White on the blue, the sail has gone, to vanish with the breeze; what does the sailor seek alone in far-off seas?
His tackle tautens in the stress of favouring winds astir; alas, he seeks not happiness, nor flies from her.
The sun is bright above; below, the ripples curve and crease; he, rebel, craves a storm, as though in storm were peace.
by Михаил Юрьевич Лермонтов (Mikhail Yuryevich Lermontov) (1832) translated by Frances Cornford and Esther Polianowsky Salaman
Additional information: The Sail was written when Mikhail Lermontov was only 17 years old in 1832. This was the year when he was forced to leave Moscow and his university studies. Recorded in a letter sent by Maria Lopukhina, whom he had sent the first version of the poem, upon his arrival in Saint Petersburg Leromontov immediately produced this poem’s outline while walking along the Gulf of Finland’s shoreline.
Below is the original Russian Cyrillic version of the poem.
Белеет парус одинокой В тумане моря голубом!.. Что ищет он в стране далекой? Что кинул он в краю родном?...
Играют волны — ветер свищет, И мачта гнется и скрыпит... Увы! Он счастия не ищет И не от счастия бежит!
Под ним струя светлей лазури, Над ним луч солнца золотой... А он, мятежный, просит бури, Как будто в бурях есть покой!
Forgotten, cold, my dust will fall asleep while you are entering your life's sweet May. One moment then, with magnanimity, read through these versesthat once came to me.
And with a maiden's keen and thoughtful heart you'll understand my words' wild ecstasy, and why it was I often left the world for trembling song, and you will follow me.
Through salutations springing from the grave the heart's eternal truth will be revealed. We two shall breathe a life outside of time; and we shall meet – here – as you read.
by Афанасий Афанасьевич Фет (Afanasy Afanasyevich Fet) a.k.a. Шеншин (Shenshin) (1883) translated by Robert Chandler
Beneath is the original Russian Cyrillic version:
Мой прах уснет забытый и холодный, А для тебя настанет жизни май; О, хоть на миг душою благородной Тогда стихам, звучавшим мне, внимай!
И вдумчивым и чутким сердцем девы Безумных снов волненья ты поймёшь И от чего в дрожащие напевы Я уходил - и ты за мной уйдёшь.
Приветами, встающими из гроба, Сердечных тайн бессмертье ты проверь. Вневременной повеем жизнью оба, И ты и я - мы встретимся - теперь!
Beneath is a recital of the Russian version of the poem set to music:
Additional information: [Теперь : verb: Now, Nowadays, Today]. I don’t know why Chandler chose to translate the title as ‘Here‘ save as a possible cultural equivilant for English speakers to understand a Russian nuance of the word Теперь implying ‘here, right now, in the present’. It’s also possible he wanted to ensure his translation would be distinctly titled, for ease of reference, from the work of others translating the same source material.
She came in out of the frost, her cheeks glowing, and filled my whole room with the scent of fresh air and perfume and resonent chatter that did away with my last chance of getting anywhere in my work.
Straightaway she dropped a hefty art journal onto the floor and at once there was no room any more in my large room
All this was somewhat annoying, if not absurd. Next, she wanted Macbeth read aloud to her.
Barely had I reached the earth's bubbles which never failed to entrance me when I realized that she, no less entranced, was staring out of the window.
A large tabby cat was creeping along the edge of the roof towards some amorous pigeons. What angered me most was that it should be pigeons, not she and I, who were necking, and that the days of Paolo and Francesca were long gone.
by Александр Александрович Блок (Alexander Alexandrovich Blok) (1908) translated by Robert Chandler
‘The earth’s bubbles’ in this poem references a line from Act I, scene 3 of Shakespeare’s play Macbeth “The earth hath bubbles, as the water has, / And these are of them.” which Banquo says to Macbeth when the witches disappear after their encounter. Between 1904 and 1905 Blok wrote a poem cycle he titled ‘Bubbles of the Earth’, incorporating motifs from folk magic. In 1907 he wrote of Shakespeare, ‘ I love him deeply; and perhaps, most deely of all – in the whole of world literature – Macbeth’.
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.