I loved you; and perhaps I love you still,
The flame, perhaps, is not extinguished; yet
It burns so quietly within my soul,
No longer should you feel distressed by it.
Silently and hopelessly I loved you,
At times too jealous and at times too shy.
God grant you find another who will love you
As tenderly and truthfully as I.
– Aleksander Pushkin, “I Loved You,” trans. Babette Deutsch
At 8pm this Saturday, Wellesley celebrates the magic of Pushkin’s words in a concert entitled “The Poet’s Echo: Pushkin in Song.”
I’m embarrassed to say I haven’t read much of Pushkin and a cursory reading of his most popular poems deepens my embarrassment. He’s that good.
In “A Conversation of a Bookseller with a Poet,” he writes,
What’s fame? The reader’s feeble voice? Unletter’d scoundrels’ prosecution? Or the delighted blockheads’ noise?
Elsewhere, with no little dose of humor in “The Chronicle of the Versemaker,”
He hears with his ear, used to do it, A whistle; He marks, by expiration lurid, The scripts; Then reads to people, very busy, His soap; Then prints – and into waves of Lethe – Plop!
There is a reason he is termed Russia’s greatest poet; and, in those wise enough to read him extensively, he evokes a fierce desire to celebrate his life (as The New Yorker so curiously reports).
Join Wellesley’s own musicians in celebrating that life with the music of the world’s greatest composers. And if you want a preview, here’s a snippet.