Tyutchev: Our Age (From Russian)

Our Age
By Fyodor Tyutchev
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

We've seen our spirit, not our flesh, decay.
Man, in despair, on all his anguish dwells.
Out of the soul's dark night he roils for day
But, reaching daylight, grumbles and rebels.

By unbelief bombarded and sucked dry
He has but the unbearable to bear,
Aware of what awaits all things that die,
He thirsts for faith...but doesn't have a prayer

And cannot say, with tears and shattered pride,
However brutally he comes to grief
Against deadbolted doors: "Let me inside!
Lord, I believe! Help Thou my unbelief!" 

The Original:

Наш век

Не плоть, а дух растлился в наши дни,
И человек отчаянно тоскует…
Он к свету рвется из ночной тени́
И, свет обретши, ропщет и бунтует.

Безверием палим и иссушен,
Невыносимое он днесь выносит…
И сознаёт свою погибель он,
И жаждет веры… но о ней не просит…

Не скажет ввек, с молитвой и слезой,
Как ни скорбит перед замкнутой дверью:
«Впусти меня! — Я верю, Боже мой!

Приди на помощь моему неверью!..»


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  2. Dear Mr. A.Z. Foreman,

    This is a very good translation. And your recital Russian is good too. Sounds old-fashioned, Tyutchevian enough.

    My humble variant for the last line is "Lord, I have faith! Help Thou my unbelief!" because two similar roots in one line are a bit too...

    In the original, the words "верю" and "неверью" are in separate, adjacent lines and poetically appropriate, I think.

    Yours sincerely,