Lermontov’s early poem 1831-го ИЮНЯ 11 ДНЯ, translated and read by Thomas Beavitt. The soundtrack was written by composer Nikita Nikitin and recorded by producer Andrei Bokovikov in Ekaterinburg in 2019.
Part of the poem was also featured in the recent film The Scottish Wind of Lermontov by Maxim Privezentsev, who also originally commissioned the translation.
According to the translator, the poem written by Lermontov in one day at the age of 17 is one of the most outstanding achievements of Russian literature. In its harmonious combination of a large number of metaphysical and psychological themes against the natural background of the Caucasus Mountains, it achieves rhythmic complexity and consistency. Despite initially seeming to be based on early romantic cliches, the language of the poem is quite modern in its perceptions. Moreover, this is perhaps the first major poetic work in which Lermontov begins to develop the dual forces of prophecy and psychological understanding for which he is so justly famous.
This film by Maxim Priventsev, which was shot on location last year in Russia and Scotland, features a specially commissioned translation of Lermontov’s poem 1831-go IYUNYA 11 DNYA read by Thomas Beavitt.
My mother and I were just talking in the kitchen about something the Uist writer Angus Peter Campbell had said when talking recently at the Ullapool Book Festival. Discussing his book Memory and Straw, Campbell mentioned that he had been on Tomnahurich hill in Inverness, a place that is associated with the 13th century Scottish bard Thomas the Rhymer.
It’s very interesting that the figure of Thomas the Rhymer – whose family name was Learmonth and who was therefore descended from Norman barons (at least on his father’s side) – should be so deeply embedded in Gaelic mythology. I suppose that Thomas had Gaelic-speaking family on his mother’s side.
At any rate, it is almost certain that such a prominent bard would have performed at the court of the last Gaelic-speaking king of Scotland, Alexander III.
The text with which Thomas is most strongly associated is that in which he immortalises himself through an encounter with the Celtic muse in the form of the Faery Queen. In my view, however, this tale is almost certain to have been a reworking of an earlier mythic text having its origins in Brythonic Celtic culture. It is known that a now extinct Brythonic language was being spoken in the neighbouring Kingdom of Strathclyde that still existed at Thomas’ time.
Contemporary English translation of Schubert’s Winterreise song cycle set to piano. Transposed for low voice (baritone). PDF
Performance of Schubert’s song cycle Die Schöne Müllerin by singer Thomas Beavitt and pianist Alexander Polyakov at Ekaterinburg’s Dom Muzyki on 19th April 2019
Смерть поэта (М.Ю. Лермонтов)
Погиб поэт! — невольник чести, —
Убит!.. К чему теперь рыданья,
Что ж? Веселитесь… он мучений
И что за диво?.. Издалёка,
И он убит — и взят могилой,
Зачем от мирных нег и дружбы простодушной
И, прежний сняв венок, — они венец терновый,
Замолкли звуки чудных песен,
Но есть и божий суд, наперсники разврата!
The Bard is Dead! (tr. T. Beavitt)
The bard is dead! – conscience of our age –
Eternity! Spare your crocodile tears…
Well? Enjoy the show! He burned
Occidental – quelle surprise! –
And so he was slain, and his body taken,
Why, from calm obscurity and artless geniality,
Then, replacing with a crown of thorns, his wreath,
The mellifluous tones of our tragic nation
And you, O arrogant descendants,
But there is a sacred court, O intimates of vice!
Сон (М.Ю. Лермонтов)
В полдневный жар в долине Дагестана
Лежал один я на песке долины;
И снился мне сияющий огнями
Но в разговор весёлый не вступая,
И снилась ей долина Дагестана;
Dream (tr. T. Beavitt)
The sun beats down on a Dagestani chasm.
Alone, as I lie upon the sands of that ravine,
I seem to dream a hundred gleaming candles –
But, not participating in this merry theme,
In her dream, a Dagestani valley;
Желание (М.Ю. Лермонтов)
Зачем я не птица, не ворон степной,
На запад, на запад помчался бы я,
Я стал бы летать над мечом и щитом
Но тщетны мечты, бесполезны мольбы
Последний потомок отважных бойцов
Yearning (tr. T. Beavitt)
If I were a raven, a raptor of the plain,
To the west, to the west, I’d be gone in an hour!
I would fly over the sword and the shield,
But disconsolate dreams, unfulfillable yearning
The last scion of a race that routed foes