Translating the poem "My Joy, My Sorrow"

When our young cultist falls in love, small, simple things become so important they eclipse his great mission. The girl’s seeing him as her hero makes things even more complicated. He wants to live up to the beautiful image but knows that he can’t. His mind understands he should leave her until it’s too late but his heart wants to stay with her forever. In the end, he decides to become something he wasn’t, for her sake.

The only details that connect this poem to the story are Saturday (Edna’s favourite day of the week) and her songs (she liked singing), everything else can be safely omitted/replaced.

The original Russian text:

Мое счастье, моя беда

Что же делать мне теперь с тобою,
Счастье ты мое или беда?
Я предстал перед тобой героем,
А таким я не был никогда.

Что легло всей тяжестью на сердце,
Разве это выскажу тебе?
Но позволь теплом твоим согреться;
Много в жизни натворил я бед.

Натворил. И шрамы заработал.
И в душе, как море, плещет тьма...
Только я теперь люблю субботу –
Тот же день, что любишь ты сама.

И люблю твои смешные песни,
Нежность пальцев, нежность теплых губ...
Я предстал перед тобою честным,
Только честным быть я не могу.

Я как будто безнадежно болен,
Я лечу со сломанным крылом...
Нужно отпустить тебя на волю
Там, где свежий ветер и светло.

Знай же, я на всё глаза закрою,
Обманусь, что я тобой любим...
Добрым я предстал перед тобою
И хочу запомниться таким.



My rough translation

My joy, my sorrow

What do I do with you now?
Are you my joy or my sorrow?
As a hero I appeared before you
But it’s something I’ve never been.

What lies a heavy burden upon my heart,
How can I tell this to you? (I can’t)
But let me warm myself with your fire;
I did so much wrong in my life.

I did, that’s how I earned my scars,
That’s why the darkness in my heart is like a sea…
But now I like Saturday,
The same day you like.

Now I like your funny songs,
Gentle fingers, and soft lips…
As an honest guy I appeared before you
But honest I can’t be…

It’s like I’m terminally ill,
It’s like I’m flying with a broken wing…
I should let you go free
Somewhere sunny where the breeze is fresh.

Know this: I will close my eyes to anything,
I will lie to myself that I am loved…
As a kind person I appeared before you
And I want you to remember me like this.


Alan Jackson's translation:

My Joy, My Sorrow

What are we going to do?
Are you my blessing or my curse?
I, a hero? Not true!
Although you think me one – and that is worse.

My heart’s crushed to the floor;
I daren’t say aloud what I’ve become
Your fire, so hot, so pure;
Let me warm myself, despite the ills I’ve done.

Ills I have done. My scars prove
Heart-darkness lies deep past measure –
Yet like you I love
Saturdays, the days that give you joy and pleasure.

The funny songs you sing,
Your tender lips, so soft, so hot,
Your tender fingers cling
Just as if I were honest – which I’m not.

I’m sick beyond all cure;
My broken wing can’t beat the air;
I must hold you no more;
Release you where the wind and sun are fair…

From truth my eyes I’ll blind,
Pretend you loved me – such a lie!
Once you thought me kind –
That’s what I’d want to be remembered by


Jump to another poem:

About the project:
My scifi and fantasy novels have a lot of poems in them that can not be removed without destroying the plot. Alas, my English in not good enough for translating poetry. Alan Jackson helps me to translate the poems. It makes the translation of my novels possible.