Pushkin in Quarantine at Boldino 1830 A.D.

In the autumn of 1830, Alexander Pushkin was at Boldino, the family estate near Nizhny Novgorod, for the funeral of an uncle, when he was forced into quarantine on account of the cholera epidemic spreading from the south. Forced to put off his wedding to the ravishing Natalia Goncharova, those three months were, nevertheless, perhaps the most productive period of his life, during which he finished Eugene Onegin and wrote what he called Four Little Tragedies, as well as a number of poems.

Allow me, fellow countrymen,

At this time of spiritual torment

To offer you, from where I am imprisoned,

Congratulations on the great festival of spring.


Everything passes, everything grows still;

Sorrows and anxieties fade away.

One again, the ways will become smooth,

And the garden, as before, will be in flower.


We will call upon the power of learning

to sweep away disease with firmness

And in these days of dire tribulation,

As one family we will survive.


We will become purer and wiser

And not yield to darkness and to fear.

Raising up each other’s spirits,

We will become closer and more kind.


And at the festive table

Once again rejoice in life

And on this day, may the Supreme One

Send a little joy to every home.

*** *** *** *** *** *** ***

Позвольте, жители страны,

В часы душевного мученья

Поздравить вас из заточенья

С великим праздником весны!


Всё утрясётся, всё пройдёт,

Уйдут печали и тревоги,

Вновь станут гладкими дороги

И сад, как прежде, зацветёт.


На помощь разум призовём,

Сметём болезнь силой знаний

И дни тяжёлых испытаний

Одной семьёй переживём.


Мы станем чище и мудрей,

Не сдавшись мраку и испугу,

Воспрянем духом и друг другу

Мы станем ближе и добрей.


И пусть за праздничным столом

Мы вновь порадуемся жизни,

Пусть в этот день пощлёт Всевышний

Кусочек счастья в каждый дом!

*** *** *** *** *** *** ***

Pushkin was critical, however, of the government’s handling of the epidemic and he wrote in a letter the following year:

“Quarantine brought manufacturing and cargo traffic to a halt, ruined contractors and carriers, ended the revenues of peasants and landowners, and nearly caused riots in 16 provinces.”

With many thanks to Maria Valdimirovna Stanyukovich for the Russian text.

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