Translated Poem: Afanasy Fet’s “I’ll say nothing…”

Night flowers

Ever had feelings for someone, and you just couldn’t work up the nerve to tell them? Or worse, you tried to hide that you liked them at all? Today’s poem, written by the 19th-century Russian poet Afanasy Fet, expresses that feeling with poignant simplicity and elegance. I tried to preserve as much of that tone as … Read more…

A Poem for the Season of Exaltation: Zhukovsky’s “The Lark”

A Poem for the Season of Exaltation: Vasily Zhukovsky's "The Lark"

I confess I’m not much into spring poetry. The idea that spring is the season of poets is a super-cliché, and in my case, it’s not all that accurate. For me, fall and winter are the poetic seasons. They’re the times of introspection and reflection — of turning inward. Spring and summer are the seasons … Read more…

The Artist’s Vocation: Finding Beauty in the Hard Places

Finding Beauty in Hard Places

Recently, my Russian tutor had me read this snippet from Russian Modernist poet Nikolay Zabolotsky: … что есть красота и почему её обожествляют люди? Сосуд она, в котором пустота, или огонь, мерцающий в сосуде? Or, loosely translated: … what is beauty and why do we worship it? Is it a vessel for emptiness, or a fire in a vessel, … Read more…

Need Strength for the Winter? Read This Russian Poem. (Writing Prompt Included.)

Photo by Pawel Kadysz

Forget “Winter is Coming.” In Novosibirsk, it’s here. The golden leaves that made this past month so gorgeous have peaked and fallen, and street cleaners have already raked them up into sacks and hauled them away. On Wednesday we had our first snow. Granted, it’s not a real Siberian winter yet — we still have … Read more…

“A Case of General Hypnotism” and More Problems with the Love of Comfort, via Chekhov

A while ago I posted a reflection on “problems with the love of comfort,” as inspired by a scene in Crime in Punishment in which Razumikhin ridicules Zossimov for letting himself get slack in the desire for comforts. Chekhov’s “Gooseberries” seems to go in the same direction — though it doesn’t name the problem as love of … Read more…