The First Day of January

When I often stay a motley crowd in,
When before my eyes, as in an awful dream,
To humming orchestras and dances,
And foolish whispering of speeches learnt by eart,
Flit figures of the people lost of heart,
And masques with a false politeness;
When my hands are touched, by any chance,
With heedless boldness of the city’s lass,
By hands without virgin fear, —
Externally involved in their gleam and whim,
I cherish in my heart an old and dear dream,
The sacred sounds of the bygone years.
And if in some way I can lose, at last,
The dark reality, then to the resent past
I fly in mind – as birds fly to the South;
I see myself a child, I see once more them all:
The gentry’s manor, so old and tall,
The garden with the broken hothouse.
Here sleeps a quiet pool under a net of grass,
Behind the pool, a village smokes, and they rise –
The mists – above the lawns so endless.
I enter a dark lane; the evening beams
Peer through the bushes; and the yellow leaves
Rustle at my footsteps sadness.
And sadness, very strange, lies my poor breast above:
I think about her, I weep and I do love,
I love my sacred dreams’ creation
With eyes that full of ever-azure light,
With a rosy smile, as if, a grove behind,
The light of the young day’s invasion.
Thus, proud liege of the bewitching land,
For the long hours, immovable, I sat –
And their memory exists till now
Beneath the mighty storm of passions and mistrusts,
Like some fresh island, safe midst ocean’s floods,
In water desert has been flowered.
When, coming to my senses, I notice the fraud,
When the crowd’s noise has completely destroyed
My dream – the wrong guest at their banquet –
Oh, how, then, I want to shock their foolish mirth
And boldly cast in their eyes my iron verse,
Steeped in bitterness and hatred!

by Mikhail Lermontov
Translated by Yevgeny Bonver


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