Traveling Domestics: The Penates and the Poet in Pushkin's Lyric Verse

Ingrid Kleespies



Иль жаль мне труда, молчаливого спутника ночи,
   Друга Авроры златой, друга пенатов святых?
—A. S. Pushkin[1]


There are a number of references to the Classical figures of the ancient Roman household gods, the Penates, throughout Pushkin’s poetic oeuvre. Often paired with the Lares, the Penates hold a central place in the Euro­pean literary and cultural tradition as symbols of home, in both its physi­cal and emotional incarnations, and as representatives of homeland. Gods of the domestic hearth and of the state, the Penates of ruined Troy are a critical presence in Virgil’s Aeneid, where they legitimize the formation of the new Roman state. As symbols, the Penates encapsulate a complex meaning that is at once private and communal.

While Classical symbols and allusions necessarily lay at the core of late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century European literature, the image of the Penates occupies a special place in the Russian Classical and Neoclassical contexts, and particularly in Pushkin’s work. Pushkin’s en­gagement with Classicism has been the subject of extensive commentary, but the discrete significance of the Penates in his lyric poetry has been overlooked.[2] Their presence in key instances is linked to important aspects of his lyric persona, and it signifies the importance of writing—or poeti­cizing—as a figurative home ground for the peripatetic poet. Pushkin’s poeticization of domestic yearnings in the 1820s and 30s is well known.[3] That the Penates as metonyms of home would have personal relevance for a poet who at times struggled to find a domestic center for himself and who suffered exile, house arrest, and a difficult marriage seems hardly surprising. The Penates play an idiosyncratic and complex role in Push­kin’s verse, one that engages with notions of domesticity but that is also tied to the acts of poetic labor and creativity. As I will argue, Pushkin’s personalization of the Penates is not without historical precedent, but in his work the symbol acquires new and complex meaning, one that sheds new light on the poet’s relationship to the act of writing.

The Penates appear twelve times in Pushkin's work, including in the text of EugeneOnegin. Many of these references do little more than sup­port the Classical edifice of these poems, but in four separate, yet related places, the image of the Penates proves to be central to the poem in ques­tion and signals a connection between creativity—or the act of creation—and shelter for the poet.[4] The examples to be considered here are the 1815 “The Dreamer” (“Mechtatel´”), “Yet One More High, Solemn Song” (“Eshche odnoi vysokoi vazhnoi pesni”)—Pushkin’s 1829–30 translation of a fragment of the English Lake Poet Robert Southey’s 1797 poem “Hymn to the Penates”—the short 1830 poem “The Work” (“Trud”), and, finally, the use of an image from Southey’s “Hymn to the Penates” in one of the stanzas removed from the fragmentary appendix to Eugene Onegin, “Onegin’s Journey,” composed between 1825 and 1830. The manifestations of the Penates in these instances are quite distinct, ranging from a parodic association with Horatian leisure in “The Dreamer” to a sanctified position in the stoic short poem “The Work.” Yet, despite the differing metric and stylistic contexts, these four instances are linked by a common thematic thread: the Penates are of central importance to the poems and are con­nected to motifs of home, travel, and writing. In these works, the Penates serve a richly layered purpose as audience for the poet and his act of crea­tion, as projection of the poet himself and his work, and as symbol of the “home” the poet finds in writing, or the home that travels with him—ele­ments of a chronotope that I will call the “poet at home.”

What did the Penates represent in Pushkin’s work? What special reso­nance did they have, both as an expression of individual poetic identity and as a reflection of his Russian identity? Before discussing the poems, I will briefly consider some of the complexities of the Penates as a literary symbol.


The Penates and the Ambiguities of Home

The Penates—or “inner ones”—were ancient Roman deities believed to oversee the well-being of the family. The name derives from penus, the pantry or storeroom, and the word was often used metaphorically to rep­resent home.[5] In ancient Rome, the Penates were linked to Vesta, the god­dess of the domestic hearth. Both the Penates and the Lares were also associated with the Roman state (Penates publici), or what might be un­derstood as the public, collective “home” of the members of a particular community, or “homeland.” Importantly, they could represent both the house of a given family or family line and the larger socio-cultural col­lective of a community and even the state itself.[6] Traditionally small figurines or statues, they were placed at the altar or hearth, where they were symbolically provided with a portion of the daily meals. The clay fig­urines were not sacred in and of themselves, but revered in their repre­sentative role.

Typically described as a “symbol of home,” the Penates embody a num­ber of tensions in their metaphorical role. They are a symbol of the perma­nence and fixity of home, of home as a physical, tangible, constant abode, but they are also traveling deities, whose meaning and narrative signifi­cance are inseparable from Aeneas’s flight and his wanderings. This as­pect is central to their symbolic power: they are as much deities of the road, of transience and mobility—of the home transplanted or displaced—as they are deities of permanence and the fixed domestic hearth. As such, they represent an essential tension inherent in the very notion of home it­self: is home defined by fixed physical territory and structures tied to that very territory? Or is it rather defined by a set of relationships, both among individuals and between individuals and physical territories or struc­tures?[7] The latter kind of relationships are transferable. Defined as a set of relationships, the concept of home contains, by definition, the potential for its loss or destruction. The example of the Penates expresses this ten­sion fully: they are what remains of the destroyed or lost home, the kernel or center, the hearth. They are also what allow for the creation of a new home. Beneath the idealized image of home lies the threat of displace­ment—exile, destruction—but also always the potential anxiety of re-placement, or the re-creation of home in new surroundings, the necessity of building a new home.[8] The Penates in their anthropomorphized form, then, suggest the embodiment of home as relational, that is, as defined by the ties between individuals and their surroundings. This relationship is exportable, it is not inseparable from specific space or territory; however, specific relationships or ties to people and/or place are necessary for it to exist.

The Penates are a symbol of memory, both of one’s ancestors and, as in the Aeneid, of a (lost) homeland. As indicators of recollection and loss that stand for an idealized home and a collective homeland, it is hardly surprising that the Penates served as a productive symbol in the Romantic era. Romantic emphasis on the fundamental displacement of the individ­ual, the perceived loss of an original domestic harmony, and a resulting quest for re-placement made the ancient figures an important trope.[9] They were also a popular image in Classical literature of the eighteenth cen­tury, where in the French context they came to be specifically associated with the figure of the poet.[10] French Neoclassical poets such as Jean-Fran­cois Ducis and Jean Louis Baptiste Gresset (the latter an important influ­ence on Pushkin) emphasized an idyllic image of the poetat home in their work.[11] While not always explicitly connected to the figures of the Penates, this topos of the poet at home was nonetheless linked to a love of leisure and humble rural solitude, combined with a professed scorn for high soci­ety. In poems such as Gresset’s well-known 1734 “La Chartreuse” and Ducis’s poetic epistle “A mes Penates,” the poet chooses a simple, solitary lifestyle over the pressures of high society. The verses are more concerned with the Epicurean details of this lifestyle and with the rejection of town life than they are with the task of poetic inspiration or creative endeavor that transpires in poetic solitude. In Ducis’s poem, the poet asks the Pen­ates to keep unpleasant people from entering his home, or to act as the guardians of the poet’s personal refuge. What had traditionally been a familial, even collective, symbol was personalized in treatments such as Ducis’s; the Penates are the protectors of his individual self and of his solitude, not guardians of the poet’s family or the state.[12] The personaliza­tion of these ancient deities exemplified in Gresset’s and Ducis’s work was developed in the Russian context by K. N. Batiushkov in his well-known 1811–12 long poem “My Penates” (“Moi penaty”).[13]

