Partial Translations of Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin

А.С. Пушкин, Евгений Онегин по-английски

Including sample stanzas

This information is available as a Word document.

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Some biographical information about the translators is available.

    Pushkin: A. S. Pushkin, Eugene Onegin, with an introduction and bibliography by A.D.P. Briggs and a vocabulary compiled by Frances F. Sobotka. London: Bristol Classical Press 1993. ISBN 1 85399 396 4. An earlier version of this appeared as A. S. Pushkin, Eugene Onegin, with Preface by Ronald Hingley & Vocabulary compiled by Frances F. Sobotka, with Bibliography by A.D.P. Briggs. London: Bristol Classical Press 1991. ISBN 1 85399 247 X. The Russian text is on the web at http://www.rvb.ru/pushkin/01text/04onegin/01onegin/0836.htm?start=0\&length=all
  1. Briggs: The Queen of Spades and Selected Works, Translated from the Russian by Anthony Briggs, London: Pushkin Press 2012. Contains a translation of Chapter Four, 17-22.
  2. Bianchi: Russian Lyrics: Songs of Cossack, Lovers, Patriot and Peasant by Martha Dickinson Bianchi [Dickinson] [1866–1943], New York: Duffield and Company 1910 (2nd edn 1916), pages 23–29. Contains translations of Chapter Four, 26 and 40–43, Chapter Seven 2 and 3 and Chapter Eight, 29. Available from Google Books. LCCN (Library of Congress Control Number): 10010220.
  3. Cornford: Poems from the Russian by Frances Cornford [1886–1960] and E[sther]. [S]Polionowsky Salaman [1900–1995]. London: Faber and Faber 1943. Contains a translation of Tatiana’s letter. British Library Shelfmark 11587.aa.49. LCCN (Library of Congress Control Number): 43016013.
  4. Deacon: Before the Iron Curtain: A Selection of Russian Verse, translated by Olga Deacon [née Johnson; 1876–1960]. Original photos for illustrations by J. W. Johnson. Elms Court, Ilfracombe, Devon: Arthur H. Stockwell Ltd 1951. Contains translations of Chapter One, Stanza 1, Tatiana’s Letter and Tatiana’s Monologue [Chapter Eight, 42.8 to 47]. British Library Shelfmark 11588.f.1.
  5. Fennell: Pushkin: Selected Verse. With introduction and prose translations by John Fennell [1918–1992]. Harmondsworth: Penguin 1964, reprinted Bristol: Bristol Classical Press 1991. ISBN 1-85399-173-2. Pages 140–206. This anthology contains the text and prose translations of 77 stanzas of the novel and 33 lines of Onegin’s Journey.
  6. Gardner: Вадим Гарднер, Избранные стихотворения, Санкт Петербург: Акрополь 1995. ISBN 5-86585-027-X. [Vadim Gardner, Izbrannye stikhotvorenie, St Petersburg: Akropol’ 1995]. Gardner [1880–1956] translated Chapter One, Stanzas 1 to 6 only on pages 86–88 of his Selected Poems. The translations apparently date from February 1937.
  7. Hapgood: Extracts from Evgeny Onyegin, translated by Isabel F[lorence] Hapgood [1851–1928] in A Library of the World’s Best Literature, Ancient and Modern, edited by Charles Dudley Warner (30 vols.), New York: J. A. Hill, 1896, Vol. 20, pp. 11918–11924 (sic). (Several subsequent expanded editions.) Not in the British Library or in the Library of Congress. Can be found from Google Books. Also in The Columbia University course in literature. Scandinavian and Slavonic literature: Slavonic Literature (edited by Clarence A. Manning). New York: Columbia University Press 1928. (The 1907 and 1913 editions do not feature poems by Pushkin.) LCCN (Library of Congress Control Number): 28022718. Contains translations of Chapter Three, 26, 28 and Tatiana’s letter and Chapter Four, 12 to 16, and Chapter Eight, 41 to 47.
