Page:Poems, Alexander Pushkin, 1888.djvu/16

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Preface: Bibliographical.

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:—