To return to Pushkin, however: the Penates functioned as a highly personal symbol in his verse, as in that of his recent predecessors, but they should also be understood to embody, at least in part, a more existen­tial concern with notions of home and homelessness. For Pushkin the Rus­sian Romantic poet, the Penates carry unique meaning, engaging as they do with notions of both individual home and patrimony or homeland. A perception of national homelessness—or of an uncertain national iden­tity—was writ large for Russian writers and thinkers of the period; sym­bols of home such as the Penates resonated deeply in a context in which the nature of the Russian state was a topic of heated debate, and in which the nation might be understood as lacking definition.[14] In Pushkin’s case, the appearance of the Penates reflects both concerns with individual iden­tity and an engagement with questions of the nature and existence of a Russian national “home” or shared identity for elite Russians, who experi­enced a sense of cultural displacement, or internal diaspora, within their own country.[15]

Pushkin and others of his generation were well schooled in the sym­bolic language of the Classical world and imagery of antiquity necessarily played an important role in Pushkin’s work, as it did for most of his contemporaries.[16] As noted above, he was not the first to make use of the symbol of the Penates in Russian literature. Batiushkov was a signally important model for the young Pushkin, and it was his “hedonistic” and “earthly poetry”—and specifically “My Penates”—that inspired Pushkin in his lycee phase.[17] In fact, this poem is an important source for Pushkin’s early poem “The Dreamer” (1815), in which the image of the Penates first appears in a meaningful way, as I will discuss below.


“The Dreamer” (1815)

The Penates are mentioned in three of Pushkin’s lycee poems from 1815: “To Lycinus” (“Litsiniiu”), “Epistle to Galich” (“Poslanie k Galichu”), and “The Dreamer.” They are hardly of central importance to the first two po­ems, but in “The Dreamer” they serve as a primary focal point of the poetic action. In addition to Batiushkov’s “My Penates,” “The Dreamer” is linked parodically to V. A.Zhukovsky’s “A Poet in a Russian Army Camp” (“Pevets vo stane russkikh voinov”) from 1812 and borrows its form from this poem as well as some specific phrases.[18] It otherwise addresses very different subject matter: where Zhukovsky’s poem takes place in the vast, open, and decidedly undomestic setting of a military encampment and cel­ebrates battlefield glory, Pushkin’s verse is concentrated around the most interior of spaces and times, a humble cottage in a late-night, solitary ru­ral landscape. The broad scope of the evening sky described in the opening lines of Pushkin’s poem is juxtaposed in the second stanza with a detailed, intimate view of a private, “homey” interior that could not be further from a military camp in feel: “And night has clothed with twilight / The peace­ful corner of comfort / In the fireplace burns a small flame” (I mirnyi negi ugolok / Noch´ sumrakom odela, / V kamne gasnet ogonek).[19]

The key image of the second stanza is that of the Penates in the sec­ond four lines:

Стоит богов домашних лик
   В кивоте небогатом,
И бледный теплится ночник

The assembly of domestic gods stands
   In the humble ark,
And the pale nightlight flickers
   Before the clay Penat(es).]

The household gods are initially the only thing that is visible in the room besides the fire and a burned out candle. Their palpable presence suggests that they have an important function, perhaps as the addressees of the poem or as an audience for its as yet unnamed action. The dreamer of the title does not appear until the third stanza, immediately after the Pen­ates. Almost a painting in verse, “The Dreamer” offers the reader/viewer a glimpse into the most private of spaces, in which the poet-dreamer sits at night, alone, in simplicity, and engaged in contemplation:

Главою на руку слонен,
   В забвении глубоком,
Я в сладки думы погружен
   На ложе одиноком;
С волшебной ночи темнотой,

With my head leaning on my hand,
   In deep oblivion,
I am submerged in sweet thoughts,
   On my solitary couch;
With the enchanting darkness of night,
   Under the moon’s radiance…

The poet-dreamer’s “sweet thoughts” (or imaginings) are a stand-in for writing—the poet is engaged in mental work, in creation. The presence of the Penates spells out for the reader that the poet is at home in this place and time of quiet contemplation by the domestic hearth. The space of the poem may be said to be a physical incarnation of the poet’s state of being or state of mind.

While the verses stress the poet’s solitariness, his “at-homeness” is, in fact, a doubly performed action, one that is directed both at the implied reader and towards the audience of domestic gods. The Penates here serve as an essential signifier that the poet is at home, but they are also a phys­ical reminder of the company of others: other poets, other muses, as well as the imagined presence of other readers and listeners. As if to under­score the nature of the Penates as audience, the assembly of domestic gods in their “humble ark” from line 13 is echoed in lines 23–24 by the “playful crowd” of “winged dreams” that fly out from the poet’s imagination: “In a playful crowd fly out / Winged dreams” (Sletaiut rezvoiu tolpoi / Krylatye mechtan´ia).[22] This is echoed again eight lines later in the image of the young dreamer’s “playful hand” “flying” across the strings of a lyre. Like the Penates, the “winged dreams” are linked to the Classical tradition, emphasized by the poet’s strumming of the lyre and later address to his muse in the seventh stanza: “And the faithful muse is with me: / Praise to you, goddess! / My little home is beautified by you…” (I muza vernaia so mnoi: / Khvala tebe, boginia! / Toboiu krasen domik moi…).[23] More importantly, these images suggest something essential about the nature of poetic imagination itself: it works most fully “at home” in privacy and away from the world, yet it remains in dialogue with that world. In the ninth stanza, the poet proclaims that his heart is inclined towards quiet peace, yet, in explicitly rejecting fame and glory, calls their distant pres­ence to mind. Poetry is addressed to literary ancestors, peers, and future readers; it is, essentially, communication between the most interior, pri­vate part of the self and the outside world. “The Dreamer” makes the voy­euristic quality of poetry explicit by enacting in visual terms—the seated poet by the hearth, the lyre, the Penates—the process of the poet’s expo­sure of his inner self to the eyes of others. The reader sees closely into the action of creation in this poem; we also see that “the crowd,” or audience, is present with the poet even at his most private moment. In imaginary conversation with the world, yet physically removed from it: this is the most home-like space for the poet in “The Dreamer.”

“The Dreamer” is conceived in intensely personal terms—the poet has his own domestic gods that serve as signifiers of his personal domesticity. They represent a legacy of poetic forebears rather than actual ancestral ties, and they suggest that the state of “at home” for a poet is to be lost in solitary thought, not enmeshed in a family or community. As noted pre­viously, such personalization of the Penates derived from French Neoclas­sical poetry and figured in Batiushkov’s influential “My Penates.” Tradi­tionally, Pushkin’s 1815 poem “The Small Town” (“Gorodok”) has been considered in connection with “My Penates,” not “The Dreamer.”[24] I would argue, however, that Batiushkov’s poem is of critical, if less-dicussed, im­portance to “The Dreamer” as well, for the image of the domestic gods that it presents. In “My Penates,” a poet describes enjoying solitary flights of fancy in a humble, yet idyllic, rural setting. Batiushkov’s poet is not “at home” in any familial or national sense, but rather lives alone in bucolic simplicity, visited only by the imaginary female character Lilith and by his real companions Viazemsky and Zhukovsky, who are themselves poets. In the opening stanza, Batiushkov describes the placement of the Penates in the corners of his hut at the housewarming, a gesture that signifies that the house is not simply a home, but, recalling Gresset and Ducis, a space of refuge and retreat specifically for a poet. “My Penates” describes the poet enjoying flights of fancy and conversations with friends in an Epi­curean vein; in other words, it describes the poet at rest. Unlike “The Dreamer,” there is no depiction of the poet engaged in the work of poeti­cizing—that is, engaged in thought and seeking inspiration. In “The Dreamer,” by contrast, the poet’s home becomes a place of active contem­plation, of poetic labor, not respite from this process.

