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К Алине

January 29, 2010
Тебя я некогда любил,
И ты любить не запрещала;
Но я дитя в то время был —
Ты в утро дней едва вступала.
Тогда любим я был тобой,
И в дни невинности беспечной
Алине с детской простотой

Я клятву дал уж в страсти вечной.

Тебя ль, Алина, вижу вновь?
Твой голос стал еще приятней;
Сильнее взор волнует кровь;
Улыбка, ласки сердцу внятней;
Блестящих на груди лилей
Все прелести соединились,
И чувства прежние живей

В душе моей возобновились.

Алина! чрез двенадцать лет
Всё тот же сердцем, ныне снова
Я повторяю свой обет.
Ужель не скажешь ты полслова?
Прелестный друг! чему ни быть,
Обет сей будет свято чтимым.
Ах! я могу еще любить,
Хотя не льщусь уж быть любимым.

<1819>

Iambic tetrameter, aBaBcDcD, with many grammatical rhymes. In the first stanza and through much of the poem, line boundaries exactly track the syntax (nothing close to enjambment), and the syntax and diction are simple and easy to follow.  Baratynskii, in this genre and at this age, was different from the “metaphysical poet” I usually think of (influenced by Sarah Pratt’s Russian Metaphysical Romanticism), full of syntax like this: “Но в глубине разврата не погиб/ Какой-нибудь неправедный изгиб / Сердец людских пред нами обнаживший” or “на земли мое / Кому-нибудь любезно бытие.”  It does get slightly trickier in stanza 3; perhaps the initial simplicity can be read as reinforcing the theme of childhood.

On first reading I thought each stanza might be a distinct period in time, but now I think there is a constant narration from the present of stanzas 2 and 3, with stanza 1 describing events 12 years earlier.

The first line made me suspect that the theme of the poem would be that people and their feelings change, and an oath taken by a young person can’t be expected to be kept by the different, older person they become.  This is a hobbyhorse of Proust’s narrator in In Search of Lost Time, so maybe I wouldn’t have expected the same thing in 1819.   The poet’s recommitment to his oath in stanza 3 therefore came as a surprise to me (the addressee’s feelings do change, of course, but she had apparently never committed to remain unchanging).

The power of the poetic lexicon is on display in the second stanza: what’s being described is more or less adolescent lust, but it sounds so lovely and smooth.  It might be just me, but I thought the sound-play in the last line (“не льщусь уж”) didn’t quite fit with the poem and attracted a little too much attention.

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