From all sweet things that gave me pleasure,
since then my heart was wrenched aside;
freedom and peace, in substitution
for happiness, I sought, and ranged
unloved, and friendless, and estranged.
What folly! and what retribution!

``No, every minute of my days,
to see you, faithfully to follow,
watch for your smile, and catch your gaze
with eyes of love, with greed to swallow
your words, and in my soul to explore
your matchlessness, to seek to capture
its image, then to swoon before
your feet, to pale and waste... what rapture!

``But I'm denied this: all for you
I drag my footsteps hither, yonder;
I count each hour the whole day through;
and yet in vain ennui I squander
the days that doom has measured out.
And how they weigh! I know about
my span, that fortune's jurisdiction
has fixed; but for my heart to beat
I must wake up with the conviction
that somehow that same day we'll meet...

``I dread your stern regard surmising
in my petition an approach,
a calculation past despising --
I hear the wrath of your reproach.
How fearful, in and out of season
to pine away from passion's thirst,
to burn -- and then by force of reason
to stem the bloodstream's wild outburst;
how fearful, too, is my obsession
to clasp your knees, and at your feet
to sob out prayer, complaint, confession,
and every plea that lips can treat;
meanwhile with a dissembler's duty
to cool my glances and my tongue,
to talk as if with heart unwrung,
and look serenely on your beauty!...

``But so it is: I'm in no state
to battle further with my passion;
I'm yours, in a predestined fashion,
and I surrender to my fate.


No answer comes. Another letter
he sends, a second, then a third.
No answer comes. He goes, for better
or worse, to a soirée. Unheard
she appears before him, grim and frozen.
No look, no word for him: she's chosen
to encase herself inside a layer
of Twelfth Night's chillest, iciest air.
To batten down their indignation
is all those stubborn lips desire!
Onegin looks with eyes of fire:
where are distress, commiseration?
No tearstains, nothing. Wrath alone
is graven on that face of stone.


Perhaps some secret apprehension
lest signs of casual weakness drew
her husband's or the world's attention...
Ah, all that my Onegin knew...
No hope! no hope! He leaves the revel,
wishes his madness to the devil,
drives home -- and plunging deeper in,
once more renounces world and din.
And he remembers, in the quiet
of his own room, how cruel spleen
had once before, across the scene
of social buzz and modish riot,
tracked him, and put him in duress,
and locked him in a dark recess.


Once more he turned to books, unchoosing,
devouring Gibbon and Rousseau,
Manzoni and Chamfort,12 perusing
Madame de Staël, Bichat,13 Tissot,14
Herder, and even at times a Russian --
nothing was barred beyond discussion --
he read of course the sceptic Bayle15
and all the works of Fontanelle16 --
almanacs, journals of reflection,
where admonitions are pronounced,
where nowadays I'm soundly trounced,
but where such hymns in my direction
were chanted, I remember when --
e sempre bene, gentlemen.


What happened? Though his eyes were reading,
his thoughts were on a distant goal:
desires and dreams and griefs were breeding
and swarming in his inmost soul.
Between the lines of text as printed,
his mind's eye focused on the hinted
purport of other lines; intense
was his absorption in their sense.
Legends, and mystical traditions,
drawn from a dim, warm-hearted past,
dreams of inconsequential cast,
rumours and threats and premonitions,
long, lively tales from wonderland,
or letters in a young girl's hand.


Then gradually upon sensation,
and thought, a sleepy numbness steals;
before his eyes, imagination
brings out its faro pack, and deals.
He sees: in slush, stretched out and keeping
motionless as one soundly sleeping
in bed, a young man, stiff and chilled;
he hears a voice; ``well, what? he's killed!''
And foes he sees, long-since forgotten,
a rogue, a slanderer, a poltroon,
young traitresses by the platoon,
comrades despised, and comrades rotten;
a country house -- and one who still
sits there beside the window-sill!


