The great Russian soul – Alexander Sergeevich Pushkin




Поэт! не дорожи любовию народной.
Восторженных похвал пройдет минутный шум;
Услышишь суд глупца и смех толпы холодной:
Но ты останься тверд, спокоен и угрюм.

Ты царь: живи один. Дорогою свободной
Иди, куда влечет тебя свободный ум,
Усовершенствуя плоды любимых дум,
Не требуя наград за подвиг благородный.

Они в самом тебе. Ты сам свой высший суд;
Всех строже оценить умеешь ты свой труд.
Ты им доволен ли, взыскательный художник?

Доволен? Так пускай толпа его бранит
И плюет на алтарь, где твой огонь горит,
И в детской резвости колеблет твой треножник.

  To a Poet

A poet! Do not prize the love of people around,

It soon will pass — the glorifying hum —
And come a court of fools and laughing of cold crowd —
But you must always stay firm, morose and calm.

You’re king: live lonesome. Along the freedom’s road,
Stride there, to where just shows your free mind,
While modernizing fruits of thoughts, beloved,
And not demanding you to be awarded.

Awards inside of you. You are your highest court;
Severely then all, you value your effort.
Well, are you satisfied, oh, my severe artist?

You’re satisfied. Then let the mob condemn your verse,
Spit at the altar, where your fire burns,
And toss your brass tripod with somewhat childish wildness.

In the distant 1830 Alexander Sergeevich Pushkin wrote this significant poem as an hymn to the important role of the poet and to illuminate his total devotion to poetry in general. Currently considered as the father of the Russian modern literature, Pushkin was soon recognized by Gogol as ”an extraordinary phenomenon, maybe a unique phenomenon in the whole Russian soul”.

Born from one of the most ancient aristocratic families of Moskow Pushkin, although his young age, was one of the founding fathers of the secret decembrist company. He was inspired by liberal ideals and he wanted to change the society giving to Russia a constitution, the same constitution that Catherine II had promised, but it never came into existence. It was in these years of activity and especially after the decembrist revolt in 1825 that  Pushkin wrote ” Boris Gudovon”, his most famous play. Pushkin‘s fight for freedom and against the tsarist autocracy was brought on until his death, but in an indirect and soft way; the result however was the same as always: Earl Voroncov considered him as an inconvenient dependant and the tsar sent the writer into exile. Anyway the period that Pushkin spent in Caucasus and in the south of Crimea was extremely fertile for his literary work: the external environment gave him inspiration to compose several pomes in the wake of the byronic ones, such as ”The Captive of the Caucasus” and ”The Fountain of Bakhchisaray”. However, some of the authorities allowed him to visit Tsar Nicholas I to petition for his release, which he obtained, but from then on soon Pushkin found himself under the strict control of government censors and unable to travel or publish at will.

Being an extremely versatile author, Pushkin introduced in Russia most of the European literary genres and first of all the novel, with his absolute masterpiece ”Eugene Onegin”. This work of art is surprisingly rich in complexity and full of hidden values of great importance in the Russian culture of the time. One of these is the theme of the duel: this mean of settling personal disputes will be crucial for Pushkin himself. In fact he will die at the young age of thirty-eight in a bloody encounter with Georges-Charles de Heeckeren d’Anthès who was attempting to seduce the poet’s beautiful wife Natalya Pushkina. But the almost autobiographical ”Onegin” was very influent also in other cultural fields, being the origin of Tchaikovsky’s homonymous opera and ballet.

In the last years of his brief life Pushkin had the chance to write about the reforms of Peter II in his successful historical novel ”The Captain’s Daughter”, which is also a romanticized account of Pugachev’s Rebellion in 1773-1774. The poet was in economic difficulties and for this reason he was increasingly far more depending from the sovereign power.

 Even though the writer has always conducted  an unruly life being a great expert on the nobility’s habits and salons, from his works it emerges a strong condemnation of the frivolous society around him. This interior conflict of the poet was the basis for the birth of a relevant literary figure which will have great impact also on several European authors: the” useless man” in the world. This man is highly unsatisfied because he can not find a real way to mutate the world around him, so he will choose to retire in the countryside.

Although Pushkin is considered the central representative of The Age of Romanticism in Russian literature, he can’t be labelled unequivocally as a Romantic: Russian critics have traditionally argued that his works represent a path from neo-Classicism through Romanticism to Realism, while an alternative assessment suggests that “he had an ability to entertain contrarieties which may seem Romantic in origin, but is ultimately subversive of all fixed points of view, all single outlooks, including the Romantic” and that “he is simultaneously Romantic and not Romantic”.  What is certain is that he originated a highly nuanced level of language which characterizes Russian literature after him, but he is also credited with substantially enhancing the Russian lexicon. Pushkin’s works are regarded both as expressing most completely Russian national consciousness as transcending national barriers, while at the same time his devotion to literature and his realistic intuition make him one of the greatest Russian national geniuses.

Valeria Schiavo


Serena Vitale, Il Bottone di Puskin, 1995

Piccola Enciclopedia Treccani, vol IX pag 831-832, voce Pushkin


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