Saturday, November 19, 2016

Woe from Wit (excerpts) - Alexander Griboyedov


The French! With all their fashion shops and streets,
Their books and writers and artists,
They break our hearts, they make our mony fly,
I wonder why
God will not save us from their needles, pins,
Their bonnets, hats and all the other things.


For heaven's sake! You're the only one
That can amaze me. Here in Moscow there is nothing new.
There was a party yesterday, tomorrow there'll be two.
Someone has managed to get married
Another hasn't and is worried.
Nothing has changed. Good gracious!
The same old poems, the same old conversations.


And all these people I'm fated now to see,
I'll soon be sick and tired of living here.
Though after travelling East and West
We're find the smoke of Homeland best.


Don't talk about the fire. Don't tease.
So much has changed ever since:
The roads, the houses, the pavements and all . . .


The houses are new, the prejudices are old.
You should be pleased because a prejudice never dies,
It will survive the years, the fashions and the fires.


I wonder who the judges are!
With age they show hostility to freedom,
They read the press that dates as far
Back as the Crimean war. They call it wisdom.
They're quick to criticize and curse
And always sing the same old song,
They never think they can be wrong.
The older these men are the worse.


Maybe, it isn't fit
That I should ask you. Tell me, be so kind,
Whom do you love?


Good heavens! All mankind.


And whom do you prefer?


Well, there are relatives...


You love me most of all!


Some of them, that is.


I'll tell you what I thought about:
These aged women tend to get quite hot,
They always need someone around
To serve them as a lightening-rod.
Molchalin, he's the kind of man
That can appease disputes like no one can!
He'll pat a dog, he'll show his greatest skill
In playing cards! He's another Zagoretsky!
You told me all his merits then,
You must have failed to mention some of them.

(speaking humbly)

No, there are books and books. You know,
If I were engaged in censorship,
I'd deal with fables: Oh! I Love them so!
The mockery of lions, eagles, sheep,
No matter what one thinks,
They're animals, and yet their kings.


There in that room they have an incidental meeting:
The little Frenchan from Bordeau, puffed up with pride
Was telling them: he had a fright
To go to the Barbarian Russia. So he came and found
There was caressing all around.
With not a single Russian face,
The language spoken was Francaise.
It looked as though he were in France
Among his friends, in his province,
And if you saw him, he would appear
To you as if he were a petty monarch here,
With clinging ladies, always looking smart,
He's happy here, while we arn't.
There came a storm of exaltation
With screames and moans and violent elation.
«Oh France! The land beyond compare!» --
Two sister countess came out to declare --
The lesson they had learnt in their green years.
There is no arguing with countess.
I said I wanted everyone to hear it,
I wished that God could crush the evil spirit
Of meaningless blind slavish immitation
And fill someone with inspiration,
The one that would be able to
Deter us with a solid hand
From miserable longing for a foreign land.
I may be called
An old-believer, yet I think
Our North is worse a hundrefold
Since I adopted the new mode,
Having abandoned everything:
Our customs and our conditions,
The language, moral values and traditions,
And, in exchange of the grand gown,
Regadless of all trends
And common sense,
We put on this apparel of a clown:
A tail, a funny cut -- oh, what a scene!
It's tight and doesn't match the face;
This funny, gray-hairedshaven chin!
«Which covers thee discovers thee!» -- there's a phrase.
If we adopt traditions from abroad with ease
We'd better learn a little from Chinese,
Their ignorance of foreign lands.
Shall we awaken from the power of ailien fashions
So that our wise and cheerful Russians
Might never think us to be Germans?
«Can European culture be compared
With our culture?» -- I once heard.
«How can the words such as "madamme", "mademoiselle"
Be turned to Russian? Is it "girl"?»
No sooner than I said it, fancy,
They burst out laughing. They laughed at me.
«Ha! Girl! Ha-ha, isn't it wonderful!
Ha -- Girl! Ha-ha, isn't it aweful!»
I got so angry and I cursed,
I was about to retort,
But they broke up, dispersed.
I'll tell you what:
Both here in Moscow and in Petersburg, you know,
A man that hates pretence and all that's done for show
And is unfortunate to have in mind
A few ideas of some kind
And wants to openly speak out!
Look out..
(Looks around, everybody is dancing a waltz. The older people make their ways to card tables)

