Evgeny Abramovitch Baratynsky was the son of an Army General who was dismissed from the Army at the age of 16 on a charge of theft. He had to begin Army life again as a private & only regained his status as an officer & a noble after six years service. His marriage left him financially secure & he seems to have led the easy life of a Russian nobleman of the period, living on his country estate with visits to St Petersburg & Moscow. He was part of Pushkin’s circle & his “psychological miniatures”, as his poems have been called, were widely admired.
I like this poem, which reaches out to future readers in a very modest way.
My gift is scant, my voice lacks force behind it,
and yet I live and my existence here
to somebody perhaps is counted dear:
some far descendant possibly may find it
within my verse: who knows? Our souls far-flung
will thus turn out to have some close relation,
and as I found a friend this generation,
a reader shall I find in time to come.
And this one, poking gentle fun at the salon society he knew in Moscow.
All things have their own pace and mode of motion.
‘Twixt cradle and the grave Moscow’s asleep,
but even she, half deaf, hears rumors creep
that whist’s old hat and a much jollier notion
is salon groups where minds have scope to soar,
where conversation reigns, and whist’s a bore.
So she pursues the craze she’s set her heart on –
imagine the occurrence untoward!
Salons there are, some like a kindergarten,
and some, alas, a geriatric ward.