In “The Dreamer,” Pushkin elaborates on the symbol of the Penates as part of the poet’s personal aura in a new way. Where they are mentioned cursorily at the beginning of Batiushkov’s “My Penates” in order to signal the speaker’s participation in a certain poetic genre, in “The Dreamer” the domestic gods lie at the center of the poem, literally and figuratively. They are located prominently in the second of ten stanzas, and they are de­scribed as being placed near the hearth, a symbol of creation in its own right, and the visual center of the poem.[25] They are palpably present at the poet’s most poetic moment: alone and engaged in creation. Thus “The Dreamer” establishes an important chronotope in which the lyric persona is “at home” when engaged in creative reflection.[26] This state of being is envisioned in spatial and temporal terms as a scene of late-night contem­plation by the fire in a humble domestic setting. The connection made here between domestic harmony and creation will prove to be an impor­tant one in some of Pushkin’s later work, as discussed in the next sections.

Appropriating the Southeyan Ideal of Poetic Homecoming

The Penates are mentioned in seven of Pushkin’s poems between 1815 and 1824 (and five times between 1815 and 1817 alone), but they disappear from his work in the 1820s in tandem with his move away from Classi­cism. They make an important return, however, in 1829–30, around the time of the completion of Eugene Onegin, the subject of discussion below.[27] The first instance of this is their appearance in Pushkin’s 37-line Russian translation of the first 32 lines of Robert Southey’s 293-line poem “Hymn to the Penates” (1797).[28] The status of the completeness of Pushkin’s translation is a matter of debate.[29] This poem, and Pushkin’s interest in Southey more generally, have received comparatively little attention, overshadowed as they are by the poet’s more extensively-researched debt to Byron.[30] Yet Southey is an important source for Pushkin, as the unpub­lished translation and reference to Southey’s poem in the unpublished fragments of “Onegin’s Journey” show. Southey makes an intriguing coun­terpart to Pushkin: he was poet laureate in England for thirty years (1813–43), a role that Pushkin, despite his talent and national impor­tance, was never to occupy in any official way. Southey’s verse, to a greater extent than Byron’s, was concerned with the poet’s place in the English world and with a desire for harmonious integration with this world—he was a national poet, a role that would fall to Pushkin as well, but without official sanction.[31]

While Pushkin’s translation of the first part of Southey’s “Hymn” has been viewed as unfinished, I would argue that Pushkin’s thirty-seven lines function remarkably successfully as a complete poem in and of them­selves, and particularly as one that specifically highlights the figures of the Penates, the supposed addressees of the verses. Taken on its own, Pushkin’s fragment emphasizes a connection between poet, creation, and domestic gods in a more marked way than Southey’s original. Southey’s poem invokes the Penates initially, but goes on to provide an autobio­graphical account of the poet’s coming of age and subsequent wanderings about the world and is accompanied by moralizations about the vices of spiritual homelessness and a prophecy of urban apocalypse. While Push­kin’s translation has been closely compared with Southey’s original in technical terms, I wish here to read Pushkin’s variant as an intriguing poem in its own right and as one that presents an important articulation of the role of the Penates in his creative lexicon. The imagery in Pushkin’s version follows Southey’s closely, yet the fact of the translation, to some degree, allows Pushkin to appropriate this imagery as his own. Indeed, key imagery is even strengthened in Pushkin’s version.

Like Southey’s “Hymn,” Pushkin’s translation, entitled “Yet One More High and Solemn Song,” is addressed initially to Phoebus Apollo, god of music and the arts. The singer asserts that this hymn is to be his last, to be sung before retiring his lyre in a ruined temple of Apollo:

Ещеодной, высокой, важнойпесни   
Внемли, оФеб, исмолкнувшуюлиру
Повешуя, даиздаетона,

Yet one Song more! one high and solemn strain
Ere PAEAN! on thy temple's ruined wall
I hang the silent harp: there may its strings,
When the rude tempest shakes the aged pile,
Make melancholy music.[33]

In the context of Southey’s poem, the poet intends to retire his lyre be­cause he has completed a long-desired homecoming. He no longer needs or desires to create poetry because he has entered into a harmonious state with his surroundings that abolishes the need to poeticize: poetry had served to bridge the gap that once existed between himself and the surrounding world.[34] Pushkin’s translation recreates this paradigm for the end of poetic labor.

Like Southey, Pushkin turns to the Penates in line 7 in order to sing them the “promised hymn” of homecoming. Traditionally minor figures in the Roman pantheon, the Penates in Southey’s text are elevated to a very high status: they are the addressees of the poet’s final act of creation and they are also named Zeus’s advisors and the supreme deities of the universe:

[…] СоветникиЗевеса,
Иль, божествавсевышние, всему
И мудрая богиня, дева силы,
АфинскаяПаллада […][35]

Whether, as sages deem,
Ye dwell in the inmost heaven, the COUNSELLORS
All things are yours, and in your holy train,
JOVE proudly ranks, and JUNO, white-arm’d Queen
And wisest of Immortals, aweful Maid

In Southey’s verse, the Penates are located at the very center of the uni­verse, a position which elevates the hearth and home to an extremely im­portant position. A close look at Pushkin’s translation of this idea reveals, however, that the Russian poet has intensified the role of the Penates even over Southey’s vision. Where Southey’s speaker asks whether the Penates “dwell in the inmost Heaven, as sages deem” or if “all things” are theirs, Pushkin suggests that wise men consider the Penates to be “the reason for everything.” This change is hardly an accident or mistransla­tion; rather, it is a reinterpretation in which the Penates do not simply possess “all things” or reside at the center of things, but rather are the source or cause of “all things,” a definition in which they are identified as supreme creative powers. Home in this context is not simply a space of individual shelter or comfort, but is instead linked to the core of the uni­verse and to the act of divine creation itself. The tension between the Penates’ essential innerness or interiority and their exterior presence in all things in the verses above is reminiscent of the private/public tension of poetic creation present in “The Dreamer,” wherein the poet is physically alone, yet engaged in mental colloquy with his imagined poetic forebears and readers.

Both Pushkin’s and Southey’s poems develop the idea that the home is an extension or symbolic representation of the poetic self. “Home,” here represented by the Penates, is not a specific place, but rather, is wherever the poet’s soul finds peace:

Моя душа— . . . зане там мир.
Так, я любил вас долго! Васзову
В свидетели, с каким святым вольненьем
Оставиля . . . . . . людскоеплемя,

In many a long and melancholy hour
Of solitude and sorrow, has my heart
With earnest longings prayed to rest at length
Beside your hallowed hearth—for PEACE is there!
Yes I have loved you long. I call on you
Yourselves to witness with what holy joy,
Shunning the polished mob of human kind,
I have retired to watch your lonely fires
And commune with myself.[38]

As before, the poet’s home is an individual place; it is the space that is free of the “human tribe.” Yet it is hardly solitary or empty, for it is also the place where the poet encounters his most important audience: the Pen­ates, or gods of creation, and a metonym for the poet’s readership. Push­kin, following Southey, describes his primary activity when at home by the fire as “communing with himself,” suggesting that such engagement with his own interior consciousness is only possible in this setting. The Pen­ates, then, play an important role as observers: not only do they “see” the poet’s devotion to them, but they also see him in his most private moment as a poet, engaged in deep thought. Their presence bears witness to the existence of this process and signals that the poet has attained the state of peaceful solitude necessary for this process to occur.

In “Yet One More High and Solemn Song,” the Penates are an impor­tant part of the poet’s conversation with himself, a conversation that might perhaps best be understood as an address to the absent world. Pushkin’s poem or “hymn” to the Penates, then, is addressed to the idea of home, but to the home that is an extension of the poet himself, or that is the innermost psychological place where creativity dwells, not an actual structure or place. When understood in this way—the poet can only create when “at home” with himself, and the poet is only “at home” with himself when creating—then Pushkin’s and Southey’s use of domestic imagery as a metaphor for poetic endeavors is not surprising. The house or hearth is but a physical manifestation of interiority, or of the poet’s inner conscious­ness at work.

