Alexander Pushkin, Russian poet and philosopher, is held in high esteem and admiration in Russia as Robert Burns in Scotland and throughout the world. Both poets had visions and expressed them in immortal lines. We pay a tribute to the memory of Robert Burns and Alexander Pushkin.
Both Pushkin and Burns died in their 37th year.
Burns was born into a poor peasant family, but his father encouraged him to study although Robert was forced to help him in the fields. Shakespeare and Adisson were among the authors he used to read. He attributed many of his poetic themes to tales, ballads, legends and songs which his mother sang him in his childhood.
Pushkin’s family was able to provide him with governers for his education; his nurse too taught him tales, legends, songs and stories and, like Burns’ mother, taught the boy to love his native land. Pushkin was reading Russian and western classics at the age of eleven and this undoubtedly awakened his interest in literature.
By nature Burns was happy, witty and cheerful and he had an enquiring mind. He was interested in people in general and his belief in friendship was recognised by all who knew him; he despised egotism, deceit and everything dishonourable.
Pushkin had similar characteristics; in fact people loved him for his cheerfulness, wit and his gifted nature. The quality which links them together more than anything else is their genuine understanding of the nation as a whole.
Goethe said that Burns’ greatness was due to his links with the ordinary man and for this reason his songs were popular among the common folk. Of Pushkin Nikolai Gogol said that he was the reflection of the Russian soul and in his works one could find the richness, power and subtly of the Russian language at its height.
Just as Burns was the founder of Scottish poetry so Pushkin was the founder of Russia’s national literature.
Burns loved his native Scotland. He feels at home among the birds and the flowers with the wind and the rain. His poetry deals almost exclusively with his own day and his own immediate surroundings. There is a little description of natural scenery for its own sake; nature is but a pleasant background for the daily life of man. Burns’ theme was “the sentiments and manners he felt and saw in himself and his rustic compeers around him”. These he portrays with clear insight and vivid realism, even to the most sordid details. If his range is restricted, he makes up for the limitation by his intensity. His nature poems are full of feeling and admiration the peasant, for example, speaks kindly to the wounded hare and the field mouse in the poems “On seeing a wounded Hare, himp by me” and “To a mouse” respectively.
“To a Mouse”
I’m truly sorry man’s dominion
Has broken Nature’s social union,
An’ justifies that ill opinion
Which makes thee startle
At me, thy poor, earth-born companion
An’ fellow mortal.
He has a realistic view of life and of Nature and believes that Nature is full of significance and of symbols and everything around him is sheer beauty. He says only what is necessary in clear and concise way.
The golden age of Russian literature emerged with the works of Alexander Pushkin. He has a keen eye for nature, the beauties of natural scenery. His love of nature is our love. We see and feel like the great poet.
Dark the sky, the storm is howling
Whiling snow is furry wild,
Like a forest creature growling
Sobbing like a little child.
Shaking the delapidated
Roof, it whistles through the thatch,
Like a traveller belated
Tapes our window, tries the latch.
Буря мглою небо кроет,
Вихри снежные крутя;
То, как зверь, она завоет,
То заплачет, как дитя,
То по кровле обветшалой
Вдруг соломой зашумит,
То, как путник запоздалый,
К нам в окошко застучит.
Burns dedicated his best verses and songs to love. At fifteen he wrote his first song in honour of his friend Nelly with whom he worked in the fields. Nelly knew some wonderful old melodies and Burns wrote the words to one of these tunes.
I see her in the daisy flowers,
I see her sweet and fair,
I hear her in the tuneful birds,
I see her charm the air.
There is not a bonnie flower that spring,
By fountain show or green.
There is not a bonnie bird that sings,
But minds me o’my Jean.
Тебя напоминает мне
В полях цветок любой,
И лес в вечерней тишине
Бубенчик ландыша в росе,
Да и не он один,
И все цветы, и птицы все
Поют о милой Джин.
And English critic once said that Burns’ songs are the soul of music, it is not surprising then that Schumann, Mendelson and Beethoven composed music to his verses.
“A Red, Red Rose”
O my Luve's like a red, red rose,
That's newly sprung in June:
O my Luve's like the melodie,
That's sweetly play'd in tune.