  8. Hewitt: Reginald Mainwaring Hewitt (1887–1948): A Selection from His Remains, edited by V. de S. Pinto, 120–125. Oxford: Printed for the Subscribers by Blackwell, 1955. British Library Shelfmark 12362.a.20. LCCN (Library of Congress Control Number): 56003920. Contains a translation by Hewitt of Chapter One, 1 to 15. Originally published in The Gong, the magazine of the students of Nottingham University College (British Library Shelfmark P.P.6122.aa).
  9. Jones: Excerpts from Eugene Oniegin: Selected verses in Pushkin’s own rhythm and rhyme pattern with a connecting narrative in prose, by Henry Jones, published by Henry Jones, Riding Mill, Northumberland, 1972. Contains translations of I, 1 to 8, 10 to 12, 29 to 33, 49 to 50; II, 38 to 40, III, 15, 31 and Tatiana’s letter; IV, 18 to 20, 22, 40 to 43, 51; VI, 30, 32 to 34, 36 to 38; VII, 1 to 3, 7, 33 to 34; VIII, 48 to 51.
  10. Mitcoff: ‘Two songs from Pushkin’s Evgeni Onegin,’ translated by Elena Y. Mitcoff, The Russian student 6 (8) (1930), 19. Contains translations of Chapter Six, 22, and Chapter Eight, 46.
  11. Morfill: From: Alexander Poushkin by William R. Morfill [1834–1909], Westminster Review 119 (1883), 420–451 at pages 438–443. Contains a number of short extracts.
  12. Nabokov (1945): ‘From Pushkin’s “Eugene Onegin,”’ Russian Review 4 (2) (1945), 38–39. Contains translations by Vladmir [Vladimirovich] Nabobov [Владимир Владимирович Набоков][1899–1977] of Chapter One, 32, 33 and 34.
  13. Newmarch: Poetry and Progress in Russia by Rosa [Harriet] Newmarch [Jeaffreson] [1857–1940], London: John Lane, The Bodley Head 1907 contains Tatiana’s letter and the Duel (Chapter Six, 28 and 30–34) translated by Newmarch and H.C.F. British Library Shelfmark 11851.s.6. LCCN (Library of Congress Control Number): w 07000152
  14. Obolensky: The Heritage of Russian Verse. Introduced and edited by [Sir] Dimitri Obolensky [Дмитрий Дмитревич Оболенский] [1918–2001]. With plain prose translations of each poem. First published in 1962 as The Penguin Book of Russian Verse. Bloomington: Indiana University Press 1965. ISBN 0-253-32736-9. Prose translations of Chapter Three, Stanzas 16 to 20 are given in this anthology.
  15. Rayfield: The Garnett Book of Russian Verse: A Treasury of Russian Poets from 1730 to 1996. Edited by Donald Rayfield [1942– ] with Jeremy Hicks, Olga Makarova and Anna Pilkington. London: The Garnett Press 2000. ISBN 0 9535878 2 7. Prose translations of Chapter One, Stanzas 30 to 33 and Chapter Eight, stanzas 10 and 11 are given in this anthology.
  16. Russian Review: ‘Extracts from “Eugene Onegin.”’ Russian Review 2 (1) (1913 Spring), 56–60. A summary of the novel with prose samples of Tatyana’s letter to Onegin [Chapter Three, after 31], Onegin meets Tatyana in the Garden [Chapter Four, 12–14], and Tatyana and Onegin in Moscow (sic) [Chapter Eight, 42.8–48].
  17. Shaw: ‘Sketch of Púshkin’s life and works’ by Thomas B[udd]. Shaw [1813–1862], Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine 57 (356) (1845 June), 657–678. On the web at http://www.bodley.ox.ac.uk/ilej/journals/. This article contains on p. 666 a brief excerpt from the dedication, probably the first part ever published in English.
  18. Siriwardena: Regi Siriwardena [1922–2004], Poems and Selected Translations, Colombo: privately published 1993, pp. 26–29. Presumably this is the same as the extract from Many Voices: 50 Poems from the Spanish, Italian, French and Russian, Colombo: Ena de Silva Fabrics, 1974, pp. 10–13, referred to in Leighton’s bibliography. Contains translations of Chapter Three, 17–20.4, 33–35 and 38–39.2. On the web at http://www.regisiriwardena.lk/node/54
  19. Turner: Studies in Russian Literature by Charles Edward Turner [1831–1903], Chapter XIV: Evjenie Oneguin. London: Sampson Low, Marston, Searle & Rivington 1882. Reprinted Boston, MA: Elibron Classics 2005. ISBN 1-4212-1024-X. Contains a number of short excerpts (including Tatiana’s letter).