“Yet One More High and Solemn Song” is an intriguing poem in that it operates on both a figurative and biographical level for Pushkin in a way that it does not for Southey. The lyric hero of Pushkin’s fragment de­scribes, like Southey, a long exile from his domestic hearth: “Long was I, an exile, far / From your sacrifices and quiet libations” (dolgo byl izgnan´­em udalen / ot vashikh zhertv i tikhikh vozliianii).[39] Exile, however, was a metaphor for Southey, who was never forced to leave his home or coun­try.[40] It was a deeply important fact of Pushkin’s life: though in softened terms, he was exiled to the South of Russia in 1820, and he remained there until 1824, at which point he was sent to his family estate, Mikhai­lovskoe, where he was further confined until 1826. The latter was argu­ably a greater punishment than the relatively enjoyable time spent in the South; both banishments, however, represented a loss of freedom of move­ment. Motifs of displacement, exile, and even homelessness were part and parcel of the pervasive Romantic Weltanschauung of Pushkin’s day, but these very themes were also real aspects of Pushkin’s lived experience, a combination that makes the appearance of the Penates in “Yet One More High and Solemn Song” all the more meaningful. Given Pushkin’s itiner­ancy over the course of his adult life, it is possible to understand the acts of writing and creation as constants for the poet, or as a psychological domestic center. This is true to a greater extent even than for Southey. There is an irony to the fact that Pushkin could not discover or return to any other home but writing, as will be discussed further on.

In contrast to Southey’s long poem, Pushkin’s short translation ends with a decisive statement of the poet’s unending devotion to the domestic gods: “O no, I never / Ceased reverently praying for you, / Domestic gods” (O net, vovek / Ne prestaval molit´ blagogoveino / Vas, bozhestva domash­nie).[41] The final words of Pushkin’s variant re-emphasize the fundamental importance of these deities, both as the addressees of the poem and as the so-named creators of all things, or the center of the universe. This is in obvious contrast to Southey’s original line, which continues past the poet’s declaration of undying devotion to the Penates and into a new theme, that of the poet’s recollection of his childhood years: “Nor have I ever ceas’d to reverence you / DOMESTIC DEITIES! from the first dawn / Of reason, thro’ the adventurous paths of youth…”[42] Pushkin’s Russian phrasing “O net, vovek / Ne prestaval” is likewise more pronounced than Southey’s original “Nor have I ever.” This decisive phrasing, along with Pushkin’s reduction of four stanzas to one, suggest that he did not intend to continue with the translation, but rather viewed his thirty-seven lines as a com­plete poem, one which not only encapsulated the primary ideas of South­ey’s longer poem, but intensified them. In Pushkin’s verse, the Penates are rendered supreme creative deities, the poet’s hearth is linked to the center of all things, and the Penates are worshipped by a poet who has suffered real exile, as well as personal domestic difficulties, as would have been well known to his contemporaries.[43]

As mentioned earlier, Southey’s original poem makes the important claim that (re)union between the poet and the Penates marks the end of the poet as such. He will retire his lyre now that he has reached home be­cause the reason for writing no longer exists—home is the place where one no longer needs to write in order to fill in the distance between an estranged or alienated poetic self and a domestic center. Conceived in this way, writing constitutes a temporary, traveling shelter for the spiritually homeless poet, but it is one that must be abandoned when this metaphysi­cal travel has ceased. At its core, this idea is Romantic: writing is both a means of expressing homelessness and of assuaging it. This tension lies at the center of Pushkin’s “Yet One More High and Solemn Song,” and it will further prove to be resonant to Eugene Onegin, and in particular to the ap­pendix, “Onegin’s Journey,” as will be seen in the concluding section of this article. Before turning to Pushkin’s novel-in-verse, however, I will briefly consider one additional poem, closely connected to Onegin, the 1830 poem “The Work” (“Trud”).


“The Work” (“Trud”)

Миг вожделенный настал: окончен мой труд многолетний.
     Что ж непонятная грусть тайно тревожит меня?
Или, свой подвиг свершив, я стою, как поденщик ненужный,
     Плату приявший свою, чуждый работе другой?
Иль жаль мне труда, молчаливого спутника ночи,
     Друга Авроры златой, друга пенатов святых?[44]

Come is the moment I craved: my work of long years is completed.
     Why then this strange sense of woe secretly harrowing me?
Having my high task performed, do I stand as a useless day laborer
     Stands, with his wages received, foreign to all other toil?
Or am I sorry to part with my work, night’s silent companion,
     Golden Aurora’s friend, friend of the Household gods?[45]

The appearance of the Penates at the end of the short 1830 poem “The Work” significantly recalls their earlier appearance in “The Dreamer” and “Yet One More High and Solemn Song.” In “The Work,” written in refer­ence to Pushkin’s completion of Eugene Onegin, the Penates are linked explicitly to the activity of writing and to the idealized state of late-night solitary creation similar to the one portrayed in “The Dreamer.” Although a short poem, it is perhaps in “The Work” that the connection between writing, creation, and home is most powerfully developed in Pushkin’s oeuvre.[46] The six-line poem, an epitaph to the poet’s long labor on Onegin, expresses his inexplicable sadness at completing the novel-in-verse. The sense of loss described here is a conscious echo of the melancholy that the historian Gibbons described in his memoirs on completing his epic history of Rome in 1788. The Classical meter of “The Work” is a tribute to Gibbon and the theme of antiquity, and it emphasizes the importance of the occa­sion of finishing Onegin;[47] the poem was also partly inspired by Pushkin’s recent reading of Gnedich’s translation of the Iliad.[48]The presence of the Classical legacy in “The Work” suggests the literary historical weight with which Pushkin imbued Eugene Onegin.

The poem can be read independently of the context of Onegin, how­ever, and when read in this way, it expresses in more general terms a cre­ator’s grief for his completed creation. Not only does completion here leave the artist unsuited to any other task, but he must mourn the work itself, or the absence left behind in the artist’s interior world now that the crea­tion has entered the world at large. The work is anthropomorphized in the poem: it is the “silent companion” of the night, as well as the “friend” of Golden Aurora and the Penates. The text is thus both a part of the poet—he has made it—and independent of him, an entity of its own, or an ava­tar. In this, it is very much like the Penates themselves, who have func­tioned elsewhere in Pushkin’s verse as figurative extensions of the poet and as external witnesses to the poet’s act of creation. The fact that the work is alive at night particularly emphasizes or recalls a special poetic or creative temporality of solitary nocturnal wakefulness, far from the exter­nal engagement with the world that daytime requires. It is not difficult to see “The Dreamer” echoed in these lines, where interiority, separation from the world, and creative labor are similarly associated with a late-night scene. The image of the poet scribbling into the wee hours of the night verges on the cliché, but the inclusion of the domestic gods in “The Work” is hardly conventional, and the imprint of the idiosyncratic iconog­raphy created in “The Dreamer” and “Yet One More High and Solemn Song” is felt in this poem. In all three poems the Penates form part of a symbolic triumvirate: the figure of the poet, the act of creation, and the presence of domestic gods. This chronotope of the poet at home posits a harmonious, solitary domestic space that allows for or fosters the poet’s innermost creativity. At the same time it suggests that it is the work itself—the act of working creatively—that provides the ultimate form of domestic harmony for the poet. He is at home in the act of writing, shel­tered by it; without it he is like an “unnecessary day laborer,” bereft of his raison d’être and, in essence, homeless.

