in her torn heart -- a fickle gleam;
she trembles, and with fever drumming
awaits him -- hears nobody coming.
Maidservants on the beds just now
were picking berries from the bough,
singing in chorus as directed
(on orders which of course presume
that thievish mouths cannot consume
their masters' berries undetected
so long as they're employed in song:
such rustic cunning can't be wrong!) --

The Song of the Girls

``Maidens, pretty maidens all,
dear companions, darling friends,
pretty maidens, romp away,
have your fill of revelry!
Strike the ditty up, my sweets,
ditty of our secret world,
and entice a fellow in
to the circle of our dance.
When we draw a fellow in,
when we see him from afar,
darlings, then we'll run away,
cherries then we'll throw at him,
cherries throw and raspberries
and redcurrants throw at him.
Never come and overhear
ditties of our secret world,
never come and like a spy
watch the games we maidens play.''



They sing; unmoved by their sweet-sounding
choruses, Tanya can but wait,
listless, impatient, for the pounding
within her bosom to abate,
and for her cheeks to cease their blushing;
but wildly still her heart is rushing,
and on her cheeks the fever stays,
more and more brightly still they blaze.
So the poor butterfly will quiver
and beat a nacreous wing when caught
by some perverse schoolboy for sport;
and so in winter-fields will shiver
the hare who from afar has seen
a marksman crouching in the green.


But finally she heaved a yearning
sigh, and stood up, began to pace;
she walked, but just as she was turning
into the allée, face to face,
she found Evgeny, eyes a-glitter,
still as a shadow, grim and bitter;
seared as by fire, she stopped. Today
I lack the strength required to say
what came from this unlooked-for meeting;
my friends, I need to pause a spell,
and walk, and breathe, before I tell
a story that still wants completing;
I need to rest from all this rhyme:
I'll end my tale some other time.

Notes to Chapter Three

1 Stanza left incomplete by Pushkin.
2 Heroine of Zhukovsky's poem of the same name.
3 Julie, ou la nouvelle Héloise. by Rousseau, 1761.
4 Hero of Mathilde, by Sophie Cottin, 1805.
5 Lover of Valérie, by Madame de Krudener, 1803.
6 Delphine, by Madame de Staël, 1805.
7 Melmoth the Wanderer, by C. R. Mathurin, 1820.
8 Jean Sbogar, by Charles Nodier, 1818.
9 ``Lasciate ogni speranza, voi ch'entrate. Our modest author has
translated only the first part of the famous verse.'' Pushkin's note.
10 Magazine (1818) edited by A. Izmaylov.
11 Russian poet and translator from the French.
12 French poet (1755-1814). Author of Poésies Erotiques.
13 Evgeny Baratynsky (1800-1844). Poet and friend of Pushkin.


    Chapter Four

La morale est dans la nature des choses.

(I, II, III, IV, V, VI,1) VII

With womankind, the less we love them,
the easier they become to charm,
the tighter we can stretch above them
enticing nets to do them harm.
There was a period when cold-blooded
debauchery was praised, and studied
as love's technique, when it would blare
its own perfection everywhere,
and heartless pleasure was up-graded;
yes, these were our forefathers' ways,
those monkeys of the good old days:
now Lovelace's renown has faded
as scarlet heels have lost their name
and stately periwigs, their fame.


How dull are acting and evasion,
diversely urging the same plea,
earnestly striving for persuasion
on points that all long since agree --
and always the self-same objection;
how dull to work for the correction
of prejudice that's never been
harboured by maidens of thirteen!
Who's not disgusted by cajoling,
threats, vows, and simulated fears,
by six-page letters, rings and tears,
gossip, and tricks, and the patrolling
of aunts and mothers, and the thrall
of husband's friendship -- worst of all!


Evgeny thought in just this fashion.
From his first youth he'd known the force,
the sufferings of tempestuous passion;
its winds had blown him far off course.
Spoilt by the habit of indulgence,
now dazzled by one thing's effulgence,
now disenchanted with the next,
more and more bored by yearning's text,
bored by success' giddy trifle,
he heard in stillness and in din
a deathless murmur from within,
found that in laughter yawns could stifle:
he killed eight years in such a style,
and wasted life's fine flower meanwhile.


Though belles had lost his adoration,
he danced attendance with the best;
rebuffed, found instant consolation;
deceived, was overjoyed to rest.
He followed them without illusion,
lost them without regret's contusion,
scarcely recalled their love, their spite;
just like a casual guest who might
devote to whist an evening party,
who'd sit, and at the end of play
would say goodbye and drive away,
go off to sleep quite hale and hearty,
and in the morning wouldn't know
that self-same evening where he'd go.


