Poet: Mikhail Yuryevich Lermontov
Dates: 15 October 1814 – 27 July 1841
Title of Poem: The Leaf
A little oak leaf tore off from its branch
Was driven o’er the steppe by a cruel gale;
Dried up and withered from the cold, the heat and sorrow
It finally alit by the Black Sea shore.
A young plane tree stands by the Black Sea shore;
A whispering wind strokes her green boughs;
On her green boughs sway heavenly birds
Singing the praises and fame of the queen of the sea.
The traveler lit at the soaring tree’s roots;
Anguished he pled for a moment’s shelter,
And these were his words: “I am but a poor oak leaf,
Matured before my time in a grim homeland.
For ages I’ve wandered without a goal, all alone
Without shade I withered, without repose, faded.
Would you welcome this stranger among your emerald leaves,
I know many stories of wonder and wisdom.”
“But why do I need you?” the young tree replies, –
“You are dusty and yellow – ill-suited to my wholesome young sons.
You’ve seen many things – but what use do I have for your tales?
The heavenly birds have long wearied my ears.
O traveler! Be on your way. You are a stranger to me!
Beloved by the sun, I bloom and shine for him;
My boughs are spread in the heavenly fields,
The cool sea refreshes and washes my roots.”
Brief Biography: Lermontov was a poet and painter of the Romantic era. He is considered on of the supreme poets of Russian literature alongside Pushkin.