Speaking In Tongues
Guided by Voices

Alexander Pushkin

Translated by Boris Leyvi

The Prophet

From «Eugene Onegin»


Not trying to amuse the mob,
But for the sake of caring ear,
I'll hand to you, with a hearty throb,
A pledge that outranks you, dear.
More decent than a cherished soul
Whose wish is molded by the Lord,
Poetic ecstasy and dole,
The noblest thoughts, the simplest words.
So be it — in a partial manner
Receive the scope of mottled rhymes:
And semi-sad, and semi-real,
And simple-minded and ideal,
The careless fruit of happy times.
Insomnias, fleeting inspirations,
Unripened years and declined,
The cold reflections of my mind,
The heart's embittering notations.


My uncle, of most fair intentions,
Had fallen seriously ill, —
Brought everyone to his attention
And couldn't find a better deal.
This case is an insight for others,
But what a nuisance, holy fathers,
To be with him the night and day,
Not taking off a step away; —
Such a thickheaded derogation —
To entertain the semi-dead,
To fix the pillows on his bed
And sadly bring the medication;
To sigh forlornly and to pray
For Satan take the fool away.


A slothful youth thus speculated,
While cabbing through the dusty air, —
By Zeus's power dictated,
To all his kinsmen sole heir.
Ludmila and Ruslan's adherents,
With no lengthy interference,
I introduce my old cohort —
And now proudly report:
Onegin, our blessed fellow,
Was born to Neva's dismal shore, —
Where you and I could live before,
And toil, and fall in love, and mellow...
And strive for happiness and wealth,
But North does badly to my health.


A noble worker and sincere,
His father owed to everyone:
Three balls would mount every year, —
Ere long his revenues were gone.
A kind lot beheld Onegin:
At first, Madame performed the tagging,
Monsieur relieved her very soon:
Agile the child was, and boon.
Monsieur L'Abbe, the Gauls' poor relic,
Did spare the child the needless pain:
In jest instructed and in vain,
Not spewing morals, stern and telic;
For childish antics didn't flog
And took to Letny for a walk.


«Tatiana's Letter To Onegin»

I write to you — what else is there?
What else, what more may I attempt?
I know, now it's only fair
To keep my poor heart in contempt.
For the despondent fate of mine,
And saving empathy's warm tot,
You won't forsake me, you will not!
At first, I wanted to be mute;
Trust me that nothing of my shame
Would see the light of public fame,
If you would seldom, once a week,
Stop by the house of a lonely geek;
To only hear a familiar voice,
To say a word to you, rejoice,
Think more and more of still the same,
And hope that you will come again.
But people say that you're a loner,
that our village you can't bear,
And we don't shine, but for a scorner,
We're simply glad when you are there.
Why did you ever visit us?
In a cloister of a forgotten place
I'd never make that foolish fuss,
I'd never learn that bitter taste.
I would arrest in time (who knows?)
Disquiet of my naif soul,
Find a companion to my heart,
And bear well my spousal part,
Be a good mother, all in all.
Another! No, I can award
with love no one in universe!
It was imparted by the lords,
the will of Heaven: I am yours;
My life was nothing but a gage
Of our gathering ahead.
You will destroy my somber cage,
By a deific precept you've been lead..
In dreams I see, you never fade,
Unknown, already my sweetheart:
Your staring glance my soul would lade,
Your wondrous voice would cheer my heart.
All gone... no, that was not a dream!
I knew it when you stepped inside,
I couldn't move, I couldn't hide
My thoughts. My heart would scream: it's him!
Before I've heard you, haven't I?
Your voice did quell me from the still
When soothe the poor I may have tried,
Or in a pray have pacified
The stirred yearning that I feel.
And have you, in a second's split,
My dear ghost, my love's heartbeat,
Not sneaked in limpidness of night,
And angled stilly to my bed?
Then, led by love and by delight,
the words of promise have you said?
Who are you, my divine defender
Or my iniquitous pretender:
Absolve my doubts, all at once,
All that is maybe just in vain,
The vestal soul's enticed pain,
And for us, there's not a chance..
My lot is such! Away, my fears!
My fate is now in your hands,
In front of you I shed my tears:
In plea for your defense I'm bent
You just imagine, I'm alone,
Nobody understands me here,
My mind's unalterably drawn:
I'll calmly die and disappear.
I wait for you: in a single gleam
Revive the hopes of my heart,
Or break the ropes of a heavy dream
With a reproach in my regard!
I finish... fear to re-read...
With shame and dread I will retreat.
Your honor is my only bond, —
To it my fate I boldly fund...






