I love poetry. I especially have a special love for Russian poetry because 1) it’s brilliant and 2) that’s partly how I taught myself Russian was by studying and memorizing Russian poetry. And since it’s the season of love I thought I’d share a couple of my favorite love poems today and tomorrow.
If you’re new to Russian poetry the first place to start is with Alexander Sergeevich Pushkin. In fact, if you’re just new to Russian language in general you still need to know something about A. S Pushkin.
So let’s look at a Pushkin poem. But know that Pushkin, to be fully appreciated and savored, must be read in Russian. And he actually uses quite simple language so you might be surprised how much you understand.
This poem always represented to me the ultimate in true love. You know you really love someone when you want them to be happy, even if that means finding happiness with someone other than you.
I’m going to translate the вас in this poem as ‘you’. Remember that in English we technically have two yous like in Russia ‘you’ and ‘thee’. ‘You’ is actually the formal version. I emphasize this because the poems I discuss tomorrow will really play upon the formal and informal yous so I might as well make the distinction today.
Я вас любил: любовь еще, быть может,
В душе моей угасла не совсем;
Но пусть она вас больше не тревожит;
Я не хочу печалить вас ничем.
Я вас любил безмолвно, безнадежно,
То робостью, то ревностью томим;
Я вас любил так искренно, так нежно,
Как дай вам бог любимой быть другим.
My translation: (Remember I don’t claim to be a good translator! And I’m not even go to try to rhyme)
I loved you: and maybe that love
Has not died out in my heart completely;
But I don’t want it to trouble you anymore;
I wouldn’t want to make you sad in any way.
I loved you, silently, hopelessly,
Tormented by self-doubt and jealousy;
I loved you so deeply, so tenderly,
May God let you be loved that way by another.
Ahhh, it just pulls at my heart every time! In honor of this Valentines day I hope you’ll try and find some more Pushkin poems and fall in love all over again!