Eugene Onegin: A Romance of Russian Life in Verse, by Aleksandr Pushkin

Canto the Third

The Country Damsel

‘Elle etait fille, elle etait amoureuse’— Malfilatre

[Odessa and Mikhailovskoe, 1824.]

I

“Whither away? Deuce take the bard!”—

“Good-bye, Oneguine, I must go.”—

“I won’t detain you; but ’tis hard

To guess how you the eve pull through.”—

“At Larina’s.”—“Hem, that is queer!

Pray is it not a tough affair

Thus to assassinate the eve?”—

“Not at all.”—“That I can’t conceive!

’Tis something of this sort I deem.

In the first place, say, am I right?

A Russian household simple quite,

Who welcome guests with zeal extreme,

Preserves and an eternal prattle

About the rain and flax and cattle.”—

II

“No misery I see in that”—

“Boredom, my friend, behold the ill —”

“Your fashionable world I hate,

Domestic life attracts me still,

Where —"—“What! another eclogue spin?

For God’s sake, Lenski, don’t begin!

What! really going? ’Tis too bad!

But Lenski, I should be so glad

Would you to me this Phyllis show,

Fair source of every fine idea,

Verses and tears et cetera.

Present me.”—“You are joking.”—“No.”—

“Delighted.”—“When?”—“This very night.

They will receive us with delight.”

III

Whilst homeward by the nearest route

Our heroes at full gallop sped,

Can we not stealthily make out

What they in conversation said? —

“How now, Oneguine, yawning still?”—

“’Tis habit, Lenski.”—“Is your ill

More troublesome than usual?”—“No!

How dark the night is getting though!

Hallo, Andriushka, onward race!

The drive becomes monotonous —

Well! Larina appears to us

An ancient lady full of grace. —

That bilberry wine, I’m sore afraid,

The deuce with my inside has played.”

IV

“Say, of the two which was Tattiana?”

“She who with melancholy face

And silent as the maid Svetlana30

Hard by the window took her place.”—

“The younger, you’re in love with her!”

“Well!”—“I the elder should prefer,

Were I like you a bard by trade —

In Olga’s face no life’s displayed.

’Tis a Madonna of Vandyk,

An oval countenance and pink,

Yon silly moon upon the brink

Of the horizon she is like!”—

Vladimir something curtly said

Nor further comment that night made.

30 “Svetlana,” a short poem by Joukovski, upon which his fame mainly rests. Joukovski was an unblushing plagiarist. Many eminent English poets have been laid under contribution by him, often without going through the form of acknowledging the source of inspiration. Even the poem in question cannot be pronounced entirely original, though its intrinsic beauty is unquestionable. It undoubtedly owes its origin to Burger’s poem “Leonora,” which has found so many English translators. Not content with a single development of Burger’s ghastly production the Russian poet has directly paraphrased “Leonora” under its own title, and also written a poem “Liudmila” in imitation of it. The principal outlines of these three poems are as follows: A maiden loses her lover in the wars; she murmurs at Providence and is vainly reproved for such blasphemy by her mother. Providence at length loses patience and sends her lover’s spirit, to all appearances as if in the flesh, who induces the unfortunate maiden to elope. Instead of riding to a church or bridal chamber the unpleasant bridegroom resorts to the graveyard and repairs to his own grave, from which he has recently issued to execute his errand. It is a repulsive subject. “Svetlana,” however, is more agreeable than its prototype “Leonora,” inasmuch as the whole catastrophe turns out a dream brought on by “sorcery,” during the “sviatki” or Holy Nights (see Canto V. st. x), and the dreamer awakes to hear the tinkling of her lover’s sledge approaching. “Svetlana” has been translated by Sir John Bowring.

V

Meantime Oneguine’s apparition

At Larina’s abode produced

Quite a sensation; the position

To all good neighbours’ sport conduced.

Endless conjectures all propound

And secretly their views expound.

What jokes and guesses now abound,

A beau is for Tattiana found!

In fact, some people were assured

The wedding-day had been arranged,

But the date subsequently changed

Till proper rings could be procured.

On Lenski’s matrimonial fate

They long ago had held debate.