Yet Tanya's note made its impression
on Eugene, he was deeply stirred:
that virgin dream and its confession
filled him with thoughts that swarmed and whirred;
the flower-like pallor of the maiden,
her look, so sweetly sorrow-laden,
all plunged his soul deep in the stream
of a delicious, guiltless dream...
and though perhaps old fires were thrusting
and held him briefly in their sway,
Eugene had no wish to betray
a soul so innocent, so trusting.
But to the garden, to the scene
where Tanya now confronts Eugene.


Moments of silence, quite unbroken;
then, stepping nearer, Eugene said:
``You wrote to me, and nothing spoken
can disavow that. I have read
those words where love, without condition,
pours out its guiltless frank admission,
and your sincerity of thought
is dear to me, for it has brought
feeling to what had long been heartless:
but I won't praise you -- let me join
and pay my debt in the same coin
with an avowal just as artless;
hear my confession as I stand
I leave the verdict in your hand.


``Could I be happy circumscribing
my life in a domestic plot;
had fortune blest me by prescribing
husband and father as my lot;
could I accept for just a minute
the homely scene, take pleasure in it --
then I'd have looked for you alone
to be the bride I'd call my own.
Without romance, or false insistence,
I'll say: with past ideals in view
I would have chosen none but you
as helpmeet in my sad existence,
as gage of all things that were good,
and been as happy... as I could!


``But I was simply not intended
for happiness -- that alien role.
Should your perfections be expended
in vain on my unworthy soul?
Believe (as conscience is my warrant),
wedlock for us would be abhorrent.
I'd love you, but inside a day,
with custom, love would fade away;
your tears would flow -- but your emotion,
your grief would fail to touch my heart,
they'd just enrage it with their dart.
What sort of roses, in your notion,
would Hymen bring us -- blooms that might
last many a day, and many a night!


``What in the world is more distressing
than households where the wife must moan
the unworthy husband through depressing
daytimes and evenings passed alone?
and where the husband, recognizing
her worth (but anathematising
his destiny) without a smile
bursts with cold envy and with bile?
For such am I. When you were speaking
to me so simply, with the fires
and force that purity inspires,
is this the man that you were seeking?
can it be true you must await
from cruel fortune such a fate?


``I've dreams and years past resurrection;
a soul that nothing can renew...
I feel a brotherly affection,
or something tenderer still, for you.
Listen to me without resentment:
girls often change to their contentment
light dreams for new ones... so we see
each springtime, on the growing tree,
fresh leaves... for such is heaven's mandate.
You'll love again, but you must teach
your heart some self-restraint; for each
and every man won't understand it
as I have... learn from my belief
that inexperience leads to grief.''


So went his sermon. Almost dying,
blinded to everything about
by mist of tears, without replying
Tatyana heard Evgeny out.
He gave his arm. In sad abstraction,
by what's called machinal reaction,
without a word Tatyana leant
upon it, and with head down-bent
walked homeward round the kitchen garden;
together they arrived, and none
dreamt of reproving what they'd done:
by country freedom, rightful pardon
and happy licence are allowed,
as much as in Moscow the proud.


Agree, the way Eugene proceeded
with our poor girl was kind and good;
not for the first time he succeeded
in manifesting, as he could,
a truly noble disposition;
yet people's malice and suspicion
persisted and made no amends.
By enemies, no less by friends
(it's all the same -- you well correct us),
he found all kinds of brickbat hurled.
We each have enemies in this world,
but from our friends, good Lord protect us!
Those friends, those friends! it is, I fear,
with cause that I've recalled them here.


What of it? Nothing. I'm just sending
to sleep some black and empty dreams;
but, inside brackets, I'm contending
there's no ignoble tale that seems
cooked-up where garret-vermin babble,
endorsed by fashionable rabble,
there's no absurdity as such,
no vulgar epigram too much,
which smilingly your friend, supported
by decent company, has not,
without a trace of spite or plot,
a hundred times afresh distorted;
yet he'd back you through thick and thin:
he loves you... like your kith and kin!


Hm, hm. Distinguished reader, tell me
how are your kith and kin today?
And here my sentiments impel me
for your enlightenment to say
how I interpret this expression:
our kin are folk whom by profession
we have to cherish and admire
with all our hearts, and who require
that in the usual Christmas scrimmage
we visit them, or without fail
send them good wishes through the mail
to ensure that till next time our image
won't even cross their minds by stealth...
God grant them years and years of health!