(Translated in English by A.Vagapov, 1993)

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The Captain's Daughter (excerpts) - Alexander Pushkin

The robber’s question and his impudence appeared to be so absurd that I could not restrain a smile.
“Why do you laugh?” he asked, frowning. “Do you not believe me to be the great Tzar? Answer me frankly.”
I did not know what to do. I could not recognize a vagabond as Emperor; such conduct was to me unpardonably base. To call him an impostor to his face was to devote myself to death; and the sacrifice for which I was prepared on the gallows, before all the world, and in the first heat of my indignation, appeared to me a useless piece of bravado. I knew not what to say.
Pugatchéf awaited my reply in fierce silence. At last (and I yet recall that moment with satisfaction) the feeling of duty triumphed in me over human weakness, and I made reply to Pugatchéf —
“Just listen, and I will tell you the whole truth. You shall be judge. Can I recognize in you a Tzar? You are a clever man; you would see directly that I was lying.”
“Who, then, am I, according to you?”
“God alone knows; but whoever you be, you are playing a dangerous game.”
Pugatchéf cast at me a quick, keen glance.
“You do not then think that I am the Tzar Peter? Well, so let it be. Is there no chance of success for the bold? In former times did not Grischka Otrépieff reign? Think of me as you please, but do not leave me. What does it matter to you whether it be one or the other? He who is pope is father. Serve me faithfully, and I will make you a field-marshal and a prince. What do you say to this?”
“No,” I replied, firmly. “I am a gentleman. I have sworn fidelity to Her Majesty the Tzarina; I cannot serve you. If you really wish me well, send me back to Orenburg.”
Pugatchéf reflected.
“But if I send you away,” said he, “will you promise me at least not to bear arms against me?”
“How can you expect me to promise you that?” replied I. “You know yourself that that does not depend upon me. If I be ordered to march against you I must submit. You are a chief now — you wish your subordinates to obey you. How can I refuse to serve if I am wanted? My head is at your disposal; if you let me go free, I thank you; if you cause me to die, may God judge you. Howbeit, I have told you the truth.”

From an evil dog be glad of a handful of hairs.

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 hardhearted men who do not care a straw either about their own lives or those of other people.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Ruslan and Ludmila (excerpts) - Alexander Pushkin

Over the sandy beaches creep,
And from the clear and shining water
Step thirty goodly knights escorted
By their Old Guardian, of the deep
An ancient dweller.... There a dreaded
And hated tsar is captive ta’en;
There, as all watch, for cloud banks headed,
Across the sea and o’er a plain,
A warlock bears a knight. There, weeping,
A princess sits locked in a cell,
And Grey Wolf serves her very well;
There, in a mortar, onward sweeping
All of itself, beneath the skies
The wicked Baba-Yaga flies;
There pines Koshchei and lusts for gold....

Our knight falls at the elder’s feet
And in delight his hand he kisses.
The world a bright place seems, and sweet
Life is again; forgot distress is....
But then the sudden joyful glow
His face leaves, and it pales and darkens.
“Do not despair but to me harken,”
The old man says. “I know what so
Disquiets you: you are in fear of
The warlock’s love, eh, knight?... Be calm
The truth is, O my youthful hero,
That he can do the maid no harm.
From sky the stars he’ll pluck, I’ll wager,
Or shift the moon that sails on high,
But change the law of time and aging
He cannot, hard as he may try.
Though he lets none her chamber enter
And jealous watch keeps at her door,
He is the impotent tormentor
Of his fair captive, nothing more.
While never far from her, he curses
His lot, and soundly — but, my knight,
‘Tis time for you to rest: the earth is
Enclosed in shadow; it is night.”

