August 2020 Poetry Feature #2: Philip Nikolayev translates Alexander Pushkin

Two poems by Alexander Pushkin, translated from the Russian by Philip Nikolayev

Table of Contents:

  • Night
  • The Burned Letter

Philip Nikolayev is editor of Fulcrum. His poetry collections include Monkey Time (Verse / Wave Books) and Dusk Raga (Salt).

Alexander Pushkin (1799-83) is widely regarded as the greatest Russian poet and the founder of modern Russian literature. 

Night

It’s for you that my soft and affectionate voice
Disturbs at this late hour a silent night’s repose.
Where by my bed a melancholy candle glows,
My verse rushes along, burbles and overflows
In brooks of love, filled with you, and at last I see
Your eyes, out of the dark shining, smiling at me,
And finally my ear makes out the cherished words:
My gentle, tender friend… I love you… I am yours!


The Burned Letter

Farewell, letter of love, for such was her command…
And I’ve taken too long, unable to bring my hand
To consign to the flames the only joy I have…
But enough, it is time. So burn, letter of love!
I am ready! My soul has turned utterly deaf
As greedy orange tongues lap through you leaf by leaf…
A minute passes… They blaze! and instantly a layer
Of bluish smoke drifts up and mingles with my prayer…
The signet ring’s impression in the wax melts away,
And then it stars to boil… Ah the unfurling fate!
That’s it! The pages curl and crumble. In their place,
In their gray ash, the traits of the beloved face
Show pale. My chest tightens. Alas, this darling dust
Of sacrificial rite, may it forever rest
Eternally with me upon my suffering chest.

August 2020 Poetry Feature #2: Philip Nikolayev translates Alexander Pushkin

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