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MOZART AND SALlERI ALEXANDER PUSHKIN (Translaledjrom the RusJian by A. F. B. Clark) Translator's Note:-One of the major divinities' of European literature is still little more than a name to Western (and particularly Anglo-Saxon) readers. We all realize that what Shakespeare means to us, Dante means to I talians, Goethe to Germans, and Moliere to Frenchmen. But, though we read a good deal of Russian literature, we do not seem to get the Russian perspective regarding it; we persist in believing that Tolstoy, or Turgeniev, or Dostoievsky must be the Russian Homer. Yet any Russian will tell you that Russia's greatest writer is Alexander Pushkin. One obstacle in ·the way of a closer acquaintance with Puslikin is the absence of adequate (or even inadequate) translations of most of his works. In order to contribute in a small way to the filling of this lamentable gap, I have translated what R-qssians regard as one of the masterpieces of their literature, Pushkin's dr'amatic fragment (or what he called "a Little ,Drama"), Mozart and SaNeri. It is based on the legend (believed by the dying Mozart and still current in ,Pushkin's time, though discredited to-day) that Salieri, the Italian Kapellmeister at the court of Vienna, poisoned Mozart in a fit of jealousy. Pushkin's poem, which appeared in 1830, has served as libretto to an opera by Rimsky-Korsakoff. One other translation of it exists in English, but I have not seen it; it is not easily accessible. In my rendering I have aimed primarily at fidelity to the metrical form and terse simplicity of style of the original. Salieri: MOZART AND SALlERI SCENE I A Room Men say: there is no justice upon earth. But neither is there justice in the Heavens! That's clear to me as any simple scale. For I was born with a great love for art; While still a child, whenever mightily The organ sounded in our ancient church, I listened, all attention,-and sweet tears) Sw_ eet and involuntary tears would flow. 482 MOZART AND SALIERI , Early I spurned all frivolous pursuits; Studies other than music were to me Repugnant; stubbornly and arrogantly I turned from them to dedicate myself To music only. Hard is the first step And tiresome the first journey. I o'ercame Early discomfitures; and dry technique I set up as a pedestal for art; B'eca~e a pure technician; to my fingers .I gave a docile, cold agility) And sureness to my ear. I muted sounds, Dissected music like a corpse,·revered The theory of harmony, as though It were the laws of algebra itself; And onJy then, tested and proved in science, 1" ventured to indulge creative fancy. I started to create-but secretlyNot d3;ring yet even to dream of glory. Not seldom, having spent in silent cell Two or three days, forgetting sleep and food, Tasting the joy 'and tears of inspiration, I threw my labours in the fire and watched. My thought and sounds-the children of my brainFlame up, then vanish in a wisp of smoke... What do I say? When the great Gluck appeared Revealing new, deep, captivating secretsDid I not then reject all I had learned, All I had loved) and ardently believed, And did I not walk bravely in his footsteps Unmurmuring, like one who, gone astray, Is bid by one he meets retrace his journey? By vigorou·s and tense persistency, At last, upon the boundless- scale of art \ I reached a high degree. At last fame deigned 483 THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO QUARTERLY To smile on me; and in the hearts of men I found an echo to my own creation. Then I was happy, and enjoyed in peace My labours, my success, my fame-nor less The labours and successes of my friends, My fellow-workers in the art divine. No! Never did I know the sting of envy, 0, never I-neither when Piccini triumphed In capturing the ears of fickle Paris, Nor the first time there broke upon my sense The opening bars of Iphigenia. Who dares to say that ever proud Salieri Could 13tooP to envy, like...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 482-491
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-01
Open Access
No
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