As with “The Dreamer,” however, it is clear in “The Work” that the poet in part writes for the audience of the domestic gods, and that they are the implicit witnesses, even addressees, of the unnamed act of creation. As befits the more serious tone of the poem, the Penates are given the appel­lation “holy” (as opposed to “clay” in “The Dreamer”), a move which recalls their elevated status in “Yet One More High and Solemn Song,” where they play a critical role in the act of poetic creation. The Penates’ function in “The Work” is multi-layered: they represent, on the one hand, the poet himself. They share his home and they are the literal embodiment of his being at home, wherever that may be. Yet, at the same time, the Penates embody the poet’s audience and the “crowd” more generally, whether divine or mortal. Finally, the Penates are also an important marker of lit­erary tradition—they recall Classical and Neoclassical contexts, and speci­fically Virgil’s epic poem of the founding of the Roman state. The Aeneid—like Eugene Onegin—is, in essence, a national epic, and as such it speaks to the literary-artistic underpinnings of nation and empire, just as Onegin does. The echo of the Aeneid arguably plays an implicit role in “The Work;” it is not mentioned, yet serves as an illustrative literary example. Pushkin placed great value on Onegin, and, indeed, the poem did prove to be a foundational text in the development of a Russian national literature in the nineteenth century: Onegin is the artistic forebear to a long line of Russian novels. In this sense, it is itself an origin or “home” text, a source of Russian creativity—one might even call it a literary Penates in that its presence as national epic marks a “home” point in Russian culture. Ironi­cally, Eugene Onegin is very much a text about the impossibility of home­coming for both its Russian protagonist and narrator, as I will discuss below.


“Onegin’s Journey”—The Poet’s Homecoming Removed

While it is possible to read “The Work” on its own, the poem is hardly sep­arable from Onegin in the Russian context, the more so as issues of home and homecoming greatly occupied Pushkin while writing Eugene Onegin. These themes are central to the novel-in-verse and are particularly impor­tant, though less noted, in the incomplete appendix, “Fragments of Oneg­in’s Journey.” This piece, written between 1825 and 1830, describes Oneg­in’s travels around Russia after his duel with Lensky and before his return to Petersburg at the end of the poem. It was initially meant to be a chapter in the novel, but Pushkin removed it in 1830. He wrote thirty-four stanzas, none of which appeared with the first edition of Onegin in 1832. In the 1833 and 1837 editions, however, “Onegin’s Journey” appeared in a reduced form of eighteen full stanzas and three partial stanzas as an appendix to the poem titled “Fragments of Onegin’s Journey” (“Otryvki puteshestviia Onegina”).[49] Like much of the rest of Eugene Onegin, the fragments are often ironic or playful in tone. What is of interest here, how­ever, are some of the stanzas which were removed from the original “Jour­ney” and not included in the Appendix: these include portions of Onegin’s travels around the Russian Empire, depiction of a meeting between the poetic narrator “Pushkin” and Onegin in Odessa, and the return of the poet-narrator “Pushkin” to his estate in Mikhailovskoe at the end of the verses. Although they were not published, these verses have left their traces on the completed poem.[50]

Creative tension surrounds the text of Onegin (and the fragments of “Onegin’s Journey”) as both a surrogate home for Pushkin the poet and as a means by which the author could travel mentally, despite being denied actual freedom of movement. There is no little irony in the fact that the writing of Eugene Onegin, at least in part a narrative of Onegin’s home­lessness-at-home, was written partially during Pushkin’s own exile and semi-exile. The text is a palimpsest of Pushkin’s thought and experience over the eightyears in which he wrote it and thus serves a memorializing purpose.[51] Writing the poem also plays a complex role as both a form of travel and a form of shelter. It was conceived of by the poet as a journey, perhaps parallel to his own travels.[52] As “The Work” suggests, however, the task of writing Eugene Onegin also offered something of a shelter or home for Pushkin over several years, providing him with the “home” space of writing. This tension is played out in what was, before its removal from the published “Fragments,” the last (twenty-fourth) verse of “Onegin’s Journey,” and thus, at one point, potentially the last verse of Onegin it­self.[53] This verse concludes with an image of the poet-narrator hanging his “reed pipe” on a fir tree in the Trigorsky woods on his ancestral estate of Mikhailovskoe, where the real Pushkin was based between 1824 and 1826:

Но там и я свой след оставил,
Там, ветру в дар, на темну ель
But there even Ileft my trace,
There as a gift to the wind, on the dark fir tree
I hung my sounding reed pipe.

The act of hanging the pipe or lyre in the landscape for the wind to play—an Aeolian harp—signifies the completion of the poet’s task of writ­ing the poem. It also strongly recalls the opening lines of Southey’s “Hymn to the Penates” and Pushkin’s “Yet One More High and Solemn Song,” where the poet proclaims that he will hang his harp on the wall of Apollo’s ruined temple once his final poem is completed. Not coincidentally, Push­kin decided to remove “Onegin’s Journey” from the main body of Onegin in 1830, at the same time that he was working on the translation of South­ey’s poem.[55] As discussed previously, in “Yet One More High and Solemn Song” the poet’s homecoming is defined as a “renunciation of the muse,” or as the cessation of poetic creation. Its occurrence signifies the end of the poet’s alienation from the world and ability to be integrated with the domestic sphere: the poet no longer needs to write verse in order to fill in the absence of home suffered by the man of the world. Importantly, how­ever, in “Yet One More High and Solemn Song” the poet only anticipates surrendering his harp—he has not yet reached home and can only imagine that he will cease his poeticizing when he does complete this final poem. In the excised stanza of “Onegin’s Journey,” however, the act of renuncia­tion has been completed: “Pushkin,” the author-narrator of Onegin, has reached the endpoint of his travels, both actual and literary. He has re­turned to the family estate of Mikhailovskoe, he has completed his pre­sumably final poem, and he has hung his lyre on the fir tree.[56] In the terms established in Southey’s poem, the completion of Onegin means that the poet is now “freed” from the burden of lyricizing—that is, from giving voice to his alienation—in what would seem to be a true spiritual closure, even while the passage is narrated in a potentially ironic manner.

Such closure proves to be elusive in the published poem, however: the image of the poet’s return was excluded from the published “Fragments of Onegin’s Journey” and, as a result, the relationship between writing/ poetry and home proves to be less resolved in Onegin than it might have been. The published “Fragments” end with the narrator’s famous line “As I said, I lived then in Odessa,” a seemingly incomplete thought or memory of his time in exile.[57] Thus they conclude uncertainly, with Onegin still on the road and “Pushkin” himself forever frozen in the act of recollecting exile in the South. The careful reader of both the “Fragments” and the ex­cised stanzas of “Onegin’s Journey” is presented with a homecoming re­moved, an editorial act which suggests the deliberate denial of closure to reader and narrator. Further, Southey’s formula of poetic completion is patently upended. On completing his great poem, the poet is not restored to harmony by his domestic hearth, no longer in need of the substitute shelter of writing, but instead is left to recollect exile from some later, un­specified vantage point.[58] In the published “Fragments,” neither “Pushkin” nor Onegin return home in the spiritual sense implied in Southey’s poem. “Pushkin,” in fact, chooses exile—or the state of remembering exile—as his permanent psychological locus at the end of the verses, verses which were themselves “exiled” to an appendix and not clearly integrated into the poem. Left suspended “on the road” in the “Fragments,” Onegin returns to Petersburg in the main body of the novel, but he fails to make the ex­pected reunion with Tatiana there. Despite her love for him, she is now married and no longer free. Onegin remains as excluded from any domes­tic circle at the end of the novel-in-verse as he was at its beginning, and his future situation is decidedly uncertain.

Scholars have noted that there is a greater intensity of the “blurring of boundaries” between the characters of Onegin and “Pushkin” in “Onegin’s Journey” than there is in the body of the poem.[59] This unusual fusion of author-narrator and protagonist makes for a striking juxtaposition of these characters’ fates: “Pushkin’s” exile to the South proves to be a res­pite from scrutiny by the authorities in Petersburg and an enjoyable pun­ishment; Onegin’s travels are a form of self-imposed exile, seemingly undertaken in an attempt to expiate his crime. “Pushkin” the poet finds a home in exile while Onegin does not find a place anywhere, despite follow­ing closely in his friend/creator’s footsteps and even meeting his maker.[60] The characters’ fates are different: in the original version of “Onegin’s Journey,” “Pushkin” returns home; in the published “Fragments” he finds a home in exile. Onegin, in contrast, remains a displaced wanderer in both versions—self-imposed exile does not offer a harmonious escape from his inner troubles.[61] Perhaps if Onegin found poeticizing, he could find the shelter that “Pushkin” does.

