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Page:Pushkin - Russian Romance (King, 1875).djvu/48

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RUSSIAN ROMANCE.

writers are frequently but in search of a well-disposed listener. Thus, copying my little song, I took it to Shvabrine, who alone in the fortress was able to appreciate a poetical production. After a short preface I drew forth my manuscript and read the following verses:

 

"In annihilating thoughts of love I seek to forget the fair one, and
Alas! it is in fleeing Masha, that I hope to win back my freedom!

"But the eyes which have enslaved me are for ever in my sight; they
Have disquieted my spirit, they have destroyed my peace.

"Thou, Masha, who learn'st my woes, have pity upon me;
Thou seest my cruel state, and knowest I am thy captive."

 

"What dost thou think of this?" asked I of Shvabrine, in expectation of praise as a tribute to which I was entitled. But, to my great vexation, Shvabrine, whom I usually found indulgent, decidedly declared that my song was worthless. "Why so?" I asked, concealing my vexation.

"Because," he replied, "such verses are only worthy of my master Vassily Kyrylitch Trediakovsky,[1] and remind me very much of his amorous couplets." Here he took my manuscript and proceeded to pick each verse to pieces, unmercifully, taunting me the while in the most stinging manner. I could stand it no longer, so, tearing the paper out of his hands, I declared that I would never again show him any of my compositions. Shvabrine also mocked at my threat.

  1. Basil, the son of Cyril. Trediakovsky, a greatly reviled poet, during the reign of Catherine II.—Tr.