In compliance with our request, Ivan Sergyeevitch Turgenieff has given his consent to our sharing now with the readers of our journal, without delay, those passing comments, thoughts, images which he had noted down, under one impression or another of current existence, during the last five years,—those which belong to him personally, and those which pertain to society in general. They, like many others, have not found a place in those finished productions of the past which have already been presented to the world, and have formed a complete collection in themselves. From among these the author has made fifty selections.
In the letter accompanying the pages which we are now about to print, I. S. Turgenieff says, in conclusion:
“... Let not your reader peruse these ‘Poems in Prose’ at one sitting; he will probably be bored, and the book will fall from his hands. But let him read them separately,—to-day one, to-morrow another,—and then perchance some one of them may leave some trace behind in his soul....”
The pages have no general title; the author has written on their wrapper: “Senilia—An Old Man’s Jottings,”—but we have preferred the words carelessly dropped by the author in the end of his letter to us, quoted above,—“Poems in Prose”—and we print the pages under that general title. In our opinion, it fully expresses the source from which such comments might present themselves to the soul of an author well known for his sensitiveness to the various questions of life, as well as the impression which they may produce on the reader, “leaving behind in his soul” many things. They are, in reality, poems in spite of the fact that they are written in prose. We place them in chronological order, beginning with the year 1878.
October 28, 1882.
The last day of July; for a thousand versts round about lies Russia, the fatherland.
The whole sky is suffused with an even azure; there is only one little cloud in it, which is half floating, half melting. There is no wind, it is warm ... the air is like new milk!
Larks are carolling; large-cropped pigeons are cooing; the swallows dart past in silence; the horses neigh and munch, the dogs do not bark, but stand peaceably wagging their tails.
And there is an odour of smoke abroad, and of grass,—and a tiny whiff of tan,—and another of leather.—The hemp-patches, also, are in their glory, and emit their heavy but agreeable fragrance.
A deep but not long ravine. Along its sides, in several rows, grow bulky-headed willows, stripped bare at the bottom. Through the ravine runs a brook; on its bottom tiny pebbles seem to tremble athwart its pellucid ripples.—Far away, at the spot where the rims of earth and sky come together, is the bluish streak of a large river.