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.
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.”
Translated by Viktoria Nikola
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
So I endeavored to translate one of my favorite Russian poems by Nikolai Zinoviev:
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.
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.