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Mikhail Lermontov

Mikhail Lermontov

MIKHAIL LERMONTOV: "Don't Trust In Self..."

"Don't Trust In Self..."

1839

Que nous font apres tout tes vulgaries abojs
De tous ces charlatans qui donnent de la voix,
Les marchands de pathos et les faiseurs d'emphase
Et tous les baladins qui dansent sur la phrase?

A. Barbier
Don’t trust in self, my dreamer young, don’t trust, 
Beware, like ulcers, inspiration…
It is the heavy fit of your unhealthy heart,
Or jailed ideas’ irritation.
Don’t seek in inspiration Heaven’s stuff:  
That’s your blood boils or powers you over! 
Let troubles fast extinguish all your life,
Let poisoned drink be outpoured!

Could you, sometimes, in any sacred flash,
Find in your soul, mute for years, 
The spring that is unknown yet and fresh, 
And full of thoughts, so simple and so dear?           
Don’t hark at them nor trust in them a slight,
Just put on them forgetfulness – a curtain: 
You’ll not be able to translate them right
By icy words and by a meter certain.    

Whether pine creeps into your soul’s deeps,
Or enters passion with its tempests -- 
Don’t come then at the noisy feasts of peoples 
With your girlfriend in utter madness.
Do not abase yourself. Be shameful of the trade
With wrath or with observant sadness,
And of your soul wounds’ disparaging parade
To shock the simple-hearted masses.   

Why must we know that you suffer else,
Or ever have some kind of agitation,                  
The silly hopes of the early years,
And bad remorse of your reflections?
Behold: before yourself, the crowd easy sails
Along the road that well wears, 
Their festive faces have the easy troubles’ trace
And have not any shameful tears.               

But, by the way, there’s not a person, single, 
Not mauled by a cruel action,
Who had been covered with the early wrinkles,
Without crime or deprivation!
Be sure, they’ll ever scorn your laments and your pricks,
With your tune, learned by heart and stoned,
Like a tragic actor with the rouged cheeks,
Waving a sable of cardboard.          


Translated by Yevgeny Bonver, November, 2000


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