Russian Literature: Winter Night by Boris Pasternak

Posted on January 11th, 2013

Winter Night by PasternakTo continue our chat about the beauty and magic of winter, I wanted to share one of my favourite poems with you – Зимняя ночь (Winter Night) written by Борис Пастернак (Boris Pasternak) in 1946. I love this poem for its simplicity and a charming description of a winter night.

Below is the poem in Russian, if you would like to read its English version, I suggest the translation by Alex Miller.

Here is the poem in Russian:

Зимняя ночь
Борис Пастернак

Мело, мело по всей земле
Во все пределы.
Свеча горела на столе,
Свеча горела.

Как летом роем мошкара
Летит на пламя,
Слетались хлопья со двора
К оконной раме.

Метель лепила на стекле
Кружки и стрелы.
Свеча горела на столе,
Свеча горела.

На озаренный потолок
Ложились тени,
Скрещенья рук, скрещенья ног,
Судьбы скрещенья.

И падали два башмачка
Со стуком на пол.
И воск слезами с ночника
На платье капал.

И все терялось в снежной мгле
Седой и белой.
Свеча горела на столе,
Свеча горела.

На свечку дуло из угла,
И жар соблазна
Вздымал, как ангел, два крыла

Мело весь месяц в феврале,
И то и дело
Свеча горела на столе,
Свеча горела.

You can also listen to the poem in Russian and in English. 

These are some of the words you might need help translating into English:

Мело (verb, past tense) [mee-LO] there was a snowstorm (from verb мести [myes-TEE] (only when talking about a snowstorm) there is a snowstorm)

Пределы (noun, plural) [pree-DYE-li] limits, ends (from noun предел [pree-DYEL] limit, end)
Роем (noun, instrumental case) [RO-yem] from рой [ROY] swarm
Хлопья (noun, plural) [HLOP’-ya] flakes
Озаренный (adj.) [a-za-RYON-niy] lit up, illuminated
from verb озарять [a-za-RYAT’] light up, illuminate
Скрещенья (noun, plural) [sree-SHCHYE-n’ya] crossings from noun скрещение [skree-SHYE-nee-ye] crossing
Воск слезами капал [VOSK slye-ZA-mee KA-pal] wax was shedding tears
Жар соблазна [zhar sab-LAZ-na vzdi-MAL] fever of temptation
Вздымал (verb, past tense) [vzdi-MAL] rose (from вздымать [vzdi-MAT’] raise)

This poem is very well known and loved in Russian culture. In fact, there are several version of the song “Зимняя ночь”, these are most popular versions:

What do you think about the poem? Did you like it?

Have fun learning Russian!


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