I’m listening to Simon Sebag Montefiore’s new book The Romanovs (read by Simon Russell Beale) & two books I ordered by sea mail from Canada arrived last week so I’m in the mood for Russian poetry this week. I took the chance of a sale at Royal Russia to pick up copies of two memoirs I’ve always wanted to read, The Real Romanovs by Gleb Botkin, son of the last Tsar’s doctor who was murdered with the family at Ekaterinburg & The Life and Tragedy of Alexandra Feodorovna by Baroness Sophie Buxhoeveden, the Tsarina’s lady-in-waiting. Interestingly Botkin believed the claims of Anna Anderson that she was the Grand Duchess Anastasia so I’ll be fascinated to read what he has to say.
Pushkin’s (photo from here) grandfather was Hannibal, an African at the Court of Peter the Great, so having read about the grandfather in The Romanovs, I’ve chosen one of the grandson’s poems. I have this lovely Folio Society edition of Pushkin’s stories & I must get around to reading it soon.
This lovely poem is To Natasha.
The crimson summer now grows pale;
Clear, bright days now soar away;
Hazy mist spreads through the vale,
As the sleeping night turns gray;
The barren cornfields lose their gold;
The lively stream has now turned cold;
The curly woods are gray and stark,
And the heavens have grown dark.
Where are you, my light, Natasha?
No one’s seen you, – I lament.
Don’t you want to share the passion
Of this moment with a friend?
You have not yet met with me
By the pond, or by our tree,
Though the season has turned late,
We have not yet had a date.
Winter’s cold will soon arrive
Fields will freeze with frost, so bitter.
In the smoky shack, a light,
Soon enough, will shine and glitter.
I won’t see my love, – I’ll rage
Like a finch, inside a cage,
And at home, depressed and dazed,
I’ll recall Natasha’s grace.