Monday, February 18, 2008

Alexander Pushkin: Beloved Poet of Russia

On a recent Sunday morning, I commented to my taxi driver about the beautiful morning, so cold and crisp with brilliant sunshine. He smiled in the rearview mirror and said Oh yes, Mor-OZ ee SOLN-sa (that is, Frost and sunshine) and I thought nothing more about the description he had right there at the tip of his tongue.

Shortly thereafter, in our children’s Bible class, I commented about the beautiful morning straight from God’s hand. Dima, 11, piped up and said, Frost and sunshine, day so wondrous, in Russian of course, repeating what the taxi driver had said earlier. But Dima he kept on going. And kept going, reciting some verse that he knew by heart. I just sat there in awe.

Dima, was that a poem or what?

That was Pushkin.

But, of course. Alexander Pushkin (1799-1837) is the most beloved poet of Russia and many a school child has memorized a favorite poem or two. Besides that, I’d wager that in every community across the land, there would be a statue or street or square named in Pushkin’s honor. Having lived seven years on Pushkin-skaya (the proper noun transformed into an adjective by the fancy suffix), the pedestrian-only boulevard that bisects downtown Rostov, I myself feel a special affinity for Pushkin.

That evening, I did an internet search on Pushkin and that poem and up came the original poem, Winter Morning, 30 lines long as well as the English translation. Of course it flows so majestically in the original language.

Above, memorial to Pushkin on after a heavy snow that downed tree branches on Pushkinskaya Boulevard.


Kyle & Svet Keeton said...

Hi, Eileen!

Thank you for very interesting and sweet article! Thank you for the link to translations of Pushkin's poems. :)))

By the way we learned by heart 10-30 poems by Pushkin in the school ;).

Best wishes,
Svet and Kyle

John from Kansas said...

Great post. Thanks Eileen.

Eileen said...

Thanks Svet for your note. (John too if he himself learned Pushkin in school- ha) Are you absolutely serious that you learned 10-30 poems? Like which ones (2-3-5) did you learn, say, in elementary school? I've just heard the story of Evgeny __, and so interesting. Do you have a favorite? Do you still remember some of these poems? Will you be reciting one of these to Dear John on 23 Feb over a candlelight dinner? ;) E

John, thank you for your comment. Do you like Pushkin yourself? You know what - I remember reading in NYTimes, as I recall, several years ago, about Pushkins great-great-grandson, it may have been, who lives in NY City and drives cab there. I'm sure I copied that article....still trying to find it. So interesting. The young man had no particular interest in great-great grandpa's writing. And in fact had once been asked if is famous relative had been...had been...a professional soccer player, of all things. Maybe this was an interview for Pushkins 200th birthday, several years back... Anyway, thanks for stopping by. You get the prize for the most visits here John I do believe. Thanks much. E

Kyle & Svet Keeton said...

Are you absolutely serious that you learned 10-30 poems? Yes, and it was absolutely terrible because we have to tell all them by heart and when we had our write works we should beautify our works with such quotations, we wrote our works (сочинение) in classroom and we must not use any books. And that was not too easy for me cause of my mathematical (not humanitarian) type of brain.

Do you still remember some of these poems? Yes, I still remember some ;).