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PUSHKIN'S POEMS

 

Smolensk
 

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In the hope of making Pushkin available to more readers, especially those who have only a slight knowledge of Russian, or none at all, this web site is dedicated to providing a translation of some of his poems. The Russian text is set alongside the translation, to provide easy comparisons for those who wish to make their own efforts. There is very little of Pushkin available on the Internet in English, and this site was, at the time of writing (2001), the only one that provided an English version of Yevgeny (Eugene) Onegin. 
All of Yevgeny Onegin and a few other poems are currently available, both in Russian and English.  The Gypsies has been recently added (Sept 2009).  

Below is one of Pushkin's well known poems. The Russian text is presented as a photographic image, to obviate the possible difficulty of downloading Russian script.   
From April 2010 some early Chekhov short stories have been added.  Check the link above to see what is available.  


 

 

 

By A. Pushkin

 

If I walk the noisy streets,
Or enter a many thronged church,
Or sit among the wild young generation,
I give way to my thoughts.

I say to myself: the years are fleeting,
And however many there seem to be,
We must all go under the eternal vault,
And someone's hour is already at hand.

When I look at a solitary oak
I think: the patriarch of the woods.
It will outlive my forgotten age
As it outlived that of my grandfathers'.

If I caress a young child,
Immediately I think: farewell!
I will yield my place to you,
For I must fade while your flower blooms.

 

Each day, every hour
I habitually follow in my thoughts,
Trying to guess from their number
The year which brings my death.


And where will fate send death to me?
In battle, in my travels, or on the seas?
Or will the neighbouring valley
Receive my chilled ashes?

 And although to the senseless body
It is indifferent wherever it rots,
Yet close to my beloved countryside
I still would prefer to rest.


And let it be, beside the grave's vault
That young life forever will be playing,
And impartial, indifferent nature
Eternally be shining in beauty.

 

 

   
    Views of St. Petersburg in the 19th Century


 

 TRANSLATOR'S NOTE.

 

This translation of Yevgeny Onegin was done between January 2000 and February 2001 as a project for the Internet. It is not intended to supercede all other translations. The reality is that very little Pushkin in English was to be found on the Internet at the time of writing. Even the two providers of free texts, Project Gutenberg and the Oxford Text Archive, offer nothing at all of Pushkin's (Jan 2001). [Now however I am glad to say that more is available.] 

The intention of this web site is to make some of Pushkin's work freely available in English to all who have access to a computer. The English translation offered is provided for those who cannot read the Russian, but who still wish to read Pushkin, and also as an aid to students. It has tried to follow the original fairly closely, so that as far as possible the English reader can see which line of the original the translation derives from. Nevertheless some freedom has been used, in particular by abandoning Pushkin's rhyme scheme. This is impossible to copy in English with any accuracy or fidelity to the sense. Many attempts have been made, and one looks in wonder at the achievements of translators, but I have often felt that the sheer cleverness of English translations distracts from the original and leads one away from Pushkin.   This does not mean that I eschew verse and rhyme completely. Indeed I have been happy to pluck rhymes from the air, and I have been happy also to use hidden and oblique rhymes, wherever it improves the flow of language, or helps to suggest the subtlety and vivacity of the original. I have used more freedom in the translation of the closing couplets than elsewhere, as I believe that doing so preserves more of the spirit of Pushkin than could be achieved by adhering to a more wooden and technically accurate translation. The main aim has been to convey as much as possible of Pushkin's liveliness, the sheer abundance of his invention, and the daring unexpectedness of his wit. There is nothing like it in English literature, and non-Russian readers are depriving themselves of a great treasure by ignoring it. I hope this web site will go some way towards remedying this lack.

It is of course not possible to please everyone. That would be more than a minor miracle, as no doubt even the original was and is disliked by a few readers. I suspect my translation will appeal more to native English speakers than to Russians, since in some places it is slightly irreverent, although I trust that Pushkin's sense of humour would have ensured that he himself would not have felt offended.

I am conscious of inadequacies in the translation, some of which might be remediable, but others which it will probably be impossible to eradicate. Apologies also for any errors in the Russian text. Please keep me informed of these and I will do my best to correct them.

The translation is by G. R. Ledger. 

Best wishes to all. И да поможет Господь всем бесприютным скитальцам.

 

 

G.R.Ledger. Aug. 2009.

 

 

 Web site last updated April 28th 2010.

 


 

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