“And I, love’s mad and avid seeker,
In my despair that ne’er grew weaker,
By means of magic thought to start
In proud Nahina’s icy heart
Of love for me at least a flicker.
Toward the murk of woodland free
My steps in hot impatience turning,
The subtle craft of wizardry
I spent unnumbered years in learning.
Then were the fearsome secrets, sought
By me with such despair, such yearning,
Revealed to my enlightened thought;
Of charms and spells I knew the power:
Love’s aim achieved — О happy hour!
‘Nahina, thou art mine!’ I cried.
‘Now shall I have thee for my bride.’
But once again by fate defeated
Was I and of my triumph cheated.

“Enraptured, with young dreams aglow,
Filled with love’s fervour and elation,
I loudly chant an incantation
And on dark spirits call, and lo!-
A flash of light, a crash of thunder,
And magic whirlwinds start awake,
I feel the earth begin to quake,
I hear it hum and rumble under
My feet, and there in front of me,
The picture of senility,
A crone stands.

O wondrous genius of rhyme,
O bard of love and love’s sweet dreaming,
You who portray the sly and scheming
Dwellers of hell and realms divine,
Of this inconstant Muse of mine
The confidant and keeper faithful!
Forgive me, Northern Orpheus, do,
For recklessly presuming to
Fly after you in my tale playful
And catching in a most quaint lie
Your wayward lyre....

Ruslan came up to him, astounded;
The recluse khan his rival knew.
A cry, and to the prince he flew
And joyous threw his arms around him
“You here, Ratmir? Lay you no claim
To greater things?” our hero asked him
“Have you found life like ours too tasking
Thus to reject your knightly fame?”
“In truth, Ruslan,” replied the khan,
“War and its phantom glory bore me;
Behind me have I left my stormy,
Tumultuous years. This peace, this calm,
And love, and pastimes innocent
Bring me a hundred-fold more gladness

Far from the social whirl, the Neva
Behind me left, forgotten even
By rumour, here am I where loom
Caucasian peaks in prideful gloom.
Atop high steeps, mid downward tumbling
Cascades and cataracts of stone,
I stand and drink it all in dumbly,
And revel, to reflection prone,
In nature’s dark and savage beauty;
To wounding thought my soul’s still wed,
Within it sadness lives, deep-rooted,
But the poetic fires are dead,
In vain I seek for inspiration:
Gone is the blithe and happy time
Of love, of merry dreams, of rhyme,
Of all that filled me with elation.
Sweet rapture’s span has not been long,
Flown from me has the Muse of song,
Of softly spoken incantation....

(Anonymous Translation)

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Rusalka (excerpts) - Alexander Pushkin



You’ve finally remembered me, my love!
You ought to be ashamed to let me suffer,
To torture me with such an endless wait.
What terrible imaginings I’ve known!
What dreadful dreams have shrivelled up my soul!
I thought your horse might suddenly have bolted,
And thrown you in a swamp or down a cliff;
That bears had overcome you in the woods,
That you were ill... or out of love with me...



What’s the matter, girl?


Oh, tell me, father, what I could have done
To vex him so? In just a week, one week,
Is all my beauty gone?... Or has some witch
Put poison in his drink?


What’s wrong with you?


He’s left me, father. And he’s riding off!—
And, like a mindless wretch, I let him go,
I didn’t try to clasp him by his mantle,
Or hang upon the bridle of his horse!
I should have let him vent his angry spleen
By hacking off my arms above the wrist,
Or trampling me beneath his horse’s hooves.


You’re mad!


You see, these princes, when they wed,
Aren’t free, like girls, to listen to their hearts;
They’re only free, it seems, to lead you on,
Swear solemn oaths, entice you with their tears,
And say: I’ll fly you to the secret room,
The gilded chamber of my castle keep;
I’ll clothe you in brocade and crimson velvet...
They’re free to teach poor girls to rise at night,
And hasten at their whistles in the dark
To meet behind the mill until the dawn.
Their princely hearts are entertained to hear
Our petty woes... and then it’s just—goodbye,
Go wander where you will, my pretty thing,
Go love some other chap.


The Dnieper. Night


A joyous assembly,
From waters below
We rise in the moonlight
To bask in its glow.

