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Translation of Pushkin’s “Demon” (1823)

Posted in writing, short fiction by Psychopoliticus on June 29, 2013

I’ve remembered Pushkin. His portrait hangs in my research methods classroom because I guess that’s where the Russian department holds its classes. Most of his themes are so simple and so gripping at the same time. Tried my hand at translating. Really hard–he has Russian in a tight grip that’s hard to unravel. Here’s my translation of “Demon” (1823)


Those days, when were to me so novel

those grand impressions of my being

Glances of maidens, oaks’ quiet shuffle 

By night, the nightingale sings-

When grandiose, sublime emotion

And freedom, victory and love,

Art’s high inspired, insane devotion

So strongly stirred to rouse my blood,

Those hours of hope and of enjoyment

Then, suddenly, in fall’s drab longing,

Some evil genius’ deployment

to pay me surreptitious heed. 

Our meetings, they were always somber

His grin, most marvelous his glance

His acrid, ulcerous oration

Poured frigid poison ‘nto my hands.

With indefatigable slander,

he tempted my protected soul

He called through wondrous dreams with laughter

for he resented life’s high goal.

In love or freedom no believer,

he ogled living with a smirk

To nothing in all nature’s glory

give benediction did he want.