PUSHKIN, Alexander S.
Meanwhile another landowner
Newly arrived on his estate,
His neighbour, caused an equal stir,
For reasons that I’ll indicate.
Vladimir Lensky, is the man
Handsome, young, a Kantian,
Whose soul was formed in Göttingen,
A friend of truth: a poet then.
From misty Germany he brought
The fruits of learning’s golden tree,
His fervent dreams of liberty,
Ardent and eccentric thought,
Eloquence to inspire the bolder,
And dark hair hanging to his shoulder
He sang of love, to love subjected,
Clear and serene his tune,
As a girl’s thoughts, unaffected,
A child’s slumber, or the moon,
Sailing the untroubled skies,
Queen of mysteries and sighs.
He sang of parting and of sorrows,
Misty climes, and vague tomorrows,
Of roses in some high romance;
Sang of all the far-off lands
Where on quiet desert strands,
His living tears obscured his glance;
At eighteen years he had the power,
To sing of life’s dry withered flower.
When but a boy his heart was captured,
Never having felt love’s blade,
By Olga, and as one enraptured
He watched her as she sang and played.
Under the oak-trees’ sheltering boughs,
They exchanged their childish vows,
Their fathers saw them marrying,
Considered it a certain thing.
Under her parent’s gaze she grew
Filled with grace and innocence,
Humbly living out existence,
A lily in the morning dew,
A flower in deepest grass, alone,
To bee and butterfly unknown.
Tatyana listened, with vexation,
To all this; yet, an innocent,
Felt inexpressible elation,
At the least unguarded moment.
A thought took root in her heart,
So a seed begins to start
Heated by the warmth of spring,
And time gives nurture to the thing.
Her dreams had long since set her yearning,
For that fatal sustenance,
Fired by longing, circumstance,
In solitude her heart was burning,
Crushed by adolescent gloom,
Her soul was waiting…but for whom?
The Queen of Spades
And, in truth, Lizaveta Ivanovna was a very unfortunate creature. "The bread of the stranger is bitter," says Dante, "and his staircase hard to climb." But who can know what the bitterness of dependence is so well as the poor companion of an old lady of quality? The Countess A---- had by no means a bad heart, bat she was capricious, like a woman who had been spoilt by the world, as well as being avaricious and egotistical, like all old people who have seen their best days, and whose thoughts are with the past and not the present. She participated in all the vanities of the great world, went to balls, where she sat in a corner, painted and dressed in old-fashioned style, like a deformed but indispensable ornament of the ball-room; all the guests on entering approached her and made a profound bow, as if in accordance with a set ceremony, but after that nobody took any further notice of her. She received the whole town at her house, and observed the strictest etiquette, although she could no longer recognise the faces of people. Her numerous domestics, growing fat and old in her ante-chamber and servants' hall, did just as they liked, and vied with each other in robbing the aged Countess in the most bare-faced manner.
Lizaveta Ivanovna was the martyr of the household. She made tea, and was reproached with using too much sugar; she read novels aloud to the Countess, and the faults of the author were visited upon her head; she accompanied the Countess in her walks, and was held answerable for the weather or the state of the pavement. A salary was attached to the post, but she very rarely received it, although she was expected to dress like everybody else, that is to say, like very few indeed. In society she played the most pitiable role. Everybody knew her, and nobody paid her any attention. At balls she danced only when a partner was wanted, and ladies would only take hold of her arm when it was necessary to lead her out of the room to attend to their dresses. She was very self-conscious, and felt her position keenly, and she looked about her with impatience for a deliverer to come to her rescue; but the young men, calculating in their giddiness, honoured her with but very little attention, although Lizaveta Ivanovna was a hundred times prettier than the bare-faced and cold-hearted marriageable girls around whom they hovered. Many a time did she quietly slink away from the glittering but wearisome drawing-room, to go and cry in her own poor little room, in which stood a screen, a chest of drawers, a looking-glass and a painted bedstead, and where a tallow candle burnt feebly in a copper candle-stick.