2 symbolic poems of Russia’s most original 18th-century poet

Your daily snack of Russian cultural heritage.

Gavrila Romanovich Derzhavin


On a Bird

A sweet-voiced bird's been caught.
They squeeze it in a vice-like grip.
The poor thing squeaks and warbles not
But they insist: "O, birdie, sing!"

1792 or 1793

The Current of Time’s River…

The current of time's river
Will carry off all human deeds
And sink into oblivion
All peoples, kingdoms and their kings.

And if there's something that remains
Through sounds of horn and lyre,
It too will disappear into the maw of time 
And not avoid the common fate.

6 July 1816
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