Bibliography

A List of Works by and about Pushkin. Compiled by the Slavonic Division. Edited, with an Introduction by Avrahm Yarmolinsky, New York: The New York Publiic Library 1937. On the web at http://feb-web.ru/feb/pushkin/biblio/pie/pie-001-.htm; Microsoft Word version available here.

The section on translations of Eugene Onegin in A Bibliography of Alexander Pushkin in English: Studies and Translations, compiled by Lauren G. Leighton. Lewiston, NY and Lampeter : Edwin Mellen Press c. 1999, [ISBN 978-0773481701] pp. 258-264, can be seen here.

Microsoft Word Versions of the Original and Some Translations

These have been adapted from the sources quoted above.
    Russian Text
  1. Briggs
  2. Bianchi
  3. Cornford
  4. Deacon
  5. Fennell
  6. Gardner
  7. Hapgood
  8. Hewitt
  9. Jones
  10. Mitcoff
  11. Morfill
  12. Nabokov (1945)
  13. Newmarch
  14. Obolensky
  15. Rayfield
  16. Russian Review
  17. Shaw
  18. Siriwardena
  19. Turner
A single document containing all the above except for Jones (which was published as a separate volume) can be seen by clicking here.

Chronological Order

  1. Shaw 1845
  2. Turner 1882
  3. Morfill 1883
  4. Hapgood 1896
  5. Newmarch 1907
  6. Bianchi 1910
  7. Russian Review 1913
  8. Mitcoff 1930
  9. Gardner 1937
  10. Cornford 1943
  11. Nabokov 1945
  12. Deacon 1951
  13. Hewitt 1955 (?)
  14. Obolensky 1962
  15. Fennell 1964
  16. Jones 1972
  17. Siriwardena 1974
  18. Rayfield 2000
  19. Briggs 2012

Translations of Sample Stanzas

  1. Briggs (translation of Chapter Four, Stanza XVII)

    This, like a preacher, spoke Yevgeny.
    Eyes blinded, as the salt tears choked,
    Tatyana, breathless, uncomplaining,
    Was listening to him as he spoke.
    He gave his arm. Far from ecstatic,
    With movements now called “automatic”,
    She lent on him (nothing was said),
    And languidly inclined her head.
    The came back round the kitchen garden,
    Strolling together. No one would
    Have thought this anything but good,
    For rural laxity can pardon
    Most things within its happy laws,
    As also snooty Moscow does.

  2. Bianchi (translation of Chapter Four, Stanza XL)

    Our Northern Winter’s fickle Summer,
    Than Southern Winter scarce more bland—
    Is undeniably withdrawing
    On fleeting footsteps from the land.
    Soon will the Autumn dim the heavens,
    The light of sunbeams rarer grown—
    Already every day is shorter,
    While with a smitten hollow tone,
    The forest droops its shadow leafage;
    Upon the fields the mists lie white,
    In lusty caravans the wild geese
    Now to the milder South take flight;
    Seasons of tedium draw near,
    Before the door November drear!

  3. Cornford (translation of lines 1-14 of Tatiana’s letter)

    That I should write to you, will tell
    Far more than I have words to say—
    Will give you power, I know too well,
    With scorn my boldness to repay.
    But surely if your heart has got
    Even one drop of pity, you will not
    Leave me alone to my unhappy lot.

    Silence seemed best when first you came;
    You never would have known by shame,
    If I had hoped I only might
    Just see you sometimes—once a week,
    And say one word and hear you speak;
    Then, till next time, enjoy the right
    To think about you day and night.

