Aleksandr Pushkin

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Aleksandr Pushkin, Russian poet and author

Aleksandr Sergeyevich Pushkin; Алекса́ндр Серге́евич Пу́шкин (6 June (26 May, O.S.) 179910 February (29 January, O.S.) 1837) Russian poet and author.

Quotes[edit]

  • The illusion which exalts us is dearer to us than ten thousand truths.
  • God save us from seeing a Russian revolt, senseless and merciless. Those who plot impossible upheavals among us, are either young and do not know our people, or are hard-hearted men who do not care a straw either about their own lives or those of others.
    • Found in Pushkin's. The Captain's Daughter and Other Stories. English edition by Random House LLC. 2013. p. 139
    • As quoted by Joseph Frank in Dostoevsky: A Writer in His Time (2009). Princeton University Press, p. 203.
  • Upon the brink of the wild stream
    He stood, and dreamt a mighty dream.
  • And thus He mused: "From here, indeed
    Shall we strike terror in the Swede?
    And here a city by our labor
    Founded, shall gall our haughty neighbor;
    "Here cut" - so Nature gives command -
    Your window through on Europe; stand
    Firm-footed by the sea, unchanging!
    • The Bronze Horseman (1833)
  • ‘Tis time, my friend, ‘tis time!
    For rest the heart is aching;
    Days follow days in flight, and every day is taking
    Fragments of being, while together you and I
    Make plans to live. Look, all is dust, and we shall die.
    • 'Tis Time, My Friend, l. 1-5 (1834)
  • When the loud day for men who sow and reap
    Grows still, and on the silence of the town
    The insubstantial veils of night and sleep,
    The meed of the day's labour, settle down,
    Then for me in the stillness of the night
    The wasting, watchful hours drag on their course,
    And in the idle darkness comes the bite
    Of all the burning serpents of remorse;
    Dreams seethe; and fretful infelicities
    Are swarming in my over-burdened soul,
    And Memory before my wakeful eyes
    With noiseless hand unwinds her lengthy scroll.
    Then, as with loathing I peruse the years,
    I tremble, and I curse my natal day,
    Wail bitterly, and bitterly shed tears,
    But cannot wash the woeful script away.
    • Remembrance
  • God grant you, friends, a helping hand—
    In cares of state and private plights,
    In rowdy feasts of friendship's band,
    In passion's sweet and secret rites!
    God grant you, friends, a helping hand—
    In daily woes and days of strife,
    On vacant sa, in distant land,
    In every black abyss of life!
    • Pushkin, 19 October 1827.
      as quoted in Pushkin, Alexander (2009). Selected Lyric Poetry. Northwestern University Press, p. 121
  • What grace could all your worldly power bring
    To One whose crown of thorns has made him King,
    The Christ who gave His body to the flails,
    Who humbly bore the lance and piercing nails?
    Or do you fear the rabble might disgrace The One.
    • Secular Power
      as quoted in Pushkin, Alexander (2009). Selected Lyric Poetry. Northwestern University Press, p. 121
  • Come purge my soul, Thou Master of my days,
    Of vain and empty words, of idle ways,
    Of base ambition and the urge to rule;
    That hidden serpent that corrupts a fool;
    and grant me, Lord, to see my sins alone.
    That I not call my brother to atone;
    Make chaste my heart and lend me from above
    Thy fortitude, humility, and love.
    • A Prayer
      as quoted in Pushkin, Alexander (2009). Selected Lyric Poetry. Northwestern University Press, p. 199

Eugene Onegin (1823)[edit]

  • But, as it is, this pied collection
    begs your indulgence — it's been spun
    from threads both sad and humoristic,
    themes popular or idealistic,
    products of carefree hours, of fun,
    of sleeplessness, faint inspirations,
    of powers unripe, or on the wane,
    of reason's icy intimations,
    and records of a heart in pain.
    • Dedication
  • There yet remains but one concluding tale,
    And then this chronicle of mine is ended—
    Fulfilled, the duty God ordained to me,
    A sinner. Not without purpose did the Lord
    Put me to witness much for many years
    And educate me in the love of books.
    One day some indefatigable monk
    Will find my conscientious, unsigned work;
    Like me, he will light up his ikon-lamp
    And, shaking from the scroll the age-old dust,
    He will transcribe these tales in all their truth.
    • Prologue, sec. 5, l. 18-28
  • Unforced, as conversation passed,
    he had the talent of saluting
    felicitously every theme,
    of listening like a judge-supreme
    while serious topics were disputing,
    or, with an epigram-surprise,
    of kindling smiles in ladies' eyes.
    • Ch. 1, st. 5
  • Always contented with his life,
    and with his dinner, and his wife.
    • Ch. 1, st. 12
  • A man who's active and incisive
    can yet keep nail-care much in mind:
    why fight what's known to be decisive?
    custom is despot of mankind.
    • Ch. 1, st. 25
  • The illness with which he'd been smitten
    should have been analysed when caught,
    something like spleen, that scourge of Britain,
    or Russia's chondria, for short.
    • Ch. 1, st. 38
  • Love passed, the Muse appeared, the weather
    of mind got clarity new-found;
    now free, I once more weave together
    emotion, thought, and magic sound.
    • Ch. 1, st. 59
  • Habit is Heaven's own redress:
    it takes the place of happiness.
    • Ch. 2, st. 31
  • Send me, Almighty, I petition,
    In porticoes or at a ball
    No bonneted academician,
    No seminarist in a yellow shawl!
    No more than in red lips unsmiling
    Can I find anything beguiling
    In grammar-perfect Russian speech.
    What purist magazines beseech,
    A novel breed of belles may heed it,
    And bend us (for my life of sin)
    To strict grammatic discipline,
    Prescribing meter, too, where needed;
    But I - what is all this to me?
    I like things as they used to be
    • Ch. 3, st. 28. (Translated by Walter Arndt in Eugene Onegin (2009). Penguin
  • The less we show our love to a woman,
    Or please her less, and neglect our duty,
    The more we trap and ruin her surely
    In the flattering toils of philandery.
    • Ch. 4, st. 1
  • The clock of doom had struck as fated;
    the poet, without a sound,
    let fall his pistol on the ground.
    • Ch. 6, st. 30
  • Moscow... how many strains are fusing
    in that one sound, for Russian hearts!
    what store of riches it imparts!
    • Ch. 7, st. 36
  • Что наши лучшие желанья,
    Что наши свежие мечтанья
    Истлели быстрой чередой,
    Как листья осенью гнилой.
    • Sad that our finest aspiration
      Our freshest dreams and meditations,
      In swift succession should decay,
      Like Autumn leaves that rot away.
    • Ch. 8, st. 11

