July 16, 2015. New Post Goes Up Every Wednesday. By Jack Dziamba
"Pushkin's Farewell to the Sea" by Ivan Aivazovsky and Ilya Repin (1877)

“Pushkin’s Farewell to the Sea” by Ivan Aivazovsky and Ilya Repin (1877)

While you may not choose Alexander Pushkin for reading at the beach this summer, the flowing will change your mind. With our attention spans getting shorter and shorter, tools of the New Media bring animation to poetry, so that in 15 minutes, ( 5 for reading the text of this post, and 10 for the film), you will learn and appreciate more about Pushkin, than you know now, or perhaps learn in a semester.

Pushkin at the Beach

“Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin (/ˈpʊʃkɪn/;[1]Russian: Алекса́ндр Серге́евич Пу́шкин, tr.Aleksandr Sergeyevich Pushkin; IPA: [ɐlʲɪˈksandr sʲɪˈrɡʲejɪvʲɪtɕ ˈpuʂkʲɪn]; 6 June [O.S. 26 May] 1799 – 10 February [O.S. 29 January] 1837) was a Russian author of the Romantic era[2] who is considered by many to be the greatest Russian poet and the founder of modern Russian literature.

Pushkin was born into Russian nobility in Moscow. His matrilineal great grandfather was Abram Gannibal, who was brought over as a slave from what is now Cameroon. Pushkin published his first poem at the age of fifteen, and was widely recognized by the literary establishment by the time of his graduation from the Tsarskoye Selo Lyceum.

While under the strict surveillance of the Tsar’s political police and unable to publish, Pushkin wrote his most famous play, the drama Boris Godunov. His novel in verse, Eugene Onegin, was serialized between 1825 and 1832.

Notoriously touchy about his honour, Pushkin fought as many as twenty-nine duels, and was fatally wounded in such an encounter with Georges-Charles de Heeckeren d’Anthès. Pushkin had accused D’Anthès, a French officer serving with the Chevalier Guard Regiment of attempting to seduce the poet’s wife, Natalya Pushkina. (Source: Wikipedia)

Pushkin’s Poem “The Mermaid” Brought to Life in a Masterfully Hand-Painted Animation

Josh Jones  of  Open Culture, recommends watching the ten-minute film first. He writes, “Though presented in Russian without subtitles, you will—even if you don’t speak Russian—find yourself seduced.”

He writes,

“Pushkin’s work remains viscerally compelling, even in translation: into other languages, other genres, and other media, as in the animated film above of a short poem of Pushkin’s called Rusalka, or “‘The Mermaid.”‘

Pushkin, Poetry, and the New Media

New Media tools and technology can be used to give “reading,” and “reading poetry,” a new meaning, one which meets the time and attention “demands” of the 21st century.

As Jones writes about Pushkin’s  poem, “The Mermaid,”

“Animated in a masterful hand-painted style by Russian artist and filmmaker, Alexander Petrov, [with subtle and haunting music] the film tells the story of a monk who falls in love with a beautiful and dangerous mythical water spirit. You can read a paraphrase, translation, and interpretation of the poem here.”


Jones tell us that,

“Petrov, who painstakingly paints his images on glass with oils, has also adapted the work of other dramatic writers, including another fellow Russian artist, Dostoevsky. His take on Hemingway’sThe Old Man and the Sea won an Academy Award in 2000, and most deservedly so. Petrov does not adapt literary works so much as he translates them into light, shadow, and sound, immersing us in their textures and images. His Rusalka, just like the poem on which it’s based, speaks directly to our imaginations.” (Source: Open Culture).

Total time: 15 Minutes – Easily done at the beach.



  1. Interesting post. Well done Jack!

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