VI

Of course Tattiana was annoyed

By such allusions scandalous,

Yet was her inmost soul o’erjoyed

With satisfaction marvellous,

As in her heart the thought sank home,

I am in love, my hour hath come!

Thus in the earth the seed expands

Obedient to warm Spring’s commands.

Long time her young imagination

By indolence and languor fired

The fated nutriment desired;

And long internal agitation

Had filled her youthful breast with gloom,

She waited for — I don’t know whom!

VII

The fatal hour had come at last —

She oped her eyes and cried: ’tis he!

Alas! for now before her passed

The same warm vision constantly;

Now all things round about repeat

Ceaselessly to the maiden sweet

His name: the tenderness of home

Tiresome unto her hath become

And the kind-hearted servitors:

Immersed in melancholy thought,

She hears of conversation nought

And hated casual visitors,

Their coming which no man expects,

And stay whose length none recollects.

VIII

Now with what eager interest

She the delicious novel reads,

With what avidity and zest

She drinks in those seductive deeds!

All the creations which below

From happy inspiration flow,

The swain of Julia Wolmar,

Malek Adel and De Linar,31

Werther, rebellious martyr bold,

And that unrivalled paragon,

The sleep-compelling Grandison,

Our tender dreamer had enrolled

A single being: ’twas in fine

No other than Oneguine mine.

31 The heroes of two romances much in vogue in Pushkin’s time: the former by Madame Cottin, the latter by the famous Madame Krudener. The frequent mention in the course of this poem of romances once enjoying a European celebrity but now consigned to oblivion, will impress the reader with the transitory nature of merely mediocre literary reputation. One has now to search for the very names of most of the popular authors of Pushkin’s day and rummage biographical dictionaries for the dates of their births and deaths. Yet the poet’s prime was but fifty years ago, and had he lived to a ripe old age he would have been amongst us still. He was four years younger than the late Mr. Thomas Carlyle. The decadence of Richardson’s popularity amongst his countrymen is a fact familiar to all.

IX

Dreaming herself the heroine

Of the romances she preferred,

Clarissa, Julia, Delphine — 32

Tattiana through the forest erred,

And the bad book accompanies.

Upon those pages she descries

Her passion’s faithful counterpart,

Fruit of the yearnings of the heart.

She heaves a sigh and deep intent

On raptures, sorrows not her own,

She murmurs in an undertone

A letter for her hero meant:

That hero, though his merit shone,

Was certainly no Grandison.

32 Referring to Richardson’s “Clarissa Harlowe,” “La Nouvelle Heloise,” and Madame de Stael’s “Delphine.”

X

Alas! my friends, the years flit by

And after them at headlong pace

The evanescent fashions fly

In motley and amusing chase.

The world is ever altering!

Farthingales, patches, were the thing,

And courtier, fop, and usurer

Would once in powdered wig appear;

Time was, the poet’s tender quill

In hopes of everlasting fame

A finished madrigal would frame

Or couplets more ingenious still;

Time was, a valiant general might

Serve who could neither read nor write.

XI

Time was, in style magniloquent

Authors replete with sacred fire

Their heroes used to represent

All that perfection could desire;

Ever by adverse fate oppressed,

Their idols they were wont to invest

With intellect, a taste refined,

And handsome countenance combined,

A heart wherein pure passion burnt;

The excited hero in a trice

Was ready for self-sacrifice,

And in the final tome we learnt,

Vice had due punishment awarded,

Virtue was with a bride rewarded.

XII

But now our minds are mystified

And Virtue acts as a narcotic,

Vice in romance is glorified

And triumphs in career erotic.

The monsters of the British Muse

Deprive our schoolgirls of repose,

The idols of their adoration

A Vampire fond of meditation,

Or Melmoth, gloomy wanderer he,

The Eternal Jew or the Corsair

Or the mysterious Sbogar.33

Byron’s capricious phantasy

Could in romantic mantle drape

E’en hopeless egoism’s dark shape.

33 “Melmoth,” a romance by Maturin, and “Jean Sbogar,” by Ch. Nodier. “The Vampire,” a tale published in 1819, was erroneously attributed to Lord Byron. “Salathiel; the Eternal Jew,” a romance by Geo. Croly.

XIII

My friends, what means this odd digression?