I Loved You...

I loved you; Maybe that affection
Will always faintly burn and last.
Don't grieve: dole's infinite reflection
Will never put my heart to rest

I loved in silence, in despair,
So hastily jealous or so shy,
I loved so gently, with such flair,
God grant you love as true as mine.
I loved you: still, that feeling's fondling flame
Is, maybe, burning faintly in my soul.
But let it not disturb you just the same, —
I wouldn't want to trouble you at all.

Yes, I have loved, — in silence, in despair,
Once jealous and the other times so shy;
My love was gentle, and it was so fair,
May God endow you with another — just like mine.


Attempt to trace varieties of clues:
When a shepherd or a farmer in his youth
Look at the sky, at West their gazing lay,
Foresee the wind, the brightness of the day,
The rains of May, the joy of unripe fields,
The chills and frost pernicious for the yield.
Hence, if the swans on surface of the tarn,
Agile and playful, welcome your return,
Or the sun, so bright, should hide behind the cloud,
A lass will wake to storm that's dark and loud,
Or to the hail that's drumming on the pane,
And farmers won't attempt to mow terrain.
They'll sit at home, forgetful of their job,
And fall asleep to droplets' distant throb.


To Morpheus

O Morpheus, give me till tomorrow
Repose from love's tormenting noose.
Come, blow away the flame of sorrow
And sanctify my nightly muse.
The horrid verdict of the rupture
From somber memory secrete:
The voice, so dear, let me heed;
The look, so precious, let me capture.
When nightly gloom retreats away
And you escape Aurora's coming,
I plea my spirit cast astray
From love until another gloaming...



What's in my name to you? It will
Demise like waves' a somber humming
That reaches distant shores in thrumming,
Or in the woodlands' night a squeal.
'Twill leave a remnant on a sheet
Which will remind, extinct far long,
Of gravestone print, — a sign that hid
A phrase in an unknown tongue.
What it contains? A long-dead past
All wasted in a fervent burning:
A happy mem'ry wouldn't last
There at all, but only mourning.
In quiet, on a doleful day
Pronounce it with a sigh of grief.
In mem'ry I exist, — just say,
There is a heart wherein I live.

Exegi monumentum

A monument, unforged, I for myself erected.
A common path to it will not be ever lost,
And its unheedful head reigns higher than respected,
The known Alexandrian Post.

I shall not die a whole, but in the tokened lyre
My soul will outlive my flesh and won't decay.
I will be honoured till in underlunar sphere
Lives my like who has much to say.

A word about me will over Russia scatter.
Its every tongue will be to me a proud chap,
A son of Slavs, a Finn, and presently unlettered
Tungus, a Kalmyk — friend to steppes.

For long I shall be held endeared to the mortals
For kindness that my lyre was often to unfold,
Because in our cruel age I've shown freedom's portals,
For pardon to the fallen called.

To godly will, oh muse, be a compliant tool;
Not pleading for a wreath, not fearing an insult,
To praise and to disdain be absolutely cold,
And never argue with a fool.

A Wondrous Moment


A wondrous moment I revere,
A fleeting, an evasive one:
In front of me you have appeared,
A vestal beauty's paragon.

A languor, desperate, a dejection,
And apprehensions' madd'ning noise
Stopped with a slightest recollection
Of your impression and your voice.

The passing years' cumbrous heft
Had interred vestiges of old.
Your precious image I had left,
Your voice my mem'ry didn't hold.

In a secluded condemnation
My days were traversing in strife:
Without grace and inspiration,
Without tears, love, and life.

My psyche dawned in animation,
When you emerged into my sight:
A fleeting, dreamy evocation,
A beauty's source, a deific light.

My heart pulsates in exaltation,
All resurrecting from above:
The guiding light, the inspiration,
The life, the tears, and my love.