Of course, the love of tender beauties,
surer than friendship or than kin,
will loyally discharge its duties,
in midst of trouble, storm or din.
Of course. Yet fashion's wild rotation,
yet a capricious inclination,
yet floods of talk around the town...
the darling sex is light as down.
Then verdicts from her husband's quartet
are bound, by every virtuous wife,
to be respected all through life:
and so your faithfullest supporter
will disappear as fast as smoke:
for Satan, love's a splendid joke.


Whom then to credit? Whom to treasure?
On whom alone can we depend?
Who is there who will truly measure
his acts and words to suit our end?
Who'll sow no calumnies around us?
Whose fond attentions will astound us?
Who'll never fault our vices, or
whom shall we never find a bore?
Don't let a ghost be your bear-leader,
don't waste your efforts on the air.
Just let yourself be your whole care,
your loved one, honourable reader!
Deserving object: there can be
nothing more lovable than he.


Then what resulted from the meeting?
Alas, it's not so hard to guess!
Love's frantic torments went on beating
and racking with their strain and stress
that youthful soul, which pined for sadness;
no, all devoured by passion's madness
poor Tanya more intensely burns;
sleep runs from her, she turns and turns...
and health, life's sweetness and its shimmer,
smiles, and a maiden's tranquil poise,
have vanished, like an empty noise,
while dear Tatyana's youth grows dimmer:
so a storm-shadow wraps away
in dark attire the new-born day.


Poor Tanya's bloom begins to languish,
and pale, and fade without a word!
there's nothing can employ her anguish,
no sound by which her soul is stirred.
Neighbours in whispered tones are taking
council, and with profound head-shaking
conclude that it's high time she wed!...
But that's enough. At once, in stead,
I'll gladden your imagination,
reader, by painting you a scene
of happy love. For I have been
too long, against my inclination,
held in constraint by pity's touch:
I love my Tatyana too much!


From hour to hour a surer capture
for Olga's beauty, Lensky gives
his soul to a delicious rapture
that fills him and in which he lives.
He's always with her: either seated
in darkness in her room, or treated
to garden walks, as arm in arm
they while away the morning's calm.
What else? Quite drunk with love's illusion,
he even dares, once in a while,
emboldened by his Olga's smile,
and plunged in tender shame's confusion,
to play with a dishevelled tress,
or kiss the border of her dress.


He reads to Olga on occasion,
for her improvement, a roman,
of moralistical persuasion,
more searching than Chateaubriand;
but in it there are certain pages
(vain twaddle, fables of the ages,
talk that might turn a young girl's head)
which with a blush he leaves unread.
As far removed as they were able
from all the world, they sat and pored
in deepest thought at the chess-board
for hours, with elbows on the table --
then Lensky moved his pawn, and took,
deep in distraction, his own rook.


Even at home his occupation
is only Olga: he relieves
with careful schemes of decoration
an album's loose and floating sheaves.
Sometimes a landscape's represented,
a tomb, a Cyprian shrine's invented,
a lyre, and on it perched, a dove --
in ink with colour-wash above;
then on the leaves of recollection,
below the others who have signed
he leaves a tender verse behind,
a dream's mute monument, reflection
of instant thoughts, a fleeting trace
still after many years in place.


Often of course you'll have inspected
the album of a country miss
where scribbling friends have interjected
frontwise and back, that way and this.
With spelling scrambled to perdition,
the unmetric verses of tradition
are entered here, in friendship's gage,
shortened, or lengthened off the page.
On the first sheet you'll find a question:
``Qu'écrirez-vous sur ces tablettes?''
and, under, ``toute à vous Annette'';
then, on the last page, the suggestion:
``who loves you more than I, let's see
him prove it, writing after me.''


There you're entirely sure of finding
two hearts, a torch, and a nosegay;
and there, love's protestations, binding
until the tombstone; there one day
some regimental bard has added
a stanza villainously padded.
In such an album, friends, I too
am always glad to write, it's true,
convinced at heart that my most zealous
nonsense will earn indulgent looks,
nor will my scribbling in such books
attract the sneering of the jealous,
or make men seriously discuss
if I show wit in jesting thus.


