Я вас любил: любовь еще, быть может,
В душе моей угасла не совсем;
Но пусть она вас больше не тревожит;
Я не хочу печалить вас ничем.
Я вас любил безмолвно, безнадежно,
То робостью, то ревностью томим;
Я вас любил так искренно, так нежно,
Как дай вам бог любимой быть другим.
When I get drunk, especially when I get vodka drunk, I tend to recite that poem. Not the whole thing. I can’t remember the whole thing anymore, which is why I was so tickled to find it on the internet. But the first three lines, I can spit those out no problem and when I get drunk and melancholy, I usually do.
I don’t really remember any Russian any more. I can say “Hello” and “Good-bye” and “It’s necessary for me to have beer (or vodka),” but that’s about it.
I like Pushkin for a lot of reasons it’s too hot in my house to go into right now. But I like that Pushkin loved Gogol. Gogol wrote “The Nose”–the story of a bureaucrat whose nose one day falls off and goes on to have far greater success in life than him.
To me, it shows remarkable taste for Gogol to love a man who could write a story like that.
Anyway, I’m no good at translation. I have no idea what makes a good translation. With Pushkin, I guess, you want to get some sense of how the words rock against each other, like two old lovers who meet up again on a dance floor and, whether it’s the music or the alcohol or just that familiar flank under your fingertips again, you forget for the evening why it didn’t work out and indulge yourself.
In a poem like this, maybe getting that rhythm right is especially important, since we have two old lovers, meeting up again. The speaker starts–I loved you once and there may still be a little love in my soul. I don’t want anything from you. But here are all of the ways I loved you (the saddest being, in my opinion, “without hope”). What love I hope you find with another! Or maybe you’d say, and by god, I hope you can find a love like that with someone else.
I don’t think there’s any reason to suspect he’s being snarky. I think he really does wish her well.
I kind of think that’s a nice sentiment for a poem–my misery is what it is, but your life should be better; I hope your life is better.