I’m reading “Resignation”. It’s a fine poem. Would you like me to read it to you? Sit down here beside me on the bench. I wavered a little, but sat down. Pasynkov began reading.

Yes! even I was in Arcadia born,
     And, in mine infant ears,
   A vow of rapture was by Nature sworn;–
   Yes! even I was in Arcadia born,
     And yet my short spring gave me only–tears!
   Once blooms, and only once, life’s youthful May;
     For me its bloom hath gone.
   The silent God–O brethren, weep to-day–
   The silent God hath quenched my torch’s ray,
     And the vain dream hath flown.
   Upon thy darksome bridge, Eternity,
     I stand e’en now, dread thought!
   Take, then, these joy-credentials back from me!
   Unopened I return them now to thee,
     Of happiness, alas, know naught!
   Before Thy throne my mournful cries I vent,
     Thou Judge, concealed from view!
   To yonder star a joyous saying went
   With judgment’s scales to rule us thou art sent,
     And call’st thyself Requiter, too!
   Here,–say they,–terrors on the bad alight,
     And joys to greet the virtuous spring.
   The bosom’s windings thou’lt expose to sight,
   Riddle of Providence wilt solve aright,
     And reckon with the suffering!
   Here to the exile be a home outspread,
     Here end the meek man’s thorny path of strife!
   A godlike child, whose name was Truth, they said,
   Known but to few, from whom the many fled,
     Restrained the ardent bridle of my life.
   “It shall be thine another life to live,–
     Thy youth to me surrender!
   To thee this surety only can I give”–
   I took the surety in that life to live;
     And gave to her each youthful joy so tender.
   “Give me the woman precious to thy heart,
     Give up to me thy Laura!
   Beyond the grave will usury pay the smart.”–
   I wept aloud, and from my bleeding heart
     With resignation tore her.
   “The obligation’s drawn upon the dead!”
     Thus laughed the world in scorn;
   “The lying one, in league with despots dread,
   For truth, a phantom palmed on thee instead,
     Thou’lt be no more, when once this dream has gone!”
   Shamelessly scoffed the mockers’ serpent-band
     “A dream that but prescription can admit
   Dost dread? Where now thy God’s protecting hand,
   (The sick world’s Saviour with such cunning planned),
     Borrowed by human need of human wit?”
   “What future is’t that graves to us reveal?
     What the eternity of thy discourse?
   Honored because dark veils its form conceal,
   The giant-shadows of the awe we feel,
     Viewed in the hollow mirror of remorse!”
   “An image false of shapes of living mould,
     (Time’s very mummy, she!)
   Whom only Hope’s sweet balm hath power to hold
   Within the chambers of the grave so cold,–
     Thy fever calls this immortality!”
   “For empty hopes,–corruption gives the lie–
     Didst thou exchange what thou hadst surely done?
   Six thousand years sped death in silence by,–
   His corpse from out the grave e’er mounted high,
     That mention made of the Requiting One?”
   I saw time fly to reach thy distant shore,
     I saw fair Nature lie
   A shrivelled corpse behind him evermore,–
   No dead from out the grave then sought to soar
     Yet in that Oath divine still trusted I.
   My ev’ry joy to thee I’ve sacrificed,
     I throw me now before thy judgment-throne;
   The many’s scorn with boldness I’ve despised,–
   Only–thy gifts by me were ever prized,–
     I ask my wages now, Requiting One!
   “With equal love I love each child of mine!”
     A genius hid from sight exclaimed.
   “Two flowers,” he cried, “ye mortals, mark the sign,–
   Two flowers to greet the Searcher wise entwine,–
     Hope and Enjoyment they are named.”
   “Who of these flowers plucks one, let him ne’er yearn
     To touch the other sister’s bloom.
   Let him enjoy, who has no faith; eterne
   As earth, this truth!–Abstain, who faith can learn!
     The world’s long story is the world’s own doom.”
   “Hope thou hast felt,–thy wages, then, are paid;
     Thy faith ’twas formed the rapture pledged to thee.
   Thou might’st have of the wise inquiry made,–
   The minutes thou neglectest, as they fade,
     Are given back by no eternity!”
 

He knew German much better than I did. He had to explain the meaning of some of the lines to me, but I was no longer ashamed either of my ignorance or of his superiority over me. From that day, from that very reading, alone together in the garden in the shade of the lilac, I came to love Pasynkov  with all my soul, became good friends with him and subordinated myself to him completely. …his face was not handsome and could even appear funny due to his long, plump and reddish nose, which seemed to overhang his wide and straight lips: but his forehead was fine, and when he smiled, his small grey eyes shone with such meek and affectionate good nature that anyone looking at him would feel warm and cheerful at heart. I also remember his voice, soft and even, with a particularly pleasant sort of huskiness….on his lips the words “goodness”, “truth”, “life”, “learning”, “love”, no matter with what rapture they were pronounced, never sounded a false note. But it was a particular joy for me to go for a walk alone with him or to pace up and down the room beside him as, without a glance at me, he recited poetry in his soft and focused voice. It truly seemed to me then that he and I were slowly, little by little, becoming detached from the earth and carried away somewhere, to some radiant, mysterious wonderland….I remember one evening. He and I were sitting under that same lilac bush : we had come to love that spot. All our fellows were already asleep, but we had got up quietly, fumbled our way into our clothes in the darkness and stolen out “to dream a little”. It was quite warm outside, but a fresh breeze at times and made us huddle up still closer to one another. We talked, we talked a great deal and with fervor, so that we even interrupted each other, although we did not argue. Countless stars shone in the sky. Yakov raised his eyes and gripping my hand, exclaimed softly : Above us Heaven and the stars eternal….And then above the stars their maker… A reverential tremor ran through me…..I turned quite cold and fell onto his shoulder…{Faust by Turgenev, my favorite paragraph}  

I always wanted to read this favorite paragraph, she said
to someone who I love. At that moment, at that phase of
my life. I looked at her, at her eyes brimming with tears.
She resembles me so much. And I know what she is going
to tell me next moment. Every time, the man she was with
kept the book aside,  pulled her close and fondled her breasts.
Then she cried and then for a long time neither of them had
nothing to say at all, and then the silence that fell between them
was broken by rising voices, and the words led arguments tore
apart the room until they were screaming at each other. And the
there was a long, unbreakable silence. She lay curled up against
his heart, memorizing its beat for the last time………………………………………..{J}

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