Ivan Bunin. Loneliness.

autumn_rain_she_leaves

Whenever the weather is humid and cold, I remember lines from Loneliness, a beautiful poem by Ivan Bunin (1870 – 1953).

Bunin was the first Russian writer to win the Nobel Prize for Literature and was noted for the strict artistry with which he carried on the classical Russian traditions in the writing of prose and poetry, his name did not appear often enough in our school textbooks during the Soviet time, because Bunin left Russia for Paris in 1920 and spent the rest of his life in immigration.

Одиночество (Loneliness) is one of his most beautiful poems. Bunin devoted the poem to his friend, an artist from Odessa Pyotr Nilus, but this poem is undoubtedly an autobiographical one. The feeling of loneliness can be noted in most of Bunin’s poems and prose. This state of mind was quite typical for authors like Bunin, whose works happened to be underestimated both at home and abroad.

The poem was written in the summer of 1903, during a stay in Konstantinopol, where he felt lonely being far from his family and friends. Right before the trip, Bunin had gone through a tragical moment in life: he broke up with his wife, Anna Tsakni. The personal drama affected him deeply; life looked gloomy and senseless, Bunin was going through a deep depression. The translation below is a very good one, it repeats original beat and rhythm of Bunin’s masterpiece.

Loneliness

The rain and the wind and the murk
Reign over cold desert of fall,
Here, life’s interrupted till spring;
Till the spring, gardens barren and tall.
I’m alone in my house, it’s dim
At the easel, and drafts through the rims.

The other day, you came to me,
But I feel you are bored with me now.
The somber day’s over, it seemed
You were there for me as my spouse.
Well, so long, I will somehow strive
To survive till the spring with no wife.

The clouds, again, have today
Returned, passing, patch after patch.
Your footprints got smudged by the rain,
And are filling with water by the porch.
As I sink into lonesome despair
From the vanishing late autumn’s glare.

I gasped to call after you fast:
Please come back, you’re a part of me, dear;
To a woman, there is no past
Once love ends, you’re a stranger to her;
I’ll get drunk, I will watch burning logs,
Would be splendid to get me a dog.

(Taken from: http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/loneliness-332/)

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This is the Russian version of the poem and a rare recording of Bunin’s voice, where he reads the poem himself:   Bunin reads his poem Loneliness

Одиночество

И ветер, и дождик, и мгла

Над холодной пустыней воды.

Здесь жизнь до весны умерла,

До весны опустели сады.

Я на даче один. Мне темно

За мольбертом, и дует в окно.

Вчера ты была у меня,

Но тебе уж тоскливо со мной.

Под вечер ненастного дня

Ты мне стала казаться женой…

Что ж, прощай! Как-нибудь до весны

Проживу и один – без жены…

Сегодня идут без конца

Те же тучи – гряда за грядой.

Твой след под дождем у крыльца

Расплылся, налился водой.

И мне больно глядеть одному

В предвечернюю серую тьму.

Мне крикнуть хотелось вослед:

«Воротись, я сроднился с тобой!»

Но для женщины прошлого нет:

Разлюбила – и стал ей чужой.

Что ж! Камин затоплю, буду пить…

Хорошо бы собаку купить.

osennyaya

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