Sunday, February 16, 2014

Brian leaps into the last quarter of the Twentieth Century

And I am there with my camera; I have been trying unsuccessfully to remember what one I used then, but it must have been the Zeiss Contessa, a sweet beauty of a rangefinder camera, my parents brought back from Europe and gave to me when I went away to school. We are with my brother's family at the motel pool in Sedona, Arizona, where we spent a fine week. Those are my two younger children in the pool. It seems like only yesterday and a thousand years ago.

Tonight we watched the Metropolitan Opera production of Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin. In the middle of the opera, while Lensky (who acted like a silly ass over Onegin's flirting with Lensky's wife, Olga, and issued the challenge) is waiting for Onegin (who is late for the duel and comes in eating a breakfast snack) and Lensky sings:

"Where have you gone, o golden days of my spring."
[An English translation of Lensky's second-act aria from Eugene Onegin]

 Where have you gone, o golden days of my spring?
What does the day coming have in store for me?
It escapes my eyes, it is hidden!
Shall I fall to the deadly arrow, or will it pass by?
All for better, there is a predetermined time
For life and for sleep Blessed is a day of simple tasks
And blessed is the day of troubles.
 Will the day beam shine in the morning
And the bright day shall reign
And I, well, will I, perhaps, will descend
 Into mysterious darkness of my fatal tomb?
And the memory of a strange poet will fall into Abyss
The world shall forget me, but you, you, Olga!
Tell me, will you, the maiden of beauty, come to shed a tear
Over the early urn
And think "he loved me, he devoted to me
The gloomy dawn of a troubled life!"
Ah Olga, I did love you, To you alone I devoted
The gloomy dawn of my troubled life
Yes Olga, I did love you! My wonderful friend, my dear friend,
Come, for I am your husband, etc.

Where have you gone, o golden days of my spring?

Translation from the Russian by Stephen Ettinger

That etc, at the end kind of says it all. . .  As it stands it is not a great poem in English,
but I had just decided to use this family photo from the mid-1970s, and
the line about the golden days of my spring brought tears to my eyes, I must admit.

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