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Saturday 4 June 2022

Saturday Rave: Oh Mountain of my Native Country by Appollon Nikolayevich Maykov.

 Much of the world is trying to understand Vladimir Putin at the moment: to understand him, and also his country, Russia.

I can't say we're having a lot of luck with either, but here's a Russian poem from the 1800s with an interesting theme. I don't know if it helps with understanding Vladimir Putin, but it's certainly a novel way of thinking about one's homeland.

In this translation the poem comes out as pretty much doggerel. In the original it might be very fine. 

Still, who doesn't enjoy a little doggerel from time to time?

"O mountains of my native country! O valleys of my home!
On you gleam Winter's snowflakes white and twinkle lambs of Summer--
On you the rosy sunlight glows, you know no deathly shudder!"

So, 'neath the earth did wistful yearn three homesick youths in Hades,
Who fain from out that under world to worlds above would hasten.
  The first declared "We'll go in Spring!" The second "No, in Summer!"
"No," cried the third, "at harvesting, in time the grapes to gather!"
A listening maiden fair, o'erheard with heart resistless throbbing;
Upon her breast her arms she crossed and begged of them imploring--
  "O take me to the upper world!" Alone the youths made answer,
"That cannot be, you fairest maid, that you with us be taken!
Your heels would clatter as you speed, your dress would rustle silken,
Your rattling ornaments warn death to hear us all escaping."

"My rustling dress I will unlace,--my ornaments forsaking,
Barefooted up the stairway steep will mute and cautious follow!
Ah, but too gladly would I gaze again on earthly living!
I fain my mother would console, sad for her daughter grieving--
would my brothers twain behold, who for their sister sorrow!"
  "O do not yearn, thou wretched child, for those thou lovest, ever!
Thy brothers in the village street now joyful lead the wrestling--
And with the neighbours on the street thy mother gossips zestful!"


Perhaps the point is that the physical country is valuable, but the people are not.

Yes. Perhaps that does make sense of Vladimir Putin.

Word To Use Today: native. This word comes from the Latin nātīvus, which means innate or natural, from nascī, to be born.

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