May be that I by heaven’s decrees

Shall abdicate the bard’s profession,

And shall adopt some new caprice.

Thus having braved Apollo’s rage

With humble prose I’ll fill my page

And a romance in ancient style

Shall my declining years beguile;

Nor shall my pen paint terribly

The torment born of crime unseen,

But shall depict the touching scene

Of Russian domesticity;

I will descant on love’s sweet dream,

The olden time shall be my theme.

XIV

Old people’s simple conversations

My unpretending page shall fill,

Their offspring’s innocent flirtations

By the old lime-tree or the rill,

Their Jealousy and separation

And tears of reconciliation:

Fresh cause of quarrel then I’ll find,

But finally in wedlock bind.

The passionate speeches I’ll repeat,

Accents of rapture or despair

I uttered to my lady fair

Long ago, prostrate at her feet.

Then they came easily enow,

My tongue is somewhat rusty now.

XV

Tattiana! sweet Tattiana, see!

What bitter tears with thee I shed!

Thou hast resigned thy destiny

Unto a ruthless tyrant dread.

Thou’lt suffer, dearest, but before,

Hope with her fascinating power

To dire contentment shall give birth

And thou shalt taste the joys of earth.

Thou’lt quaff love’s sweet envenomed stream,

Fantastic images shall swarm

In thy imagination warm,

Of happy meetings thou shalt dream,

And wheresoe’er thy footsteps err,

Confront thy fated torturer!

XVI

Love’s pangs Tattiana agonize.

She seeks the garden in her need —

Sudden she stops, casts down her eyes

And cares not farther to proceed;

Her bosom heaves whilst crimson hues

With sudden flush her cheeks suffuse,

Barely to draw her breath she seems,

Her eye with fire unwonted gleams.

And now ’tis night, the guardian moon

Sails her allotted course on high,

And from the misty woodland nigh

The nightingale trills forth her tune;

Restless Tattiana sleepless lay

And thus unto her nurse did say:

XVII

“Nurse, ’tis so close I cannot rest.

Open the window — sit by me.”

“What ails thee, dear?”—“I feel depressed.

Relate some ancient history.”

“But which, my dear? — In days of yore

Within my memory I bore

Many an ancient legend which

In monsters and fair dames was rich;

But now my mind is desolate,

What once I knew is clean forgot —

Alas! how wretched now my lot!”

“But tell me, nurse, can you relate

The days which to your youth belong?

Were you in love when you were young?”—

XVIII

“Alack! Tattiana,” she replied,

“We never loved in days of old,

My mother-inlaw who lately died34

Had killed me had the like been told.”

“How came you then to wed a man?”—

“Why, as God ordered! My Ivan

Was younger than myself, my light,

For I myself was thirteen quite;35

The matchmaker a fortnight sped,

Her suit before my parents pressing:

At last my father gave his blessing,

And bitter tears of fright I shed.

Weeping they loosed my tresses long36

And led me off to church with song.”

34 A young married couple amongst Russian peasants reside in the house of the bridegroom’s father till the “tiaglo,” or family circle is broken up by his death.

35 Marriages amongst Russian serfs used formerly to take place at ridiculously early ages. Haxthausen asserts that strong hearty peasant women were to be seen at work in the fields with their infant husbands in their arms. The inducement lay in the fact that the “tiaglo” (see previous note) received an additional lot of the communal land for every male added to its number, though this could have formed an inducement in the southern and fertile provinces of Russia only, as it is believed that agriculture in the north is so unremunerative that land has often to be forced upon the peasants, in order that the taxes, for which the whole Commune is responsible to Government, may be paid. The abuse of early marriages was regulated by Tsar Nicholas.

36 Courtships were not unfrequently carried on in the larger villages, which alone could support such an individual, by means of a “svakha,” or matchmaker. In Russia unmarried girls wear their hair in a single long plait or tail, “kossa;” the married women, on the other hand, in two, which are twisted into the head-gear.

XIX

“Then amongst strangers I was left —

But I perceive thou dost not heed —”

“Alas! dear nurse, my heart is cleft,

Mortally sick I am indeed.

Behold, my sobs I scarce restrain —”

“My darling child, thou art in pain. —

The Lord deliver her and save!

Tell me at once what wilt thou have?

