This page is dedicated to one of the great pieces of Russian poetry a small verse, written by M. Yu. Lermontov

Mikhail Yuryevich Lermontov


Several people took up the challenge to translate this poem into English and below are the results of their humble efforts as well as comments, insults and suggestions written by numerous critics.  Please contribute your own translations or commentaries to the existing ones.

 Sail - 1

  The sail is whitening alone
  In blue obscurity of sea:
  What did it leave in country own?
  What does it want so far to see.

  The wind is strong, the mast is creaking,
  The wave is playing with the wave ...
  But not a fortune is it seeking,
  Nor from this fortune is its way.

  By it a stream is bright as azure,
  By beams of sun it's warmed and blessed
  But it is seeking gales as treasure,
  As if the tempests give a rest.

 Yevgeny Bonver

 Sail - 2

A sail gleams in foggy morning
A lonely stranger in the sea
What does it seek in country foreign,
What kind of trouble does it flee?

The waves are swelling, wind is whistling
The mast is bending with a creak
It isn't happiness it's seeking
And not the happiness it flees

The stream beneath as bright as azure
Above the Sun sends golden rays...
Rebellious it's seeking tempest
As if the storm will bring it rest.

M. Mostov

 Sail - 3

 A lonely sail's beneath the heaven.
 The mist is blue. The sail's within.
 What does it seek in distant haven?
 What was abandoned herein?

 The waves are wild, the wind is shrilly,
 And mast has bowed with a creak!
 But no, not luck it's seeking really,
 Nor from the luck it's fleeing weak!

 An azure stream is gently luring,
 A golden ray is mild and warm...
 But it's the storm it seeks, enduring --
 As if the rest is in the storm!


 Sail - 4

Blue fog wrapped up a lonely sail
Caught in the midst of stormy seas
What seeks it in a distant haven?
Is there something it will miss?

The waves are wild, mast bows creaking
To wailing gale, but wind won't cease
It is not bliss the sail is seeking
And not the happiness it flees

The stream beneath is gently luring
Above the Sun sends golden warmth
Rebellious, he's storm pursuing
As if the peace is in the storms

M. Mostov

 Sail - 5

 A lonely sail's beneath the heaven --
 A fair dot in misty blue.
 What does he seek in distant haven?
 What did he leave in search for clue?

 The waves are mad in thunder's laughter,
 The creaking mast is on its knees...
 It's not the happiness he's after,
 Nor is it happiness he flees.

 Beneath, an azure stream is luring,
 A golden ray's assuring ease...
 But it's the storm he keeps pursuing --
 As if the storm was rebel's peace!

 A. Vayzburd

 Sail - 6

A lone white sail shows for an instant
Where gleams the sea, an azure streak.
What left it in its homeland distant?
In alien parts what does it seek?

The billow play, the mast bends creaking,
The wind, impatient, moans and sighs...
It is not joy that it is seeking,
Nor is it happiness it flies.

The blue wave dance, they dance and tremble,
The sun's bright ray caress the seas.
And yet for storm it begs, the rebel,
As if in storm lurked calm and peace!..

Irina Zheleznova

 Sail - 7

 A lonely sail appears slightly,
 With bluish mist of sea it blends.
 What's seeking it at distant shores ?
 What's left behind in native lands ?

 The waves are mad, the wind is whistling.
 Mast, creaking, moans without cease.
 Alas, not happiness it's seeking
 And not the happiness it flees.

 Beneath - a stream lighter than azure,
 Above - sunbeam of golden warmth.
 Rebellious, it's storm pursuing
 As if the peace is in the storms.

 Alex Mostov

Sail - 8

In pale-blue fog, a far, white sailboat
Through mist and sea, sails all alone:
What lures him to some distant country,
What drives him out, so far from home?

The whistling wind, the dancing waters
Make music with the creaking mast.
No eager hope lights up his future,
No happiness fulfills his past.

So bright the sun, so blue the water,
Below him azure, above him gold.
But restlessly, the rebel wanders
In search of storms to calm his soul.

D. Nakeeb

 Sail - 9

 Single sail being white
 In the mist of the blue sea!
 What does he pursue in a foreign land?
 Why does he leave his homeland?

 The waves are untamed - the wind whistles,
 And the mast bends and creaks...
 Alas! He does not pursue happiness.
 And it is not happiness from which he runs!

 Below him the current is brighter than azure.
 Above him the golden rays of the sun...
 But he, rebellious, asks the storms,
 As if in the storm was peace!

 Elizabeth C. Baranowski

Sail - 10

A lone white sail gleams for an instant,
Adrift in morning's misty haze.
What drew it to a place so distant?
Why did it leave its native bays?
The billows swell, the mast is creaking,
While soaring winds stir up the seas.
Oh no, it is not joy it's seeking,
Nor is it happiness it flees.
The sparkling waves, they dance and tremble,
The solar gold upon them glows.
And yet for storm it begs, the rebel,
As if a storm could hold repose.

Bert Marchal


Sail - 11

Your original translation
will appear in this space

Please send us your
comments and submissions

Sail - 12

Your original translation
will appear in this space

Please send us your
comments and submissions


Commentary, Analysis, Suggestions, and Love Letters...

Inspired by Mike Mostov, 1998.    Visit Mike's main page Home Page
Designed by Alex Mostov, 1998.    Visit Alex at his own Home Page counter