I discovered this particular poem via Efim Etkind's fascinating essay 'The Translator', translated from Russian by Jane Bugaeva. The article appears in the latest issue of the Massachusetts Review and can be downloaded here.
Etkind's piece tells the extraordinary story of Tatiana Grigorievna Gnedich, who translated Byron's Don Juan into Russian while a prisoner in Stalinist Russia. She spent two years translating some seventeen thousand lines into Russian rhymed verse, under the supervision of her jailer, before being sent to a labour camp for eight years where she made further improvements to the manuscript.
Pushkin's poem is addressed to Tatiana's great-great-great uncle Nikolay Gnedich, who translated the Iliad into Russian in the early decades of the nineteenth century:
"Gnedich" by Unknown - http://az.lib.ru/g/gnedich_n_i/ Transferred from ru.wikipedia Original uploader was Vasbur at ru.wikipedia. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gnedich.jpg#/media/File:Gnedich.jpg
For a long time you spoke with Homer,On searching for the full poem in English, I was struck by the difference between this translation and the only one I could find on the web, a 1996 translation by Genia Gurarie which seems to be in alternate hexameters and tetrameters, with end-rhyme:
For a long time we waited,
oh so long.
And then, enlightened, you returned
from those high mysteries
delivering your masterpiece.*
Without having any knowledge of the Russian (or, perhaps, because of that), I find the few lines of Bugaeva's translation more appealing than Gurarie's, but I would be interested to hear opinions from any Russianists who might happen to be reading.With Homer you conversed alone for days and nights, Our waiting hours were passing slowly, And shining you came down from the mysterious heights And brought to us your tablets holy.
*Pushkin may not always have thought so highly of Gnedich's Iliad - see the Wikipedia entry for Gnedich which offers an alternative take on the translation.