I’ll sprinkle thee with holy water. —

How thy hands burn!”—“Dear nurse, I’m well.

I am — in love — you know — don’t tell!”

“The Lord be with thee, O my daughter!”—

And the old nurse a brief prayer said

And crossed with trembling hand the maid.

XX

“I am in love,” her whispers tell

The aged woman in her woe:

“My heart’s delight, thou art not well.”—

“I am in love, nurse! leave me now.”

Behold! the moon was shining bright

And showed with an uncertain light

Tattiana’s beauty, pale with care,

Her tears and her dishevelled hair;

And on the footstool sitting down

Beside our youthful heroine fair,

A kerchief round her silver hair

The aged nurse in ample gown,37

Whilst all creation seemed to dream

Enchanted by the moon’s pale beam.

37 It is thus that I am compelled to render a female garment not known, so far as I am aware, to Western Europe. It is called by the natives “doushegreika,” that is to say, “warmer of the soul”— in French, chaufferette de l’ame. It is a species of thick pelisse worn over the “sarafan,” or gown.

XXI

But borne in spirit far away

Tattiana gazes on the moon,

And starting suddenly doth say:

“Nurse, leave me. I would be alone.

Pen, paper bring: the table too

Draw near. I soon to sleep shall go —

Good-night.” Behold! she is alone!

’Tis silent — on her shines the moon —

Upon her elbow she reclines,

And Eugene ever in her soul

Indites an inconsiderate scroll

Wherein love innocently pines.

Now it is ready to be sent —

For whom, Tattiana, is it meant?

XXII

I have known beauties cold and raw

As Winter in their purity,

Striking the intellect with awe

By dull insensibility,

And I admired their common sense

And natural benevolence,

But, I acknowledge, from them fled;

For on their brows I trembling read

The inscription o’er the gates of Hell

“Abandon hope for ever here!”38

Love to inspire doth woe appear

To such — delightful to repel.

Perchance upon the Neva e’en

Similar dames ye may have seen.

38 A Russian annotator complains that the poet has mutilated Dante’s famous line.

XXIII

Amid submissive herds of men

Virgins miraculous I see,

Who selfishly unmoved remain

Alike by sighs and flattery.

But what astonished do I find

When harsh demeanour hath consigned

A timid love to banishment? —

On fresh allurements they are bent,

At least by show of sympathy;

At least their accents and their words

Appear attuned to softer chords;

And then with blind credulity

The youthful lover once again

Pursues phantasmagoria vain.

XXIV

Why is Tattiana guiltier deemed? —

Because in singleness of thought

She never of deception dreamed

But trusted the ideal she wrought? —

Because her passion wanted art,

Obeyed the impulses of heart? —

Because she was so innocent,

That Heaven her character had blent

With an imagination wild,

With intellect and strong volition

And a determined disposition,

An ardent heart and yet so mild? —

Doth love’s incautiousness in her

So irremissible appear?

XXV

O ye whom tender love hath pained

Without the ken of parents both,

Whose hearts responsive have remained

To the impressions of our youth,

The all-entrancing joys of love —

Young ladies, if ye ever strove

The mystic lines to tear away

A lover’s letter might convey,

Or into bold hands anxiously

Have e’er a precious tress consigned,

Or even, silent and resigned,

When separation’s hour drew nigh,

Have felt love’s agitated kiss

With tears, confused emotions, bliss —

XXVI

With unanimity complete,

Condemn not weak Tattiana mine;

Do not cold-bloodedly repeat

The sneers of critics superfine;

And you, O maids immaculate,

Whom vice, if named, doth agitate

E’en as the presence of a snake,

I the same admonition make.

Who knows? with love’s consuming flame

Perchance you also soon may burn,

Then to some gallant in your turn

Will be ascribed by treacherous Fame

The triumph of a conquest new.

The God of Love is after you!

XXVII

A coquette loves by calculation,

Tattiana’s love was quite sincere,

A love which knew no limitation,

Even as the love of children dear.

She did not think “procrastination

Enhances love in estimation

And thus secures the prey we seek.

His vanity first let us pique

With hope and then perplexity,

Excruciate the heart and late

With jealous fire resuscitate,

Lest jaded with satiety,

The artful prisoner should seek

Incessantly his chains to break.”