But you, grand tomes I loathe with passion,
odd volumes from the devil's shelf,
in which the rhymester-man-of-fashion
is forced to crucify himself,
portfolios nobly illustrated
with Tolstoy's2 brush, or decorated
by Baratynsky's3 wondrous pen,
God's thunder burn you up! And when
some splendid lady is referring
to me her best in-quarto tome,
the fear and rage with which I foam!
Deep down, an epigram is stirring
that I'm just longing to indite --
but madrigals I've got to write!


No madrigals were for inscribing
by Lensky in his Olga's book;
his style breathed love, and not the gibing
coldness of wit; each note he took,
each news of her he'd been imbibing --
all was material for transcribing:
with lively and pellucid look,
his elegies flow like a brook.
So you, inspired Yazýkov,4 sobbing
with bursts of passion from the heart,
sing God knows whom, compose with art
a suite of elegies that, throbbing,
sooner or later will relate
the entire story of your fate.


But soft! You hear? A scowling critic,
bidding us to reject for good
the elegy, grown paralytic,
commands our rhymester-brotherhood:
``oh, quit your stale, your tedious quacking,
and your alas-ing and alack-ing
about what's buried in the past:
sing about something else at last!''
All right, you want the resurrection
of trumpet, dagger, mask and sword,
and dead ideas from that old hoard,
all brought to life at your direction.
Not so? ``No, sirs, the ode's the thing,
that's the refrain that you should sing,


``as sung of old, in years of glory,
as instituted long ago.''
Only the ode, that solemn story!
Enough, my friends; it's all so-so.
Remember the retort satiric!
Is Others' View,5 that clever lyric,
really more bearable to you
than what our sorrowing rhymesters do?
``The elegy's just vain protesting,
empty the purpose it proclaims,
while odes have high and noble aims...''
That point I wouldn't mind contesting,
but hold my tongue, lest it appears
I'll set two ages by the ears.


In love with fame, by freedom smitten,
with storm and tumult in his head,
what odes Vladimir might have written --
but Olga would have never read!
Bards of our tearful generation,
have you read lines of your creation
to your loved ones? They do maintain
that this of all things for a swain
is the supreme reward. Precisely,
blest the poor lover who reads out
his dreams, while she whom they're about,
that languid beauty, listens nicely --
blest... though perhaps her fancy's caught
in fact by some quite different thought.


But I myself read my bedizened
fancies, my rhythmic search for truth,
to nobody except a wizened
nanny, companion of my youth;
or, after some dull dinner's labour,
I buttonhole a wandering neighbour
and in a corner make him choke
on tragedy; but it's no joke,
when, utterly worn out by rhyming,
exhausted and done up, I take
a rambling walk beside my lake,
and duck get up; with instant timing,
alarmed by my melodious lay,
they leave their shores and fly away.


< My gaze pursues them... but on station
the hunter in the wood will swear
at verse, and hiss an imprecation,
and ease his catch with all due care.
We each enjoy a special hobby,
each of us has his favourite lobby:
one sees a duck and aims his gun,
one raves in verse like me, and one
hunts cheeky flies, with swatter sweeping,
one leads the multitude in thought,
one finds in war amusing sport,
one wallows in delicious weeping;
the wine-addict adores the cup:
and good and bad are all mixed up. >


But what about Eugene? With reason
reader, you ask, and I'll expound --
craving your tolerance in season --
the programme of his daily round.
In summertime -- for he was leading
a hermit's life -- he'd be proceeding
on foot, by seven o'clock, until
he reached the stream below the hill;
lightly attired, like the creator
of Gulnare, he would play a card
out of the hand of that same bard:
he'd swim this Hellespont; then later
he'd drink his coffee, flutter through
the pages of some dull review,
then dress...


Books, riding, walks, sleep heavy-laden,
the shady wood, the talking stream;
sometimes from a fair, black-eyed maiden
the kiss where youth and freshness gleam;
a steed responsive to the bridle,
and dinner with a touch of idle
fancy, a wine serene in mood,
tranquillity, and solitude --
Onegin's life, you see, was holy;
unconsciously he let it mount
its grip on him, forgot to count
bright summer days that passed so slowly,
forgot to think of town and friends
and tedious means to festive ends.


Our evanescent northern summer
parodies winter in the south;
it's like a vanishing newcomer --
but here we must control our mouth.
The sky breathed autumn, time was flowing,
and good old sun more seldom glowing;
the days grew shorter, in the glade
with mournful sound the secret shade
was stripped away, and mists encroaching
lay on the fields; in caravan
the clamorous honking geese began
their southward flight: one saw approaching
the season which is such a bore --
November stood outside the door.