Late at night we sisters gladly
Quit the deep in which we lie,
Rising from the river madly,
Bursting forth to reach the sky;
We can hear each other crying,
Voices ringing through the air,
As we shake our long and drying
Strands of green and dripping hair.



No... I have no mill!
I sold it to the ghosts behind the stove,
And gave the money to a water-nymph,
My prophet-daughter, so she’d keep it safe.
It’s buried in the Dnieper river sand;
A one-eyed fish stands watch and guards it close.

(Translated in English by James E. Falen, 2007)

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Boris Godunov (fragmente) - Aleksandër Pushkin


Ah, seç e ndjenj: në vrull të jetës s'onë
Asgjë nuk i jep zemrës paqë, asgjë -
Përveç ndërgjegjes. Është e dlirët ajo?
Ahere e mund të keqen, rrenën, shpifjen...
Porse ndë pastë njëzë njollë vetëm
Dhe vetëm njëzë, rastësisht e futur,
Aherë mjerë vetëdija, mjerë!
E ndezur si prej frymës së murtajës,
E përvëlon shpirtin, helmi e bren zemrën,
Si me çekan t'a çan qortimi veshin,
Të buçet koka, mëndja të vjen rrotull,
Të vjen sikur përpara syvet xixa
Kërcejnë foshnja të përgjakura...
Do t'arratisesh, por ku, ku?... E tmerrshme!
Mjerë kush ndërgjegjen nuk e ka të pastër.


Oh, sa i shtypur jam!... Më merret fryma!
E ndjeva si m'u turr i gjithë gjaku
Mu në fytyrë e si ngadalë zbriti.
Ja pse, për trembëdhjetë vjet me rradhë,
Po shoh në ëndërr foshnjë të gjakosur!
Po, po, kjo është! E kuptonj tani.
Por kush është vallë ay kundërshtari im,
Kush më kërcënon? Një emër i kotë, hijë -
Një hije a mund të m'a rrëmbenjë purpurën!
Një zë i kotë a mund të m'u rrëmbenjë
Fëmijëvet ç'u lë pas trashëgim?
Sa i marrë jam! Përse më kapi frika?
Mjafton t'i frynj lugatit dhe çduket.
kështu vendosa: nuk do vdes nga frika,
Por prap nuk bën që ta përbuz çdo gjë...
Sa e rëndë qënke, moj kurorë e Monomakut?

(prek tokën me ballë)

Po. Zot e atë, jemi robt e tu
Besnikë t'arratisur. Lamë Moskën;
Erdhëm te ti, te cari ynë, të gatshëm
Të japim jetën për ty. Kufomat t'ona
U bëfshin shkallë që të arrish në fron.


Kujton se të kam frikën? Se mos bota
Beson më fort një vajzë poloneze
Se sa trashëgimtarin e Rusisë?
T'a dish se mbreti, papa dhe bujarët
Nuk pyesin se ku qëndron e drejta,
Dhe kaq u bën a jam a s'jam Dimitri.
Unë jam për 'ta një shkak për luftë e grindje.
Ky shkak u lypset. Sa për ty, rebele,
Besomë se do të t'a mbyllin  gojën,
Pra, lamtumirë.


Më lehtë të luftonj me Godunovin.
Të kapen me dinakët jezuitë,
Se sa të flas me gratë. I martë dreqi!
Një grua rruset, kruset; sa ta zësh
Të shket nga dora, hidhet të kafshon.
Nëpërkë! Nuk më kapi frika kot.
Për pak më çkatërroi - më mori lumi!
Vendosa: nesër nisem për në luftë.


Pa mbani vesh! Dëgjohen lebetitje. Qe zë gruaje. Ejani, të hyjmë!... Dyert qenkan mbyllur!... Të klithura!

(Portat hapen. Mosalski duket te shkalla.)


O popull! Maria Godunova dhe i biri pinë helmin. Kufomat i pamë me sy. (Populli hesht i tmeruar) E përse nuk bëni zë? Thërrisni: Rroftë Dimitër Ivanoviçi!
(Populli gjithnjë hesht)

(Përkthyer në shqip nga Skënder Luarasi, 1949)