XXVIII

I still a complication view,

My country’s honour and repute

Demands that I translate for you

The letter which Tattiana wrote.

At Russ she was by no means clever

And read our newspapers scarce ever,

And in her native language she

Possessed nor ease nor fluency,

So she in French herself expressed.

I cannot help it I declare,

Though hitherto a lady ne’er

In Russ her love made manifest,

And never hath our language proud

In correspondence been allowed.39

39 It is well known that until the reign of the late Tsar French was the language of the Russian court and of Russian fashionable society. It should be borne in mind that at the time this poem was written literary warfare more or less open was being waged between two hostile schools of Russian men of letters. These consisted of the Arzamass, or French school, to which Pushkin himself together with his uncle Vassili Pushkin the “Nestor of the Arzamass” belonged, and their opponents who devoted themselves to the cultivation of the vernacular.

XXIX

They wish that ladies should, I hear,

Learn Russian, but the Lord defend!

I can’t conceive a little dear

With the “Well–Wisher” in her hand!40

I ask, all ye who poets are,

Is it not true? the objects fair,

To whom ye for unnumbered crimes

Had to compose in secret rhymes,

To whom your hearts were consecrate —

Did they not all the Russian tongue

With little knowledge and that wrong

In charming fashion mutilate?

Did not their lips with foreign speech

The native Russian tongue impeach?

40 The “Blago–Namierenni,” or “Well–Wisher,” was an inferior Russian newspaper of the day, much scoffed at by contemporaries. The editor once excused himself for some gross error by pleading that he had been “on the loose.”

XXX

God grant I meet not at a ball

Or at a promenade mayhap,

A schoolmaster in yellow shawl

Or a professor in tulle cap.

As rosy lips without a smile,

The Russian language I deem vile

Without grammatical mistakes.

May be, and this my terror wakes,

The fair of the next generation,

As every journal now entreats,

Will teach grammatical conceits,

Introduce verse in conversation.

But I— what is all this to me?

Will to the old times faithful be.

XXXI

Speech careless, incorrect, but soft,

With inexact pronunciation

Raises within my breast as oft

As formerly much agitation.

Repentance wields not now her spell

And gallicisms I love as well

As the sins of my youthful days

Or Bogdanovitch’s sweet lays.41

But I must now employ my Muse

With the epistle of my fair;

I promised! — Did I so? — Well, there!

Now I am ready to refuse.

I know that Parny’s tender pen42

Is no more cherished amongst men.

41 Hippolyte Bogdanovitch — b. 1743, d. 1803 — though possessing considerable poetical talent was like many other Russian authors more remarkable for successful imitation than for original genius. His most remarkable production is “Doushenka,” “The Darling,” a composition somewhat in the style of La Fontaine’s “Psyche.” Its merit consists in graceful phraseology, and a strong pervading sense of humour.

42 Parny — a French poet of the era of the first Napoleon, b. 1753, d. 1814. Introduced to the aged Voltaire during his last visit to Paris, the patriarch laid his hands upon the youth’s head and exclaimed: “Mon cher Tibulle.” He is chiefly known for his erotic poetry which attracted the affectionate regard of the youthful Pushkin when a student at the Lyceum. We regret to add that, having accepted a pension from Napoleon, Parny forthwith proceeded to damage his literary reputation by inditing an “epic” poem entitled “Goddam! Goddam! par un French — Dog.” It is descriptive of the approaching conquest of Britain by Napoleon, and treats the embryo enterprise as if already conducted to a successful conclusion and become matter of history. A good account of the bard and his creations will be found in the Saturday Review of the 2d August 1879.

XXXII

Bard of the “Feasts,” and mournful breast,43

If thou wert sitting by my side,

With this immoderate request

I should alarm our friendship tried:

In one of thine enchanting lays

To russify the foreign phrase

Of my impassioned heroine.

Where art thou? Come! pretensions mine

I yield with a low reverence;

But lonely beneath Finnish skies

Where melancholy rocks arise

He wanders in his indolence;

Careless of fame his spirit high

Hears not my importunity!

43 Evgeny Baratynski, a contemporary of Pushkin and a lyric poet of some originality and talent. The “Feasts” is a short brilliant poem in praise of conviviality. Pushkin is therein praised as the best of companions “beside the bottle.”

