Sunday, June 15, 2014

Sunday Poetry - Vasily Andreyevich Zhukovsky

I've been reading about Russia lately. Helen Rappaport's excellent biography of the Romanov Grand Duchesses, Four Sisters, & the newspaper reports about the amazing rediscovery of one of the now no longer missing Faberge Imperial Easter eggs. So, I picked up this anthology of 19th century Russian poetry that has been on my shelves for a very long time. The poems have been selected & translated by Alan Myers &, apart from Pushkin & Lermontov, I don't know any of the authors.

Vasily Andreyevich Zhukovsky was the illegitimate son of a landowner & worked as a tutor & magazine editor. An unhappy love affair was the inspiration for his poetry for many years & he had some success with his poem, A Bard among the Russian Warriors, which led to an appointment at Court as Reader to the Empress Alexandra & later, tutor to the Tsarevich. He was an important poet in his time, an inspiration to Pushkin & the author of the lyrics of the National Anthem, God Save the Tsar. He retired at the age of 58, married 18 year old Elizabeth Reiturn & spent his final years in Europe, dying at Baden in 1852.

This poem, March 19th, 1823, expresses that Romantic sensibility which seems to have been Zhukovsky's favourite subject. It occurs to me that there's a connection to last week's poem. A lover at the grave of his beloved, only this time, the ghost is silent.

You stood before me
In silent sadness,
Your contemplation
Charged with emotion,
Potent reminder
Of former sweetness...
It was the last time
This side of heaven.

You parted from me,
A silent angel;
Your grave is peaceful
As paradise is.
There lie all earthly 
Fond recollections
And all the holy
Deep thoughts of heaven.

Skies filled with stars,
Still of the night...

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