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Gavril Romanovich Derzhavin 1743 (Kazan Governorate) – 1816 (Zvanka manor, Novgorod Governorate)

God-like Tsarevna
Of the Kirgiz-Kaisatskii horde!
Whose wisdom matchless
Opened the true path
To young Prince Khlor
To go up on that high peak
Where the rose without thorns grows,
Where virtue dwells:
It takes my spirit and mind prisoner,
Tell me how to find it.

Tell me, Felitsa:
How to live opulently yet justly,
How to subdue the storm of passions
And be happy in the world.
Your voice wakes me,
Your son sends me;
But to follow them I am too weak.
Disturbed by everyday trifles,
Today I control myself,
But tomorrow am slave to desires.

Not emulating your courtiers,
You often go on foot,
And the most simple food
Is on your table;
Inexpensive is your rest,
You read, you write before the candle
And to all mortals from your pen
Bliss flows;
Just so at cards you do not play,
Like me, from morning to morning.

You do not much like masquerades,
And put not even a foot inside a club;
Guarding your habits and customs,
You do not act as a Don Quixote;
The horse of Parnassus you do not saddle,
To spirits in séances you do not go,
You do not go from your throne to the East,--
But, walking on the path of meekness,
With gracious soul
You spend a stream of useful days.

But I, having slept until noon,
Smoke tobacco and drink coffee;
Changing into holidays weekdays,
I wander in the chimeras of my thoughts:
Now booty from Persians I steal,
Now arrows at Turks I send;
Now, having dreamt, that I am the sultan,
The universe I terrorize with a glance;
Now suddenly, captivated by an outfit,
I ride to the tailor for a caftan.

Or I am at a sumptuous feast,
Where a celebration for me is given,
Where shines the table with silver and gold,
Where there are thousands of varied dishes:
There the famed Westphalian ham,
There links of Astrakhan fish,
There pilaf and pies sit;
With champagne I wash down waffles
And everything on the earth forget
Among wines, sweets, and aromas.

Or, in a beautiful little grove
In a summerhouse, where a fountain speaks,
With the sounds of a sweet-voiced harp,
Where a little wind barely breathes,
Where everything presents me luxury,
To pleasures my thoughts entices,
Soothes and wakens my blood,
Resting on a velvet divan,
A young girl’s tender feelings,
I pour into her heart love.

Or with a splendid tandem
In an English carriage, golden,
With a dog, a fool, or friend
Or with such a beauty
I drive under the swings;
At pubs to drink mead I stop;
Or , when it somehow bores me,
Due to my inclination for change,
With my hat at a jaunty angle
I fly on a fast steed.

Or with music and singers,
With organ and bagpipes,
Or with fist-fighters
And the dance I delight my soul;
Or, all matters of care
Leaving behind, I go out hunting
And amuse myself with the howls of dogs;
Or over Neva banks
I amuse myself by night with horns
And the rowing of agile oarsmen.

Or, sitting at home, I horse around,
Playing “Fool” with my wife;
Now with her I climb to the dove-cote,
Now at Blind-Man's Bluff we frolic away the time;
Now we amuse ourselves at svaika
Now ?????
Now I love to delve into books,
My mind and heart I enlighten,
Polkan and Bova I read;
Over the Bible, yawning, I sleep.

In such ways, Felitsa, I am dissolute!
But all society resembles me.
However much one is known for wisdom,
But all men are liars.
We do not walk on paths of light,
We run after dreams of depravity.
Between the Indolent and the Choleric,
Between vanity and vice
One finds only by chance
The path to pure virtue.

It is found,--but how may we not blunder,
We, weak mortals, on that path,
Where reason itself stumbles
And must go after passions;
Where learned ignoramuses,
Like mist does to travellers, darken our minds?
Everywhere temptations and flattery live;
All pashas luxury oppresses.
Where does virtue live?
Where does the rose without thorns grow?

To you alone is it proper,
Tsarevna! to create light out of darkness;
Dividing Chaos into harmonious spheres,
With a union of wholeness to strenghten them;
From discord -- agreement
And from violent passion happiness
You may alone create.
Like a sailor, sailing across the sea,
Catching under the sail a raging wind,
Is able to guide his ship.

Only you do not offend,
Do not
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

3:47 min read

Quick analysis:

Closest metre Iambic tetrameter
Characters 4,143
Words 757
Stanzas 14
Stanza Lengths 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 2

Gavril Romanovich Derzhavin

Gavriil (Gavrila) Romanovich Derzhavin (Russian: Гаврии́л (Гаври́ла) Рома́нович Держа́вин) was one of the most highly esteemed Russian poets before Alexander Pushkin, as well as a statesman. Although his works are traditionally considered literary classicism, his best verse is rich with antitheses and conflicting sounds in a way reminiscent of John Donne and other metaphysical poets. more…

All Gavril Romanovich Derzhavin poems | Gavril Romanovich Derzhavin Books

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