Boris Godunov (1825)[edit]

  • Pimen [writing in front of a sacred lamp]:
    One more, the final record, and my annals
    Are ended, and fulfilled the duty laid
    By God on me a sinner. Not in vain
    Hath God appointed me for many years
    A witness, teaching me the art of letters;
    A day will come when some laborious monk
    Will bring to light my zealous, nameless toil,
    Kindle, as I, his lamp, and from the parchment
    Shaking the dust of ages will transcribe
    My true narrations.
    • (Variant translation):
      One more story, just one more,
      And then my history's completed,
      All my chronicles written down
      And my sinner's debt repaid to God.
      Not for nothing.
      The Lord appointed me to bear witness
      For many many years and it was he
      Taught me the art of creating books.
      One day, in the far future,
      some hard-working monk
      Will find my painstaking,
      anonymous writings.
      He'll light his lamp,
      as I light mine,
      He'lll shake the dust of centuries from these scrolls.
      Then he'll copy out, carefully, these true accounts,
      So the descendants of today's Christians
      May know the past of their native land
      Remember their mighty Tsars warmly
      For their glory and their knidness
      And our Lord's mercy on their sins and crimes.
      In my old age I live my life anew.
    • Pushkin, Alexander (2012). Pushkin's Boris Gudunov. Oberon Books
  • Like some magistrate grown gray in office,
    Calmly he contemplates alike the just
    And unjust, with indifference he notes
    Evil and good, and knows not wrath nor pity.
  • Ah! heavy art thou, crown of Monomakh!
  • Mosalsky: Good folk! Maria Godunov and her son Feodor have poisoned themselves. We have seen their dead bodies. [The People are silent with horror.] Why are ye silent? Cry, Long live the Tsar Dimitry Ivanovich! [The People are speechless.]

The Queen of Spades (1833)[edit]

I have been ordered to grant your request. Three, seven, ace, will win for you if played in succession, but only on these conditions: that you do not play more than one card in twenty-four hours, and that you never play again during the rest of your life.
  • "The bread of the stranger is bitter," says Dante, "and his staircase hard to climb." But who can know what the bitterness of dependence is so well as the poor companion of an old lady of quality?
    • II
  • "I have come to you against my wish," she said in a firm voice: "but I have been ordered to grant your request. Three, seven, ace, will win for you if played in succession, but only on these conditions: that you do not play more than one card in twenty-four hours, and that you never play again during the rest of your life. I forgive you my death, on condition that you marry my companion, Lizaveta Ivanovna."
    • V
  • Two fixed ideas can no more exist together in the moral world than two bodies can occupy one and the same place in the physical world.
    • VI
  • "Ace has won!" cried Hermann, showing his card.
    "Your queen has lost," said Chekalinsky, politely.
    Hermann started; instead of an ace, there lay before him the queen of spades! He could not believe his eyes, nor could he understand how he had made such a mistake.
    At that moment it seemed to him that the queen of spades smiled ironically and winked her eye at him. He was struck by her remarkable resemblance...
    "The old Countess!" he exclaimed, seized with terror.
    • VI
  • Hermann went out of his mind, and is now confined in room Number 17 of the Obukhov Hospital. He never answers any questions, but he constantly mutters with unusual rapidity: "Three, seven, ace!" "Three, seven, queen!"
    • VI

The Prophet (1826)[edit]

Prorok
  • Tormented by spiritual thirst,
    I dragged myself through a somber desert.
    And a six-winged seraph
    Appeared to meet me at the crossing of the ways.
    He touched my eyes
    With fingers as light as a dream:
    And my prophetic eyes opened
    Like those of a frightened eagle.
    He touched my ears
    And they were filled with noise and ringing:
    And I heard the shuddering of the heavens,
    And the flight of the angels in the heights,
    And the movement of the beasts of the sea under the waters,
    And the sound of the vine growing in the valley.
    He bent down to my mouth
    And tore out my tongue,
    Sinful, decitful, and given to idle talk;
    with the right hand steeped in blood
    He inserted the tongue of a wise serpent,
    Into my benumbed mouth.
    He clove my breast with a sword,
    And plucked out my quivering heart,
    And thrust a coal of live fire
    Into my gaping breast.
    Like a corpse I lay in the desert.
    And the voice of God called out to me:
    'Arise, O prophet, see and hear,
    Be filled with my will,
    Go forth over land and sea,
    And set the hearts of men on fire with your Word.'
    • English translation found in New Society, Volume 8, (1966). New Society Limited. p. 413.
      Also quoted by Kahn, Andrew (2006). The Cambridge Companion to Pushkin. Cambridge University Press, p. 84

External links[edit]

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