It should be noted that Onegin’s existential homelessness is fated early on in the body of the poem, when he rejects the as-yet unmarried Tatiana Larina. Her family name derives from the name of the Lares, the other Roman household gods, often linked to the Penates or serving as alternates for them. In offering Onegin her love, Tatiana appears also to offer him what her name implies: a real home and family that is bound to a traditional way of life on a native Russian provincial estate. This is a life connected to generations and natural cycles. That this familial, native world is lost—along with her family name—to the married Tatiana herself at the end is yet a further irony of the poem.

It is tempting to read larger meaning into the distortion of the South­eyan ideal of poetic closure in the removal of “Pushkin’s” homecoming from “Onegin’s Journey”: Pushkin the author initially created an ending to Onegin in which domestic harmony was restored to the figure of the poet, if not to the protagonist. This return came at the cost of retirement from the career of poetry. This ending was then rejected (although the informed reader recalls its existence), perhaps because the price of retirement was too steep, or perhaps because it was simply not possible in Nicholaevan Russia to imagine a poet of Pushkin’s stature attaining the state of spiri­tual closure and domestic harmony that this ending implied. This was es­pecially the case as Pushkin’s return to the family estate was not volun­tary, but the result of yet another enforced removal imposed on the poet by the authorities. Instead, as is evident from “The Work,” it is not respite from creation, but poetry itself that offers Pushkin’s Russian poet a habitus, a dwelling place in which he can most fully realize himself, even while recognizing his continued disharmony with the surrounding world.

I would briefly note that the longed for, harmonious domesticity envi­sioned in Southey’s “Hymn to the Penates” is offset in the remainder of the English original by a melancholy tone and images of apocalyptic forebod­ing. Southey’s poet hangs his harp in the ruins of a temple to Apollo and the poem’s final stanzas prophesize the destruction of the urban world: “then shall the city stand / A huge void sepulchre…” A vision of urban apocalypse does not play a part in Eugene Onegin or the other Pushkin poems discussed here, yet the image of a poet’s abandoned instrument—one on Apollo’s ruined temple, one on the tree branch in the Trigorsky woods—links the two spaces of the poems, even if obliquely. The ruined city in Southey’s “Hymn” has an eastern flavor; the English poet’s interest in ruins was inspired by Volney’s Ruins of Empires.[62] The scene of failed empire sets the stage for the ultimate victory of the private sphere of po­etic retreat over the public historical stage in Southey’s text. Notably, just such a theme was of increasing interest for Pushkin in the 1830s, for whom public life proved difficult, as it did for many of his contemporaries. In Russia at this time, playing a public role was problematic in political terms for the liberal elite who were opposed to Nicholas’s autocratic rule. Moreover, the private, domestic sphere was underdeveloped as a setting for personal development in the Russian context, which left the liberal elite without a sphere in which to fully develop their talents. It was not possible for an aristocratic poet like Pushkin to relocate to a private realm of family and friends in which freedom of expression was legally fostered, nor could he fully detach himself from the urban centers of Moscow, Pet­ersburg, and the imperial court in the way that Lake Poets like Southey or Wordsworth might permanently remove themselves from London political life. Southey’s Penates are both personal and historical, and he refers to them, not in ironic terms, but as symbols of genuine harmony between the self and its personal and communal surroundings. To some degree, it is precisely the dilemma of the missing or inadequately developed Russian domestic sphere where the individual citizen-subject might be integrated into home and homeland, that “Onegin’s Journey,” with its fragmented structure and excised stanzas, homecomings denied and removed, speaks to so powerfully.




As discussion of “The Dreamer,” “Yet One More High and Solemn Song,” “The Work,” and “Onegin’s Journey” has shown, there are thematic link­ages between these seemingly disparate works. In these instances, the im­age of the Roman household gods serves as a crucial component of the chronotope of the poet-at-home, in solitude, in harmony with himself, en­gaged in reflection and inspiration, removed from the world and yet in dialogue with it. For the poet both exiled from home and then imprisoned in it, and who suffered a turbulent home life, as well as tense relations with the authorities throughout his career, it would prove difficult to imagine an easy connection to the Penates of the family or the state. In­stead, the poet finds a home in poeticizing itself, in the act of creation and in communing with himself. The poet’s own Penates reside in the “domes­tic” act of writing himself into verse. Much like the portable deities them­selves, the act of writing provides a movable shelter.


University of Florida



Kleespies, Ingrid. "Traveling Domestics: The Penates and the Poet in Pushkin's Lyric Verse." Pushkin Review 15 (2012): 27-51.

[1] “Or am I sorry to part with my work, night’s silent companion, / Golden Aurora’s friend, friend of the / Household gods?” A. S. Pushkin, Polnoe sobranie sochinenii v desiati tomakh [PSS], 3rd ed. (Moscow: Akademiia nauk, 1962–65), 3: 184, trans­lated by Vladimir Nabokov in A. S. Pushkin, Eugene Onegin, rev. ed. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1975), 3: 384.

[2] A significant amount of scholarship has been devoted to Pushkin’s engagement with Classicism and with French literature more generally. Scholars who have worked on this topic include Iu. N. Tynianov, Pushkin i ego sovremenniki (Moscow: Nauka, 1969); V. V. Vinogradov,Iazyk Pushkina: Pushkin i istoriia russkogo lit­eraturnogo iazyka (Moscow-Leningrad: Academia, 1935); V. M. Zhirmunskii, Teor­iia literatury. Poetika. Stilistika (Leningrad: Nauka, 1977); B. V. Tomashevskii, Pushkin i Frantsiia (Leningrad: Sovetskii pisatel´, 1960);G. A. Gukovskii, Push­kin i russkie romantiki (Moscow: Khudozhestvennaia literatura, 1965); Harold Segel,“Classicism and Classical Antiquity in Eighteenth- and Early Nineteenth-Century Russian Literature,” in The Eighteenth Century in Russia, ed. J. G. Gar­rard (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1973), 48–71; B. M. Gasparov,Poeticheskii iazyk Pushkina kak fakt istorii russkogo literaturnogo iazyka (St. Petersburg: Akademi­cheskii proekt, 1999); Oleg Proskurin,“Predshestvenniki Pushkina v XVIII i XIX vv. (Derzhavin, Zhukovskii, Batiushkov),” in The Pushkin Handbook, ed. David M. Bethea (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press,2005), 475–93; Oleg Proskurin, Poeziia Pushkina, ili podvizhnyi palimpsest (Moscow: NLO, 1999); V. E. Vatsuro, “Pushkin i literaturnoe dvizhenie ego vremeni,” in The Pushkin Handbook, 494–536; and L. I. Vol´pert, “Pushkin i Frantsuzskaia literatura,” in The Pushkin Handbook, 458–74. Recent scholarship includes work by Andrew Kahn, Pushkin’s Lyric Intelligence (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008); and Willem Weststeijn, “Pushkin Between Classicism, Romanticism, and Realism,” in Two Hundred Years of Pushkin, ed. Robert Reid and Joe Andrew (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2004), 3: 47–56.