As fair art thou, my bonie lass,
So deep in luve am I;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a' the seas gang dry.
Till a' the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi' the sun;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
While the sands o' life shall run.
And fare-thee-weel, my only Luve!
And fare-thee-weel, a while!
And I will come again, my Luve,
Tho' 'twere ten thousand mile!
Моя любовь - ярко-алая роза,
Как та, что цветет снова в нашем саду.
Моя любовь, словно музыка грёзы,
Так сладко играть её поутру.
Мой ангел прекрасный, моя душа,
Познай глубину моих чувств!
Пока не погибнут от жара поля,
Я клятву сдержу и вернусь.
Пока не иссохнут от жажды моря,
И горы не рухнут вновь,
До страшных тех пор, дорогая моя,
Жить будет во мне любовь.
Давай же прощаться, моя душа!
Ты в сердце меня сохрани.
Я тысячи миль пройду не дыша
К моей одинокой любви.
A magic moment I remember:
I raised my eyes and you were there,
A fleeting vision, the quintessence
Of all that’s beautiful and rare.
And now my heart throbs with elation.
Hailing the resurrection of
Divine ideas, inspiration,
Life, tears and happiness, and love.
Я помню чудное мгновенье:
Передо мной явилась ты,
Как мимолетное виденье,
Как гений чистой красоты.
И сердце бьется в упоенье,
И для него воскресли вновь
И божество, и вдохновенье,
И жизнь, и слезы, и любовь.
Burns was a great national poet and hero, as he exposed the faults of ruling classes and attacked the church, although he incurred the wrath of clergy for his disrespect.
When in exile in Mikhailovskoie Pushkin used to listen to the peasants’ tales, songs and legends and this inevitably drew him closer to their work and their way of life. In his remarkable epic “Imitation to Koran” and in many other works he examines the very essence of man’s culture. Pushkin himself spoke about his struggle against evil and injustice in several of his writings.
Burns fought against classical conventions and tried to portray everything in a true perspective. He had the gift of instilling new life into ancient songs, ballads and legends. At one time Burns’ ascribed his source of inspiration to the verses and novels of sentimentalists but excelled them by far. His works were realistic, because he was in close contact with everyday life.
Burns was the first poet of the 18th century to deny the separation of the spirit and the flesh.
Even in his early years Pushkin tried to write lyrics with less rigid rules than had been the custom. He reflects the thoughts and ideas of the leading Russian society against autocracy and serfdom and his verses are in fact the poetical proclamations of the Decembrists.
Pushkin kept abreast with contemporary political problems, being an author of topical verses, but he nevertheless remained a poet of the Arts, the first according to Belinsky. Pushkin was able to say what he wanted as briefly as possible, in fact he was laconic in his writings.
Pushkin’s verses were an account of real life as it affected the poet-a narrative of life of the Russian people. Like Burns’, his poetry has given a great deal of material for the composers.
All of Burns’ and Pushkin’s verses are filled with love of freedom and a belief in a bright and happy future, when the powers of tyranny will have been quashed and everyone will become as brothers.
Every year on January 25 (Burns’ birthday), a celebration called “Burns Night” is held not only in Scotland, but also among British people living in other countries. The celebration usually takes the form of a supper (“Burns Supper”) at which traditional Scottish dishes are eaten and during which a Scottish piper plays wearing the national costume (a kilt). Some of Burns’ most popular poems are recited and there may be Scottish dancing after the meal is finished.
Speaking about Russia, the day of Alexander Pushkin is celebrated on June 6. This day is really important for every Russian. Moreover, a few years ago it became an official holiday. As Nikolay Gogol said, no poet in Russia had such fame as Pushkin.
Every year the verses of the great poet are republished. Pupils in different schools will receive these books. In addition, a lot of festivals, exhibitions and programmes devoted to his poetry are held all over the country and far away from it.
The works of the two brilliant poets are dedicated to the people, for the people and in the name of the people.
It follows then that the main points of similarities between Pushkin and Burns lies in their fundamental interest in man and his life. In view of this they will forever remain in the memories of the peoples in the world over.
Russians greatly value, love and read the verses of Robert Burns and the English love the beautiful, flowing poetry of Pushkin.