Saturday Night Poetry: Pushkin

Wow, it’s been a long time since I’ve done one of these. That’s sad, as I used to do this nearly every week when I had my old blog.

Tonight’s poem is by Aleksandr Pushkin, the father of Russian literature. It’s called “It’s time, my friend, it’s time!” and it has a very special place in my heart. When I was in second-year Russian over three years ago, I memorized this little poem (in Russian, of course) for an oral exam.

This translation is mine – don’t be too harsh in judging it. I fully admit I am a terrible translator of poetry.

It’s time, my friend, it’s time! the heart demands peace – 
Day by day flies by, and each hour takes away
A small part of existence, but we together
Intend to live, and look – at once – we die.
In the world is no happiness, but there is peace and free will.
Long have I dreamed of another lot –
Long have I, a tired slave, planned an escape
To a faraway abode of labor and pure delights.

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Saturday Night Poetry: Mayakovsky, ‘Past one o’clock’

Back in the day, I ran a political blog. It was fun for a while, but then I got tired of it and eventually started a new blog, this fabulous one you’re reading right now. On my old blog, I ran a feature every Saturday called Saturday Night Poetry. I like poetry, especially from random foreign poets, so I’ve decided to restart this feature. Tonight’s poet is Vladimir Mayakovsky, a poet who supported the Bolshevik Revolution, then became disillusioned and committed suicide. Part of this poem was at the end of his suicide note.

Past one o’clock. You must have gone to bed.
The Milky Way streams silver through the night.
I’m in no hurry; with lightning telegrams
I have no cause to wake or trouble you.
And, as they say, the incident is closed.
Love’s boat has smashed against the daily grind.
Now you and I are quits. Why bother then
To balance mutual sorrows, pains, and hurts.
Behold what quiet settles on the world.
Night wraps the sky in tribute from the stars.
In hours like these, one rises to address
The ages, history, and all creation.

(English translation from here.)

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