I never thought to amuse a disdainful world;
but friendly interest I do prize;
and you, my friend, I’d like to have presented
with a token worthier of you,
yes, worthier of your noble spirit,
so full of sublime imagination,
of lively, limpid poetry,
of lofty ideas and of simplicity.
But there it is. Be kind:
accept this batch of patchy chapters,
half-funny and half-sad,
idealistic, down-to-earth –
the slapdash product of my leisure hours,
my sleepless nights, my momentary inspirations,
of a life blighted ere its prime,
of a mind’s chilling observations,
and of a heart’s experience of pain.
So glut yourselves until you’re sated
on this unstable life, my friends!
its nullity I’ve always hated,
I know too surely how it ends.
I’m blind to every apparition;
and yet a distant admonition
of hope sometimes disturbs my heart;
it would be painful to depart
and leave no faint footprint of glory…
I never lived or wrote for praise;
yet how I wish that I might raise
to high renown my doleful story,
that there be just one voice which came,
like a true friend, to speak my name.
With womankind, the less we love them,
the easier they become to charm,
the tighter we can stretch above them
enticing nets to do them harm.
But wretched who anticipates,
Whose brain no fond illusions daze,
Who every gesture, every phrase
In true interpretation hates:
Whose heart experience icy made
And yet oblivion forbade.
Wherefore regarding him express
Perverse, unfavourable views?
Is it that human restlessness
For ever carps, condemns, pursues?
Is it that ardent souls of flame
By recklessness amuse or shame
Selfish nonentities around?
That mind which yearns for space is bound?
And that too often we receive
Professions eagerly for deeds,
That crass stupidity misleads,
That we by cant ourselves deceive,
That mediocrity alone
Without disgust we look upon?
But sad is the reflection made,
In vain was youth by us received,
That we her constantly betrayed
And she at last hath us deceived;
That our desires which noblest seemed,
The purest of the dreams we dreamed,
Have one by one all withered grown
Like rotten leaves by Autumn strown’
Tis fearful to anticipate
Nought but of dinners a long row,
To look on life as on a show,
Eternally to imitate
The seemly crowd, partaking nought
Its passions and its modes of thought.
To Love all ages lowly bend,
But the young unpolluted heart
His gusts should fertilize, amend,
As vernal storms the fields athwart.
Youth freshens beneath Passion’s showers,
Develops and matures its powers,
And thus in season the rich field
Gay flowers and luscious fruit doth yield.
But at a later, sterile age,
The solstice of our earthly years,
Mournful Love’s deadly trace appears
As storms which in chill autumn rage
And leave a marsh the fertile ground
And devastate the woods around.
Tatiana’s Letter (excerpt):
“Another! to none other I
My heart’s allegiance can resign,
My doom has been pronounced on high,
‘Tis Heaven’s will and I am thine.
The sum of my existence gone
But promise of our meeting gave,
I feel thou wast by God sent down
My guardian angel to the grave.
Thou didst to me in dreams appear,
Unseen thou wast already dear.
Thine eye subdued me with strange glance,
I heard thy voice’s resonance
Long ago. Dream it cannot be!
Scarce hadst thou entered thee I knew,
I flushed up, stupefied I grew,
And cried within myself: ’tis he!”
Yvegeny’s Letter (excerpt)
“But such is not for me. I brood
Daily of love in solitude.
My days of life approach their end,
Yet I in idleness expend
The remnant destiny concedes,
And thus each stubbornly proceeds.
I feel, allotted is my span;
But, that life longer may remain,
At morn I must assuredly
Know that thy face that day I see.
So be it! But internal strife
I cannot longer wage concealed.
The die is cast! Thine is my life!
Into thy hands my fate I yield!”