He got so used to this immersion,
he almost lost his mind, expired,
or joined us poets. His conversion
would have been all that we required!
It's true, the magnet-like attraction
of Russian verse, its force in action, --
my inept pupil, at that hour,
so nearly had them in his power.
Who could have looked the poet better,
as in the nook he'd sit alone
by blazing fireplace, and intone
Idol mio or Benedetta,
and on the flames let fall unseen
a slipper, or a magazine?


The days flew past; by now the season
in warmer airs was half dispersed.
He's neither died, nor lost his reason,
nor turned a poet. In the burst
of spring he lives, he's energetic;
he leaves one morning the hermetic
apartment where a double glaze
has kept him warm in chimney's blaze
while, marmot-like, he hibernated --
along the Neva in a sleigh,
past ice-blocks, blue and squared away,
he drives in brilliant sun; striated
along the street lies dirty snow;
and like an arrow from a bow


over the slush, where is he chasing?
You've guessed before it all began:
to his Tatyana, yes, he's racing,
my strange, incorrigible man.
He goes inside, corpse-like of feature...
the hall's without a living creature,
the big room, further, not a cat.
He opens up a door. What's that
that strikes him with such force and meaning?
The princess, sitting peaked and wan,
alone, with no adornment on;
she holds a letter up, and leaning
cheek upon hand she softly cries
in a still stream that never dries.


Who in that flash could not have reckoned
her full account of voiceless pain?
Who in the princess for that second
would not have recognized again
our hapless Tanya! An emotion
of wild repentance and devotion
threw Eugene at her feet -- she stirred,
and looked at him without a word,
without surprise or rage... his laden,
his humbly suppliant approach,
his dull, sick look, his dumb reproach --
she sees it all. The simple maiden,
whose heart on dreams was wont to thrive,
in her once more has come alive.


Tatyana leaves Onegin kneeling,
looks at him with a steady gaze,
allows her hand, that's lost all feeling,
to meet his thirsty lips... What daze,
what dream accounts for her distraction?
A pause of silence and inaction,
then quietly at last says she:
``Enough, stand up. It's now for me
to give you honest explanation.
Onegin, d'you recall the day
when in the park, in the allée
where fate had fixed our confrontation,
humbly I heard your lesson out?
Today it's turn and turn about.


``For then, Onegin, I was younger,
and also prettier, I'll be bound,
what's more, I loved you; but my hunger,
what was it in your heart it found
that could sustain it? Only grimness;
for you, I think, the humble dimness
of lovelorn girls was nothing new?
But now -- oh God! -- the thought of you,
your icy look, your stern dissuasion,
freezes my blood... Yet all the same,
nothing you did gave cause for blame:
you acted well, that dread occasion,
you took an honourable part --
I'm grateful now with all my heart.


``Then, in the backwoods, far from rumour
and empty gossip, you'll allow,
I'd nothing to attract your humour...
Why then do you pursue me now?
What cause has won me your attention?
Could it not be that by convention
I move in the grand monde? that rank,
and riches, and the wish to thank
my husband for his wounds in battle
earn us the favour of the Court?
that, for all this, my shame's report
would cause widespread remark and tattle,
and so in the salons could make
a tempting plume for you to take?


``I weep... In case there still should linger
your Tanya's image in your mind,
then know that your reproving finger,
your cold discourse, were less unkind --
if I had power to choose your fashion --
than this humiliating passion
and than these letters, and these tears.
At least you then showed for my years
respect, and mercy for my dreaming.
But now! what brings you to my feet?
What trifling could be more complete?
What power enslaves you, with your seeming
advantages of heart and brain,
to all that's trivial and inane?


``To me, Onegin, all this glory
is tinsel on a life I hate;
this modish whirl, this social story,
my house, my evenings, all that state --
what's in them? All this loud parading,
and all this flashy masquerading,
the glare, the fumes in which I live,
this very day I'd gladly give,
give for a bookshelf, a neglected
garden, a modest home, the place
of our first meeting face to face,
and the churchyard where, new-erected,
a humble cross, in woodland gloom,
stands over my poor nurse's tomb.


