translated by Rawley Grau
Poetry/Letters | $25 $20
"Baratynsky is an oddity." — Joseph Brodsky
It is only in the past quarter-century or so that Yevgeny Abramovich Baratynsky (1800–1844) has gained wide recognition in Russia as one of the great poets of the 19th century. While the psychologically acute love elegies and meditations he wrote in the early 1820s earned him some fame during his lifetime, his later lyric verse was ignored or misunderstood by most of his contemporaries. Yet it is this body of work in particular, where he explores fundamental questions about the meaning of existence from an analytical epistemological perspective, that today seems remarkably modern. The poet’s radical skepticism, as well as his increasing sense of isolation from the literary world, is reflected most profoundly in his lyric masterpiece, the book Dusk (Sumerki, 1842) — translated in its entirety in this volume — a work that is notable, among other things, for being the first collection of poems published in Russia as a coherent literary cycle (a practice that would become standard only 60 years later).
Featuring some 75 poems, from the early elegies to poems from his final years, Baratynsky’s A Science Not for the Earth will be the first representative collection of the poet’s lyric verse in English translation.
His deep gaze fixed upon the stone,
the artist saw the Nymph inside,
and fire raced through every vein
and in his heart he flew to her.
But soon, consumed with endless yearning,
he’s master of himself again:
the gradual chisel without hurry
removes one layer and then another
from the goddess concealed within.
In a sweet fog of concentration
an hour, a day, a year goes by,
but the final veil falls not away from
the one foreguessed, the one desired,
until, the passion recognizing
beneath the chisel’s sly caress,
Galatea answers with her eyes and
flushed with desire, draws the wise one
on to the victory of bliss.
- 04.07.16 | Yevgeny Baratynsky's A Science Not for the Earth (tr. by Rawley Grau) reviewed by Chad W. Post in Three Percent
- 03.16.16 | Yevgeny Baratynsky's A Science Not for the Earth (tr. by Rawley Grau) reviewed in the Slavic and East European Journal
News and Reviews
In one of my last travels [...] to the far eastern part of the country, I got a volume of a poet of Pushkin’s circle, though in ways much better than Pushkin—his name is Baratynsky. Reading him forced me to abandon the whole silly traveling thing and to get more seriously into writing. So this is what I started to do.—Joseph Brodsky
Yevgeny Baratynsky was the most daring and dark of the nineteenth-century poets, the only one of Pushkin’s contemporaries who can justly be compared to him. These translations do justice to the power of the originals and will be a revelation to readers coming to Baratynsky for the first time.—Michael Wachtel