Confession (Alexander Pushkin by Innokenty Smoktunovsky)

In continuation with various translations of Russian poetry, here is an amazing example of work by Innokenty Smoktunovsky. In 1982 he recorded a TV programme dedicated to Alexander Pushkin, and this particular poem, Confession, is undoubtely one of his best works. The range of emotions he is able to convey in two minutes is overwhelming and confirms his status as one of the best, genuine Russian actors.

The English text (translated by Katharena Eiermann)

Alexander Pushkin, Confession (1828)

I love you, though I rage at it,
Though it is shame and toil misguided,
And to my folly self-derided
Here at your feet I will admit!
It ill befits my years, my station,
Good sense has long been overdue!
And yet, by every indication
Love’s plague has stricken me anew:
You’re out of sight – I fall to yawning;
You’re here – I suffer and feel blue,
And barely keep myself from owning,
Dear elf, how much I care for you!
Why, when your guileless girlish chatter
Drifts from next door your airy tread,
Your rustling dress, my senses scatter
And I completely lose my head.
You smile – I flush with exultation;
You turn away- I’m plunged in gloom,
Your pallid hand is compensation
For a whole day of fancied doom.
When to the frame with artless motion
You bend to cross-stitch, all devotion,
Your eyes and ringlets down-beguiled,
My heart goes out in mute emotion,
Rejoicing in you like a child!
Dare I confess to you my sighing,
How jealously I chafe and balk
When you set forth, defying
Bad weather, on a lengthy walk?
And then your solitary crying,
Those twosome whispers out of sight,
Your carriage to Opochka plying,
And the piano late at night…
Aline! I ask but to be pitied,
I do not dare to plead for love;
Love, for the sins I have committed,
I am perhaps unworthy of.
But make believe! Your gaze, dear elf,
Is fit to conjure with, believe me!
Ah, it is easy to deceive me!…
I long to be deceived myself!.

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