  4. Deacon (translation of Chapter One, Stanza I)

    My uncle, following well-tried custom,
    When his last illness came to stay,
    Sent for me, made himself respected
    Nor could have found a better way.
    But heavens ! Is there a worse boredom
    Than nursing someone day and night
    Who will not let you out of sight ?
    Is there a cruelty more base
    Than cheering someone half-alive,
    Pouring his medicine with dejected face,
    Shaking his pillow, with a groan,
    Sighing; while inwardly you’re thinking:
    “ When will the devil fetch his own ? ”

  5. Fennell (translation of Chapter One, Stanza I)

    ‘When my uncle, a man of the highest principles, fell seriously ill, he made himself respected and could have thought out no better way; his example is a lesson to others. But, my God, what a bore to sit with a sick man day and night without going so much as a pace away! What low cunning to amuse someone half-alive, to adjust his pillows, with gloomy countenance to bring him his medicine, to sigh and to think to oneself “When will the devil take you”’

  6. Gardner (translation of Chapter One, Stanza I)

    A person of unblemished morals
    “My uncle was. When he fell ill, —
    Opposing needless talk and quarrels,
    On all he would enforce his will —
    Indeed! A standard high to others!
    But how, in faith it bores and bothers
    To watch sick people night and day,
    Not venturing to go away!
    Oh ’t is a piece of wildly badness
    To entertain a man half-dead,
    To change the pillows of his bed
    And give him medicine with sadness
    And think in secret with a sigh
    Oh! bodikins! When will you die?“

  7. Hapgood (translation of Chapter Three, Stanza XXVI)

    Another trouble I foresee:
    To save the honor of my land
    I shall be forced without a doubt,
    To translate Tatyana’s letter.
    She hardly knew her native Russian,
    Our newspapers she never read,
    And could express herself but badly
    In her own mother tongue.
    Accordingly she wrote in French.—
    What’s to be done, again I say?
    Down to this day a lady’s love
    In Russian ne’er hath been expressed.
    Down to this day a lady’s love
    In Russian ne’er hath been expressed.
    Down to this day our haughty tongue
    To prose of letters is not used.

  8. Hewitt (translation of Chapter One, Stanza I)

    My uncle, rich and well respected,
        When his old bones began to ache,
    Determined not to be neglected,
        (A proper line for him to take).
    The moral’s hardly worth exploring,
    But, Oh my God! How deadly boring
    There at bedside night and day
    And never walk a step away !
    The meanness and degradation
        To smile and keep his spirits up,
    Then lay the pillows in their station
        And sadly tilt a medicine cup,
    To sigh and think at every cough
    When will the Devil take him off?

  9. Jones (translation of Chapter One, Stanza I)

    ‘MY UNCLE, honouring tradition
    When ill, from active life withdrew,
    Compelled respect for his position;
    ’Twas quite the best that he could do.
    Example worthy emulating,
    But, bless my soul! How irritating
    To play nursemaid night and day
    And never stir a step a away!
    How mean and low, in posture humble,
    To entertain the half-alive,
    To straighten the half-alive,
    To straighten pillows, and contrive
    To bring his physic, never grumble,
    And, sighing, think but never say:
    The devil fly with you away!’

  10. Mitcoff (translation of Chapter Six, Stanza XXII)

    The dawn will come, and every cloud
    The sun’s bright rays will swiftly banish,
    But I perchance in a cold shroud
    From life eternally shall vanish;
    The mem’ry of the youthful singer
    For one brief summer yet may linger,
    The world I know will soon forget,
    But will you weep in true regret
    Beloved, for my untimely doom,
    And whisper thus, “He loved me only,
    He gave his life, pathetic, lonely
    To earth and death’s eternal gloom?”
    O tender friend, O friend so dear,
    Come, come, and soothe thy lover’s fear.

  11. Morfill (translation of Chapter One, Stanza VI)

    “Latin is now out of fashion;
    So, to tell you the truth,
    He knew it fairly—
    He could decipher an inscription,
    Talk about Juvenal,
    And write ‘vale’ at the end of a letter.
    Moreover he remembered, though not without a mistake,
    Two verses of the Æneid.
    He took no pleasure
    To grope in the chronological dust
    Of the earth’s existence;
    But some anecdotes of olden time,
    From Romulus to our days,
    He preserved in his memory.

