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Чернец (2)

April 8, 2010

Kozlov’s Чернец (introduced here) is made up of a dedication and 14 sections of various length.  In this post is a synopsis of the poem through section 7.

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Dedication (34 lines)

1 (14 lines): The poet describes a walled monastery outside of Kiev and its natural surroundings.

2 (46 lines): The 1st half of this section describes the near-silence around the monastery in the evening; the 2nd half introduces a dying monk of mysterious origin who is tormented by an unknown secret

3 (15 lines): The Father Superior of the monastery holds a cross in front of the dying monk, who tries twice to speak but stop as if afraid to revisit something in his mind; on the third try he begins to speak.
The beginning half of the framing device ends with this section.

4 (35 lines): Here begins the monk’s long speech that is the center of the poem.  The monk describes for the Father Superior his loveless childhood and youth, which led him to a life of isolation and risk-taking.

5 (41 lines): The dying monk relates that a man came “from the banks of the Neva” with his wife and 17-year-old daughter to live among them, revealing that the daughter is no longer alive before telling the story of how he was engaged to her with her parents’ approval, and how her love resurrected him from his life of unhappiness.

6 (49 lines): The monk’s story continues: a distant relative of his beloved’s, whom she had rejected, returns and interferes to get revenge.  The death of the girl’s mother emboldens the distant relative, who succeeds in turning her father against the future monk through slander.  The daughter pleads with her father in vain.  She and the main character elope.

7 (51 lines including row of dots at end): The monk declares that even if his tragic love had cost him even more, it would have been worth it for the time when his wife was his, and he describes their happy life together.  She was pregnant, and they hoped for a reconciliation with her father.  Her distant relative, here as elsewhere called simply злодей, spreads a false rumor that her father has disowned her once and for all.  She learns of this at a “dangerous moment” and dies.  The main character buries her and their son. Overcome by despair, he wanders aimlessly and is ready to give up when he sees his engagement ring.

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Remarks on the first half of the poem:

Section 3.  Still during the framing device, the narrator addresses the main character:

Чернец, Чернец, ужели ты

Всё помнишь прежние мечты!..

Neither the reader nor the Father Superior knows what these past dreams might be.  The narrator seems to know, though, and to be so moved by sympathy that he breaks in, getting ahead of the story (and further increasing our curiosity about the mysterious monk).

Section 6.  Even though he has not yet married his fiancée and met her parents only recently, the main character refers to her mother’s death as their mother’s death:

Но, ах, судьбою
Нам с нашей матерью родною
Была разлука суждена!
Она внезапно сражена
Недугом тяжким… мы рыдали,
Мы одр с молитвой окружали;
Настал неизбежимый час:

Родная скрылася от нас.

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