Baratynsky's Poem Spring has Come

Evgeny Abramovich Baratynski's work was rather belatedly appreciated, though here comparable with Tyutchev's. 'Spring, spring' how pure the air!' is one of Baratynsky's most famous poems, familiar to Russian schoolchildren, but notable for its lively dynamism: streams ripple, clouds fly, a lark sings, a river carries ice, etc.

translating Baratynsky's Spring has Come

With a single rhyme per stanza, this is not difficult poem to translate, though we should avoid poeticisms, I think, respect the 4343 stanza shape, and remember that Baratynsky’s verse has a cold, metallic brilliance that brings out his somewhat chilly thought. I have taken a few liberties with the Russian (notably in lines 8 and 12) to emphasize these matters.

Russian Text

Весна, весна! как воздух чист!

Весна, весна! как воздух чист!
    Как ясен небосклон!
Своей лазурию живой
    Слепит мне очи он.

Весна, весна! как высоко
    На крыльях ветерка,
Ласкаясь к солнечным лучам,
    Летают облака!

Шумят ручьи! блестят ручьи!
    Взревев, река несёт
На торжествующем хребте
    Поднятый ею лёд!

Ещё древа обнажены,
    Но в роще ветхий лист,
Как прежде, под моей ногой
    И шумен и душист.

Под солнце самое взвился
    И в яркой вышине
Незримый жавронок поёт
    Заздравный гимн весне.

Что с нею, что с моей душой?
    С ручьём она ручей
И с птичкой птичка! с ним журчит,
    Летает в небе с ней!

Зачем так радует её
    И солнце, и весна!
Ликует ли, как дочь стихий,
    На пире их она?

Что нужды! счастлив, кто на нём
    Забвенье мысли пьёт,
Кого далёко от неё
    Он, дивный, унесёт!

Spring, 1832

Structure and Sound of the Poem

The poem is written in alternating iambic tetrameters and trimeters, rhymed xaxa:

Весна́, весна́! как во́здух чист!     4x
    Как я́сен небоскло́н!    3a
Свое́й лазурию живо́й     4x
    Слепи́т мне о́чи он.     3a

A TTS Audio Recording:

Other Translations

Ruverses has one rendering, by Vyacheslav Chistyakov. I give his first two stanzas:

The spring has come! The air reveals
Full brightness of the skies!
How nice because of such a light
The azure blinds my eyes!

The spring has come! How very high,
Caressed with sunny beams,
The clouds float in the sky
Conveyed by balmy winds!

Masterpieces of children's literature has:

Spring, spring ! like the air is clean !
How clear is the skyline !
Your lapel is alive.
He will blind my eyes.

Spring, spring ! how high
On the wings of the breeze,
by the sun's rays,
Flying clouds !

Darklore has this rendering by Sergei Gorodetsky:

Spring, spring! How clean the air is!
How clear is the sky!
His azure alive
He blinds my eyes.

Spring, spring! How high
On the wings of the wind
caressing to sunbeams,
Clouds are flying!

English Translation of 'Spring, Spring'

Spring! Spring! How clear the air!
    Unclouded are the skies!
And all around a living blue,
    whose brilliance dims my eyes!

Spring, spring, how very high
    the heady breezes reach:
the clouds caressed by sunlight fly
    aloft and each on each.

Streams murmuring! Streams glistening!
    The rivers, roaring, bear,
triumphantly, in broken pieces,
    the ice uplifted there.

The trees are bare, but in the grove
    the first of leaves appear.
Beneath my foot, as was before,
    spring's sounds and smells are here.

Unseen in sunlight, up it soars,
    a high and brilliant thing:
for so the soaring lark begins
    its joyous hymn to spring.

So what has happened to the soul
    that babbles with the brook?
What murmurs with the bird along
    the upward path it took?

Why is it glad to find itself
    by sun and spring increased:
a daughter of the elements
    attending to the feast?

Happy the one who's drunk full deep
   of what he cannot say,
contentedly to not reflect:
   in wonder borne away.

Some observations. Ideally, we'd try to reproduce both rhymes in the stanza, but the short lines makes this difficult, particularly if we don't want cumbersome work-arounds. Russian is bulkier than the English language here, which requires we pad out the lines a little if we want to keep the 4343 stanza form, which I think we do. There are also many small departures from fidelity. The 'brightly sing' is literally only 'the clouds fly!' in the Russian. My ' a high and brilliant thing: / for so the soaring lark begins' is literally ' and in the bright height / the invisible lark sings'. And so on, all needed to make the poem work properly in English.

References and Resources

1. Mirsky, D.S., A History of Russian Literature (Knopf 1926 / Vintage Books 1958) 104-7.

2. Bristol, E., A History of Russian Poetry (O.U.P.) 116-18.

3. Darklore Children's Encyclopedia Analysis (in English).

Russian poem translations on this site: listing.