``Bliss was so near, so altogether
attainable!... But now my lot
is firmly cast. I don't know whether
I acted thoughtlessly or not:
you see, with tears and incantation
mother implored me; my sad station
made all fates look the same... and so
I married. I beseech you, go;
I know your heart: it has a feeling
for honour, a straightforward pride.
I love you (what's the use to hide
behind deceit or double-dealing?)
but I've become another's wife --
and I'll be true to him, for life.''


She went -- and Eugene, all emotion,
stood thunder-struck. In what wild round
of tempests, in what raging ocean
his heart was plunged! A sudden sound,
the clink of rowels, met his hearing;
Tatyana's husband, now appearing...
But from the hero of my tale,
just at this crisis of his gale,
reader, we must be separating,
for long... for evermore. We've chased
him far enough through wild and waste.
Hurrah! let's start congratulating
ourselves on our landfall. It's true,
our vessel's long been overdue.


Reader, I wish that, as we parted --
whoever you may be, a friend,
a foe -- our mood should be warm-hearted.
Goodbye, for now we make an end.
Whatever in this rough confection
you sought -- tumultuous recollection,
a rest from toil and all its aches,
or just grammatical mistakes,
a vivid brush, a witty rattle --
God grant that from this little book
for heart's delight, or fun, you took,
for dreams, or journalistic battle,
God grant you took at least a grain.
On this we'll part; goodbye again!


And my companion, so mysterious,
goodbye to you, my true ideal,
my task, so vivid and so serious
and yet so light. All that is real
and enviable for a poet,
in your pursuit I've come to know it:
oblivion of life's stormy ways,
sweet talk with friends. How many days
since, through the mist that dreams arise on,
young Tanya first appeared to me,
Onegin too -- and there to see,
a free romance's far horizon,
still dim, through crystal's magic glass,
before my gaze began to pass.


Of those who heard my opening pages
in friendly gatherings where I read,
as Sadi17 sang in earlier ages,
``some are far distant, some are dead''.
They've missed Eugene's completed etching.
But she who modelled for the sketching
of Tanya's image... Ah, how great
the toll of those borne off by fate!
Blest he who's left the hurly-burly
of life's repast betimes, nor sought
to drain its beaker down, nor thought
of finishing its book, but early
has wished it an abrupt goodbye --
and, with my Eugene, so have I.

Notes to Chapter Eight

1 Gavrila Derzhávin (1745-1816), ``Russia's first outstanding poet''
(Nabokov). While still at the Lyceum in Tsarskoe Selo, in 1815, Pushkin read
some of his verses to him. The stanza was unfinished.
2 Lenore, romantic ballad by Gottfried August Bürger, 1773.
3 ``Rout (Eng.), an evening assembly without dancing; means properly
crowd.'' Pushkin's note.
4 Refers to Pushkin's poem The Demon, of 1823.
5 Hero of Griboedov's Woe from Wit, 1824.
6 Admiral Alexander Shishkov (1754-1841) championed the purity ot the
Russian language against the encroachment of foreign words.
7 Probably an allusion to Bulgárin, an unfriendly critic of Pushkin's
8 Nina Voronskoy, imaginary belle of Petersburg society.
9 Court decoration given to the Empress's ladies-in-waiting. Stanza
10 Name left blank by Pushkin.
11 Count Emmanuel Sen-Pri (1806-1828) had a reputation as a cartoonist.
He was the son of the Comte de Saint-Priest, a French émigré.
12 Author of Maximes et Pensées, Paris, 1796.
13 Author of Recherches physiologiques sur la vie et la mort, Paris,
14 Author of De la santé des gens de lettres, Lausanne and Lyon, 1768.
15 Pierre Bayle, French philosopher.
16 Author of Dialogues des Morts, 1683.
17 Persian poet of the thirteenth century.