The Volokh Conspiracy
Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent
SPECIAL Poetry Tuesday!: "Mednyi vsadnik" ("The Bronze Horseman") by Aleksandr Pushkin
"From here, we'll show the Swede our saber; / We'll build a city on the sea, / To better spite our haughty neighbor. / Our destiny is manifest -- / To cut a window to the West..."
This continues my 100-YouTube-subscriber celebration. (As of right now, I have 121 subscribers; my YouTube channel mostly consists of my Sasha Reads playlist, plus a smattering of law-related songs.) Today, I'm reading "Медный всадник" ("The Bronze Horseman") by Aleksandr Pushkin (1799-1837), a "Tale of St. Petersburg" featuring the statute of Peter the Great and the flood of 1824, which was written in 1833 and published after Pushkin's death. This is longer than usual (about 25 minutes), so pull up a comfy chair and get yourself some tea or coffee. (The introduction is contained within about the first six minutes, but you should listen longer—the "hero" of the story is named Eugene!)
You can find my own translation of the introduction of this poem (and some other Pushkin poems) here. Otherwise, the Russian text of the poem is here, you can find a translation of the whole poem here, and you can find more information about other translations here.
If you want another Pushkin poem, check out "Узник" ("Uznik", "The Prisoner" or "The Captive"). My other Russian poem videos are "Лотова жена" ("Lotova zhena", "Lot's wife") by Anna Akhmatova, "Она" ("Ona", "She") by Zinaida Gippius, and "Я мечтою ловил уходящие тени" ("Ia mechtoiu lovil ukhodiashchie teni", "With my dreams I caught the departing shadows") by Konstantin Balmont.
На берегу пустынных волн
Стоял он, дум великих полн,
И вдаль глядел. Пред ним широ́ко
Река неслася; бедный чёлн
По ней стремился одиноко.
По мшистым, топким берегам
Чернели избы здесь и там,
Приют убогого чухонца;
И лес, неведомый лучам
В тумане спрятанного солнца,
И думал он:
Отсель грозить мы будем шведу,
Здесь будет город заложён
На зло надменному соседу.
Природой здесь нам суждено
В Европу прорубить окно,
Ногою твёрдой стать при море….
On the deserted, battered shore,
He stood, ambitious dreams in store,
And looked afar. Here, wide and strong,
The river flowed; forlorn and poor,
A lonely rowboat crept along.
Upon the mossy, swampy bank,
He saw small hovels, dark and dank,
The tribesman's shelter in the bog;
And the uncharted woods, whose flank
Was darkened by the sunless fog,
Made rustling noises.
And, thought he:
From here, we'll show the Swede our saber;
We'll build a city on the sea,
To better spite our haughty neighbor.
Our destiny is manifest —
To cut a window to the West,
To firmly stand before the ocean.
In time, the flags of every land
Will seek this unfamiliar strand;
We'll feast them here with great commotion.
For the rest of my "Sasha Reads" playlist, click here. Past poems are:
- "Ulysses" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
- "The Pulley" by George Herbert
- "Harmonie du soir" ("Evening Harmony") by Charles Baudelaire
- "Dirge Without Music" by Edna St. Vincent Millay
- "Clancy of the Overflow" by A.B. "Banjo" Paterson
- "Лотова жена" ("Lotova zhena", "Lot's wife") by Anna Akhmatova
- "The Jumblies" by Edward Lear
- "The Conqueror Worm" by Edgar Allan Poe
- "Les Djinns" ("The Jinns") by Victor Hugo
- "I Have a Rendezvous with Death" by Alan Seeger
- "When I Was One-and-Twenty" by A.E. Housman
- "Узник" ("Uznik", "The Prisoner" or "The Captive") by Aleksandr Pushkin
- "God's Grandeur" by Gerard Manley Hopkins
- "The Song of Wandering Aengus" by William Butler Yeats
- "Je crains pas ça tellment" ("I'm not that scard about") by Raymond Queneau
- "The Naming of Cats" by T.S. Eliot
- "The reticent volcano keeps…" by Emily Dickinson
- "Она" ("Ona", "She") by Zinaida Gippius
- "Would I Be Shrived?" by John D. Swain
- "Evolution" by Langdon Smith
- "Chanson d'automne" by Oscar Milosz
- "love is more thicker than forget" by e.e. cummings
- "My Three Loves" by Henry S. Leigh
- "Я мечтою ловил уходящие тени" ("Ia mechtoiu lovil ukhodiashchie teni", "With my dreams I caught the departing shadows") by Konstantin Balmont
- "Dane-geld" by Rudyard Kipling
- "Rules and Regulations" by Lewis Carroll
- "Vers dorés" by Gérard de Nerval
- "So That's Who I Remind Me Of" by Ogden Nash
- "The Epic" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
- "La chambre double" ("The Double Room") by Charles Baudelaire