O sacrifice to reckless thought, it seems you must have hoped your scanty blood had power enough to melt the eternal Pole. A puff of smoke, a silent flicker upon the age-old ice - and then a breath of iron winter extinguished every trace.
by Фёдор Иванович Тютчев (Fyodor Ivanovich Tyutchev) (14 December, 1825) translated by Robert Chandler
Fun fact: Counted amongst the admirers of Tyutchev’s works were Dostoevsky and Tolstoy along with Nekrasov and Fet. Then later Osip Mandelstam who, in a passage approved of by Shalamov, believed that a Russian poet should not have copy of Tyutchev in his personal library – he should know all of Tyutchev off by heart.
A video of the full poem being recited in Russian.
The full original Russian Cyrillic version:
14-ое ДЕКАБРЯ 1825
Вас развратило Самовластье, И меч его вас поразил,— И в неподкупном беспристрастье Сейприговор Закон скрепил. Народ, чуждаясь вероломства, Поносит ваши имена — Иваша память от потомства, Как труп вземле, схоронена.
О жертвы мысли безрассудной, Вы уповали, можетбыть, Что станет вашей крови скудной, Чтобвечный полюс растопить! Едва, дымясь,она сверкнула, На вековой громаде льдов, Зима железная дохнула — И неосталось и следов.
And with a strange desire all her days she walked her worldly ways; for dull the melodies of earth she found after that heavenly sound.
by Михаил Юрьевич Лермонтов (Mikhail Yuryevich Lermontov) translated by Frances Cornford
Interesting extra: The poem this extract is from was written by Lermontov when he was seventeen years old. Typical of his early romanticism its subject is a soul unable to forget the songs of the angel who first carried her down to earth to be incarnated.
On a sidenote: The past day or two I’ve been using WordPress’ new ‘blocks’ system and putting this in the ‘verse’ version. Does it make any difference? The entire system just feels like it complicates matters needlessly.