Dawn comes in mist and chill; no longer
do fields echo with work and shout;
in pairs, their hunger driving stronger,
on the highroad the wolves come out;
the horse gets wind of them and, snorting,
sets the wise traveller cavorting
up the hillside at breakneck pace;
no longer does the herdsman chase
his beasts outdoors at dawn, nor ringing
at noontime does his horn resound
as it assembles them around;
while in the hut a girl is singing;
she spins and, friend of winter nights,
the matchwood chatters as it lights.


Hoar-frost that crackles with a will is
already silvering all the plain...
(the reader thinks the rhyme is lilies:
here, seize it quick for this quatrain!)
Like modish parquetry, the river
glitters beneath its icing-sliver;
boy-tribes with skates on loudly slice
their joyous way across the ice;
a red-foot goose, weight something fearful,
anticipates a swim, in stead
tries out the ice with cautious tread,
and skids and tumbles down; the cheerful
first flakes of snow whirl round and sink
in stars upon the river-brink.


In backwoods, how d'you pass this season?
Walking? The country that you roam
is a compulsive bore by reason
of its unvarnished monochrome.
Riding on the lugubrious prairie?
Your horse, blunt-shoed and all unwary,
will find the ice elude his grip
and, any moment, down he'll slip.
Or, in your lonely homestead, moping,
you'll read: here's Pradt,7 here's Walter Scott!
to pass the evening. No? then tot
up your accounts, and raging, toping,
let evening pass, tomorrow too --
in triumph you'll see winter through!


Childe-Harold-like, Eugene's devoting
his hours to dreaming them away:
he wakes; a bath where ice is floating;
and then, indoors the livelong day,
alone, and sunk in calculation,
with a blunt cue for the duration,
from early morning on he will
at two-ball billiards prove his skill;
then, country evening fast arriving,
billiards are dropped, cue put to bed:
before the fire a table's spread;
Evgeny waits: and here comes driving,
with three roan horses in a line
Vladimir Lensky. Quick, let's dine!


From widow Clicquot and from Moët,
the draught whose blessings are agreed,
in frosted bottle, for the poet
is brought to table at full speed.
Bubbles like Hippocrene are spraying;
once, with its foaming and its playing,
(a simile of this and that)
it held me captive; tit for tat,
friends, recollect how I surrendered
my last poor lepton for a sup!
recall, by its bewitching cup,
how many follies were engendered;
how many lines of verse, and themes
for jokes, and rows, and merry dreams!


Yet hissing froth deals a malicious,
perfidious blow to my inside,
and now it's Bordeaux the Judicious
that I prefer to Champagne's tide;
to Aÿ's vintage in the sequel
I find myself no longer equal;
for, mistress-like, it's brilliant, vain,
lively, capricious, and inane...
But in misfortune or displeasure,
Bordeaux, you're like a faithful friend,
a true companion to the end,
ready to share our quiet leisure
with your good offices, and so
long life to our dear friend, Bordeaux!


The fire was dying; cinders faintly
covered the golden coal -- the steam
tumbled and whirled and twisted quaintly
its barely noticeable stream.
The hearth was low beyond all stoking.
Straight up the chimney, pipes were smoking.
Still on the board, the beakers hissed,
and evening now drew on in mist...
(I like a friendly conversation,
the enjoyment of a friendly drink,
at hours, which, why I cannot think,
somehow have got the designation
of time between the wolf and dog.)
Now hear the friends in dialogue:


``Tell me, our neighbours, are they thriving?
and how's Tatyana? Olga too,
your dashing one, is she surviving?''
``Just half a glass more... that will do...
All flourishing; they send their duty.
Take Olga's shoulders now -- the beauty!
What breasts! What soul!... We'll go one day
visit the family, what d'you say?
if you come with me, they'll be flattered;
or else, my friend, how does it look?
you called there twice, and since then took
no notice of them. But I've chattered
so much, I'm left no time to speak!
of course! you're bidden there next week.''


``I?'' ``Saturday. The invitation
Olinka and her mother sent:
Tatyana's name day celebration.
It's right and proper that you went.''
``But there'll be such a rout and scrabble
with every different kind of rabble...''
``No, no, I'm sure the party's small.
Relations. No-one else at all.
Let's go, our friendship's worth the labour!''
``All right, I'll come then...'' ``What a friend!''
He drained his glass down to the end
by way of toast to their fair neighbour;
then he began to talk once more
of Olga: love's that kind of bore!


