Batyushkov's Poem My Genius

Konstantin Batyushkov's poem was written in 1813 after the poet broke off his engagement with Anna Furman. In fact he'd written a whole cycle of poems to Anna, with whom he was much in love. That affection seemed to be returned, but Batyushkov unfortunately overheard Anna confess to friends that it was Batyushkov's wealth and and social position that attracted her, indeed offered an escape from the instructions and control of her family. {3} Batyushkov was bitterly disappointed, but published the poem cycle just the same (as indeed most poets would.)

translating Batyushkov's My Genius

This is a simple but accomplished piece, neatly rhymed and convincing. Its emotive power lies in the epithets, the descriptive power of 'voice, blue eyes and curly golden hair', plus 'sweet, unforgettable image' and 'sad dreams'. etc. Some lines employ marked alliteration, the "s" and "h" consonants helping to emphasize the sadness. {3}

Russian Text

Мой гений

О, память сердца! ты сильней
Рассудка памяти печальной
И часто прелестью своей
Меня в стране пленяешь дальной.

Я помню голос милых слов,
Я помню очи голубые,
Я помню локоны златые
Небрежно вьющихся власов.

Моей пастушки несравненной
Я помню весь наряд простой,
И образ милой, незабвенной
Повсюду странствует со мной.

Хранитель гений мой — любовью
В утеху дан разлуке он:
Засну ль? приникнет к изголовью
И усладит печальный сон.


Structure and Sound of the Poem

The poem is written in iambic tetrameters, rhymed aBaB cDDc EfEf GhGh:

О, па́мять се́рдца! ты сильне́й     4a
Рассу́дка па́мяти печа́льной     4B
И ча́сто пре́лестью свое́й     4a
Меня́ в стране́ пленя́ешь да́льной.    4B

Я по́мню го́лос ми́лых слов,     4c
Я по́мню о́чи голубы́е,     4D
Я по́мню ло́коны златы́е    4D
Небре́жно вью́щихся вла́сов.    4c

A TTS Audio Recording:

Other Translations

Ruverses has four rendering. I give the first stanza of each:

Yuri Perseus

O memory of heart! you're stronger
Than reminiscence of cool mind;
You captivate my soul much longer,
With images of better kind.

Avril Pyman

Remembrance of the heart! More power
Have you than reason’s sad remembrance.
And in a distant land and far
You charm me with a honeyed semblance.

Yevgeny Bonver

Oh, heart’s remembrance! You are, yet,
Mush stronger than sad one of reasons;
And, often in a distant land,
Bewitch me with your even sweetness.

A.S. Kline

O memory of the heart! You are stronger
than the sad memories of reason.
And often from a far-off country,
you bewitch me with your sweetness.

English Translation of 'My Guardian Spirit'

How much stronger is the heart
than reason’s saddening memory:
it’s charm that plays the distant part,
with sweetness that bewitches me.

It is the voice I most recall,
remember eyes of azure blue,
how carelessly in gold would too
the curling strands of tresses fall.

Incomparable my shepherdess:
how simple are the clothes you wear.
How neat the image that would bless
me hauntingly and everywhere.

My genius, loving guardian,
my solace when we’re far apart.
And if I fall asleep, what then?
Sad dreams of you delight the heart.

References and Resources

1. Mirsky, D.S., A History of Russian Literature (Knopf 1926 / Vintage Books 1958) 79-80.

2. Bristol, E., A History of Russian Poetry (O.U.P.) 100-102.

3. Анализ стихотворения «Мой гений» Brief article in Russian.

Russian poem translations on this site: listing.