The Egyptian Nights by Alexander Pushkin

Russian LiteratureChildren BooksRussian PoetryAlexander Pushkin – The Egyptian Nights – Contents

< < < Chapter I
Chapter III > > >


The next day, in the dark and dirty corridor of a tavern, Charsky discovered the number 35. He stopped at the door and knocked. It was opened by the Italian of the day before.

“Victory!” said Charsky to him: “your affairs are in a good way. The Princess N——, offers you her salon; yesterday, at the rout, I succeeded in enlisting the half of St. Petersburg; get your tickets and announcements printed. If I cannot guarantee a triumph for you, I’ll answer for it that you will at least be a gainer in pocket….”

“And that is the chief thing,” cried the Italian, manifesting his delight in a series of gestures that were characteristic of his southern origin. “I knew that you would help me. Corpo di Baccol You are a poet like myself, and there is no denying that poets are excellent fellows! How can I show my gratitude to you? Stop…. Would you like to hear an improvisation?”

“An improvisation!… Can you then do without public, without music, and without sounds of applause?”

“And where could I find a better public? You are a poet: you understand me better than they, and your quiet approbation will be dearer to me than whole storms of applause…. Sit down somewhere and give me a theme.” “Here is your theme, then,” said Charsky to him: “the poet himself should choose the subject of his songs; the crowd has not the right to direct his inspirations.” The eyes of the Italian sparkled: he tried a few chords, raised his head proudly, and passionate verses—the expression of instantaneous sentiment—fell in cadence from his lips….

The Italian ceased…. Charsky remained silent, filled with delight and astonishment.

“Well?” asked the improvisatore.

Charsky seized his hand and pressed it firmly.

“Well?” asked the improvisatore.

“Wonderful!” replied the poet. “The idea of another has scarcely reached your ears, and already it has become your own, as if you had nursed, fondled and developed it for a long time. And so for you there exists neither difficulty nor discouragement, nor that uneasiness which precedes inspiration? Wonderful, wonderful!”

The improvisatore replied: “Each talent is inexplicable. How does the sculptor see, in a block of Carrara marble, the hidden Jupiter, and how does he bring it to light with hammer and chisel by chipping off its envelope? Why does the idea issue from the poet’s head already equipped with four rhymes, and arranged in measured and harmonious feet? Nobody, except the improvisatore himself, can understand that rapid impression, that narrow link between inspiration proper and a strange exterior will; I myself would try in vain to explain it. But … I must think of my first evening. What do you think? What price could I charge for the tickets, so that the public may not be too exacting, and so that, at the same time, I may not be out of pocket myself? They say that La Signora Catalani[1] took twenty-five roubles. That is a good price….”

It was very disagreeable to Charsky to fall suddenly from the heights of poesy down to the bookkeeper’s desk, but he understood very well the necessities of this world, and he assisted the Italian in his mercantile calculations. The improvisator, during this part of the business, exhibited such savage greed, such an artless love of gain, that he disgusted Charsky, who hastened to take leave of him, so that he might not lose altogether the feeling of ecstasy awakened within him by the brilliant improvisation. The Italian, absorbed in his calculations, did not observe this change, and he conducted Charsky into the corridor and out to the steps, with profound bows and assurances of eternal gratitude.

[1]A celebrated Italian vocalist, whose singing created an unprecedented sensation in the principal European capitals during the first quarter of the present century.

< < < Chapter I
Chapter III > > >

Russian LiteratureChildren BooksRussian PoetryAlexander Pushkin – The Egyptian Nights – Contents

Copyright holders –  Public Domain Book

If you liked this site, subscribe , put likes, write comments!

Share on social networks

Check out Our Latest Posts

© 2023 Akirill.com – All Rights Reserved

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s