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A Poem by Alexander Pushkin : Tatiana’s Letter

Pushkin portrait- 02

Tatiana’s Letter


I write to you . . . when that is said
What more is left for me to say ?
Now you are free (I know too well)
To heap contempt upon my head.
Yet if some sparks of pity dwell
Within your breast you’ll surely not
Abandon me to my hard lot.
When first I saw you I desired
To hold my peace : my shame (’tis true)
Would ne’er have been revealed to you
Had life’s conditions but inspired
One gleam of hope that you would come
To see us in our country home
From time to time, so that I might
Hear but one word, catch but one tone,
And live by dreaming on alone
Till our next meeting, day and night.
But then it seemed there was no hope;
Our rustic quiet bored you so,
Folk said you were a misanthrope;
And we—we do not make a show—
You found us narrow in our scope.

Why did you come to visit us
I n this forgotten quiet place ?
I need not have been tortured thus
If I had never seen your face.
My inexperienced heart maybe
Had grown resigned to this dull life,
And future years had brought to me
Some other love—my destiny
An honoured mother and true wife.
Another’s! Nay, to none on earth
Could I have given this heart of mine.
By the decree of the Most High,
And by Heaven’s willing, I am thine.

Allotted unto you was I
E’en from the moment of my birth
And loyal to my future fate;
And God, I know, sent you to be
My champion and my advocate
Till the grave closes over me. . . .

Oft in my dreams you did appear;
I loved you then before the days
When palpably I saw you here ;
I languished in your wondrous gaze
And in my heart your voice rang clear
Long since. … It was no dream to me!
You came—at once I understood
This swift confusion in my blood,
While my thoughts whispered : ‘ Lo, ’tis he.’
Was it not true ? Am I not sure
You spoke with me in hours of peace
When I went visiting my poor,
Or when I strove by prayer to ease
The pain in which my spirit toss’d ?

Was not your image wont to rise
A vision sweet—too quickly lost—
To light my gloom ? Did not mine eyes
See you bend gently o’er my bed ?
Were not some words low whispered
Of love and hope ? Now in what guise
Come you ? As guardian angel good,
Or tempter in some wily mood ?
0 speak, and set my doubts at rest!
What if all this should prove at best
The empty dream, more light than froth,
Of a heart simple and untried ?
Well, be it so! But from henceforth
I must to you my fate confide.
Must weep my tears about your feet
And for your sheltering love entreat.
Picture me now. … I sit alone
With none to heed or guess what ails . . .
And now my very reason fails!
I wait for you. One glance of yours
Fresh hope unto my heart restores;
Or else the cruel dream comes back
Of merited contempt. . . . Alack!

[She seals the letter.]

‘Tis done! I scarce dare read it through,
But overcome with shame and fright
I trust my honour now to you,
And dare to think I trust aright.

Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin

Pushkin - 01

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