RAVEN TO RAVEN ON THE WING
This is Pushkin’s adaptation of “The Twa Corbies.” I don’t
know how Pushkin acquired his source, but his version makes subtle and
very pushkinian changes. The disloyal hound of the original is changed
into a disloyal horse (and a female horse at that, which underlines the
sexuality of the event) — in Russian culture, the loyal horse in folklore
occupies the place of the English “man’s best friend.” I don’t
know of any other translation that echoes and acknowledges the original
Raven to raven on the wing,
Raven to raven questioning:
Raven, where shall we break our fast?
What kind of supper's to your taste?"
Raven to raven, "An open field
there is, where we can take our meal.
Under a willow and out of sight
I know there lies a new-slain knight.
"No one knows by whom or why
This noble knight was left to die
But his falcon and his raven mare
And his youthful lady fair."
The falcon's flown among the willows,
No friend of his bestrides the filly,
And the lady waits for her beloved,
Not for the slain, but someone living.
TO THE PRINCESS GOLITZYNA
with the gift of his ode "Freedom"
A simple student of nature
such as I was, proclaimed
a splendid dream of freedom
and sweetly breathed its air.
But I see you, take your part,
And what?.. such a feeble creature!..
Having given up freedom forever
I adore with a captive heart.