* * *

The promulgated rights I do not care for,
The ones that often give the head a dizzy whirr.
I do not grumble now that Gods would never let
Me argue over due amassed from my assets,
Disturb the busy kings in their endless war.
A grievance it is not, should press be reaching for
An idiot, a dunce; if censorship must prey
On blabbers' modest hopes of publishing a lay.
These things are simply but futile words, words, words1.
The better rights my spirit is striving to afford,
The better liberty, -- the one of which I'm proud:
Whom to depend upon? -- The emperor? The crowd?
Or shall we care at all? God with them. To report
To no one, only to oneself be serf and lord;
To serve and please oneself, for power or crown
The conscience, the ideas, the neck not bending down;
To sole heart's caprice attending distant sites,
To marvel at the scenes of Nature; the delight
In artworks, in the whim to find and to behold;
Whilst quivering out of bliss, emotions to unfold...
That's my felicity! These are the rights!


* * *

‘Tis time, my chum, ‘tis time; for peace my heart does pray.
Days go after days, and each would steal away
A particle of life. Together – you and I
Intend to linger on. One instant – and we die!
No happiness on earth, but freedom’s there and peace.
The long-dreamt hopeful fate I nurture, the release,
For which, a tired slave, since long ago I fight,
To sail to a far berth of toil and delight.


I love you, yet I am all fit,
Though it's a toilsome, vain discredit —
But to this nonsense, whilst I'm at it,
Knelt to the ground, I admit!
Enough: I'm old; indeed, too dated!
'Tis time, 'tis time for me to learn!
But ailments of love belated,
Nursed in my psyche, I discern —
It's dull without you: I'm yawning;
With you I'm sad — to name a few, —
And can't express how much I'm longing
To say, «My angel, I love you.»
When, from the parlour, I am hearing
Your gown's swish, your gentle tread,
Your voice, so virginal, I'm fearing
Once and again to lose my head.
You smile — it's my instant pleasure,
You turn away — and I lament,
From day's worth rack — my only treasure
Is your fragile pallid hand.
When to your hoop, with fair devotion,
You lean in a neglectful motion:
Your eyes are lowered, hair — smooth, —
I, poisoned with hypnotic potion,
Am awing at you, like a youth!
To let you know of my grieving,
The pranks of my invidious spleen
When all alone you are leaving
For stroll, when I just entered in?
And all the tears you are hiding,
And quiet, in the corner, chat,
And to Opochka frequent riding,
Pianoforte in sunset?
Alina, pity me and rescue:
I, angel, don't deserve your love.
My sins are plenty, and above
All that: for love I wouldn't ask you.
But fool me into it! Your glance
Could smoothly play infatuation,
To fool me — not a complication:
Myself — I welcome every chance!

Verses Composed During a Sleepless Night

to N.
Can't find sleep in place obscure;
Gloom around, a bad dream chasing,
Monotone, a clockwork pacing
Nearby me. Just as before
Hearken women's cooking chatter,
Slumbered night's a flimsy shudder,
Life ahaste in mice-like crawl,
Wherefore dost thou appall?
What must thou of me demand?
What'st thou mean, a dreary drone?
Whirr or remonstrance alone
Of a day unduly spent?
What dost thou want from me?
Dost thou call or prophesy?
Thy veiled fathom is my wonder,
Of thy reason I do ponder.


No fruitful multitudes of ancient masters' drawing
I ever wished to place around my abode,
for superstitious awes of guest, his wary nod
As he attends to gloss the earnest expert proving.
My corner I desired, amidst the toils e'er slowing,
Eternally with sole depiction — one I wooed,
As if from clouds, descend off canvas, swift to sprout,
The Maiden Chaste and our fair Saviour bliss-endowing —
With greatness she, and he with eyes of reason clear, —
Observe, so meek and famed beneath the solar sphere, —
No angels, they're alone, in shade of palm in Zion
My wishes are endowed. Creator, with his might,
Didst bestow thee to me, Madonna. Thou art mine,
Of brightest beauteousness thou image ever bright!

Three Wells

Through secular, forlorn, unbounded barren
Reconditely permeated three wellheads.
The well of youth, alacritous and daring,
Churns up and dazzles, hums, and forthright sets.
Castalia's well, in an uplifting surging,
Relieves the vagrants from the thirstful yearn.
The last cold well, oblivion's genuine gorging,
Will cure most fondly heart's tormenting burn.

A Monastery on Kazbek

Over the kin of mounts raised,
Kazbek, thy royal dome is hazed
With an eternal radiant shield:
Thy monastery is concealed —
It, barely seen, o'er mounts soars —
In clouds, like skyborn naval build;
Ah, distant e'er desired shores!
If only, chasms have bidden byes,
I could ascend to highland freed,
To overneb'lous lodge of skies,
In godly quarters if I hid...

1. Hamlet (Pushkin’s footnote)