October 16, 2004 by AK

Another puzzle perhaps

This is a reasonably close, I believe, translation of a rather pessimistic poem by a rather important, and influential–as it turned out in the middle of the 20th century–Russian poet. Should be easy to identify for sophisticated enough Russians, since within Russian culture, sophistication implies a decent knowledge of the 200+ years of Russian poetry. [UPDATE: Sorry for the bad joke.]

UPDATE. Yevgeny Baratynsky (1800–1844), Na chto vy, dni! Yudol’ny mir yavlen’ya… (1840).

What are you for, days? Its occurences

This vale won’t change —

All known, but repetitions

The future holds.

‘Tis not in vain you surged and seethed,

Hastening to develop:

You have performed your feat before the body,

O insane soul!

A narrow circle of terrene impressions

Having long closed,

Under a breathing of recurrent visions

You’re drowsing; and the body

Peers mindless as a morning rises,

Replacing without need a night,

Into nocturnal darkness sinks an aimless evening,

Crowning an empty day.


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