I told myself: the time has come
To review this novel length poem,
And although it may seem foolish to some
I’ll compose in verse, to show ’em
How great I am, so come have a gander,
At these lines worthy of Alexander.
Yes, it’s easy when you’re so talented
And good-looking, wise, and well-read.

It’s very good, this little book,
I say that without any hesitation.
I’m sure you’ll find it worth a look
[Although I’m less sure about the translation].
There are many versions, which is the best one
At rendering in English the poem in question?
Mitchell, perhaps, although one ought to mention
That Nabokov paid the issue some attention.

Vladimir thought it was too hard
To translate it accurately in verse.
So he wrote a prose version, I regard
As not much better, but so much worse.
Pushkin made his choice, don’t fuck with that;
Novelists begat novels, so what does a poet begat?
A Poem, of course; and it should be read as such
To alter the form is to alter too much.

Eugene, then; who is he?
A pampered Russian nobleman.
He becomes a prey to ennui,
Avoids women and parties when he can.
Who tires of those things? A strange sort, I say!
Perhaps he has gone mad, perhaps he is gay?
I jest! He suffers some kind of malaise,
Like existentialism, before the craze.

Before Sartre, before Camus,
Before Nausea, and The Stranger,
There was Onegin to look to.
Like Byron crossed with Heidegger,
Eugene is handsome, popular, but dour-hearted.
His plans for solitude are quickly thwarted
By a poet called Lensky, a man in love with,
A girl called Olga, who is a bit of a div.

Her sister is Tatiana.
And she is drawn to Eugene,
But Onegin, he doesn’t want her,
So he’s cold, dismissive, and he’s mean.
To put her off he flirts with her sister.
Oh, Onegin, you’re flirting with disaster!
For young Lensky won’t put up with that;
Load my guns, he says, I’ll kill the twat!

I’ll say no more, I don’t want to
Spoil the story for you completely,
But I guess I’d better warn you
That it ends most tragically.
So that’s my poem, it’s done and dusted,
The meter is ropey, but I’m not flustered
As I have now only two lines left to write.
Now only one. I’m finished. Goodnight.


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