My Pedigree

by


My Pedigree is an autobiographical poem from his collection Poems by Alexander Puskin (1888), translated by Ivan Panin.
My Pedigree
Pushkin and Bronze Horseman, Soviet Union stamp, 1967
With scorning laughter at a fellow writer,
In a chorus the Russian scribes
With name of aristocrat me chide:
Just look, if please you ... nonsense what!
Court Coachman not I, nor assessor,
Nor am I nobleman by cross;
No academician, nor professor,
I'm simply of Russia a citizen.

Well I know the times' corruption,
And, surely, not gainsay it shall I:
Our nobility but recent is:
The more recent it, the more noble 't is.
But of humbled races a chip,
And, God be thanked, not alone
Of ancient Lords am scion I;
Citizen I am, a citizen!

Not in cakes my grandsire traded,
Not a prince was newly-baked he;
Nor at church sang he in choir,
[Pg 62]Nor polished he the boots of Tsar;
Was not escaped a soldier he
From the German powdered ranks;
How then aristocrat am I to be?
God be thanked, I am but a citizen.

My grandsire Radsha in warlike service
To Alexander Nefsky was attached.
The Crowned Wrathful, Fourth Ivan,
His descendants in his ire had spared.
About the Tsars the Pushkins moved;
And more than one acquired renown,
When against the Poles battling was
Of Nizhny Novgorod the citizen plain.

When treason conquered was and falsehood,
And the rage of storm of war,
When the Romanoffs upon the throne
The nation called by its Chart—
We upon it laid our hands;
The martyr's son then favored us;
Time was, our race was prized,
But I ... am but a citizen obscure.

Our stubborn spirit us tricks has played;
Most irrepressible of his race,
With Peter my sire could not get on;
[Pg 63]And for this was hung by him.
Let his example a lesson be:
Not contradiction loves a ruler,
Not all can be Prince Dolgorukys,
Happy only is the simple citizen.

My grandfather, when the rebels rose
In the palace of Peterhof,
Like Munich, faithful he remained
To the fallen Peter Third;
To honor came then the Orloffs,
But my sire into fortress, prison—
Quiet now was our stern race,
And I was born merely—citizen.

Beneath my crested seal
The roll of family charts I've kept;
Not running after magnates new,
My pride of blood I have subdued;
I'm but an unknown singer
Simply Pushkin, not Moussin,
My strength is mine, not from court:
I am a writer, a citizen.
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Pushkin's poem is featured in our guide to Russian Writers.


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