburg, which
probably would have cost him his life, had he made it. For on hearing
of the December rebellion, in which many of his friends took part, he
started for the capital, but the hare....



ELEGY.

The fourth volume of Pushkin's Works, in which this poem was first
published, struck Byelinsky with the poverty of its contents. "But in
the fourth volume of Pushkin's Poems," says he, "there is one precious
pearl which reminds us of the song of yore, of the bard of yore. It is
the elegy, 'The extinguished joy of crazy years.' Yes! such an elegy
can redeem not only a few tales, but even the entire volume of poetry!"
... (Byelinsky's Works, ii. 194.)



LOVE AND FREEDOM.

In the original this poem is called, "To Countess N. V. Kotshubey."



INSPIRING LOVE.

In the original this piece is headed, "To A. P. Kern."



THE GRACES.

Addressed to Princess S. A. Urussov.



TO THE POET.

This is the only poem Turgenef quotes in his speech at the unveiling of
the Pushkin monument in 1880. "Of course," he said, "you all know it,
but I cannot withstand the temptation to adorn my slim, meagre prosy
speech with this poetic gold."



THE TASK.

Byelinsky, who has taught me to appreciate much in Pushkin which I
otherwise would not have appreciated, speaks of this little piece as
"especially excellent" among Pushkin's anthological poems, written
in hexameter, and says, that a breath antique blows from them. Well,
I cannot agree with Byelinsky. There is, doubtless, a _sentimentlet_
in the piece,--a germ; but it is only a germ, incomplete, immature. I
would not have translated it (since its beauty, whatever that be, it
owes entirely to its form, which is untranslatable), but for the sake
of the reader, in justice to whom, a poem so highly thought of by
Byelinsky ought to be given, whatever my opinion of it.



QUESTIONINGS.

In the original this piece is headed, "26 May, 1828."



FAME.

The first cantos of Eugene Onyegin were issued with the "Dialogue
between the Bookseller and the Poet" as a preface. This poem is one of
the arguments of the poet in the dialogue; and, as it is an independent
song in itself, I have not hesitated to treat it as such.



HOME-SICKNESS.

In the original these lines are entitled, "To P. A. Ossipova."



DEATH-THOUGHTS.

In the original this poem is headed, "Stanzas."



RIGHTS.

In the original this is called, "From VI. Pindemonte." But this is
an original piece by Pushkin; at first he called it, "From Alfred
Musset." Evidently the censorship was likely to pass it as a work of a
foreign author where it would not as one of Pushkin; to his political
convictions Pushkin never, indeed, did dare to give free expression. He
never deliberately misled the government, but he did at times lead it
to believe more in his loyalty than was strictly in accordance with the
facts.





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