Days when I came to flower serenely
in Lycee gardens long ago,
and read my Apuleius keenly,
but spared no glance for Cicero;
yes, in that spring-time, in low-lying
secluded vales, where swans were crying,
by waters that were still and clear,
for the first time the Muse came near.
And suddenly her radiance lighted
my student cell: she opened up
the joys of youth, that festal cup,
she sang of childhood's fun, indited
Russia's old glories and their gleams,
the heart and all its fragile dreams.
By now the rays of spring are chasing
the snow from all surrounding hills;
it melts, away it rushes, racing
down to the plain in turbid rills.
Smiling through sleep, nature is meeting
the infant year with cheerful greeting:
the sky is brilliant in its blue
and, still transparent to the view,
the downy woods are greener-tinted;
from waxen cell the bees again
levy their tribute on the plain;
the vales dry out, grow brightly printed;
cows low, in the still nights of spring
the nightingale's begun to sing.
Seeing Vladimir had defected,
Eugene, at Olga's side, was racked
by fresh ennui as he reflected
with pleasure on his vengeful act.
Olinka yawned, just like her neighbour,
and looked for Lensky, while the labour
of the cotillion's endless theme
oppressed her like a heavy dream.
It's over. Supper is proceeding.
Beds are made up; the guests are all
packed from the maids' wing to the hall.
Each one by now is badly needing
a place for rest. Eugene alone
has driven off, to find his own.
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.
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.
``You're off? why, there's a poet for you!''
``Goodbye, Onegin, time I went.''
``Well, I won't hold you up or bore you;
but where are all your evenings spent?''
``At the Larins'!'' ``But how mysterious.
For goodness' sake, you can't be serious
killing each evening off like that?''
``You're wrong.'' ``But what I wonder at
is this -- one sees from here the party:
in first place -- listen, am I right? --
a simple Russian family night:
the guests are feasted, good and hearty,
on jam, and speeches in regard
to rains, and flax, and the stockyard.''
The place where Eugene loathed his leisure
was an enchanting country nook:
there any friend of harmless pleasure
would bless the form his fortune took.
The manor house, in deep seclusion,
screened by a hill from storm's intrusion,
looked on a river: far away
before it was the golden play
of light that flowering fields reflected:
villages flickered far and near,
and cattle roamed the plain, and here
a park, enormous and neglected,
spread out its shadow all around --
the pensive Dryads' hiding-ground.
My uncle -- high ideals inspire him;
but when past joking he fell sick,
he really forced one to admire him --
and never played a shrewder trick.
Let others learn from his example!
But God, how deadly dull to sample
sickroom attendance night and day
and never stir a foot away!
And the sly baseness, fit to throttle,
of entertaining the half-dead:
one smoothes the pillows down in bed,
and glumly serves the medicine bottle,
and sighs, and asks oneself all through:
"When will the devil come for you?"''
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