My Favorite Pushkin Poem

Like the typical Russian, I love Pushkin’s work. It’s so profound and heartbreaking and it captures the very essence of all tortured souls. Unfortunately, it’s really difficult to translate and make it sound as good in English as it sounds in Russian. Nonetheless, I tried. Here’s my favorite Puskin poem, translated by yours truly.

The Angel

By the gates of Eden, an Angel, gentle

Shone with his softly drooping head,

And in the darkness a Demon, rebel

Over the hellish ravine fled

The sp’rit of doubt and of negation

Looked at the other one of good

And in a flame of forced elation

For the first time, he understood

“Pardon,” he said, “but I have seen you

And not in vain you’ve shined me light

Not all in heaven I had hated,

Not all on earth I had despised.”

Alexander Pushkin

Translated by Viktoria Nikola

A Novel Warning

I wrote this poem after I wrote my first novel. If I could, I'd make this the preface to all my works of fiction:




Don’t judge too harshly my rhyme and prose

My Russian soul – the lachrymose

For Pushkin’s ghost possessed my mind

And thus I build his verbal shrine


Let’s cast aside our logic’s reign

Let sane be lost to the insane

Let’s muffle screams of reasoning

Let our hearts sprout those fragile wings


And let us dive into the blue

Where shadows live, where truth’s untrue

Where all that’s wrong and all that’s right

Are switched at birth, and switched by sight


I weave a web of tale and lore

Where all our folly skips and strolls

Where civil wars divide the shards

Of broken hearts and fallen stars


Where cities die and people pass

And sands escape the hourglass

Where souls anew rekindle life

That tiny light put out by strife


Where all our hate is justified

And all our wars bleed out our pride

Where brittle hearts grow faith to soar

But chains of fear entrap that door


I weave a web, so we could learn

From fairytales how fires burn

That we need not, such travesty

I’ll weave this web, then set it free



Viktoria Nikola

2012

One of my favorite Russian Poems

So I endeavored to translate one of my favorite Russian poems by Nikolai Zinoviev:

"I'm Russian"

On the steps of mortal dust and vapor 

A human sat and cried with dread

Then past him walked the God creator

He stopped and sat and to him said



"I am a friend to those downtrodden 

Protector of the broken, blue

I know enriching words to trod in

I am your God, there's nothing I can't do



Your gloomy face is to me crushing

What tragedy fills up your brim?"

The human said, "I am a Russian."

And God began to cry with him.



The original: 

Я Русский

В степи, покрытой пылью бренной,
Сидел и плакал человек.
А мимо шёл Творец Вселенной.
Остановившись, Он изрек:
“Я друг униженных и бедных,
Я всех убогих берегу,
Я знаю много слов заветных.
Я есмь твой Бог. Я всё могу.
Меня печалит вид твой грустный,
Какой нуждою ты тесним?”
И человек сказал: “Я - русский”,
И Бог заплакал вместе с ним.

Н.А. Зиновьев