Their teacher had advised them not to read Tolstoy novels, because they were very long and would easily confuse the clear ideas which they had learned from reading critical studies of him. - Alexander Solzhenitsyn<

The poet


My dagger gleams with tracery of gold,
  The blade is trusty, flawless;
It's steel is tempered by some craft of old, -
  Some eastern secret lawless.

For many years a mountain tribesman's slave,
  His every wish fulfilling,
To many an armed breast a fearful wound it gave
  And claimed no wage for killing.

Faithful companion of its master's mirth
  At insults clinking baneful,
In those far days this rich, enchased sheath
  Had irksome seemed and shameful.

Beyond the Terek a bold Cossack took
  It from its master's body.
Then in a pedlar's pack it lay forsook
  Amongst his treasures shoddy.

Lost now that scabbard, battle-scarred and bent
  Which cradled it victorious;
Upon my wall it gleams, a golden ornament,
  Alas - now harmless and inglorious!

No one to clean it now, no practised fingers drawn
  Caressingly along the edges,
No lips repeat the inscribed prayers each dawn,
  The ancient zealous pledges. ...

In our tame age, ah poet, think how you
  Have lost significance...
Exchanged for gold that power which hitherto
  Commanded reverence!

Your measured words set warriors' hearts afire
  As battle trumpets' blare;
Made drunk like wine, and even might aspire
  To rise like incense at the hour of prayer.

Your verses, like the Spirit, hovered free
  The echo of great thoughts to catch and tell;
At times of triumph or calamity
  Your voice would ring forth like the Veche bell.

Yet now your ancient mode, so simple and so proud,
  We quit for gayer trappings
And, like an ageing belle, our ageing muse would
  Her ugliness in paint and gauzy wrappings.

Ah, poor, mocked prophet ... will you never make,
  Nor ever now, to avenge these insults bent,
Pluck from its guilded sheath the dagger's blade
  Now rusted by contempt?


[English] [Russian TRANS | KOI8 | ALT | WIN | MAC | ISO5]
F&P Home ° Comments ° Guestbook

1996 Friends and Partners
Natasha Bulashova, Greg Cole
Please visit the Russian and American mirror sites of Friends and Partners.

Updated: 2000-02-

Please write to us with your comments and suggestions.

F&P Quick Search

Main Sections
Home Page
Bulletin Board
Chat Room
F&P Listserver
Russian Literature
Russian Literature of 20 Century

Russian Literature of 19 Century
Historical overview

Apukhtin A. N.
Baratynsky E.A.
Batyushkov K.N.
Benediktov V.
Del'vig A.
Fet A.
Grebeonka E.
Griboedov A.
Grigoriev A.A.
Koltsov A.
Krylov I.
Kuyhelbeker V.
Lermontov M.
Maykov A.
Mey L.
Nekrasov N.
Ogarev N.
Pavlova K.
Pleshcheev A.
Polonsky Y.
Pushkin A.
Rostopchina E.
Soloviev V.S.
Surikov I.
Tolstoy A.
Tyutchev F.
Yazykov N.M.
Zhukovsky V.
Zhemchuzhnikov A.