NABOKV-L post 0017749, Thu, 26 Feb 2009 07:49:43 -0800

Re: Derzhavin's last words
normally, Russian "ruina" - ruin - comes in plural - "ruiny" and Alexey is right about "chti." It reads as 'honor' in imperative mood. I also agree that it was not intentional (at least it feels that way, but we can't be sure, of course).

--- On Thu, 2/26/09, Alexey Sklyarenko <skylark05@MAIL.RU> wrote:

From: Alexey Sklyarenko <skylark05@MAIL.RU>
Subject: Re: [NABOKV-L] Derzhavin's last words
Date: Thursday, February 26, 2009, 2:02 PM

Dear Carolyn,
I know about the acrostic. I doubt that it was intended by Derzhavin (although it is true that Derzhavin liked acrostics and had composed one or two of them in the past). Khodasevich's theory, according to which Derzhavin's eight lines are a beginning of an unfinished poem, is very convincing. By the way, the poem's imagery was influenced by the picture "The River of Time, ot the Emblematic Representation of the World History" that hung on the wall of Derzhavin's room.
The phrase руина чти formed by the first letters of Derzhavin's eight lines can be translated as "the ruin, honor." Чти is imperative mood of the verb чтить (honor), not читать (read). Imperative mood of the verb читать would be читай. 
If it is an acrostic after all, I suggest it is an unfinished one that should have continued as follows: руина чти останки Державина ("the tombstone, honor the remains of Derzhavin;" by руина Derzhavin could have meant the tombstone on his future grave). It means that, if completed, the poem would have consisted of twenty four lines (in other words, there should have been four more stanzas). Of course, this is only my hypothesis.
Alexey Sklyarenko

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