Wednesday, May 2, 2007

I Loved You by Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin

I Loved You

Я вас любил: любовь еще, быть может
В душе моей угасла не совсем;
Но пусть она вас больше не тревожит;
Я не хочу печалить вас ничем.

Я вас любил безмолвно, безнадежно,
То робостью, то ревностью томим;
Я вас любил так искренно, так нежно,
Как дай вам бог любимой быть другим.
--Александр Сергеевич Пушкин

I loved you -- and love it may yet be
Deep in my soul. It might still smoulder there.
But do not trouble your dear heart for me
I would not want to make you shed a tear

I loved you -- Helplessly Hopelessly
Timidity and longing plagued my mind
I loved you so tenderly so truly
God grant that you may such another find
--Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin

This is a poem that I memorized in Russian for a class in college. Pushkin, who wrote it, is credited with legitimizing the Russian language as a literary tongue. The Russians I lived with were very impressed that I knew a Pushkin poem by heart. The Russians love him so much, that one TV station stops people on the street and has them recite their favorite bit of Pushkin, then plays the clips during commercial breaks. You can hear it in the original Russian here. It's short, and I think it's worth hearing how he used rhythm, rhyme, and similar word structure within the lines of the poem.

The translation is my own. I had translations similar to the one on the above linked page, but they weer word-for-word translations, and didn't try to imitate the structure he used. I worked very hard to get this just right, and think I did a pretty good job getting the meaning in as well.

I am very fond of Pushkin's work. He was one of the historical people I could really relate to in Russia (along with Peter the Great, and Lomonosov). I went to his house (lovingly preserved since the moment of his death), bought a copy of his Gift to the Children of Russia on the Defeat of Napoleon (a set of Alphabet cards with rhymes either praising all things Russian or making fun of all things French), read his fairy tales (like the Golden Fish), listened to his poems on TV (there was even one comedy sketch that showed how all his major stories, including his own life end in fatal duels), and one of my few delights in Moscow was the Alexander Gardens (where they have statues and fountains representing his works).


  1. I really like your version, Karen! Of course, I don't know the Russian, but I'd read your translation anytime.

  2. I quite agree. Karen's version makes a much better poem than that other website's.


  3. I had to memorize this in college too! I loved my Russian class and had a wonderful teacher. I've forgotten most of my Russian, but I still remember the beautiful rhythm and lush sounds of the poem.

    Here's another one to check out, but in Spanish - Meciendo by Gabriela Mistral. You might enjoy it, too. It's stark, rhythmic, and lovely too.

  4. I was taught this poem way back in 1972. Its composition and tenor is so powerful that it has left an indelible impression on my young and growing mind ever since that I remember it even today with passion and nostalgia. May I continue to draw inspiration from this immortal poem in praise of my beloved and the Almighty. Wahe guru!!! 16 Mar 2011.