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Alexander Pushkin’s “To Natasha” is part of our summer poetry series, dedicated to making the season of vacation lyrical again. It is one of Pushkin’s earlier poems, written in 1814 when the writer was only 15, and as such bursts with teenage emotion.
It may be unsurprising to find that Russia’s national bard, often thought of as the creator—in the same category as Shakespeare—of the country’s literature, was already writing lyrical poems while in the first flushes of adulthood. Yet to have that poem be a mourning for lost opportunities, so to speak, as well as the loneliness of winter, shines a light on the poet’s rather eerie maturity.
But what are poets for, anyway, if not to remind us that the joy of summer is always somehow accompanied by the realization of its coming end, and the inevitability of a depressing winter. Bless their melancholy souls for always keeping it real. And bless Pushkin for lamenting the loss of Natasha and summer in the same breath.
To Natasha by Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin (trans. Andrey Kneller)
The crimson summer now grows pale;
Clear, bright days now soar away;
Hazy mist spreads through the vale,
As the sleeping night turns gray;
The barren cornfields lose their gold;
The lively stream has now turned cold;
The curly woods are gray and stark,
And the heavens have grown dark.
Where are you, my light, Natasha?
No one’s seen you, – I lament.
Don’t you want to share the passion
Of this moment with a friend?
You have not yet met with me
By the pond, or by our tree,
Though the season has turned late,
We have not yet had a date.
Winter’s cold will soon arrive
Fields will freeze with frost, so bitter.
In the smoky shack, a light,
Soon enough, will shine and glitter.
I won’t see my love, – I’ll rage
Like a finch, inside a cage,
And at home, depressed and dazed,
I’ll recall Natasha’s grace.