Anna Petrovna Kern
I still recall the marvellous moment: When you appeared before my gaze like a ghost, like a fleeting spirit, like soul of the purest grace. In torturing fruitless melancholy, in vanity and loud chaos I’ve always heard your gentle voice and glimpsed your features in my dreams. As years passed and winds scattered my long-past hopes, and in those days, I lacked your voice’s divine spell and the bless’d features of your face. Held in darkness and separation, my days dragged in strife. lacking faith and inspiration, lacking tears and love and life. But the time arrives; my soul awakens, and again you appear before me like a ghost, like a fleeting spirit, like the soul of purest grace. Again my heart beats in rapture, again everything awakens: My long-past faith and inspiration, and the tears and life and love. To *** The wondrous moment of our meeting… I well remember you appear Before me like a vision fleeting, A beauty’s angel pure and clear. In hopeless ennui surrounding The worldly bustle, to my ear For long your tender voice kept sounding, For long in dreams came features dear. Time passed. Unruly storms confounded Old dreams, and I from year to year Forgot how tender you had sounded, Your heavenly features once so dear. My backwoods days dragged slow and quiet — Dull fence around, dark vault above — Devoid of God and uninspired, Devoid of tears, of fire, of love. Sleep from my soul began retreating, And here you once again appear Before me like a vision fleeting, A beauty’s angel pure and clear. In ecstasy the heart is beating, Old joys for it anew revive; Inspired and God-filled, it is greeting The fire, and tears, and love alive. Translated by Genia Gurarie To *** I still recall the wondrous moment: When you appeared before my sight As though a brief and fleeting omen, Pure phantom in enchanting light. In sorrow, when I felt unwell, Caught in the bustle, in a daze, I fell under your voice’s spell And dreamt the features of your face. Years passed and gales had dispelled My former hopes, and in those days, I lost your voice’s sacred spell, The holy features of your face. Detained in darkness, isolation, My days began to drag in strife. Without faith and inspiration, Without tears, and love and life. My soul attained its waking moment: You re-appeared before my sight, As though a brief and fleeting omen, Pure phantom in enchanting light. And now, my heart, with fascination, Beats rapidly and finds revived Devout faith and inspiration, And tender tears and love and life. Translated by Andrey Knellerhis poem was written in July 1825 and dedicated to Anna Petrovna Kern (1800-1879). It has the distinction of being labelled the most famous poem in the Russian language.