Saturday, June 5, 2010

Celebrating Pushkin's Birthday (June 6)

And my heart beats in ecstasy.

Russian poetry is part of learning Russian language, or more precisely that of Pushkin's. I learned my second poem in the class yesterday. A love poem with pure emotions. My new teacher Irina Sergeevna worships Pushkin, she highlighted to us that tomorrow is his birthday and significance of his works in Russian people. When she recited his poem, it was like music, we were taught to recite with her.

I cannot write enough how important and intimate Russians associate themselves with their language. I think they are the only people in the world who would toast for their "GREAT AND ALMIGHTY RUSSIAN LANGUAGE" (За великий и могучий русский язык!!! )while in parties or gatherings, while people like us would simply toast for good health, good luck...mundane and personal wishes.. Young children are taught since young to speak correctly, to possess spontaneous usage of the complex language, and naturally know the infinite changes of endings of words when used in different structures.

I wish Singaporean Chinese, or Chinese for that matter, have at least some decent sense of pride in their own languge -- to understand the beauty of the language, to read, to speak, or maybe to write correctly.

Born in 1799, Pushkin is the founder of modern Russian literature and one of the greatest poets in Russian Literature, if not in the world. He brought literature out from the privileged and the rich, and reached the hearts and souls of ordinary people. He pioneered the use of vernacular speech in his poems and plays, creating a style of storytelling—associated with Russian literature ever since and greatly influencing later Russian writers.

In English Translation:
I remember a wonderful moment

I remember a wonderful moment:
You appeared before me,
Like a fleeting vision,
As pure beauty.

In the torture of hopeless melancholy,
The anxieties of a noisy fuss
I heard your gentle voice
I dreamed of that lovely face.

Years passed. Storms' s blast
Scattered dreams,
And I forgot your tender voice,
Your heavenly features.

In the wilds, in gloomy
My days dragged quietly
No god, no inspiration,
No tears, no life without love.

My soul awakened:
And again you appeared,
Like a fleeting vision,
As pure beauty.

And my heart beats in ecstasy
And it once again
And the deity, and inspiration,
And life, and tears, and love

-- Pushkin

Poem in Russian.
(* to listen how it sounds in Russian, I suggest this clip which features a comical couple who dramatised the emotions of the poem. Poetry in Russia is for ordinary people, for ordinary life.)
Я помню чудное мгновенье:
Передо мной явилась ты,
Как мимолетное виденье,
Как гений чистой красоты.
В томленьях грусти безнадежной,
В тревогах шумной суеты,
Звучал мне долго голос нежный
И снились милые черты.
Шли годы. Бурь порыв мятежный
Рассеял прежние мечты,
И я забыл твой голос нежный,
Твои небесные черты.
В глуши, во мраке заточенья
Тянулись тихо дни мои
Без божества, без вдохновенья,
Без слез, без жизни, без любви.
Душе настало пробужденье:
И вот опять явилась ты,
Как мимолетное виденье,
Как гений чистой красоты.
И сердце бьется в упоенье,
И для него воскресли вновь
И божество, и вдохновенье,
И жизнь, и слезы, и любовь.


  1. this is one of my favourite poems! we had to memorise it for Russian class :)