[3] Pushkin’s lyric interest in the theme of domestic harmony (or disharmony) in the 1820s and beyond is a commonplace of Pushkin studies. For discussion of the theme in his work, see Joost van Baak, The House in Russian Literature: A Mytho­poetic Exploration (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2009); Iu. M. Lotman, Pushkin: Biografiia pisatelia. Stat´i i zametki, 1960–1990. “Evgenii Onegin.” Kommentarii (St. Peters­burg: Iskusstvo-SPB, 1995); S. Veksler, “Sauti, sobesednik Pushkina,” in Pushkin­skii iubileinyi, ed. S. Schwartsband (Jerusalem: Praedicta Ltd., 1999), 129–34. In his comprehensive recent study, van Baak notes that it is in Pushkin’s work that the house (home) becomes “the focus of national and historical life as well as that of the individual” (101).

[4] See, for example, “The Spirit of Fonvizin” (1815), where the Penates serve a deco­rative function, bolstering the Neoclassical feel of the poem. The young Pushkin engaged in extensive Classical allusion, imitation, and parody. These devices were a means of mastering technique and of putting himself on par with his poetic fore­fathers (Kahn, Lyric Intelligence, 13). In making my argument, I draw on Kahn’s recent discussion of the way in which abstract concepts are developed in non-referential language in Pushkin’s lyric verse (7). In the four instances I will dis­cuss, the Penates play a more important role than simply that of Classical prop; rather, they form a key component of an important chronotope that yields insights into poetic conceptions of shelter and creativity.

[5] Thomas Bulfinch, Bulfinch’s Mythology (New York: The Modern Library, 1998), 15. See also E. T. Merrill, ed., Catullus (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1893), 31, poem=31&highlightpenates (accessed 5 June 2012).

[6] P. G. W. Glare, ed., Oxford Latin Dictionary (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1976), 5: 1321–22.

[7] Van Baak defines home as a territory or space in which “mankind settles down and tries to achieve a harmony between nature and himself, implying the absence of any insoluble conflict between culture and nature” (House, 30). Similarly, Amy Singleton Adams, in her study No Place like Home: The Literary Artist and Rus­sia’s Search for Cultural Identity (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1997), explains (citing Dovey) that home, as opposed to the “measurable space” of the house, is “an emotionally based and meaningful relationship between dwellers and their dwelling places” (1).

[8] Both house and home are ambiguous spaces: they represent shelter but also danger (from within) and fragility in that they can be destroyed from without by violence or natural disaster. Van Baak notes that both aspects of house and home play a role in Pushkin’s work (House, 60–61).

[9] Southey’s 1797 “Hymn to the Penates” attests to this. In his classic study Natural Supernaturalism: Tradition and Revolution in Romantic Literature (New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1971), M. H. Abrams comments on the Romantic con­ception of life as a quest or journey to return to or restore home and to reintegrate the self with nature (146–95). The Penates as references to Aeneas’s wandering in search of a new home for himself and for his people resonated strongly in this context.

[10] See, for example, Jean-François Ducis’s “A mes penates,” in Oeuvres de J. F. Ducis, vol. 4 (Paris: Ladvocat, 1827), 271–73; and François-Joachim de Pierres Bernis’s less well-known “Epitre à mes Dieux penates” (Amsterdam, 1736), (accessed 1 August 2011).

[11] Gresset in particular was well-known in late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century Russia, and Pushkin was very familiar with his work (Tomashevskii, Frantsiia, 144–45). For further discussion of Pushkin’s knowledge of Gresset, see Johannes Holthusen, “Pushkin und Gresset,” Die Welt der Slaven 11 (1966): 17–31.

[12] As Proskurin notes in his discussion of Pushkin’s lyric verse, poets such as Batiushkov and Pushkin did not so much translate the world of the ancients as personalize it or adapt it to their lyric heroes (Poeziia Pushkina, 84–85, 392).

[13] See E. V. Bogdanovich, “Druzheskoe poslanie 1810-x godov: Obraztsy i istoch­niki,” Vestnik Permskogo universiteta 2: 14 (2011): 131–38, for discussion of Batiushkov’s borrowing of form and imagery from Ducis’s and Gresset’s work in “My Penates.” Pushkin’s uncle also completed an imitation of Gresset’s poem (K. N. Batiushkov, Sochineniia v dvukh tomakh [Moscow: Khudozhestvennaia litera­tura, 1989], 1: 458).

[14] See, for example, Hans Rogger, National Consciousness in Eighteenth-Century Russia (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1960); or Vera Tolz, Russia (London: Arnold; New York: Oxford University Press, 2001), for discussion of the perception of Russian identity as problematic or unresolved, at least on the part of the educated elite.

[15] Lydia Ginzburg comments extensively on the overlap between the categories of the individual and the nation in the case of Russian Romanticism in O lirike (Moscow-Leningrad: Sovetskii pisatel´, 1964) as well as in her “O probleme narod­nosti i lichnosti v poezii Dekabristov,” O russkom realizme XIX veka i voprosakh narodnosti literatury, ed. P. P. Gromov, I. S. Eventov, and B. M. Eikhenbaum (Moscow-Leningrad: Khudozhestvennaia literatura, 1960). G. A. Gukovsky treats this subject as well in Pushkin i russkie romantiki.

[16] For discussion of Pushkin’s formation as a young poet in the era of Russian Neo­classicism, see Kahn, Lyric Intelligence, 15–19.

[17] Vatsuro, Literaturnoe dvizhenie, 497.

[18] Pushkin, PSS, 1: 481.

[19] Ibid., 1: 131. All translations mine unless otherwise indicated.

[20] Ibid.

[21] Ibid.

[22] Ibid.

[23] Ibid., 132.

[24] Van Baak, House, 118.

[25] That the hearth is a metonym for the complex of ideas that form home is as old as the idea of home itself. Van Baak notes the centrality of the “hearth complex, which relates the fireplace to the life of the family or clan” and that the two are “metonymically exchangeable” (House, 27–28).

[26] See Kahn for discussion of Pushkin’s ongoing interest in the concepts of inven­tion, imagination, and creativity.Theories of creativity were a subject of debate in the early nineteenth century, and, as Kahn shows, Pushkin engaged these debates in his lyric poetry (Lyric Intelligence, 34–61).

[27] Pushkin returned to Classical imagery in his work around 1830 (Kahn, Lyric Intelligence, 74).

[28] Pushkin became acquainted with Southey’s work in translation while still at the Lycee. His interest in the Lake Poets, Southey included, dates more seriously from 1828, when he began to read English comfortably (Veksler, Sauti, 129). See also Alexander Dolinin, “Pushkin and English Literature,” in The Pushkin Handbook, 424–57.

[29] In “Puskin and Southey: Russia’s Greatest Poet Translates England’s Poet Lau­reate,” Russian Literature 55 (2004): 529–47, Kenneth and Warren Ober describe the translation as incomplete, though not a first draft, given Pushkin’s revisions and emandations to the text. They argue that the “abrupt ending” of Pushkin’s translation “strongly suggests that [he] at one time intended to proceed with the translation” (532). A. N. Girivenko takes the opposite view in “Poeziia Roberta Sauti v interpretatsii Pushkina: Spornye voprosy retseptsii,” in Universitetskii pushkinskii sbornik, ed. V. B. Kataev (Moscow: Izd-vo Moskovskogo universiteta, 1999), 454–61, pointing to the fact that Pushkin’s thirty–seven lines are a very ac­curate translation of Southey’s original verses. He argues that Pushkin acts more as an interpreter of Southey in this verse than as a literal translator (456–57).

[30] For discussion of Pushkin’s poetic ties to Southey, see Girivenko, Ober, and Veksler.V. M. Zhirmunsky’s classic study Bairon i Pushkin: Pushkin i zapadnye literatury (Leningrad: Nauka, 1978) addresses the influence of Byron’s persona as well as his texts on Pushkin.

[31] Christopher J. P. Smith’s monograph on Southey, A Quest for Home: Reading Robert Southey (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1997), is devoted to this topic.

