"Mniszek's Sonnet": In Honor of J. Thomas Shaw, Pushkinist Extraordinaire

Article excerpt

In recognition of Professor Shaw's lifetime work and numerous contributions to the field of Pushkin studies in North America, we are including two special sections to the journal for this issue.

Part 1: (1) Contest for the best rhymed translation of "Mniszek's Sonnet" in Boris Godunov.

Following Professor Shaw's studies of the rhymes in Pushkin's play, we invited literary, rhymed translations of the final fifteen lines of scene 12 in Boris Godunov. Professor Shaw has discussed the function of the sonnet in the context of sonnets in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, Act I, scene 5. For more information, see Professor Shaw's article, "Romeo and Juliet, Local Color, and 'Mniszek's Sonnet' in Boris Godunov" (Slavic and East European Journal 35:1 [Spring 1991]: 1-35), or his book, Pushkin's Poetics of the Unexpected (Columbus, OH: Slavica, 1993).

Many thanks to our judges, James Falen and J. Douglas Clayton.

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SONNET WINNER: Antony Wood, London (UK)

      MNISZEK:

   Old men like us no longer join the dance;
   The sound of the mazurka has no thrill
   For us who do not squeeze or kiss soft hands ...
   Ah, memories of those times are with me still!
   Now things are different, youth is not so bold,
   Nor beauty so light-hearted as we knew it--I
   fear we must acknowledge that the world
   Is now a duller place; we'll leave them to it.
   I would propose we don't stay here, my friend,
   One moment more; we'll see if we can find
   Some old Hungarian vintage, moss-encrusted,
   And in a corner, just the two of us,
   We'll pour the rich, fat, fragrant stream and taste it,
   And there'll be many things we shall discuss.
   Dear comrade, come.

      WISNIOWIECKI:
        Yes, just the two of us.

RUNNERS UP:

Alyssa Dinega Gillespie, University of Notre Dame

      MNISZEK:

   We ancient chaps no longer join the dancing,
   The music's cadence leaves us strangely cold,
   Nor pet and kiss each hand that charms our fancy--
   Oh no, I've not forgot our pranks of old! …