Poem Pick: “I Loved You Once…” by Alexander Pushkin

Author Bio:

Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin (Александр Сергеевич Пушкин) was born in Moscow, Russia on June 6, 1799. He was from a high social standing (nobility status) and was considered to be well educated (he spoke both Russian and French). He wrote poetry from a young age (14/15) and was married to the beautiful Natalia Nikolayevna Pushkina (Наталья Николаевна Пушкина). Alexander lived in St. Petersburg and died from a fatal wound (from a challenged duel with a Frenchmen over his wife) on January 29th, 1837.

His poetry is categorized in the Romanticism and Realism movements, but not from an English (British/American) literacy movement standpoint, rather Russian literacy. There are literally devices and techniques from English literature that are seen in his poetry to be considered Romantic/Realist though.

Alexander S. Pushkin (Александр C. Пушкин) was a Romantic/Realist Russian poet during the early 1800’s

Analysis

Pushkin’s poem, “I loved you once…”, is a highly popular Russian poem for its romantic gestures and hopeless romantic feelings. The poem is about unrequited love from the perspective of the admirer.

Here’s the poem:

Я вас любил…
Я вас любил: любовь еще, быть может
В душе моей угасла не совсем;
Но пусть она вас больше не тревожит;
Я не хочу печалить вас ничем.

Я вас любил безмолвно, безнадежно,
То робостью, то ревностью томим;
Я вас любил так искренно, так нежно,
Как дай вам бог любимой быть другим.

I loved you once: perhaps that love has yet
To die down thoroughly within my soul;
But let it not dismay you any longer;
I have no wish to cause you any sorrow.
I loved you wordlessly, without a hope,
By shyness tortured, or by jealousy.
I loved you with such tenderness and candor
And pray God grants you to be loved that way again.

~by Alexander S. Pushkin taken from
Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences 
Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures 

Now, in English, the poem does not rhyme, but in Russian it does. The first 4 lines of the poem rhyme with AAAA and the next four lines go by ABAB.

Despite not rhyming in English, the message of the poem is still strong and carries a lot of weight.

The poem opens up with the admirer using the past tense of their love for someone, but quickly states in the present that he may love still; the poem reads, “I loved you once: perhaps that love has yet / To die down thoroughly within my soul,” (Pushkin, line 1-2) which conveys the idea that the admirer is unsure if they are really over that person or not.

“I loved you once: perhaps that love has yet to die down thoroughly within my soul…”

~” I loved you once…” by Alexander S. Pushkin

The admirer continues their thought by saying how they do not wish that person any ill-will or misfortune, in fact, they wish that person nothing but fulfillment and happiness. However, the feeling and tone of the poem are that the narrator, the admirer, is sad that their love is not returned, but is willing to let that person go for their own love. This is found in lines 4 and 6 where the narrator thinks, “I have no wish to cause you any sorrow…And pray God grants you to be loved that way again,” (Pushkin, lines 4 and 6), which also suggests that the admirer doesn’t want to person to feel bad for not returning that love.

Deeper Meaning/ Takeaway

This is a beautiful poem about unrequited love… but also about unconditional love as well. We have all felt love. We have all felt rejection. We have all felt that hopeless feeling of loving someone, but not doing anything about it.

The poem is a classic example of loving someone silently, realizing it will never happen, and coming to terms with it. It is about loving someone so much that you are willing to let them go and be happy.

Overall, a poem for the silent admirers out there!

What are your thoughts?

Did you like the poem?

Is there a poem you think is similar?

Comment Below!

~M.V.J

Follow me on Instagram: m.v.jenkins

One thought on “Poem Pick: “I Loved You Once…” by Alexander Pushkin

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