'Elegy. Blind Musician', 1928 - Mikhail Nesterov (1862–1942)
Dmitri Shostakovich, Vsevolod Meyerhold, Vladimir Mayakovsky, and Aleksandr Rodchenko, 1929
Princess Anna Abamelek by Alexander Briullov. 1830
In the meantime drink your fill, my friends,
of life’s weak brew.
I recognize the futility of our existence;
I’ve little liking for it;
I’ve closed my eyes to its deluding visions.
But distant hopes
do sometimes stir my soul.
I should be sad to leave this world
without the slightest trace.
Fame’s not the purpose of my life and writing;
and yet I feel I’d like to shed
some glory on my wretched lot,
so that at least one phrase of beauty, like a true friend,
may keep my memory alive.
and touch somebody’s heart.
Fate, maybe, will preserve
this very stanza I’m composing now,
and save it from drowning in the waters of Lethe.
Maybe—oh, flattering hope!—
the common citizen of a future age
will point my celebrated portrait out
and say: “That was a poet!”
At all events, my heartfelt thanks
to the devotee of the peaceful arts
whose memory will preserve
what I’ve created, lightweight though it be,
and whose kind hand will pull back into shape
an old man’s crumpled laurels!
— Aleksandr Pushkin, Eugene Onegin (Chapter 2, stanzas 39-40)
"I am not dazzled by my muse:
One could not call her beautiful.
Nor would the sight of her dispatch
Young men in throngs to chase her down.
To charm with cultivated dress,
To fascinate with playful glance or sparkling wit
These aren’t her talents or desires;
And yet betimes the world is struck
By her uncommon countenance,
Her speech’s calm simplicity.
And then it spares her cutting blame,
And honors her instead with backhand praise."
— Yevgeny Baratynsky, “Muse”
"If in the taxonomy of talent there exists a cline between minor and major poetry, Evgeniy Baratynski presents such an intermediate unit of classification. His elegies are keyed to the precise point where the languor of the heart and the pang of thought meet in a would-be burst of music; but a remote door seems to shut quietly, the poem ceases to vibrate (although its words may still linger) at the very instant that we are about to surrender to it. He had deep and difficult things to say, but never quite said them."
— Vladimir Nabokov on the poetry of Evgeny Baratynsky (friend and contemporary of Pushkin), Commentaries on Eugene Onegin
"'I exist.' In thousands of agonies — I exist. I'm tormented on the rack — but I exist! Though I sit alone in a pillar — I exist! I see the sun, and if I don't see the sun, I know it's there. And there's a whole life in that, in knowing that the sun is there."
— Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov (via dollymyfolly
"I’m a bit touched in the head.
But, on the other hand,
who would have given his thoughts such inhuman vastness, and where?"
Vladimir Mayakovsky: A Tragedy (excerpt), 1913
translated by one of your mods (!)
"I create entire romances in my dreams."