Lensky rejoiced. His designated
rapture was just two weeks ahead;
love's crown, delectable, awaited
his transports, and the marriage-bed
in all its mystery. Hymen's teasing,
the pain, the grief, the marrow-freezing
onset of the incipient yawn,
were from his vision quite withdrawn.
While under the connubial banner
I can see naught, as Hymen's foe,
beyond a string of dull tableaux,
a novel in Lafontaine's8 manner...
my wretched Lensky in his heart
was just created for the part.


And he was loved... at least he never
doubted of it, so lived in bliss.
Happy a hundredfold, whoever
can lean on faith, who can dismiss
cold reason, sleep in sensual welter
like a drunk traveller in a shelter,
or, sweeter, like a butterfly
in flowers of spring it's drinking dry:
but piteous he, the all-foreseeing,
the sober head, detesting each
human reaction, every speech
in the expression of its being,
whose heart experience has cooled
and saved from being charmed or fooled!

Notes to Chapter Four

1 Stanzas I to VI were discarded by Pushkin.
2 Count F. P. Tolstoy (1783-1873), well-known artist.
3 See Chapter Three, note 13.
4 Poet and acquaintance of Pushkin.
5 Satiric poem by Ivan Dimitriev, 1795. The reference is -- summarizing
very briefly -- to a controversy between different literary cliques about
the relative merits of the classic ode and the romantic elegy.
6 Stanza discarded by Pushkin, also stanza XXXVIII.
7 Dominique de Pradt (1759-1837), voluminous French political writer.
8 August Lafontaine (1758-1851), German novelist of family life.


    Chapter Five

O, never know these frightful dreams,
thou, my Svetlana!


That year the season was belated
and autumn lingered, long and slow;
expecting winter, nature waited --
only in January the snow,
night of the second, started flaking.
Next day Tatyana, early waking,
saw through the window, morning-bright,
roofs, flowerbeds, fences, all in white,
panes patterned by the finest printer,
with trees decked in their silvery kit,
and jolly magpies on the flit,
and hills that delicately winter
had with its brilliant mantle crowned --
and glittering whiteness all around.


Winter!... The countryman, enchanted,
breaks a new passage with his sleigh;
his nag has smelt the snow, and planted
a shambling hoof along the way;
a saucy kibítka is slicing
its furrow through the powdery icing;
the driver sits and cuts a dash
in sheepskin coat with scarlet sash.
Here comes the yard-boy, who has chosen
his pup to grace the sledge, while he
becomes a horse for all to see;
the rogue has got a finger frozen:
it hurts, he laughs, and all in vain
his mother taps the window-pane.


But you perhaps find no attraction
in any picture of this kind:
for nature's unadorned reaction
has something low and unrefined.
Fired by the god of inspiration,
another bard1 in exaltation
has painted for us the first snow
with each nuance of wintry glow:
he'll charm you with his fine invention,
he'll take you prisoner, you'll admire
secret sledge-rides in verse of fire;
but I've not got the least intention
just now of wrestling with his shade,
nor his,2 who sings of Finland's maid.


Tanya (profoundly Russian being,
herself not knowing how or why)
in Russian winters thrilled at seeing
the cold perfection of the sky,
hoar-frost and sun in freezing weather,
sledges, and tardy dawns together
with the pink glow the snows assume
and festal evenings in the gloom.
The Larins kept the old tradition:
maid-servants from the whole estate
would on those evenings guess the fate
of the two girls; their premonition
pointed each year, for time to come,
at soldier-husbands, and the drum.


Tatyana shared with full conviction
the simple faith of olden days
in dreams and cards and their prediction,
and portents of the lunar phase.
Omens dismayed her with their presage;
each object held a secret message
for her instruction, and her breast
was by forebodings much oppressed.
The tomcat, mannered and affected,
that sat above the stove and purred
and washed its face, to her brought word
that visitors must be expected.
If suddenly aloft she spied
the new moon, horned, on her left side,


her face would pale, she'd start to quiver.
In the dark sky, a shooting star
that fell, and then began to shiver,
would fill Tatyana from afar
with perturbation and with worry;
and while the star still flew, she'd hurry
to whisper it her inmost prayer.
And if she happened anywhere
to meet a black monk, or if crossing
her path a hare in headlong flight
ran through the fields, sheer panic fright
would leave her dithering and tossing.
By dire presentiment awestruck,
already she'd assume ill-luck.


