Some stanzas from Pushkin

I’ve been reading Eugene Onegin by Pushkin over the past few days and have come across some great stanzas that I can’t resist sharing. (the translation is by Stanley Mitchell).

Chapter 4, Stanzas 45 and 46

At once, a Veuve Clicquot or Moët
That most revered and blessed wine,
Is brought to table for the poet,
In a chilled bottle, as they dine.
Like Hippocrene it sparkles, flashes[1]
And pours in playful, frothy splashes
(A simile for—please invent).
It once enraptured me: I spent
My last poor penny on its solace.
Dear friends, do you remember that?
Its magical cascades begat
No dearth of silliness and follies,
Verses and jokes in endless streams
And arguments and cheerful dreams.

But now its noisy effervescence
Betrays my stomach, and instead
I much prefer Bordeaux’s quiescence
Which spares the stomach and the head.
Aï I can no longer savor;[2]
Aï is like a woman’s favor,
Ravishing, gay, mercurial,
Impetuous and trivial…
If now Bordeaux is my addiction,
It’s as a friend who’s always there
To benefit us everywhere,
Partaking sorrow and affliction,
Sharing the leisure time we spend.
Long live Bordeaux, our precious friend!

Chapter 3, Stanza 25

Coquettes are cool in their decisions.
Tatiana loves in earnest, she
Gives herself without conditions
Like a small child, defencelessly.
Of love she says not: let’s postpone it
To raise its value when we own it,
To trap it more assuredly;
First let us puncture vanity
With hope, then introduce confusion
To rack the heart, and when we tire,
Revive it with a jealous fire;
Or else, fatigued by joy’s profusion,
The cunning captive day or night
May from his prison-house take flight.


[1] Hippocrene is stream on Mt. Helicon in Greece and was sacred to the Muses. Drinking from it gave you poetic inspiration.

[2] Aï is a town in northern France from which this champagne comes.

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