XXXIII

Tattiana’s letter I possess,

I guard it as a holy thing,

And though I read it with distress,

I’m o’er it ever pondering.

Inspired by whom this tenderness,

This gentle daring who could guess?

Who this soft nonsense could impart,

Imprudent prattle of the heart,

Attractive in its banefulness?

I cannot understand. But lo!

A feeble version read below,

A print without the picture’s grace,

Or, as it were, the Freischutz’ score

Strummed by a timid schoolgirl o’er.

Tattiana’s Letter to Oneguine

I write to you! Is more required?

Can lower depths beyond remain?

’Tis in your power now, if desired,

To crush me with a just disdain.

But if my lot unfortunate

You in the least commiserate

You will not all abandon me.

At first, I clung to secrecy:

Believe me, of my present shame

You never would have heard the name,

If the fond hope I could have fanned

At times, if only once a week,

To see you by our fireside stand,

To listen to the words you speak,

Address to you one single phrase

And then to meditate for days

Of one thing till again we met.

’Tis said you are a misanthrope,

In country solitude you mope,

And we — an unattractive set —

Can hearty welcome give alone.

Why did you visit our poor place?

Forgotten in the village lone,

I never should have seen your face

And bitter torment never known.

The untutored spirit’s pangs calmed down

By time (who can anticipate?)

I had found my predestinate,

Become a faithful wife and e’en

A fond and careful mother been.

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!

Is it not truth? in tones suppressed

With thee I conversed when I bore

Comfort and succour to the poor,

And when I prayer to Heaven addressed

To ease the anguish of my breast.

Nay! even as this instant fled,

Was it not thou, O vision bright,

That glimmered through the radiant night

And gently hovered o’er my head?

Was it not thou who thus didst stoop

To whisper comfort, love and hope?

Who art thou? Guardian angel sent

Or torturer malevolent?

Doubt and uncertainty decide:

All this may be an empty dream,

Delusions of a mind untried,

Providence otherwise may deem —

Then be it so! My destiny

From henceforth I confide to thee!

Lo! at thy feet my tears I pour

And thy protection I implore.

Imagine! Here alone am I!

No one my anguish comprehends,

At times my reason almost bends,

And silently I here must die —

But I await thee: scarce alive

My heart with but one look revive;

Or to disturb my dreams approach

Alas! with merited reproach.

’Tis finished. Horrible to read!

With shame I shudder and with dread —

But boldly I myself resign:

Thine honour is my countersign!

XXXIV

Tattiana moans and now she sighs

And in her grasp the letter shakes,

Even the rosy wafer dries

Upon her tongue which fever bakes.

Her head upon her breast declines

And an enchanting shoulder shines

From her half-open vest of night.

But lo! already the moon’s light

Is waning. Yonder valley deep

Looms gray behind the mist and morn

Silvers the brook; the shepherd’s horn

Arouses rustics from their sleep.

’Tis day, the family downstairs,

But nought for this Tattiana cares.

XXXV

The break of day she doth not see,

But sits in bed with air depressed,

Nor on the letter yet hath she

The image of her seal impressed.

But gray Phillippevna the door

Opened with care, and entering bore

A cup of tea upon a tray.

“’Tis time, my child, arise, I pray!

My beauty, thou art ready too.

My morning birdie, yesternight

I was half silly with affright.

But praised be God! in health art thou!

The pains of night have wholly fled,

Thy cheek is as a poppy red!”

XXXVI

“Ah! nurse, a favour do for me!”

“Command me, darling, what you choose”

“Do not — you might — suspicious be;

But look you — ah! do not refuse.”

“I call to witness God on high —”

“Then send your grandson quietly

To take this letter to O— Well!

Unto our neighbour. Mind you tell —

Command him not to say a word —

I mean my name not to repeat.”

“To whom is it to go, my sweet?

Of late I have been quite absurd —

So many neighbours here exist —

Am I to go through the whole list?”

XXXVII

“How dull you are this morning, nurse!”

“My darling, growing old am I!

In age the memory gets worse,

But I was sharp in times gone by.

In times gone by thy bare command —”

“Oh! nurse, nurse, you don’t understand!