Yet -- fear itself she found presented
a hidden beauty in the end:
our disposition being invented
by nature, contradiction's friend.
Christmas came on. What joy, what gladness!
Yes, youth divines, in giddy madness,
youth which has nothing to regret,
before which life's horizon yet
lies bright, and vast beyond perceiving;
spectacled age divines as well,
although it's nearly heard the knell,
and all is lost beyond retrieving;
no matter: hope, in child's disguise,
is there to lisp its pack of lies.


Tatyana looks with pulses racing
at sunken wax inside a bowl:
beyond a doubt, its wondrous tracing
foretells for her some wondrous role;
from dish of water, rings are shifted
in due succession; hers is lifted
and at the very self-same time
the girls sing out the ancient rhyme:
``The peasants there have wealth abounding,
they heap up silver with a spade;
and those we sing for will be paid
in goods and fame!'' But the sad-sounding
ditty portends a loss; more dear
is ``Kit''3 to every maiden's ear.


The sky is clear, the earth is frozen;
the heavenly lights in glorious quire
tread the calm, settled path they've chosen...
Tatyana in low-cut attire
goes out into the courtyard spaces
and trains a mirror till it faces
the moon; but in the darkened glass
the only face to shake and pass
is sad old moon's... Hark! snow is creaking...
a passer-by; and on tiptoe
she flies as fast as she can go;
and ``what's your name?'' she asks him, speaking
in a melodious, flute-like tone.
He looks, and answers: ``Agafon.''4


Prepared for prophecy and fable,
she did what nurse advised she do
and in the bath-house had a table
that night, in secret, set for two;
then sudden fear attacked Tatyana...
I too -- when I recall Svetlana5
I'm terrified -- so let it be...
Tatyana's rites are not for me.
She's dropped her sash's silken billow;
Tanya's undressed, and lies in bed.
Lel6 floats about above her head;
and underneath her downy pillow
a young girl's looking-glass is kept.
Now all was still. Tatyana slept.


She dreamt of portents. In her dreaming
she walked across a snowy plain
through gloom and mist; and there came streaming
a furious, boiling, heaving main
across the drift-encumbered acres,
a raging torrent, capped with breakers,
a flood on which no frosty band
had been imposed by winter's hand;
two poles that ice had glued like plaster
were placed across the gulf to make
a flimsy bridge whose every quake
spelt hazard, ruin and disaster;
she stopped at the loud torrent's bound,
perplexed... and rooted to the ground.


As if before some mournful parting
Tatyana groaned above the tide;
she saw no friendly figure starting
to help her from the other side;
but suddenly a snowdrift rumbled,
and what came out? a hairy, tumbled,
enormous bear; Tatyana yelled,
the bear let out a roar, and held
a sharp-nailed paw towards her; bracing
her nerves, she leant on it her weight,
and with a halting, trembling gait
above the water started tracing
her way; she passed, then as she walked
the bear -- what next? -- behind her stalked.


A backward look is fraught with danger;
she speeds her footsteps to a race,
but from her shaggy-liveried ranger
she can't escape at any pace --
the odious bear still grunts and lumbers.
Ahead of them a pinewood slumbers
in the full beauty of its frown;
the branches all are weighted down
with tufts of snow; and through the lifted
summits of aspen, birch and lime,
the nightly luminaries climb.
No path to see: the snow has drifted
across each bush, across each steep,
and all the world is buried deep.


She's in the wood, the bear still trails her.
There's powdery snow up to her knees;
now a protruding branch assails her
and clasps her neck; and now she sees
her golden earrings off and whipping;
and now the crunchy snow is stripping
her darling foot of its wet shoe,
her handkerchief has fallen too;
no time to pick it up -- she's dying
with fright, she hears the approaching bear;
her fingers shake, she doesn't dare
to lift her skirt up; still she's flying,
and he pursuing, till at length
she flies no more, she's lost her strength.


She's fallen in the snow -- alertly
the bear has raised her in his paws;
and she, submissively, inertly --
no move she makes, no breath she draws;
he whirls her through the wood... a hovel
shows up through trees, all of a grovel
in darkest forest depths and drowned
by dreary snowdrifts piled around;
there's a small window shining in it,
and from within come noise and cheer;
the bear explains: ``my cousin's here --
come in and warm yourself a minute!''
he carries her inside the door
and sets her gently on the floor.


Tatyana looks, her faintness passes:
bear's gone; a hallway, no mistake;
behind the door the clash of glasses
and shouts suggest a crowded wake;
so, seeing there no rhyme or reason,
no meaning in or out of season,
she peers discreetly through a chink
and sees... whatever do you think?
a group of monsters round a table,
a dog with horns, a goatee'd witch,
a rooster head, and on the twitch
a skeleton jerked by a cable,
a dwarf with tail, and a half-strain,
a hybrid cross of cat and crane.