[32] Pushkin, PSS, 3: 157. “Yet one more high and solemn song / Heed, o Phoebus, and the silent harp / In your ruined temple / I will hang, and let it give forth, / When the storm shakes the columns, / A melancholy sound…”

[33] Robert Southey, “Hymn to the Penates,”in Poems by Robert Southey, 2nd ed. (Bristol, 1797), 201, lines 1–5, online at Eighteenth-Century Collections Online, (accessed 6 June 2012). Further citations of Southey will be taken from this source.

[34] Smith, A Quest for Home, 161. Kahn notes that “Yet One More High and Solemn Song” addresses the poet’s relationship to his public “in terms of a middle ground between independence and dependence.” He argues that the verse suggests a “mythic age” in which poet and public “were at one.” Kahn sees the poet’s retiring of the lyre as a temporary return to the shelter of home from the vagaries of high society and the world in order to renew the poet’s “relation to the sources of inspiration” (Lyric Intelligence, 207). Following Smith’s reading of Southey’s “Hymn,” however, I would argue that “home” as conceived by Southey constitutes the longed-for Romantic reintegration with nature, a permanent return that ends the necessity of poetic work and precludes any renewed exposure to the homeless alienation of life in the “world” (161).

[35] Pushkin, PSS, 3: 157. Emphasis mine. “Advisors to Zeus, / Whether you live in the heavenly depths, / Or, most high deities, you are / The reason for everything as wise men think, / Great Zeus with his fair-haired wife, / And the wise Goddess, maiden of strength, / Pallas Athena, / Follow solemnly behind you.”

[36] Southey, Poems, 201–02, lines 7–13.

[37] Pushkin, PSS, 3: 157–58. “Wearily my soul asked to rest / At your sacred hearth— … for peace is there. / I have loved you long! I call you / To witness, with what holy excitement / I left … … the human tribe, / So as to watch over your solitary fire, / Communing with myself.”

[38] Southey, Poems, 202, lines 17–25.

[39] Pushkin, PSS, 3: 157.

[40] Southey wrote “Hymn to the Penates” upon his return from a voluntary, if disil­lusioning, trip to Spain and Portugal. Along with his waning enthusiasm for the French Revolution, the trip led him to view England in comparatively more posi­tive terms than he had previously (Smith, Quest, 161).

[41] Pushkin, PSS, 3: 158.

[42] Southey, Poems, 203, lines 31–33.

[43] Pushkin’s search for a wife in the latter half of the 1820s and complicated courtship of Natalia Goncharova, his future wife, in 1829–30 are worthy of note here. These are key components of the biographical legend of Pushkin, but were also realities that complicated Pushkin’s domestic life.

[44] Pushkin, PSS, 3: 175. Emphasis mine.

[45] Nabokov, Onegin, 3: 384.

[46] I address themes of homelessness and home in relation to “The Work” and “Onegin’s Journey” in “Superfluous Journeys: A Reading of ‘Onegin’s Journey’ and ‘A Journey Around the World by I. Oblomov,’” Russian Review 70: 1 (2011): 20–42.

[47] Leslie O’Bell, “Through the Magic Crystal to Eugene Onegin,” in Pushkin Today, ed. David M. Bethea (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1993), 152–70, esp. 170.

[48] N. Eidel´man, “O Pushkine,” Boldino, osen´, 1830: Fotoliteraturnaia kompozi­tsiia, ed. E. Kassin et. al (Moscow: Planeta, 1989), 212.

[49] For a summary of the complex history of “Onegin’s Journey,” see O’Bell, “Magic Crystal,” 163–65.

[50] As Katya Hokanson notes, the interplay between excised portions of Pushkin’s works, or portions published separately, has been the subject of scholarly fascina­tion; these portions leave an imprint on the published works, especially in the case of Onegin (“Onegin’s Journey: The Orient Revisited,” Pushkin Review 3 [2000]: 151–68, esp. 151–52).

[51] Hokanson notes the nature of Onegin as a palimpsest (ibid., 151).

[52] That Pushkin conceived of the writing (and reading) of Onegin as a voyage is evident in the concluding stanzas of chapter 8: “Let us congratulate / each other on attaining land. Hurrah! / It long (is it not true?) was time” (Nabokov, Onegin, 1: 307). Cf. also Michel Butor’s philosophy of iterology, or definition of writing as a form of travel, in “Travel and Writing,” Temperamental Journeys: Essays on the Modern Literature of Travel, ed. Michael Kowalewski (Athens: University of Geor­gia Press, 1992), 53–70. Hokanson notes the blurring of bounds between Onegin’s fictional journey and Pushkin’s real 1829 trip to Arzrum (“Onegin’s Journey,” 152).

[53] Yuri Tynianov argues that the “Fragments of Onegin’s Journey” are the “real ending” to Eugene Onegin, despite the fact that they “are not in any way connected to the action or integrated into the novel at all.” Tynianov, “On the Composition of Eugene Onegin,” in Russian Views of Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin, trans. and ed. Sona Hoisington (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988),78. Scholars such as O’Bell adopt the opposing point of view, arguing that the reader is meant to “mentally reinsert” Onegin’s travels into their indicated place in the text, that is where they are referenced in chapter 8 (“Through the Magic Crystal,” 167). Re­gardless of how one might resolve this question, both the unpublished and pub­lished stanzas of “Onegin’s Journey” are important to any full reading of Onegin.

[54] Pushkin, PSS, 5: 565.

[55] O’Bell notes that Pushkin was working on this poem at the time (“Magic Crys­tal,” 169). Girivenko discusses Pushkin’s replacement of Southey’s original image of an Aeolian harp with that of a lyre in “Yet One More High and Solemn Song,” a gesture that he links to the resonance of the image of the lyre in Russian poetry in the 1820s (“Poeziia,” 457–58). He does not, however, note the appearance of this same image in “Onegin’s Journey,” nor does he discuss the relevance of the gesture of relinquishing the poet’s instrument. He does point to the presence of the motif of return in Pushkin’s work in 1829 and 1835 (459).

[56] Pushkin’s return to Mikhailovskoe marked the end of his southern exile, but it also marked the onset of house arrest and was still a punishment. The authorities denied him permission to leave the estate, and he was barred from traveling to Moscow or St. Petersburg. Yet his arrival there was a return to familiar ground: an ironic homecoming in which the poet was made to return to the domestic hearth against his will.

[57] Nabokov, Onegin, 1: 334.

[58] The importance of Pushkin’s early exile to his writing has been well documented in Stephanie Sandler’s Distant Pleasures: Alexander Pushkin and the Writing of Exile (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1989). The experience of distance from the center contributed to the development of an exilic stance that proved cen­tral to his work.

[59] Hokanson, “Onegin’s Journey,” 152. Ian Helfant comments on Pushkin’s ability to create an autobiographical persona in his work in “Sculpting a Persona: The Path from Pushkin’s Caucasian Journal to ‘Puteshestvie v Arzrum,’” The Russian Review 56 (1997): 366–82, esp. 374.

[60] Stanzas 30–32 of the unpublished verses detail Onegin’s visit to “Pushkin” in Odessa. After a brief period of “wandering the shores of the Black Sea” together, “Pushkin” is forced to bid a bittersweet farewell to Odessa and return to Mikhai­lovskoe while Onegin sets his course towards Petersburg.

[61] Onegin may not remain entirely unchanged by his travels, however. In the origi­nal version he is last seen turning towards St. Petersburg “grown very cold / and sated with what he’s seen” (PSS, 5: 564). As Hokanson notes in connection with the original versions of “Onegin’s Journey,” “Pushkin was … considering giving Onegin a ‘breakthrough,’ a moment in which he would be touched for the first time, a moment which might make him one of those travelers whose view and un­derstanding of ‘home’ is put into perspective by a journey” (“Onegin’s Journey,” 166).

[62] Smith, Quest, 181.