What is thy cleverness to me?

The letter is the thing, you see —

Oneguine’s letter!”—“Ah! the thing!

Now don’t be cross with me, my soul,

You know that I am now a fool —

But why are your cheeks whitening?”

“Nothing, good nurse, there’s nothing wrong,

But send your grandson before long.”

XXXVIII

No answer all that day was borne.

Another passed; ’twas just the same.

Pale as a ghost and dressed since morn

Tattiana waits. No answer came!

Olga’s admirer came that day:

“Tell me, why doth your comrade stay?”

The hostess doth interrogate:

“He hath neglected us of late.”—

Tattiana blushed, her heart beat quick —

“He promised here this day to ride,”

Lenski unto the dame replied,

“The post hath kept him, it is like.”

Shamefaced, Tattiana downward looked

As if he cruelly had joked!

XXXIX

’Twas dusk! Upon the table bright

Shrill sang the samovar at eve,44

The china teapot too ye might

In clouds of steam above perceive.

Into the cups already sped

By Olga’s hand distributed

The fragrant tea in darkling stream,

And a boy handed round the cream.

Tania doth by the casement linger

And breathes upon the chilly glass,

Dreaming of what not, pretty lass,

And traces with a slender finger

Upon its damp opacity,

The mystic monogram, O. E.

44 The samovar, i.e. “self-boiler,” is merely an urn for hot water having a fire in the center. We may observe a similar contrivance in our own old-fashioned tea-urns which are provided with a receptacle for a red-hot iron cylinder in center. The tea-pot is usually placed on the top of the samovar.

XL

In the meantime her spirit sinks,

Her weary eyes are filled with tears —

A horse’s hoofs she hears — She shrinks!

Nearer they come — Eugene appears!

Ah! than a spectre from the dead

More swift the room Tattiana fled,

From hall to yard and garden flies,

Not daring to cast back her eyes.

She fears and like an arrow rushes

Through park and meadow, wood and brake,

The bridge and alley to the lake,

Brambles she snaps and lilacs crushes,

The flowerbeds skirts, the brook doth meet,

Till out of breath upon a seat

XLI

She sank. —

 “He’s here! Eugene is here!

Merciful God, what will he deem?”

Yet still her heart, which torments tear,

Guards fondly hope’s uncertain dream.

She waits, on fire her trembling frame —

Will he pursue? — But no one came.

She heard of servant-maids the note,

Who in the orchards gathered fruit,

Singing in chorus all the while.

(This by command; for it was found,

However cherries might abound,

They disappeared by stealth and guile,

So mouths they stopt with song, not fruit —

Device of rural minds acute!)

The Maidens’ Song

Young maidens, fair maidens,

Friends and companions,

Disport yourselves, maidens,

Arouse yourselves, fair ones.

Come sing we in chorus

The secrets of maidens.

Allure the young gallant

With dance and with song.

As we lure the young gallant,

Espy him approaching,

Disperse yourselves, darlings,

And pelt him with cherries,

With cherries, red currants,

With raspberries, cherries.

Approach not to hearken

To secrets of virgins,

Approach not to gaze at

The frolics of maidens.

XLII

They sang, whilst negligently seated,

Attentive to the echoing sound,

Tattiana with impatience waited

Until her heart less high should bound —

Till the fire in her cheek decreased;

But tremor still her frame possessed,

Nor did her blushes fade away,

More crimson every moment they.

Thus shines the wretched butterfly,

With iridescent wing doth flap

When captured in a schoolboy’s cap;

Thus shakes the hare when suddenly

She from the winter corn espies

A sportsman who in covert lies.

XLIII

But finally she heaves a sigh,

And rising from her bench proceeds;

But scarce had turned the corner nigh,

Which to the neighbouring alley leads,

When Eugene like a ghost did rise

Before her straight with roguish eyes.

Tattiana faltered, and became

Scarlet as burnt by inward flame.

But this adventure’s consequence

To-day, my friends, at any rate,

I am not strong enough to state;

I, after so much eloquence,

Must take a walk and rest a bit —

Some day I’ll somehow finish it.

End of Canto the Third

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/p/pushkin/aleksandr/p98eu/canto3.html

Last updated Thursday, March 6, 2014 at 16:24