With Homer you conversed alone for days and nights,
Our waiting hours were passing slowly,
And shining you came down from the mysterious heights
And brought to us your tablets holy -
So? in the wilderness, beneath a tent, you found
Us, feasting mad in empty gaiety,
Singing our savage songs and galloping around
Some newly hand-created deity.
We grew confused, aloof from your good rays hid we.
Then, seized of wrath and desolation,
Have you, O prophet, cursed your mindless family
And smashed your tablets in frustration?
No, you have cursed us not. From heights you disappear
Into the shade of little valleys;
You love the heavens' crash, but also wish to hear
Bees humming over red azaleas.
Such is the honest bard. With passion he laments
At solemn fairs of Melpomena -(2)
To smile upon the crowd's plebeian merriments,
The liberties of coarse arena.
Now Rome is calling him, now majesties of Troy,
Now elder Ossian's craggy gravels -(3)
And in the meantime he will hear with childish joy
Of Czar Sultan's heroic travels.(4)
Translated by Genia Gurarie: 4/27/96
Copyright retained by Genia Gurarie.
For permission to reproduce, write personally to the translator.
1)Gnedich: Russia's first great translator of "Iliad";
2)Melpomene: Muse of tragedy in Greek mythology;
3)Pushkin is listing in these two lines various
subjects of Gnedich's literary engagement;
4)The Tale of Czar Saltan: Pushkin's late fairytale,
much admired by Gnedich, though unfavored by most
contemporary critics for its folkloric vein.
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