Poems (Pushkin, Panin, 1888)/Autobiographical Poems

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Poems by Alexander Pushkin, translated by Ivan Panin
Autobiographical Poems

Poems: Autobiographical.


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.

Onc, il ne fut de babillard,
Ni docteur de Sorbonne
Plus ennuyeux et plus braillard
Que moi-même en personne.

Ma taille à celle des plus longs
Los n'est point égalée;
J'ai le teint frais, les cheveux blonds,
Et la tête bouclée.

J'aime et le monde, et son fracas,
Je hais la solitude;
J'abhorre et noises et débats,
Et tant soit peu l'étude.

Spectacles, bals me plaisent fort,
Et d'après ma pensée
Je dirais ce que j'aime encore,
Si je n'étais au lycée.

Après cela, mon cher ami,
L'on peut me reconnâitre:
Oui! tel que le bon Dieu me fit,
Je veux toujours parâitre.

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



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.



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, О Muse, obey.
Fear not insult, ask not crown:
Praise and blame take with indifference
And dispute not with the fool!

August, 1836.


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.



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.



IV. 76.

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

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

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


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.



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.



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.



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, О 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!


  1. See Preface, § 1.