|Don’t make comparisons. A living man...
My favorite line in this poem is the first one: “Íå ñðàâíèâàé - æèâóùèé íå ñðàâíèì” - “Don’t make comparisons. A living man” which carries a great humanistic message. Also, in the third stanza we witness the poet’s loyalty to his place of exile, Voronezh. As a result, the poet postpones his departure to the symbol of the world culture, the Tuscan hills. These two loves, one for the human being and the other one for Voronezh, expressed with an immense power, fascinated me enough to want to translate this work.
The feeling of love pervades the poem and I had to be able to convey it. I envisioned my poem as a portrait of a human being nearing his end, yet whose heart is filled with love.
Among technical problems, the most difficult one was recreating the alliteration “ñðàâíèâàé,” “íåñðàâíèì,” “ðàâåíñòâîì,” “ðàâíèí,” that I accomplished through the interplay of “plain” – “complain.” Besides, I had to render “âñå÷åëîâå÷åñêèì” as “eternal” for the lack of an exact equivalent. In general, when I was translating I was afraid to turn into a pianist with a perfect, yet purely mechanical technique. I tried to preserve the special aura of the work, rather than sacrifice it to technical perfection. Is it possible to preserve this aura in the English language at all? I think it is possible, and would have never attempted the translation had I thought otherwise. Whether I was successful or not is now up to the reader to decide.
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Don’t make comparisons. A living man
Is plain unique. With loving apprehension,
I witnessed, not complaining, that the plains
Were uniform - and sensed the sky’s oppression.
I asked my servant-air, to embark
On bringing news or running random errands,
And planned then to depart, and sailed along an arc
Of the imagined, never started travels.
I seek the roads that offer me more sky,
Seized all the while by an apparent yearning
For these Voronezh hills, as I descry
The Tuscan hills that summon me, eternal.