- "Dreams, dreams! Where have you gone? How sweet you were."
- "Like some magistrate grown gray in office,
Calmly he contemplates alike the just
And unjust, with indifference he notes
Evil and good, and knows not wrath nor pity."
Born in June 1799 AD in Moscow, Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin displayed a talent for writing poetry while still a child. The Russian government, recognizing talent, in 1818 assigned him to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Pushing paper for the government by day, by night Pushkin wrote poetry – so good that he eventually (after his death) became Russia’s poet laureate.
But he didn’t stay to the subject of unrequited love and romantic tragedy; several of his poems (notably, 'Noel' and 'Ode to Freedom') promoted liberal ideals, political freedom, and other controversial topics. As a result, Pushkin’s government service was terminated and he was banished in 1820 to the wilds of the Caucasus and Crimea. From there he wandered through the Ukraine and Moldavia. His enforced vacation did give Alexander the chance to pen his masterworks: 'Boris Godunov' and the verse-novel 'Eugene Onegin.' In 1823 Pushkin ended up in Odessa, where he again infuriated the local government, which sent him into exile on his mother’s rural estate. Despite his reputation as a troublemaker, friends at court finagled an audience with Tsar Nicholas I to petition for his release from exile and return to Moscow.
But freedom didn’t last long. Although not associated with the Decembrist Uprising in St. Petersburg in 1825, after it ended the authorities found some of his poetry among the rebels’ papers. Pushkin found himself under the scrutiny of government censors, unable to travel or publish. He kept writing though, finishing two novels and starting a third. But by 1837 Pushkin was deep in debt and hearing rumors that his young wife had a lover; in response, the poet challenged the alleged lover to a duel. Bad idea, for the gun is certainly mightier than the pen. Shot in the abdomen, Pushkin died two days later.