But ever stranger and more fearful:
a crayfish rides on spider-back;
on goose's neck, a skull looks cheerful
and swaggers in a red calpack;
with bended knees a windmill dances,
its sails go flap-flap as it prances;
song, laughter, whistle, bark and champ,
and human words, and horse's stamp!
But how she jumped, when in this hovel
among the guests she recognized
the man she feared and idolized --
who else? -- the hero of our novel!
Onegin sits at table too,
he eyes the door, looks slyly through.


He nods -- they start to fuss and truckle;
he drinks -- all shout and take a swill;
he laughs -- they all begin to chuckle;
he scowls -- and the whole gang are still;
he's host, that's obvious. Thus enlightened
Tanya's no longer quite so frightened
and, curious now about the lot,
opens the door a tiny slot...
but then a sudden breeze surprises,
puts out the lamps; the whole brigade
of house-familiars stands dismayed...
with eyes aflame Onegin rises
from table, clattering on the floor;
all stand. He walks towards the door.


Now she's alarmed; in desperate worry
Tatyana struggles to run out --
she can't; and in her panic hurry
she flails around, she tries to shout --
she can't; Evgeny's pushed the portal,
and to the vision of those mortal
monsters the maiden stood revealed.
Wildly the fearful laughter pealed;
the eyes of all, the hooves, the snozzles,
the bleeding tongues, the tufted tails,
the tusks, the corpse's finger-nails,
the horns, and the moustachio'd nozzles --
all point at her, and all combine
to bellow out: ``she's mine, she's mine.''


``She's mine!'' Evgeny's voice of thunder
clears in a flash the freezing room;
the whole thieves' kitchen flies asunder,
the girl remains there in the gloom
alone with him; Onegin takes her
into a corner, gently makes her
sit on a flimsy bench, and lays
his head upon her shoulder... blaze
of sudden brightness... it's too curious...
Olga's appeared upon the scene,
and Lensky follows her... Eugene,
eyes rolling, arms uplifted, furious,
damns the intruders; Tanya lies
and almost swoons, and almost dies.


Louder and louder sounds the wrangle:
Eugene has caught up, quick as quick,
a carving-knife -- and in the tangle
Lensky's thrown down. The murk is thick
and growing thicker; then, heart-shaking,
a scream rings out... the cabin's quaking...
Tanya comes to in utter fright...
she looks, the room is getting light --
outside, the scarlet rays of dawning
play on the window's frosted lace;
in through the door, at swallow's pace,
pinker than glow of Northern morning,
flits Olga: ``now, tell me straight out,
who was it that you dreamt about?''


Deaf to her sister's intervention,
Tatyana simply lay in bed,
devoured a book with rapt attention,
and kept quite silent while she read.
The book displayed, not so you'd know it,
no magic fancies of the poet,
no brilliant truth, no vivid scene;
and yet by Vergil or Racine
by Scott, by Seneca, or Byron,
even by Ladies' Fashion Post,
no one was ever so engrossed:
Martin Zadéka was the siren,
dean of Chaldea's learned team,
arch-commentator of the dream.


This work of the profoundest learning
was brought there by a huckster who
one day came down that lonely turning,
and to Tanya, when he was through,
swapped it for odd tomes of Malvina,
but just to make the bargain keener,
he charged three roubles and a half,
and took two Petriads in calf,
a grammar, a digest of fable,
and volume three of Marmontel.
Since then Martin Zadéka's spell
bewitches Tanya... he is able
to comfort her in all her woes,
and every night shares her repose.


Tatyana's haunted by her vision,
plagued by her ghastly dream, and tries
to puzzle out with some precision
just what the nightmare signifies.
Searching the table exegetic
she finds, in order alphabetic:
bear, blackness, blizzard, bridge and crow,
fir, forest, hedgehog, raven, snow
etcetera. But her trepidation
Martin Zadéka fails to mend;
the horrid nightmare must portend
a hideous deal of tribulation.
For several days she peaked and pined
in deep anxiety of mind.


But now Aurora's crimson fingers
from daybreak valleys lift the sun;
the morning light no longer lingers,
the festal name day has begun.
Since dawn, whole families have been driving
towards the Larins' and arriving
in sledded coaches and coupés,
in britzkas, kibítkas and sleighs.
The hall is full of noise and hustle,