Tea, Blok, Samovar

I have been knocked to the ground this week by “a genuine Cold Colossal”. While “bacteria the size of mice” have been wreaking havoc, I’ve spent my week drinking tea. Chamomile tea. Linden tea. Tea with honey. A teaspoon of rum before bed. Tea with lemon. Ginger tea. I have had a mug of tea in my hands all week, curled up in my comfy chair.

So I decided to post a tea poem, but I drew a blank. Googling yielded lots Japanese and Chinese poems but none resonated so I dug deeper and switched to Russian… and came up with Alexander Blok.

Глухая тоска без причины
И дум неотвязный угар,
Давай-ка наколем лучины
Раздуем себе самовар!
За верность старинному чину
За то, чтобы жить не спеша!
Авось, и распарит кручину
Хлебнувшая чаю душа!

Isn’t that beautiful? Oh wait.. you can’t read it… Here is my somewhat loose and poetic translation:

Outside is rainy and sleety,
You can’t figure out what to grieve.
And you’re bored, and you want to weep,
And there’s nowhere to focus your energy.

An empty, meaningless melancholy
And nagging thoughts burn.
Quick, let’s split some kindling,
And light the samovar*.

Perhaps at least in tea-intoxication
My grouchy chatter,
May light some cheer
In your somnolent eyes.

Here’s to the truth of an ancient rite!
Here’s to living, not rushing!
Maybe the soul, imbibing tea,
Will evaporate sorrow.

*Samovar? What’s that?
This is my samovar:

The little blue pot on top of the samovar holds the zavarka — a tea concentrate you make by brewing lots of tea in just a little bit of water. The big silver pot heats hot water.
To make tea, each guest adds their desired ratio of concentrate to water. Tea is served with lemon, sugar, honey, or (my favorite) jam. Homemade, of course.
Modern samovars are electric, but old fashioned ones required matchstick thin kindling.

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2 Responses to Tea, Blok, Samovar

  1. Tabatha says:

    Wonderful! I love a good tea poem. Thanks for translating it for us. I hope you’re feeling better.

  2. Mary Lee says:

    I LOVE this:

    “Here’s to the truth of an ancient rite!
    Here’s to living, not rushing!
    Maybe the soul, imbibing tea,
    Will evaporate sorrow.”

    And I love tea! I’ll now forever imagine it evaporating my sorrows!!

    Thanks for translating this cup of tea for us!