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Here's winter. Far from town, what shall we do? I question
The servant bringing in my morning cup of tea:
"How is the weather warm? Not storming? The ground's covered
With freshly fallen snow?" Come, is it best to be
Astride a horse at once, or shall we, until dinner,
See what the neighbor's old reviews may have to say?
The snow is fresh and fine. We rise, and mount our horses,
And trot through fields agleam with the first light of day.
We carry whips; the dogs run close behind our stirrups;
With careful eyes we search the snow, we scour the plain
For tracks, ride round and round, and tardily at twilight,
After we've missed two hares, at last turn home again.
How jolly! Evening comes: without, the storm is howling;
The candlelight is dim. The heart is wrenched with pain.
Slow drop by drop I drink my boredom's bitter poison.
I try a book. The eyes glide down the page — in vain:
My thoughts are far away . . . and so I close the volume,
Sit down, take up my pen, force my dull Muse to say
Some incoherent words, but harmony is wanting,
The sounds won't chime . . . The devil! Where now is my sway
Over the rhyme? I can't control this curious handmaid:
The verse is shapeless, cold, so lame it cannot walk.
So I dismiss the Muse: I am too tired to quarrel.
I go into the parlor where I hear them talk
About the sugar-works, about the next election;
The hostess, like the weather, frowns, her only arts
Are plying rapidly her long steel knitting needles,
Or telling people's fortunes by the king of hearts.
What boredom! Thus the days go by, alike and lonely.
But if, while I play draughts at twilight in my nook,
Into our dreary village a closed sleigh or carriage
Should just by chance bring guests for whom I did not look:
Say, an old woman and two girls, her two young daughters
(Tall, fair-haired creatures, both), the place that was so dull,
So Godforsaken, all at once is bright and lively,
And suddenly, good heavens, life grows rich and full!
Attentive sidelong looks by a few words are followed,
There's talk, then friendly laughter, and songs when lamps are lit,
And after giddy waltzes there come languid glances,
There's whispering at table, gay and ready wit;
Upon the narrow stairs a lingering encounter;
When twilight falls, a girl steals from her wonted place
And out onto the porch, bare-throated, chest uncovered
The wind is up, the snow blows straight into her face!
But never mind! Our fair is heedless of the snowstorm.
Unhurt in northern blasts the Russian rose will blow.
How hotly burns a kiss in keen and frosty weather!
How fresh a Russian girl abloom in gusts of snow!

Translated by Babette Deutsch

A.S. Pushkin. “Here's winter. Far from town, what shall we do? I question...”. Translated by Babette Deutsch // Alexander Pushkin. Collected Works: Parallel Russian Text and English Translation.
© Электронная публикация — РВБ, 2022—2024. Версия 2.1 от 30 ноября 2023 г.