Last Saturday I bought a collection by Alexander Pushkin, a 19th century Russian poet. Pushkin was among the first poets to write stories in verse. Vikram Seth’s The Golden Gate, a verse novel, was inspired by Pushkin’s work. It’s said about Pushkin’s poetry that they don’t translate well into English (or any other language), but I am finding the poems well translated, in easy, fluid language that’s nice to read. I have not finished the book but am taking a dip some times and am liking the experience. Pushkin’s style is simple and his poems are mostly based on his experiences and reflections on various aspects of life, Russia and social themes. Here is one of his poems.
The dead delights of frenzied younger days
Weigh on me like alcoholic haze.
The aching sadness of my past endures
And, like good wine, gains body as it matures.
My future life is grim without relief,
A surging swell of struggle, toil and grief.
And yet, my friends, I have no wish to die;
I want to suffer, live and wonder why.
I know I can expect amid the torment,
Trouble and care a rare delicious moment.
Sweet harmonies just fill me with delight
And I shall weep with joy for what I write.
And it may be that at my sad demise
A smile of love shall light in someone else’s eyes.