  12. Nabokov (1945) (translation of Chapter One, Stanza XXII)

    Diana’s bosom, Flora’s dimple
    are very charming, I agree—
    but there’s a greater charm, less simple,
    —the instep of Terpsichore.
    By prophesying to the eye
    a prize with which no prize can vie
    ’tis a fair token and a snare
    for swarms of daydreams. Everywhere
    its grace, sweet reader, I admire:
    at long-hemmed tables, half-concealed,
    in spring, upon a velvet field,
    in winter, at a grated fire,
    in ballrooms, on a glossy floor,
    on the bleak boulders of a shore.

  13. Newmarch (translation of Chapter Six, XXVIII)

    Yes, foes ! — How many days, bethink you,
    Since hatred stepped the two between,
    And since in hours of thought and leisure,
    At work, at table, they have been
    As comrades ! Now, with purpose dread,
    Like men in mutual loathing bred,
    Each plans, as though in broadest day
    A heavy nightmare on him lay,
    The other’s downfall in his heart.
    Oh, could they smile but once, while still
    Their hands are pure from deed of ill,
    And then their sev’ral ways depart !
    But worldly hate, like worldly fame,
    Shrinks at the breath of worldly shame.

  14. Obolensky (translation of Chapter Three, Stanza XX)

    ‘I’m in love,’ she whispered sorrowfully to the old woman. ‘My dearest, you are not well.’ - ‘Leave me alone: I’m in love.’ Meanwhile, the moon was shining with a languorous light and lighting up Tat’yana’s pale beauty, her hair falling loose, her tears, and the old woman in her long warm jacket, with a kerchief on her grey head, sitting on a bench before our young heroine; and all things slumbered in silence beneath the inspiring moon.

  15. Rayfield (translation of Chapter One, Stanza XXX)

    Alas, I have wasted much of my life on various amusements! But if morals did not suffer, I would still love balls. I love the furious youth, the crowded hall, the brilliance, the joy, and the ladies. carefully planned dresses; I love their feet; only you’d be hard put to find three pairs of beautiful women’s feet in all Russia. Oh for a long time I could not forget two feet. Sad, chilled, I still remember them, and in my dreams they still disturb my heart.

  16. Russian Review (translation of lines 1–21 of Tatyana’s letter)

    “I write to you. What else, what more can I say? Now I know it is in your power to punish me with contempt. But you, if you still have a drop of pity for my unhappy lot, you will not betray me. At first I wanted to keep silence; believe me, you would never know my shame if I had the hope of sometimes—only seldom—only once a week—seeing you in our house, of only listening to you talking; to say a word to you, and then to go on thinking, thinking of one thing flay and night till we met again. But they say you are unsociable. Here in the wilds, in the country everything bores you, and we . . . well, we are not brilliant people, though we have a hearty welcome for you.”

  17. Shaw (translation of the last part of the Dedication)

    Accept this heap of motley traits
    Half-gay, half sad, half false, half real,
    Half every-day, yet half ideal,
    The careless fruit of idle days,
    Of sleepless nights, of wasted art—
    The reason’s frigid observations,
    And sad conclusions of the heart.

  18. Siriwardena (translation of Chapter Three, Stanza XVII)

    ‘I can’t sleep, nanny, it’s so stifling:
    Open the window; then sit here.’
    ‘What’s wrong, my Tanya?’ ‘I’m depressed;
    Let’s talk of old times, nanny dear.’
    ‘Talk about what? There was a time
    I could have told you not a few
    Tales of witches and maidens fair.
    I have forgotten what I knew;
    My mind is now in darkness, Tanya.
    Yes, bad times have come, my dear:
    My memory’s gone.’ ‘Come tell me, nanny,
    About those days of yester-year:
    Yes, nanny sweet, tell me the truth,
    Were you in love in your own youth?’

  19. Turner (translation of Chapter Two, Stanza XV)

    He listened to Lensky and smiled :
    The poet’s impassioned discourse,
    And mind so childlike in its judgments,
    And the rapt expression of his eye ;—
    All this was something novel to Oneguin.
    He therefore tried to keep in
    The cold reply that was even on his lips,
    And thought to himself : it was folly to mar
    His momentary enjoyment of content :
    The time will come without my stir.
    So let him in the meanwhile live on
    In the fond belief of this world’s perfectibility :
    We will pardon the fire of youthful years,
    The boyish zeal, and the dreams of early manhood.

Revised 23 December 2012 by Peter M Lee