An Age Ago: A Selection of Nineteenth-Century Russian Poetry


Representative selections from the great Russian poets of the nineteenth century, chosen by the uniquely qualified Nobel Laureate Joseph Brodsky.

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Representative selections from the great Russian poets of the nineteenth century, chosen by the uniquely qualified Nobel Laureate Joseph Brodsky.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This newly translated anthology of 11 19th-century Russian poets will both delight and educate readers interested in Russian literature and history. The poems are accessible today primarily because they focus on such universal metaphysical and private issues as love, time, aging, jealousy, war, nature and death. Lyrical, strictly structured with traditional rhyme schemes and meters, the verse is an unusual combination of Romantic language and subject matter and rational theory stemming from the Age of Enlightenment. The anthology balances political, philosophical and personal poems nicely, and the selections complement each other, displaying the individual styles of the authors as well as their common concerns. The poets represented range from the well-known Aleksandr Pushkin and Mikhail Lermontov to the less familiar (to Americans) Prince Vyazemsky and Nikolai Yazykov. The translation is skillful, retaining both the formal aspects of the original verse and its colloquialisms. Brief biographies of the authors are included. This fine anthology is marred only by its slimness: enticed readers will wish for a more comprehensive selection. (July)
Library Journal
$9.95. poetry The 19th century was Russian literature's Golden Age, and many of its prose writersTolstoy, Dostoevsky, and Gogol among themhave achieved justifiable fame in the West. Unfortunately, such equally great poets as Pushkin, Lermontov, Batyushkov, Zhukovsky, and Fet have not had their due. These are among the poets represented in this new anthology, selected by Nobel laureate Joseph Brodsky. Intense and lyrical, the poems reflect the precarious lives of their authors, many of whom had promising careers cut short by ``epidemics, the chains of a dungeon, a bullet received on the battlefield or in the course of a duel. . . .'' Brodsky's commendable selections offer many of the best-loved and oft-memorized poems of the Russian people. Alphonse Vinh, Yale Univ. Lib.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780374520847
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 9/1/1988
  • Pages: 171
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.44 (d)

Table of Contents

Foreword xi
Friendship 3
Song 4
Song 6
Remembrance 7
Night 8
March 19, 1823 9
As I was leaving Albion's shore 13
To My Friends 16
There is enjoyment in a wilderness of trees 17
You've heard that saying brave 18
The Russian God 21
Tears 23
The Tear 24
I have outlived most things 25
Remembrance 26
To Natalia Nikolaevna Pushkina 28
To Chaadaev 31
K*** 32
To Vyazemsky 34
Arion 35
Message to Siberia 36
The Prophet 37
When wand'ring along noisy alleys 39
The Georgian hills above 41
I loved you once 42
To a Poet 43
For God's sake, let me not go mad 44
It's time, my dear, it's time 46
Elegy 47
... I visit once again 48
Disillusion 53
My gift is scant 54
Death 55
The Muse 57
Desolation 58
The Wineglass 62
Autumn 64
All things have their own pace 71
Planting a Wood 72
Elegy 77
Song 78
Elegy 79
Thanksgiving 80
Elegy 81
The Sail 85
No, I'm not Byron 86
Meditation 87
Prayer 89
Testament 90
The boredom, the sadness 92
Gratitude 93
Native Land 94
I walk out alone into the darkness 96
The Dream 98
Farewell to Russia's unwashed features 99
The Prophet 100
As round this earthly globe 105
There is about these autumn evenings bright 106
Silentium! 107
I love the rite of Luther's congregation 108
My soul is an Elysium of shades 109
Day and Night 110
When locked in murd'rous toils 111
Bestow, O Lord, thy gracious pardon 112
Last Love 113
Seated there upon the floor 114
She was oblivious the livelong day 115
Through reason Russia can't be known 116
Should you love 119
O land of mine 120
As wave after wave 121
The lord, when arming me 122
You are a victim of life's grief 123
Farewell 127
from Reflections by a Main Entrance 128
from Frost, the Red-nosed 130
My dear, mere words have no power 137
Breathing seems much easier 138
The Old Park 139
By the Fireside 141
To the Muse 142
Up in the hay one evening 143
The stars glowed red 144
Never 145
To the Muse 147
Butterfly 148
Biographical Notes 151
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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 21, 2001

    Russian Poets Alive

    The eleven poets assembled, voices pitched to sing, in the pages of this anthology, compose a choir of all the heavyweights of Russia's golden age of verse. A couple of them, like Pushkin and Lermontov, will already be familiar to even cursory cataloguers of Slavic literature. Most of the rest, the silver-throated Tyutchev, for example, or the fervent Fet, will be unused to the shelves of English-speaking libraries, places where they are seldom known to dwell, except perhaps as dusty refugees from some emigré uncle's Petersburg pad, some Moscow grandmother's birch-line boudoir. And this is a shame, since these poets, in their native land, once trilled (and for many still do) like the most inspired of larks across the yet unpolluted skies of a shimmering if at times quite shocking Russia. Perhaps this book of translations will do its part to alleviate that situation. Because the poems themselves, Englished in Alan Myers' translation, have a lyric quality and rhythm and meter which are rather eerily reminiscent of the immortal originals. This in itself is enough to warrant a careful reading of the texts. But the best thing about this collection, it must be said, is Joseph Brodsky's introduction, surprising as the sudden arrival of a thunderstorm on a cloudless summer day. In it he describes for us the 19th century, which produced these voices, and compares it to our own. If we do not seem to come out ahead, let that be a lesson! Perhaps Brodsky's remarks are meant not so much to be a kind of mirror, in which we might be tempted to do what we do best, but a clarifying lens for better viewing what has gone before. Whatever? we might wonder. Just a century born when people our grandparts knew were children, and which died before Queen Victoria drank her last cup of tea in a Europe over which only birds, clouds and hearts had ever flown.

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