The short i, vowel or consonant (part 2)
Mikhail Lermontov (part 2)

Mikhail Lermontov (Part 1)

It’s common knowledge that words possess boundless power that actually controls humanity and kneads our history. The distinctive flair for matching true words is a special talent, and poetry is an art of composing music out of thoughts. Russian poetry is particular, as our rich and stormy history moulded peculiar mentality with strong spirit and subtle soul that cannot, but reflect in the works of our poets and other art workers. Mikhail Lermontov (October 15, 1814 – July 27, 1841) is one of our most famous poets. His poetry defies description and may be partly comprehended through his contradictive and peculiar biography.

Lermontov, the great Romantic poet

Despite his impressive contribution to our literary heritage, the name of Lermontov is not very familiar with foreigners, unlike, for example, Alexander Pushkin. But Lermontov largely continues the tradition of Pushkin, and even the fate of the two poets are similar.

Pushkin and Lermontov are two great poets, which initiated the new Russian literature. They are almost contemporaries. Lermontov is 15 years younger than Pushkin but he belongs to another generation. He entered in his adult and poet life in the years that followed the defeat of the Decembrists’ uprising, and this influenced his work.

“В годы жестокого подавления человека Лермонтов мучительно размышлял о судьбе и правах человеческой личности”, – писал известный русский критик-демократ В.Г. Белинский. (“During the brutal repression of people, Lermontov painfully pondered the fate and the rights of the individual person”, wrote a famous Russian critic-democrat V. G. Belinsky).

Like a soldier during the battle, Lermontov picked up the banner of Russian poetry, fallen from the hand of a dead Pushkin, and took his place. Like Pushkin before him, the fate of motherland and individual human being were the main content of his work.

Early years

Lermontov was born in Tarkhany, the estate of his grandmother who raised him. The poet’s mother died when he was three years old. His grandmother didn’t allow Lermontov’s father to see him. The rift in the family and the longing for his father influenced the character of the poet. Lermontov was a introspective and vulnerable man. This reflected in the poems that he wrote in his childhood:

Нет, я не Байрон, я другой, Ещё неведомый избранник, Как он, гонимый миром странник, Но только с русскою душой.

No, I’m not Byron; I am, yet, Another choice for the sacred dole, Like him – a persecuted soul, But only of the Russian set.

School years

Together with his grandmother in moved to St. Petersburg in 1832 with the intention to enter university there. But he was refused the entry to all universities due to his exclusion from the University of Moscow.

Then he decided, like most young noblemen at that time to entered a cadet school and build a military career. His years of study in this school were difficult, the spiritual atmosphere was unfavorable to the thinking and talented poet.

Read in the second part of our article, the tragic destiny of the young poet.

Выхожу один я на дорогу; Сквозь туман кремнистый путь блестит; Ночь тиха. Пустыня внемлет богу, И звезда с звездою говорит.

В небесах торжественно и чудно! Спит земля в сиянье голубом… Что же мне так больно и так трудно? Жду ль чего? Жалею ли о чем? Уж не жду от жизни ничего я, И не жаль мне прошлого ничуть; Я ищу свободы и покоя! Я б хотел забыться и заснуть! Но не тем холодным сном могилы… Я б желал навеки так заснуть, Чтоб в груди дремали жизни силы, Чтоб, дыша, вздымалась тихо грудь; Чтоб всю ночь, весь день мой слух лелея, Про любовь мне сладкий голос пел, Надо мной чтоб, вечно зеленея, Темный дуб склонялся и шумел.

I come out to the path, alone, Night and wildness are referred to God, Through the mist, the road gleams with stone, Stars are speaking in the shinning lot.

There is grave and wonderful in heaven; Earth is sleeping in a pale-blue light… Why is then my heart such pined and heavy? Is it waiting or regretting plight? I expect that nothing more goes, And for past I do not have regret, I wish only freedom and repose, I would fall asleep and all forget… I would like to fall asleep forever, But without cold sleep of death: Let my breast be full of dozing fervor For the life, and heave in gentle breath; So that enchanting voice would ready Day and night to sing to me of love, And the oak, evergreen and shady, Would decline to me and rustle above.

Белеет парус одинокий В тумане моря голубом!.. Что ищет он в стране далекой? Что кинул он в краю родном?..Играют волны – ветер свищет, И мачта гнется и скрипит… Увы, – он счастия не ищет И не от счастия бежит!Под ним струя светлей лазури, Над ним луч солнца золотой… А он, мятежный, просит бури, Как будто в бурях есть покой!

A lone white sail shows for an instant Where gleams the sea, an azure streak. What left it in its homeland distant? In alien parts what does it seek?The billow play, the mast bends creaking, The wind, impatient, moans and sighs… It is not joy that it is seeking, Nor is it happiness it flies.The blue wave dance, they dance and tremble, The sun’s bright ray caress the seas. And yet for storm it begs, the rebel, As if in storm lurked calm and peace!..

Нет, я не Байрон, я другой, Еще неведомый избранник, Как он, гонимый миром странник, Но только с русскою душой. Я раньше начал, кончу ране, Мой ум немного совершит; В душе моей, как в океане, Надежд разбитых груз лежит. Кто может, океан угрюмый, Твои изведать тайны? Кто Толпе мои расскажет думы? Я – или бог – или никто!

No, I’m not Byron; I am, yet, Another choice for the sacred dole, Like him – a persecuted soul, But only of the Russian set. I early start and end the whole, And will not win the future days; Like in an ocean, in my soul, A cargo of lost hopes stays. Who, oh, my ocean severe, Could read all secrets in your scroll? Who’ll tell the people my idea? I will or God or none at all!

Евгения Плещунова