Tuesday, April 01, 2008


Unfortunately, my Russian is not very good but I am trying very hard to read Russian poetry, especially Lermontov. To English-speakers, his only novel 'A Hero of our Time' may be familiar but apart from this, his poetic output has been largely neglected outside his native land.
He did manage to be the hero of his time but for only a while before his prodigious talents were swiftly deposited to the annals of history with his tragic death in a duel at the age of only 26.
Reading through some of his earliest works (some supposedly written as early as 14), I cannot help but be absolutely enthralled by his precocious verse which reveals a startlingly mature intellect. He is one of those Byronic figures which could immediately be impressed upon your mind with their inexplicable magnetism which emanates supremely from their various portraits - the one above, executed posthumously and arguably being the best of them all.
The poem below, written in 1831 (when he was 17) is an unequivocal example of this:


Requiem

There is a blest place: by the trace
In wilderness, in a little glade’s middle,
Where in the eve, mists twine and bristle
In moony silver’s easy lace…
My friend! You know that glade, fair;
There dig a pit and let me rest,
When I will cease to breathe in air.

Give to that grave a good regard --
Let all be legally there settled
Raise on the grave a cross of maple,
And place a stone, wild and hard.
When thunderstorms will shake the forest,
The traveler will see my cross;
Maybe, the stone and the moss
Will give to him a rest at most.

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