I love my country, but with a strange love –
stronger than reason!…
Neither the fame that blood can buy,
nor the calm pride of confidence,
nor the time-honoured gifts of ignorant days
can stir my soul with dreams of happiness.
But what I love – for some strange reason –
is the cold silence of her plains,
the swaying branches of her endless forests,
her rivers as wide-spreading as the sea;
galloping in a cart on country tracks
and gazing slowly deep into the dark,
seeing on either side, longing for sleep,
the poor sad villages’ bright windows.
I love the smoke of burning stubble,
the lines of carts crossing the steppe,
and in bright meadows, on a hill,
a pair of birches gleaming white.
I feel a pleasure few can share
seeing the barns piled high with grain,
the hut beneath a roof of thatch
with fretted shutters on the windows;
and on a dewy feast-day evening
I’ll gaze till late into the night
at whistling dancers, stamping feet,
and hear the drunken peasants talk.
by Михаил Юрьевич Лермонтов (Mikhail Yuryevich Lermontov)
translated by Peter France